Tag Archives: Quentin Tarantino

Once Upon a Time… in Hollybored?

For me, a new Quentin Tarantino flick is a major cinematic event. I have managed to see each and every one of his film releases at the cinema either on original release or retroactively via special screenings… and I’m not about to stop now. So of course I went to go and see QT’s latest picture, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, Tarantino’s ninth and (if he keeps his word) penultimate film as he has said how he plans of retiring from directing films after number ten.

Now I’m going to do this in two parts. The first part will cover the basic plot and characters of the flick, where I aim to avoid major spoilers but also give my general impressions of the film. There may be a few light things mentioned but nothing that will give anything important away.

But for the second part, I definitely need to talk about specific things like the controversy the film is getting and the ending, so will obviously contain big SPOILERS. So this is just a pre-warning. Feel free to read on for the first part, but the second one you’ll need to avoid if you want to go into the film blind. I’ll use headings the split the two parts and give another warning just before I do the spoilery part II.

Part I

So I think I’d better start with a synopsis of the film just to get people up to speed.

Once Upon a Time In Hollywood Trio

Set in the summer of 1969, Hollywood. The film tells the tale of Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). Rick was a once popular actor in a 50s and early 60s western TV show and went on to have a semi-successful film career, but in the late 60s, he finds himself struggling to find roles. Cliff is Rick’s stuntman and friend. Since the work has dried up, Cliff remains by his friend’s side despite the lack of work. No longer his stuntman, Cliff now works as Rick’s driver and general dogsbody. Rick Dalton still lives in the affluent Hollywood Hills, where he lives next door film director Roman Polanski and his model/actress wife Sharon Tate.

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood’s main plot is set against the backdrop of the real life, brutal and bloody Charles Manson instructed Sharon Tate murder.

Well just to get this out of the way. I’m really not sure what to make of this film or how I really feel about it. I adore Quentin Tarantino, I’m such a self-proclaimed and unashamed fanboy of his work. In my eyes, he’s never made a bad film. However, this is the first time coming out of watching a QT film where I’m struggling to form a solid opinion either good or bad.

It’s not a bad film, not even close. But I’m struggling to find myself praising it as a whole picture. I can’t say this was a total disappointment at all, but I can’t say I felt fully entertained either. The plot just didn’t grab me. The buddy relationship between Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth didn’t have the depth I hoped it would. The performances were good with the best definitely being Brad Pitt. He’s brilliant, charming, funny and pretty bad-ass too. Absolutely loved him in the film. Leonardo DiCaprio was good for the most part too, but as for his character I just didn’t find him as interesting as Brad Pitt’s. Plus the fact he sobs, weeps and cries in every other scene got really annoying. Someone likes his acting, he cries, someone doesn’t like his acting, he cries. Someone points out he’s crying, he cries.

Then you have Margot Robbie playing Sharon Tate. She’s more of a background character. Doesn’t have many lines but she does pop up throughout the film quite a few times. Yet when she’s on screen, she’s very enjoyable. The rest of the cast and characters are basically bit parts with some only getting seconds of screen time. Seriously, Damon Herriman’s portrayal of Charles Manson gets let than a minute of screen time. He shows up at a house, discoverers the previous occupants he was looking for no longer live there and he leaves… that’s it. That’s all the Charles Manson you get in this one. Not that I’m trying to suggest a film needs more Manson, but when a film’s backdrop is the Sharon Tate murder, you just kind of expect Charles Manson to be a main player.

Once Upon a Time In Hollywood Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee (Mike Moh) has one great scene and a couple of very short appearances later and that’s it for him. Oh and there’s a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ Steve McQueen (Damian Lewis) bit. I guess the point I’m getting to is that it’s a very disposable cast. Aside from Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt (best part of the film), everyone else are just bit players and we don’t really get to know their characters… even Sharon Tate.

The film is very slow paced with pretty much no action until the last 15 minutes or so.  Yet even with it’s slow pacing, the 2 hour 41 minute run time passed by pretty fast. I was never ‘bored’ with the film outright, I wasn’t sitting there looking at my watch… but I wasn’t entertained much either. It’s very dialogue heavy which is a staple of Tarantino and a staple I adore too. But here, his writing lacks the spark his other flicks had. There is a part of the film, that for me dragged on unnecessarily. It’s when Rick Dalton gets a job working on a western and the film spends way too much time showing him make the film within the film. In the make-up trailer, sitting around waiting to shoot a scene reading a book and then finally filming the damn film and forgetting his lines, etc. I just found it bit tedious. Thankfully all of it is inter-cut with backstory for Cliff Booth and other moments featuring Cliff which made it much more bearable.

