The Best Scenes In Tarantino Flicks

So Quentin Tarantino has his new film out soon. It’s already been released in the U.S. but we have to wait a few more days here in the U.K. I already have my tickets booked and I’m really looking forward to seeing his latest, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood soon. I’ve done my best to avoid as much of the film as I can so I can go into the flick as blind as possible. But I do know it’s premise and that it’s been getting a lot of praise.

Set in 1969, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood tells the story of Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) a once popular actor working in Hollywood and his close friend and stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). The pair begin to find they are no longer as popular as they used to be and struggle to find work. All set against the macabre and disturbing backdrop of the Charlie Manson/Sharon Tate murder. The film is said to be QT’s love letter to the golden age of Hollywood and it’s demise.

Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood Poster.jpg

Blending fiction with real world events is something that Tarantino does really well, see Inglourious Basterds for his version on the demise of Hitler as an example. In fact QT has a lot of little details and nuances he likes to slip into his movies. Mostly famed for his excessive violence, terrific use of tension, amazing dialogue, often overlooked humour and his strange foot fetish… as well as a penchant for using ‘the N word’, Quentin Tarantino films are very, very distinctive. His style has often been imitated but never bettered.

Now I have set myself a few rules for this article where I aim to pick my favourite scenes from his flicks. The rules are that I can only chose one scene from each film… which makes things particularly tricky as his films are loaded with great scene after great scene. I’m only including films he has either written or directed (or both) fully, so despite my love for the films, Four Rooms or Sin City can’t be included. Only films and not T.V. shows are included. Plus there is the whole Kill Bill Vol 1 and Vol 2 sticky wicket as the film was written and directed as one, but later split into two parts. QT has always said the film is one complete film and that is how he envisioned it… so I will also do the same, Kill Bill for this list is one flick which means only one scene from the entire film can be chosen instead of two. The there is the whole Grindhouse thing as that was a collaboration with Robert Rodriguez as a two film feature. But the two films were released separately outside of the U.S. as single features which is how I saw them, so I’m also including QT’s Death Proof  in the list. Short films are also out and no, I’m not including his ‘first’ film My Best Friend’s Birthday as it was never officially released and never actually finished either.

So with the rules out of the way, time for me to pick one and only one scene from each of Quentin Tarantino’s pictures from his first film, Reservoir Dogs right up to The Hateful Eight… not including Once Upon a Time in Hollywood as I’ve not seen it yetThat’s twenty three years of QT films to cover. This is going to be a long one so grab yourself a Kahuna burger, light up a Red Apple and enjoy.

Just going to throw in my obligatory SPOILERS warning from this point on as I’ll be covering specific scenes and plot points.

Reservoir Dogs

Reservoir Dogs

Quentin Tarantino’s first proper feature film released in 1992 told the story of a diamond heist gone wrong and all without showing the heist itself. For a first film, Reservoir Dogs really showcases a lot of talent and the amazing writing QT would soon become famous for. His dialogue and characters really pop off the screen and it’s that writing and those characters that make one of the best scenes in the flick, the one where the characters are all given their coloured code-names by big boss-man Joe Cabot. It’s funny, well written and acted throughout… but it’s not my favourite scene.

For my favourite I have to go for the film’s most infamous scene. When Reservoir Dogs was originally released, it kicked up a lot of controversy for one scene in particular. The torture/ear cutting scene. In this you have Mr Blonde (Michael Madsen) tormenting, torturing and eventually cutting the ear off of the kidnapped police officer, Marvin Nash (Kirk Baltz). This one scene alone caused such a stir when the film was released that it was pretty much all anyone talked about.

It’s a brilliant scene that melds lightheartedness with sheer terror. It’s the way Mr Blonde dances and bounces along to the Stealers Wheel song Stuck in the Middle with You which is playing on the radio in the background. You’re sitting there enjoying the tune, smiling at Mr Blonde’s dancing and then the scene just abruptly changes tact as Mr Blonde lashes out at Marvin with a straight razor slashing his face. The torment continues until Mr Blonde straddles the sitting and bound police officer and begins to hack and cut away at his ear.

