Tarantino 101

Many hate him, masses love him, some say he should be in a loony bin, and others say he entertains while creating art… Tarantino couldn’t give a rat’s ass. He’s a loony who lives in his own universe, who creates bold, risky movies, ones rarely found in American cinema. To me, he’s one of the best directors of modern cinema.

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When people ask me if I went to film school I tell them, ‘no, I went to films.’
Quentin Tarantino

I didn’t ask you but okay. Tarantino loves movies. Unlike a lot of directors today, he’s driven by passion, by his “craziness” and not by money. His love of movies is the reason why Tarantino films are “odd”, not like any others we’ve seen. The secret is that Tarantino not only loves critically acclaimed artistic movies, but also those cheap ones with the cheese and the clichés. He’s not trying to create art, but he ends up doing it anyway. As he says, “ I steal from every movie ever made.”, and thus, he created his own genre. For instance, many directors, like Hitchcock would focus on a specific genre, and others, like Kubrick, would give us a little of everything. Tarantino’s a mix, he has a specific genre but with different content.

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Every idea is fresh. Reservoir Dogs (review here) doesn’t really bear much resemblance to Inglourious Basterds, which, in turn,

doesn’t bear much resemblance to Pulp Fiction, and Pulp Fiction to Django Unchained (review here). But you always end up knowing that what you’re watching is a Tarantino flick, because of his trademark violence, his dark humor, and of course, his famous signature trunk shot.

I actually think one of my strengths is my storytelling.
Quentin Tarantino

Bravo, Quentin. First thing that pops to mind when I say “Tarantino’s storytelling” is the chapters. One of his main assets is the way he mashes a lot of stories and phases together, and end them all with a brilliant conclusion. He creates multiple stories, hence creating multiple main characters. And he makes us love these characters by caring about them, by putting us in their places via flashbacks. We now know what the character has been through, we know his motives and his reasons, and we care about what happens next. Take Mr. Pink and Mr. White from Reservoir Dogs for example, by focusing on their pain, emotions, memories, motives, and realistic reactions, Tarantino made us care about them, made us excited to know what happens next. Another secret to his genius storytelling is the ambiguity of the characters. You start the movie with nothing but a scene where people are talking or fighting; you know nothing about the character except his profession and his clothes, you sometime don’t even know the name. Tarantino doesn’t give you everything at once, but makes you discover things step by step along the movie, again, via flashbacks or dialogues about the character’s past. By doing that, Tarantino is breaking the pace of the movie, thus avoiding boring the audience with an escalating movie that has one beginning and one end.

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That doesn’t cut it for the storytelling. Tarantino is odd, he’s a loony, and his scenes and characters reflect a part of his personality, things he hate or things he love. Everything is completely unexpected, and you can say “what the hell” more than once during his movies. Let’s take the Gimp scene in Pulp Fiction for example: Marcellus Wallace is chasing Butch on the street, and they both end up in the basement of two rapists, who pulls out a chained and masked man in spandex from a box and refer to him as The Gimp. Watch the scene and tell me that’s not weird as hell.

And what makes a movie with a decent story even better? An equally decent dialogue, a dialogue always found in Tarantino movies. I don’t know how he does it, but he writes the best dialogues in modern cinema – consisted of a lot of slang terms, swear words, “motherfucker”, and some dark jokes. He’s not trying to write a fancy dialogue with fancy words and complicated expression, he just writes what random people would say, well, what random people would say plus “motherfucker”. Here’s an awesome scene from Pulp Fiction:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOBvGGaDnKQ

A writer should have this little voice inside of you saying, tell the truth. Reveal a few secrets here.
Quentin Tarantino

And that’s in fact best highlighted in Reservoir Dogs, where you don’t feel like you’re watching a movie, with actors and all, but you feel as if you’re watching a documentary about criminals in a warehouse. “The truth” is shown in all Tarantino movies, who uses the violence, gore, blood, and lots and lots of swear words to send us a message, a certain critique of society. For example, Reservoir Dogs was all about consequences, Inglourious Basterds was all about war crimes (check my review analyzing that here), Django Unchained was about slavery and racism, and etc.

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As a viewer, the minute I start getting confused, I check out of the movie. Emotionally, I’m severed.
Quentin Tarantino

Oh you’re a sensitive bastard now? Even though I already mentioned that Tarantino movies wield messages and critique of society, but they couldn’t be any easier to understand. The simplicity in the movies is one of Tarantino’s best assets. Because to me, simplicity is art, simplicity tells the truth, and simplicity is always enjoyable. Why wouldn’t we ever get bored of Tarantino movies? It’s because they’re simple enough to be watched over and over without giving you headaches, and well of course, because of the great story telling, performance, and violence.

I’ve always thought my soundtracks do pretty good, because they’re basically professional equivalents of a mix tape I’d make for you at home. Quentin Tarantino

You thought right, Quentin. Tarantino is a genius at blending picture and sound,  and the music in Tarantino movies is brilliant; he uses both exclusive and old songs, some that pay homage to old movies, like Django in Django Unchained, who pays tribute to the original Django. In addition, his soundtracks wielded success, for instance, Pulp Fiction’s soundtrack peaked the Billboard 200 chart at number 21. Check out a list of the top 10 songs used in Tarantino movies made by Revolver here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S32X5-eKVp4

PS: Now that we’re talking about music, I must say that Stanely Kubrick was the director with the best taste in it.

I don’t think Pulp Fiction is hard to watch at all.
Quentin Tarantino

Yeah dude, but it’s so good it gets us hard.

Well, I can say that Tarantino is one odd director, with passion and a vision, I still expect more good movies from him, and more good soundtracks. However, he’s changed his movies ever since he started the “historical” trilogy: Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained, and the

upcoming Killer Crow. I loved them, but we kinda miss the simpler movies like Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. And that will be the subject of our next article!

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Check all Tarantino movies reviews here:

Reservoir Dogs (link)

Jackie Brown (link)

Inglourious Basterds (link)

Kill Bill Double Volume (link)

Django Unchained (link)

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