Speaking of which, QT is amazing at creating tension in his flicks. See the opening of Inglourious Basterds for proof. There’s a scene in this where Cliff Booth goes to Spahn Ranch, which for those not in the know was where the Manson Family lived. Anyway, Cliff goes out to the ranch and I think this was supposed to be where QT’s amazing tension was meant to come in… but it didn’t, not for me anyway. I think the idea of the scene was to put Cliff Booth in danger of being killed by the Mason Family but it just didn’t work for me, I never felt that.

Once Upon a Time In Hollywood Cliff Booth.png

I think knowing about the whole Manson family history and especially the Tate murder really helps before watching this flick. It adds a level of tension as the film follows the tragic Sharon Tate. When she goes to the cinema to watch her own movie The Wrecking Crew. Seeing her enjoying the film and smiling as the audience happily react to her performance was beautiful. Her sheer joy and happiness was lovely to see… but knowing in your mind what happens to her and the fate see will soon face makes her enjoyment so much more tragic. So my advice would be to read up on the Sharon Tate murder first.

Now, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood is an absolutely gorgeous film to look at. The way Quentin has captured the look and feel of 60s L.A. is a feast for the eyes. I wasn’t around in 1969 and I most definitely wasn’t living in Hollywood either. Yet I really felt like I was there watching the film. The clothing, the scenery and of course, the music were all spot on. The directing and editing choices were also a joy to witness. From inserts of Rick Dalton movies and T.V. shows when he’s talking to Marvin Schwarz (Al Pacino) to the use of filters and film grain to make things look very 60s. There’s a part where Rick Dalton is talking about how he almost got the Steve McQueen role in the film The Great Escape and the film then cuts to actual footage from The Great Escape but with Leonardo DiCaprio digitally inserted as Rick in place of Steve McQueen. It was really well done too. Honestly, it is a stunning film just to look at full of great little nuances and details.

Once Upon a Time In Hollywood LA.jpg

Then there is Tarantino’s humour, something often overlooked in his pictures. This film is funny and I don’t mean one or two humorous lines in the entire thing, I mean genuinely funny scenes that have been well written and then followed up with top-notch acting with perfect comic timing. Such scenes include Rick mentioning when using a flamethrower how hot it is and if something could be done about the heat. The Bruce Lee fight was hilarious with several great and funny lines. Even the bloody violent finale has some brilliant, well placed humour in it.

Quite honestly, there are a lot of individual elements I really loved about this film. There some amazing scenes and the acting is superb, especially Brad Pitt. But that’s all it felt like to me, a series of great moments and not one great film. It’s a good film I can’t call it a bad one. But I don’t know, I just expect more form Quentin Tarantino as I know he’s capable of greatness. This just felt a bit flat to me. It almost felt like someone trying to mimic Tarantino’s style and not actually Tarantino himself. Of all of his films, this has been his most ‘boring’ for me.

Overall, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood was watchable and even very enjoyable in many parts. But as an overall film? It sadly didn’t really work for me. Still saying that, I didn’t think much of Jackie Brown when I first saw it either. But now, years later and after several views, I think it’s the best thing QT has done. Maybe I need to see Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood a few more times, maybe it needs to grow on me a little?

Once Upon a Time In Hollywood Rick Dalton

Thinking about it, I’d rather have seen a Cliff Booth only film. A flick about a struggling stuntman trying to make his way back to the top. Tarantino’s take on the classic Burt Reynolds film, Hooper. Honestly, I loved Brad Pitt in this… and his dog.

Do I recommend the film? Hmmmmmm, that’s a tough one. For me, as a QT fan, I was disappointed. I don’t think none QT fans will get much from the film either. It is a very pretty film to look at. The on screen chemistry between Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt really works too. The acting is great as is the music, you will feel like your in 1969… but the story was very hit and miss.