Reservoir Dogs Ear Scene

But it’s not the violence that I like, it’s actually the lack of it and how the scene was directed. Reviews at the time all commented on the ear cutting scene and how graphic is was… but it wasn’t. When Mr Blonde takes the razor blade to Marvin Nash’s ear, the camera pans away so you don’t see anything, you hear it but don’t see that actual act of violence. For me, this is what makes the scene so damn great as it’s what you don’t see that makes it more horrific. It’s a brilliant Hitchcock moment and the Reservoir Dogs ear cutting scene is the modern equivalent of the Psycho shower scene. The way Hitchcock directed that scene in his film is also done leaving it to the imagination of the viewer as you don’t see anyone getting stabbed in the shower, you just think you do. It’s the clever use of editing and sound design that makes you see something that doesn’t actually happen.

“Listen kid, I’m not gonna bullshit you, all right? I don’t give a good fuck what you know, or don’t know, but I’m gonna torture you anyway, regardless. Not to get information. It’s amusing, to me, to torture a cop. You can say anything you want cause I’ve heard it all before. All you can do is pray for a quick death, which you ain’t gonna get.”

– Mr Blonde

True Romance

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This Tony Scott directed picture was written by QT and released in 1993. True Romance was actually based off QT’s previously mentioned ‘first’ incomplete film, My Best Friend’s Birthday. Clarence Worley (Christian Slater) falls in love with and marries call girl Alabama Whitman (Patricia Arquette). Clarence goes to see his new wife’s pimp and tries to come to an agreement to let Alabama out of the grips of her controlling pimp. Things do not go well and Clarence mistakenly steals a suitcase full of cocaine which he tries to sell so he can begin a new life with his wife. But the rightful owners of the drugs soon came calling and things begin to get very bloody.

It’s a real shame Tarantino didn’t direct this himself as I feel it could’ve been amazing. Now don’t get me wrong, the film is great as it is, but it certainly lacks that QT style and narrative. Tarantino sold the script for this film (as well as another film I’ll cover later) to raise funds so he could make Reservoir Dogs. True Romance is part mob film, part road movie and part love story. There are several great scenes in the film especially featuring stoner Floyd (Brad Pitt) and his inane ramblings. There are some great action/shootouts too but for my favourite scene, I’m going to have to go for the one that features two Hollywood greats just talking.

True Romance Scene

Mob boss Vincenzo Coccotti (Christopher Walken) is in search of the missing suitcase of cocaine, which leads him to the residence of Clarence Worley’s father, Clifford (Dennis Hopper). This contains not only two utterly stunning performances from both Walken and Hopper who are acting their balls off and showing us just how fantastic the duo are on screen. But it also has some classic QT writing, he may not have directed the film, but this scene alone tells you he definitely wrote it. It’s a wonderful game of see-saw as the balance power continually shifts between a very angry Vincenzo Coccotti looking for the missing drugs and a protective Clifford Worley not wanting to reveal where his son has gone. Despite his best scare tactics, Vincenzo just can not break his prey into giving up his own flesh and blood. It get’s to a point where Clifford knows he is just not going to survive this encounter, so he decides to just straight up fuck with his tormentor, teasing and playing with him though brilliantly written dialogue. It’s a tense and suspenseful scene, something that Quentin Tarantino is a master of, but it also has some pretty dark humour running through it. too. Despite seeing the film and this scene numerous times over the years, I’m still always on the edge of my seat when I watch this one.

“I’m the Anti-Christ. You got me in a vendetta kind of mood. You tell the angels in heaven you never seen evil so singularly personified as you did in the face of the man who killed you. My name is Vincent Coccotti.”

– Vincent Coccotti

Pulp Fiction

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His second directed feature and perhaps Quentin Tarantino’s most famous flick, released in 1994 off the back of the success of Reservoir Dogs. People were expecting big things from QT by now as his previous film had been such a big hit and they would not be disappointed either. Pulp Fiction is a tale of two hitmen, a boxer, a gangland boss and his wife. Told over four intertwining stories to reveal a much bigger and grander story.

Pulp Fiction is a modern day classic full of killer scenes after killer scenes and to pick just one is pretty tough. Some of the most memorable and quotable lines caught on screen in the 90s are in this picture. The dialogue that QT is famed for really comes to light in this film from two hitmen discussing the subtle difference between Europe and America (Royale with cheese), two unknown diners sipping coffee talking about the dangers of armed robbery, to more extreme moment like Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames) being raped.