Part II

So okay, this is where I get into the major SPOILERS. I will be looking at specific scenes including the ending as well as addressing some of the film’s controversy to offer my view on it all. So again and last warning SPOILERS ahead…

Once Upon a Time In Hollywood Duo 2.jpg

So I think I want to take a look at the whole Shannon Lee thing that has been going on. What has been happening is the daughter of Bruce Lee, Shannon has been mouthing off about how Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood depicts her father. Seeing as her entire career of late is basically living off her father’s name, I guess she feels the need to protect her source of income. But I really do not see why she is getting upset. No, the version of Bruce Lee in the film is not exactly 100% accurate… but it’s not meant to be. The film is not a documentary. The Bruce Lee here is a caricature, he’s an exaggeration of the real man. Any Bruce Lee fan can tell you that. There have been far, far worse versions of Bruce caught on screen than what Quentin Tarantino has done here. This film will do nothing to harm Bruce’s legacy and reputation and Shannon needs to just pipe down about the whole thing.

Now I want to look at the violence in the film as that has been getting some negative feedback… mainly from bored feminists. There really is very little violence in the film but what is here is graphic and bloody. There’s a scene were Brad Pitt punches the crap out of a Manson Family member over a punctured car tyre. Then there is the film’s finale… and that’s about it really. Save a few smaller moments of violence within the films within the film. Yes the big finale does feature two women getting extremely badly beaten, a scene that is definitely upsetting some folk (so much that I wrote an article on the subject). The scene has over the top violence and features such things as a dog biting the face off of a female, Brad Pitt’s Cliff Booth smashing the face of another female into a stone fireplace crushing her skull and even Leonardo DiCaprio breaking out the previously mentioned flamethrower to burn a woman alive. It’s bloody and brutal stuff… but it’s not only two women at the centre of the violence as there’s a male too and he gets it just as bad including having the dog chew on his nuts. Oh yeah and the trio that do get fucked up are members of the Manson Family, they are the bad guys. Trust me, they deserved every bit of the gruesome deaths they get. Yes the violence is ridiculously OTT and gory, but it’s also perfectly justified too.

Right here I want to just go over the film’s ending so this is your last chance to walk away from the major SPOILERS.

Once Upon a Time In Hollywood Charles Manson.jpg

The real life events had three members of the Mason Family enter the house where Sharon Tate lived and kill everyone inside… oh and Sharon was eight months pregnant at the time too. She begged her killers to take her hostage and allow her to give birth to the baby so it could live, they killed her (and the baby) by stabbing Sharon sixteen times and wrote the word ‘pig’ on the door of the house in Sharon’s blood. It was one of the most shocking and disturbing murders in Hollywood history… and the finale of the film is Quentin Tarantino take on the whole thing.

If you have seen Inglourious Basterds then you know how Tarantino likes to alter history. He does exactly that with Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood too. The killers never enter Sharon Tate’s home in the film, they go next door to where Rick Dalton lives and that kick starts the bloody violence mentioned above. In QT’s altered history, Sharon Tate and the baby live. Not only that but struggling actor Rick Dalton gets invited into Sharon’s house and (presumably) becomes friends with her director husband Roman Polanski (before he was disgraced) and get’s back on top as an actor again.

All in all, it’s a happy ending, a very fictional one yes but a happy one none the less. It’s also an ending I was very thankful for as I watched the film with my five and a half month pregnant girlfriend. So as you can imagine, I sat there knowing the fate that was supposed to come to the pregnant Sharon Tate with my pregnant girlfriend sitting next to me, I was seriously worried that the film was just about to cause some major upset. But QT went in a different direction. It’s a pleasant twist.

 

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Tarantino, The Woman Hating Misogynist?

I didn’t mean to do a Quentin Tarantino week of articles, it’s just kind of turned out that way. I only planned on doing my look at the best scenes in QT’s movies, but then the idea of looking at Tarantino video games came about and then this article just popped into my head after reading a Tweet from a self-proclaimed feminist on how Quentin Tarantino is a woman hater.

I sat there reading the Tweet scratching my head trying to work out what this person was on about. I have watched Quentin Tarantino pictures since Reservoir Dogs back in 1992 and him being a misogynist has never entered my mind. So after a little research, it seems that several people are accusing QT of being a misogynist (do a quick interwebs search and you’ll find plenty of articles and videos making such a claim). I managed to backtrack the whole thing to a scene from his new flick, Once Upon A Time In… Hollywood.

Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood Dance

Now, I’ve not yet seen the film, I’m going to watch it over the weekend. So I can’t directly comment on the scene in question. But from what I gather, it involves two women getting severely beaten up and in graphic detail. I’ll offer my view on the scene and the film as a whole after I’ve seen it. But I do want to address this whole Quentin Tarantino supposedly being a woman hater…

Okay, so I’m not going to sit here and attempt to bullshit you readers like others are doing covering this very subject. I’m not going to be selective in my pickings of evidence, I’m not singling out just one scene and only one scene to make a point, I’m going to go though all of his directed films and aim to be honest.

Yes Tarantino depicts violence toward women in his films, often bloody, brutal and graphic too. Just look at the scene in Kill Bill where Uma Thurman’s very pregnant ‘The Bride’ get’s the shit beat out of her during the wedding rehearsal, both in live action and animation. There are other instances in his pictures where women are beaten, even one’s he hasn’t directed. See True Romance for another example, a film QT wrote. Here, there’s a scene where Alabama Worley (Patricia Arquette) gets smacked around and bloodied by Virgil (James Gandolfini). And yes, I’ll also bring up The Hateful Eight here with it’s numerous scenes of violence toward Jennifer Jason Leigh’s Daisy Domergue at the hands of John Ruth (Kurt Russell).

Women get beat up in his films and I’m sure that his latest, Once Upon A Time In… Hollywood will be no different. I’m more than willing to believe that what I’ve heard about there being a scene where two women get beaten up is true. I believe this because Quentin Tarantino is famed for his use of excessive violence, he’s been at it for almost thirty years… so why are people only now bringing this up as a negative?

Yeah I know the whole #metoo movement along with QT’s working relationship and friendship with Harvey Weinstein does not really help matters here. And yes I’ll even bring up his idiotic comments about Samantha Geimer, the 13 year old rape victim of Roman Polanski (comments he did apologise about). Yet sill, I’m scratching my head over this whole thing. Is Quentin Tarantino a woman hating misogynist? The short answer is no. The longer one needs a little more detail applied.

Well for my first bit of evidence, I need to quickly cover what Once Upon A Time In… Hollywood is about. Aside from the main plot, the film is set against the backdrop of the Charlie Mason/Sharon Tate murder and if you know your Hollywood history, then you know that things got a little violent and bloody. So if QT is revisiting a piece of history and a particularly violent piece of history… why should he shy away from it, why should he censor himself when depicting actual events? Plus I also hear that the scene in question where two women are beaten up also involves a male character getting the shit beat out of him too. Which leads me nicely to my next point.

Tarantino does show violence toward women in his flicks, there’s no denying that. But you know what else he shows? Violence toward men. He doesn’t discriminate against one sex over the other, he just uses violence as a way to advance the plot, it’s a storytelling device. Who is at the end of that violence is depicted by the story that is being told and not by the person getting beat up. You’ve seen Reservoir Dogs right? Pretty much a 100% male orientated film, aside from a scene with a female civilian being shot, it’s all males. Remember the most infamous and controversial scene of the film too?

Reservoir Dogs Ear Scene

Yup, it’s the ear cutting scene were a young kidnapped cop is tied to a chair, beaten, tormented, tortured, cut with a razor before having their ear hacked off and then doused in gasoline and almost set alight. Now just refresh my memory here but what sex was the cop? Not female right? Aside from the previously mentioned female civilian being shot, all the violence in this one is toward men.

How about we take a look at Pulp Fiction next? Can you think of any graphic violence toward women in this one? Nope. A young guy called Marvin (male) gets shot in the face, in fact several males get shot in the film. I suppose I could bring up the rape scene… oh yeah, it’s a male being raped isn’t it? The violence toward men in this one greatly outweighs the violent acts toward women eh? Not seeing a lot of this misogyny so far.

He’s next film, Jackie Brown is a wonderful tale about a plan to bring some illegal money over the Mexican boarder. It’s a simple story done really well. But I’m not here to explore the film’s plot, this article is looking at just how much of a woman hater Tarantino (supposedly) is. So let’s look at all the violence toward women. Well there’s the scene where Melanie Ralston (Bridget Fonda) is shot by Louis Gara (Robert De Niro)… and that’s it really. Just to equal that out a bit, later in the flick Louis is shot and killed by Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson) who also shoots and kills Beaumont Livingston (Chris Tucker) and is then shot and killed at the end of the picture by Ray Nicolette (Michael Keaton). Now have you been keeping count of the violent acts in this one? Because there are far more toward males than female characters.