For my pick of the scenes, I’m going for the whole encounter between hitmen Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson), Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Brett (Frank Whaley) and his boys after they steal the briefcase and hide out at the apartment. From the moment Winnfield and Vega walk in, you know some serious shit is going to go down… you just don’t know exactly what. Just before this scene, there is the whole ‘foot massage’ chat the duo have before they ‘get into character’ and get ready for the door to open. Another scene I love as it shows the difference in both Jules Winnfield and Vincent Vega before they have to work, how they are just like you and me. They talk about nothing and discus things that will not change the world, they are very human… but it’s that moment when they do ‘get into character’ when you sitting there watching know things are going to turn sour.

The interaction between all the actors is sublime as the tension ramps up and the nervousness of Brett and his gang begins to show the more and more Jules pushes and pushes. They way Vincent just kind of hangs back in the background while Jules takes the spotlight and delivers some of the best lines in a film ever, seriously this one scene alone is chock-full of brilliant and extremely quotable dialogue. It’s how Jules goes from calm to crazy on a sixpence. His little hand gesture toward ‘flock of seagulls’ lounging on the sofa indicating for him to relax and put his feet up, the politeness of the character as he asks if he can try some of the burger and have some Sprite to wash it down, the pointless yet entertaining chatting about nothing and callback to the previous ‘Royale with cheese’ talk he had with Vincent. Everything is just so relaxed and chilled…

Pulp Fiction Jules and Brett

And then there’s the whole “Does he look like a bitch” and the “What?” exchange between Jules and Brett. Everything goes crazy and the acting by Jackson is sublime. He’s charming and utterly terrifying. It’s the perfect blending of QT’s razor sharp dialogue and Jackson’s powerhouse performance that makes the whole scene so engrossing. Oh and let’s not forget the immortal Ezekiel 25:17 tirade Jules finishes with. It’s pure classic cinema, not only one of QT’s best scenes, but simply one of the best scenes caught on film ever.

I really love the whole Ezekiel 25:17 speech and entire scene, but I have to admit that the Captain Koons (Christopher Walken) speech about Butch’s watch was a very close second.

“The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who in the name of cherish and good will shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness for he is truly his keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.”

– Jules Winnfield

Natural Born Killers

Natural Born Killers Poster

This is the second film script QT sold so he could fund Reservoir Dogs. Directed by Oliver Stone and released in 1994. Two love struck psychopathic serial killers’ murder spree gets the attention of the media. The wanted couple soon become glorified by the mass media until their capture and inevitable separation… but true love finds a way.

I remember when I first saw Natural Born Killers and was blown away by it’s directing, but now when I watch it, I think it’s a fucking mess. It’s a shame because the subject matter of glorifying killers is a great concept but I have no idea what drugs Oliver Stone was taking when he came up with the style of this flick. I’ve not read the original QT script of the film, but I have heard that even though it’s not polished, it’s a hell of a lot better than the film. Yet despite it’s rather ‘messy’ directing, there is a good film in there and some fantastic scenes to chose from too.

Natural Born Killers Interview Scene

I think my favourite scene is the one that leads to the carnage of the finale for the flick. It’s the interview that slimy T.V. host Wayne Gale (Robert Downey Jr.) chairs with convicted multiple murderer Mickey Knox (Woody Harrelson) in prison. Inspired by an actual interview Ted Bundy did the eve before his execution in 1989. For me, this scene works due to the role switching. We’re supposed to be rooting for the good guy, Wayne Gale while detesting the killer, Mickey Knox. But that’s not what happens at all. It’s flipped on it’s head as Wayne comes across as a complete prick while Micky is the erudite and civilised one. As the interview progresses, it becomes very clear that it’s Micky in the driving seat and Wayne is losing control.

“You’ll never understand, Wayne. You and me, we’re not even the same species. I used to be you, then I evolved. From where you’re standing, you’re a man. From where I’m standing, you’re an ape. You’re not even an ape. You’re a media person. Media’s like the weather, only it’s man-made weather. Murder? It’s pure. You’re the one made it impure. You’re buying and selling fear. You say “why?” I say “why bother?”

– Mickey Knox

From Dusk Till Dawn

From Dusk Till Dawn Poster

Directed by close friend and collaborator of Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez and released in 1996. This film tells the story of brothers Seth (George Clooney) and Richard Gecko (Quentin Tarantino). Two wanted criminals looking to escape over the Mexico boarder. They take hostages to help them cross over to their freedom, yet it is when they do get into Mexico and get their freedom when the sibling’s troubles really begin.

For me to explain why my favourite scene is my favourite with this flick, I need to paint a little picture. In the early/mid 90s, Quentin Tarantino became famous for his first two flicks Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. Though the two films are vastly different story telling experiences, they shared a similar look and style. The slick and charismatic bad guys in pristine black suits became a kind of trademark of QT for a while as did his crime-thriller pictures. So when From Dusk Till Dawn was released not only written by Tarantino and starring Tarantino and the fact the two main guys wore those trademark black suits (minus the ties), it all just looked and felt very, very Quentin Tarantino. The film even starts out like a QT slick crime picture and carries on as such for half of the flick’s running time too. But it’s the scene that changes everything that is my favourite.

From Dusk Till Dawn Dance

If a film has a twist, it’s not revealed until the near the end as a surprise to the viewer. The twist in From Dusk Till Dawn hits you like a freight train, it doesn’t happen at the end when you’d expect, it happens in the middle and completely changes the tone, style and even the genre of the film in a few seconds. The scene kicks off with the sexy table dance by Santanico Pandemonium (Salma Hayek) and her pet snake. The smooth Latino music is playing in the background as Santanico slinks and sways. Sitting around the table are Seth, Richard Gecko and their kidnapped hostages. The film is still very Quentin Tarantino at this point, it still a crime-thriller… and then Santanico notices a bleeding gunshot wound that Richard sustained at the start of the film and things change. You’re no longer watching a Quentin Tarantino flick, you’re watching an overtly gory vampire film. The twist scene is perfect because you have no idea the film you are watching is really a vampire one, you believe you’re watching a Tarantino, black suit, crime flick and then that scene happens and it’s a kick in the balls. Brilliantly written and directed without giving anything away until needed.

“I’m not gonna drain you completely. You’re gonna turn for me. You’ll be my slave. You’ll live for me. You’ll eat bugs because I order it. Why? Because I don’t think you’re worthy of human blood. You’ll feed on the blood of stray dogs. You’ll be my foot stool. And at my command, you’ll lick the dog shit from my boot heel. Since you’ll be my dog, your new name will be ‘Spot’. Welcome to slavery.”

– Santanico Pandemonium

Jackie Brown

Jackie Brown Poster

 

Quentin Tarantino’s third directed film and released in 1997. Based on the Elmore Leonard novel Rum Punch. Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) is a middle aged flight attendant who teams up with bail bond agent, Max Cherry (Robert Forster) to bring in a large amount of illegal money from Mexico to the United States that belongs to local gun runner Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson).

I remember really not liking this QT film when I first saw it, but over the years it has grown on me and now I think it’s the best film he’s made to date. I love it’s simplicity, the plot of this ‘sting’ operation is not complex at all but it’s just told so damn well and in that distinct QT style. Of course it’s all helped by the amazing performances from Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster, Robert De Niro, Michael Keaton and of course Pam Grier. It also helps that Grier is sexy as hell and somehow manages to look younger in 1997 than she did in 1974. Sorry, went off on a bit of a tangent there.

Anyway, for my favourite scene, my pick is an early-ish one. It’s after Jackie is released from jail and picked up by Max, after they go to a bar for a drink and after Max takes Jackie home. The scene I love is when Ordell makes his appearance at Jackie’s apartment all set to kill her. QT does his tension thing once more as we the audience know Ordell plans on killing Jackie, but we don’t know what Jackie knows, if anything. So Ordell enters Jackie’s apartment and she is welcoming and thankful for Ordell bailing her out of jail. Ordell places his hand on the dimmer switch of the lamp and turns off the light and begins to question Jackie to find out if she turned him into the police. Jackie turns the light back on as she continues to talk only for Ordell to turn it back off again. This time he gets close to Jackie and puts his hands around her throat ready to kill her. This is when a Brian De Palma/70s style split screen kicks in and shows Ordell and Jackie in silhouette in one frame with Max Cherry in the other discovering his gun from his glove-box has gone.