Jackie Brown.jpg

While I’m here, let’s just take a look at the titular character, Jackie (Pam Grier) herself. She is depicted as a strong-willed and a very astute character. It is Jackie who comes up with the plan that leads to the demise of the film’s main antagonist. Then there is my favourite scene in the film, where Ordell comes to kill Jackie, but she cleverly turns things around and gets the upper hand, she is written as being in control over the men in the film. What kind of misogynist writes such a strong female character with power over males?

So let’s get into one I’ve already mentioned, Kill Bill. As previously covered, yes Uma Thurman’s character (important to remember it’s a character, not real) is beaten. And yet that very same character is the driving force of the entire flick, she is the strongest character in the whole damn thing. She goes out and get’s bloody revenge on those who wronged her, both female and male. And if you really want to keep a body count, she is far more violent toward males in the film than females. just look at the Crazy 88 fight for proof, the most violent scene in the whole film. In that one single scene, the female kills more male characters in a few minutes than all the other violent acts combined. Again, looking worse for the males than the females. Just as with Jackie Brown, if QT was such a woman hating misogynist, why create such a strong female character that kills so many males?

Up next, Death Proof. Quentin Tarantino’s love letter to 70s exploitation cinema. Now given this film’s influence of 70s exploitation cinema, there’s bound to be some pretty obvious mistreating of females, that’s what those flicks were like they were exploitative, especially toward women. They used violence and sex to sell so this is the prefect opportunity for QT to really push his misogynistic agenda. I suppose we could look at the film’s first main violent scene, the big crash. Yes we see four women get brutally killed in graphic detail, blood, guts and limbs fly in an orgy of violence and it’s the women who are displayed in said violence. Misogynistic right? Well let’s look at the latter half of the film…

Death Proof End.png

It’s the second half where a new set of female victims for this deranged killer are set up. Without getting into the plot details too much. After the best car chase ever filmed where the female characters take control and fight back against the male, they ram his car off the road. The male is then punched in the head a total of thirty seven times within thirty seconds, he get’s the shit beat out of him by the females. Oh and I almost forgot to mention the roundhouse kick and a boot to the skull that kills him… but for some reason, when calling out QT’s supposed misogyny, feminists seem to conveniently forget about scenes like this and his strong female characters. Oh and let’s not forget just how kick-ass and ballsy Zoë Bell (female) is in the film.

Do I really need to carry on with the rest of his films? Well there are only three more left and next is the WW II epic, Inglourious Basterds. Largely a male cast but I guess the two main female characters would be Diane Kruger as Bridget von Hammersmark and Mélanie Laurent as Shosanna Dreyfus. Now there’s very little violence toward women in this one, a lot toward men mind you. I guess in the interests of fairness I should bring up that Bridget is chocked to death by a male. But what about Shosanna? You know the female who comes up with the plan to kill the highest ranking Nazi officers and even Hitler himself… or are we just supposed to forget that like Jackie Brown, it’s the female who is the brains in the film?

Django Unchained is set during a dark piece of American history, the slavery era. So with such a terrible subject to cover, this would be the perfect opportunity for Quentin Tarantino to display his despicable misogyny. I mean he could have had woman after woman after woman beat and tortured and just use the excuse of ‘that’s the kind of thing that happened back then’… but he doesn’t. Just as with his other flicks, the violence in this is much more male centric. Now, I’m not claiming there is no violence shown toward female characters, because there is. However, with such a subject matter of slavery, I would request any feminist to point out to me five acts of violence toward women in this film. Can’t think of any can you? Maybe one, maybe two at a push but five? No chance. Now look at all the violent acts toward male characters… dozens of them from ‘mandingo fights’ to a male slave being torn apart by dogs. Even a horse gets shot in the face in the opening, don’t know if the hose was male or female to be honest. But the point is that the violence toward males in Django Unchained vastly outnumbers any towards females.

Okay so last film now The Hateful Eight and as I covered at the start, yes Jennifer Jason Leigh’s Daisy Domergue is punished through the film more than once. She gets punched and slapped around by male characters. But EVERYONE get’s punished in the film, both male and female. There are some pretty brutal deaths regardless of sex in the flick. Samuel L. Jackson even gets his ‘black dingus’ shot off. So let me just break this one down. The woman hating misogynist, Quentin Tarantino, wrote and directed a scene where a male character literally gets his manhood taken away, the very symbol of being male. Or what about the scene where Tarantino has a man walk butt-naked through the snow, do the feminists calling QT out for his misogyny have an explanation for that?