Jackie Brown Scene

Then you hear a click as Jackie cocks the gun, funnily enough aiming squarely at Ordell’s cock. The way Jackie just flips from the welcoming host making a drink for her killer guest into a bad-ass warrior woman and takes control of the whole situation is wonderful. It’s Tarantino’s use of tension and suspense leading to that flip of the coin that sells this one.

“Now sooner or later, they’re gonna get around to offering me a plea deal, and you know that. That’s why you came here to kill me.”

– Jackie Brown

Kill Bill

Kill Bill Poster

Paying homage to the kung-fu/samurai revenge flicks of the 60s and 70s, Kill Bill was released in 2003 and 2004 over two parts. But as I said at the start of this one, I’m treating this as one film as that was QT’s original vision. Ex-assassin, ‘The Bride’ (Uma Thurman) is beaten and left for dead during a wedding rehearsal and after coming out of a coma, she sets out to kill those responsible for the attack that left her friends dead along with the death of her unborn child.

So Kill Bill is one of those QT pictures that is full of great scenes. There’s tension, classic dialogue and character driven scenes as well as all out violent action. If there is one film that defines Quentin Tarantino and all of his tropes then Kill Bill is that film. I could go for the gloriously bloody and OTT The House of Blue Leaves/Crazy 88 fight, perhaps the  Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox) or the Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah) fights. Maybe something more subdued like a dialogue scene, the Bill (David Carradine) telling to story of the goldfish. There are plenty of scenes to choose from here, but the rules I set myself state I can only choose one.

Kill Bill Animated Scene.jpg

 

So my favourite scene of Kill Bill is the introduction to O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu). The way the film goes from live action to full on Japanese animation is beautiful. What we get is a several year history of a character, detailing the brutal death of her patents, her involvement with the Yakuza and her rise to the top of the criminal underworld as an assassin. The whole scene is just stunningly drawn and animated topped off with some bloody violence to boot. You don’t expect a full on Japanese animation in the midst of a live action revenge flick, it’s a bold directing choice and yet it strangely works and feels right.

“Look at me, Matsumoto. Take a good look at my face. Look at my eyes. Do I look familiar? Do I look like somebody you murdered?”

– O-Ren Ishii

Death Proof

Death Proof

Part of the Grindhouse double feature collaboration between Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. A cinematic experience that paid tribute to their love of exploitation cinema of the 70s. Death Proof is Tarantino’s homage to cheesy, low budget slasher films. Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) has a penchant for killing beautiful women, only he doesn’t use a knife or gun to murder his victims, he uses a car, his specially modified ‘death proof’ car.

Often cited as QT’s ‘worst film’ and if this is his worst then his worst is better than a lot of writer/director’s best. I adore this picture as it’s such a departure from his usual stuff and clearly made as a bit of fun. The movie is loaded with Tarantino’s long dialogue scenes and any one of them could be chosen as a favourite scene for me. Then there is the big crash in the film where Stuntman Mike kills off his first victims. It’s wonderfully shot using various angles and viewpoints to see as much of the carnage as you can in all it’s gloriously, grizzly details.

Death Proof Chase

For my favourite scene though, I’m going to have to go with the final car chase. I love me a good old fashioned car chase scene and I’ve seen the very best cinema has to offer. Films like The French Connection, Bullitt, The Italian Job and The Blues Brothers feature some of the finest car chase scenes ever caught on film. But Death Proof features THE best car chase on film ever. The whole scene goes on for around twenty minutes and it’s non-stop car chase action… and it’s all real too. No CGI, no green-screen, no miniatures. All real drivers, real cars, real smashes and crashes. The amazing stunt work from Zoë Bell hanging on the front of a speeding 1971 Dodge Challenger is outstanding and will have you on the edge of your seat. The final chase pays up to a lot of car chase tropes too just to add to the 70s homage. Best car chase ever.

“I didn’t mean to, I was just… playing around!”

– Stuntman Mike

Inglourious Basterds

Inglourious Basterds Poster

In this 2009 (I can’t believe this is already ten years old) picture, Quentin Tarantino takes us to World War II and tells the story of a group of American/Jewish soldier’s plan to kill as many Nazi soldiers as they can. The group is led by Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) and their crusade of Nazi killing leads them to a small cinema run by Shosanna (Mélanie Laurent) who has her own personal reasons for killing Nazis, one in particular.

QT is a genre film-maker and he makes the kind of flicks he grew up watching. Inglourious Basterds is a love letter to those ensemble war films of the 60s and 70s like The Dirty Dozen and Kelly’s Heroes. The film is full of nods and references to those classics but it still feels fresh and new at the same time thanks to that Tarantino style. Yeah there is some all out action in this one, some bloody and violent moments… I mean Hitler gets shot in the face at point blank range with a machine gun. But it is Inglourious Basterds quieter scenes where you’ll find the film really comes alive. It’s that wonderful QT dialogue and tension where my favourite scene lies… but if you’ve seen the film then you already know there are two scenes in particular where QT’s characters, dialogue and tension really shine. This has been the hardest choice of this entire list as these two scenes are both exceptional in terms of writing and directing, perhaps the two single best scenes Quentin Tarantino has made up to this point.

The first scene is the underground tavern where some of Aldo’s men go undercover as Nazis to meet with actress Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger) to gain intel and access to an exclusive screening of a Nazi propaganda film where some of the most important Nazi associates will be gathered. This one scene is a masterclass on how to write characters and build tension. Sublime acting from Michael Fassbender as Lt. Archie Hicox attempting to pass himself off as a Nazi and his face to face meeting with August Diehl’s suspicious Major Hellstrom.

Inglourious Basterds Opening Scene

But of the two scenes, as much as I love the underground tavern one… it’s missing something, it’s missing Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz). So for my favourite scene, I’m picking the opening of Inglourious Basterds. Before we are made aware of exactly what the film is about, before we even meet the titular ‘basterds’, we meet the film’s main protagonist and he’s fucking amazing. One of the best introductions to one of cinema’s greatest villains. Taking place on a dairy farm in Nazi occupied France, Hans questions the farm’s owner, Perrier LaPadite (Denis Ménochet) about a missing family of Jews. I don’t want to give too much away about this one in case you’ve not yet seen it. But the scene is just beautiful and very Quentin Tarantino, I mean, it’s just two men sitting at a table and talking and yet it’s so much more then that at the same time. The dialogue (which flips between French, German and English) is top notch full of those QT tropes of talking about nothing. The acting by Christoph Waltz is mesmerising, it’s one of those ‘love to hate’ performances. Plus the ticking time bomb of we know what’s going on, but we don’t know if the characters (particularly Hans Lander) know what’s going on. The misdirection and tension are beautifully crafted and presented and yet even with all the suspense, QT still manages to include some brilliant humour to great effect. Hans Landa smoking his pipe is a particular highlight. A truly amazing scene.

“The feature that makes me such an effective hunter of the Jews is, as opposed to most German soldiers, I can think like a Jew, where they can only think like a German… more precisely, German soldier. Now, if one were to determine what attribute the German people share with a beast, it would be the cunning and the predatory instinct of a hawk. But if one were to determine what attributes the Jews share with a beast, it would be that of the rat. The Führer and Goebbels’s propaganda have said pretty much the same thing, but where our conclusions differ is I don’t consider the comparison an insult.”

– Col. Hans Landa

Django Unchained

Django Unchained Poster

Released in 2012, this film is another QT love letter, this time to the Western genre. German dentist turned bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) crosses paths slave Django (Jamie Foxx). The two team up to collect on a few bounties and when Django tells the story of his enslaved wife at the hands of a brutal Mississippi plantation owner, the duo conceive a plan to free her.

Being a QT fan and for many, many years, I always wanted him to do a Western and do it his way. With Django Unchained, I got my wish. Based on the Django films starring Franco Nero, who has a cameo in this flick. Tarantino and Western films are a perfect blend as he is such a huge fan of Spaghetti Western genre director Sergio Leone and that love for the genre shows in this film too. This is another picture where choosing just one scene is hard because it’s full of great ones. I could’ve gone for Calvin Candie’s (Leonardo DiCaprio) diner table rant where he really cut his hand open and just kept on acting. Maybe the glorious shoot-out near the end of the film with it’s stunning sound design. The funny pre-Ku Klux Klan talk about their hoods and wearing the costumes lead by Big Daddy (Don Johnson). In fact my first thought for favourite scene was for Stephen’s (Samuel L. Jackson) LeQuint Dickey speech after Django is captured because the acting is amazing and Samuel L. Jackson is simply terrifying. But no, I’ve gone for something else.