The Hateful Eight Major 2


 

So is Quentin Tarantino a woman hating misogynist? No. It’s more a case of feminists being manipulative idiots who pick and choose selective ‘evidence’ to create an argument that doesn’t exist and refuse to look at the bigger picture. I don’t get it, I really and honestly do not get calling out Tarantino as being a woman hating misogynist when his films have consistently and continually showed far more violence towards his male characters over females. If anything, it’s males who should be kicking up a fuss and arguing that he is extremely guilty of misandry. His flicks depict far more violence toward males than females, he has had a male character being raped, one being tortured another being beaten and killed by women, one having his pecker shot off, one being killed by dogs and countless other violent acts aimed at male characters… many, many, many more violent acts where men are the victims as apposed to females. As a writer/director who has written several very strong and intelligent female characters, for a misogynist, Tarantino is really, really fucking bad at it.

My views and opinions on his new flick, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood will be done over the weekend after I’ve seen it. But I expect violence toward women AND men in the film.

Tarantino Video Games, Why Aren’t There More?

Still really looking forward to going to see the new QT flick this weekend. After my article looking at my favourite scenes in Tarantino movies, I began to wonder why there haven’t been many games based on his movies. Seriously, some of QT’s pictures would make really interesting games, you’d think there’d be loads of them. Yet name three games based on his flicks… you can’t can you?

Now, there was a game based on one of his movies. Reservoir Dogs, released in 2006. But I wanted to look into why more of his films haven’t had the video game treatment, offer a few suggestions and even uncover some interesting tit-bits. But before all of that, I guess I’d better take a look at that previously mentioned Reservoir Dogs game.

Reservoir Dogs Game

Developed by Volatile Games and published by Eidos Interactive. The game follows the same plot as the film with a rag-tag group of criminals carrying out a diamond heist that goes wrong. The gameplay mixes up third person action with drivings sections. Now, the film didn’t actually show the heist go down, nor did it show most of the aftermath of the heist. But what gaps are in the film are filled in via the game. As an example, Mr Blonde turning psycho and going on a killing spree is mentioned in the film but we never see it. Well in the game, you not only see what was left to our imagination in the film, you get to play it.

There was an interesting mechanic in the game were you could act professional, not kill people and keep damage to a minimum or you could go full psycho and kill anyone you saw. Taking hostages was a key element as you could force the police to drop their weapons so you don’t have to kill them. You get the general idea. Depending on how you played, professional or psycho, the game’s ending would change.

On paper, Reservoir Dogs was a great idea. To take the film’s plot and expand on it, showing events we only hear about in the flick. But to be honest, it was a dog to play. Stiff controls, bland levels and highly repetitive. The game received mostly average reviews at the time and it was hard to argue against them. The game is very, very average. A great idea just poorly executed.

And you know what, that’s just about it for Quentin Tarantino movie based games… well okay, there is one more. Released in 2017 was yet another game based on the same movie. Reservoir Dogs: Bloody Days.

Where as the previous game was directly based on the film, this one is more ‘inspired by’ the movie and takes a lot of creative license. I’ve not played it so can’t really comment, but it hasn’t had very good reviews. From the trailer, it looks a bit bland to me. A top-down shooter with some kind of rewind feature.

So that’s it, only two games based on his movies and they were both Reservoir Dogs too. Officially anyway, there are several fan-made games that exist based on other QT’s flicks. See, this got me thinking, why have there not been more Tarantino movie based games? Most people seem to think it’s because his flicks are dialogue heavy so wouldn’t translate to a game very well. I’d just like to go back to the first Reservoir Dogs game, based on a movie that is 90% dialogue. But it worked, okay so the gameplay was a little stale, but as I said, on paper it was a great idea. In the hands of a better and more experienced development team the Reservoir Dogs game could’ve been brilliant. Imagine if Rockstar had made it? I mean, look at what they did with The Warriors game from 2005, it was amazing.

Anyway, my point is that with a little effort and imagination, a dialogue heavy movie could work as a game. So with that in mind, I’m going to pitch a few QT movie game ideas. Reservoir Dogs has been done (twice), so I don’t feel the need to cover that one, but what about his other flicks?