Django Unchained Opening

Much like my previous choice with Inglourious Basterds, I’m going for the film’s opening and much for the same reason too… Christoph Waltz. The exchange between Dr. King Schultz and the slavers is beautiful. At this point, we don’t know who this guy is or what he wants. All we know is the he’s trying to negotiate a deal to buy a slave, and we don’t even know why he wants that either. We don’t know if he’s a good guy or a bad guy, we know nothing. It’s an uneasy scene as we know so little and yet by the end, we know who Dr. King Schultz is, we get a great feel for his character, personality and his intentions. Plus aside from the unease and tension, the scene once more has some great humour. There is something about Christoph Waltz and Quentin Tarantino working together that just works, like two pieces of LEGO perfectly slotting together.

[Talking to slaves] “Now, as to you poor devils. So as I see it, when it comes to the subject of what to do next, you gentlemen have two choices. One: once I’m gone, you could lift that beast off the remaining Speck, then carry him to the nearest town; which would be at least thirty seven miles back the way you came. Or two: you could unshackle yourselves, take that rifle, put a bullet in his head, bury the two of them deep, and then make your way to a more enlightened area of this country. The choice is yours.”

– Dr. King Schultz

The Hateful Eight

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Perhaps the most divisive Quentin Tarantino picture to date with many fans not liking it while others loved it. Released in 2015, the film is about a group of strangers who find themselves trapped together in a small haberdashery in the mountains during a particularly nasty snow storm. One of the group, John Ruth (Kurt Russell) has a prisoner shackled to his wrist, Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who is part of a gang wanted for murder. John plans on bringing his prize in alive to claim the reward, but paranoia and distrust begins to take over as John thinks someone is out to take his prisoner and reward from him.

I think the reason some people didn’t like this one was because it was another Western genre flick released after Tarantino’s previous film in the same genre. Maybe people wanted something different from him at the time? But me? I love this film, love it. When I first saw it, I enjoyed it a lot and since then I’ve watched it a few more times and it just gets better and better with each subsequent viewing. This is QT getting back to his roots of his first film Reservoir Dogs. It’s small with a small cast taking place in pretty much one small locale. It’s a film about distrust and misdirection, just like Reservoir Dogs. But it also has the flavours from other directors such as Sergio Leone and John Carpenter. In fact I’d even suggest that The Hateful Eight is a Western version of The Thing. There are a lot (and I mean a lot) of parallels that can be drawn between the two flicks outside of them both just starring Kurt Russell… maybe a later article? But I need to pick my favourite scene here.

The Hateful Eight Major

Of course we have QT’s violence, humour and dialogue in this one and it’s a dialogue heavy scene that I’m going for. Featuring Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) telling the story of how he killed the son of General Sandy Smithers (Bruce Dern). Without getting to far into spoilers here as the scene needs to be seen without ruining it, this scene is well crafted and written. It really is just a character describing to another character how he killed their son… oh it does get a little crass. The visuals jump from it’s current locale where the Major is talking directly to the General while also going into a flashback/recreation to visualise what is being talked about. Samuel L. Jackson gives such a commanding performance that you just can’t help but fall in love with him despite the subject matter he’s talking about. He’s outright fucking evil in this scene and yet so engrossing at the same time.

“I knew me I was gonna have some fun! It was COLD the day I killed your boy. And I don’t mean snowy mountain in Wyoming cold… Colder than that. And on that cold day, with your boy at the business end of my gun barrel… I made him strip. Right down to his bare ass. Then I told him to start walkin’. I walked his naked ass for two hours ‘fore the cold collapsed him. Then he commits to beggin’ again. But this time, he wasn’t beggin’ to go home. He knew he’d never see his home again. And he wasn’t beggin’ for his life neither, ’cause he knew that was long gone. All he wanted, was a blanket. Now don’t judge your boy too harshly, General. You ain’t never been cold as your boy was that day. You’d be surprised; what a man that cold, would do for a blanket. You wanna know what your boy did?”

– Major Marquis Warren

So there they are, my favourite scenes from all of Quentin Tarantino’s movies to date. I can’t wait to go and see Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood and hopefully find more great scenes. Saturday just can’t get here soon enough.

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