Pulp Fiction

I didn’t see this one as an action game but more of a graphic adventure one. I was thinking something along the lines of the now defunct Telltale Games type of titles. Imagine a slower paced adventure where the choices you make change and affect the story. What if Vincent didn’t mange to save Mia from the overdose and Marsellus came after him? What if Jules decided not to leave the life of a hitman? If Butch didn’t go back to stop Marsellus from being raped?

You could play through the game following the plot as in the film, or you could stray from the script and see alternate scenes and dialogue. Make your own Pulp Fiction.

Jackie Brown

Okay so I don’t have much for this one. It’s a tricky one to turn into a game really. The best I could come up with was a prequel telling the story of Ordell Robbie and Louis Gara’s relationship. It is mentioned in the flick that Louis had just gotten out of jail after serving time for armed robbery. There are a few references that he and Ordell use to be close friends and got up to some criminal activities together before Ordell got into gun-running.

Jackie Brown Ordell

So there could be something there. Perhaps a third person cover/shooter game following the criminal lives of a younger Ordell and Louis? Could even be co-op, think something along the lines of Army Of Two or Kane & Lynch… only good.

Kill Bill

Come on, how is Kill Bill not a game already? It’s basically a video game in film format. You controlling ‘The Bride’ going on her rip-roaring rampage of revenge travelling the world as she tracks down those who killed her unborn baby. This is perfect game fodder. A mix of shooter and swordplay, see the Shadow Warrior games as a great example of how to do it.

Well here’s the thing, there very nearly was a Kill Bill game. It was in development but ended up being cancelled around 2005-ish. It was being developed by Black Label Games and an early demo even existed showing some basic moves from the game…

There’s enough material in Kill Bill to make an epic title. You don’t even have to be bound by the movie only. How about a game that follows the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad before the events of the film? An origin story of Bill himself and his falling out with Hattori Hanzō? It could be a huge, expansive game that builds on what is already in the films as well as incorporate the flick’s main story.

Death Proof

A game about driving American muscle cars really fast and killing people? This could be amazing. Again, you don’t have to be bound by the story of the game and could explore Stuntman Mike’s obsession with killing beautiful women with his car, how/why did he began doing it. I was thinking it could even have an online element. An asymmetrical multiplayer game where one person plays as Stuntman Mike with the others as his victims trying to escape. Think Friday the 13th: The Game but with fast cars.

Or how about a game where you play as Stuntman Mike just doing stunts? There already have been stuntman games with Stuntman and Stuntman: Ignition and they were pretty damn good too. So how about playing as Stuntman Mike before he turned homicidal and just worked as a stuntman making T.V. shows and movies?

The film has the greatest car chase caught on film, I’m sure a game could be made based off the last chase alone.

Inglourious Basterds

How a game based on the idea of a bunch of crazy World War II soldiers trying to kill loads of Nazi’s and Hitler does not exist is beyond me. Yeah I know there already are plenty of WW II based games… but none based on QT’s flick.

Inglourious Basterds Aldo

Could be a team based thing where you play alone or with friends controlling the various ‘basterds’ each with differing strengths, weaknesses and skill sets. Doesn’t have to be based solely on the flick either, I’m sure the basterds have been on several other missions through the war. Get some creative licence in here and there could be a great WW II game blending fiction with fact to create an alternate universe where the Inglourious Basterds stopped the war.

Django Unchained

Red Dead Redemption is one of my all time favourite games and it’s definitely my favourite game released in the last decade. Being a cowboy has never been so damn awesome. I want more cowboy games and yet they are pretty thin on the ground.

Why not a game inspired by Django Unchained? I don’t think we need one that follows the plot of the film, but how about a sequel game that tells what Django got up to after the film’s credits rolled? He’s a freed ex-slave turned bounty hunter . Yeah I’d love to play a Western (or Southern as QT calls it) bounty hunter game. Some kind of open world thing where you travel from town to town taking on bounties and having to bring them in dead or alive. Of course the game doesn’t have to be solely about being a bounty hunter and could explore Django’s relationship with his wife and how he becomes a descendant to the black private dick that’s a sex machine to all the chicks… Shaft!… cos QT has said that this is the case.

Django Unchained Django

Throw in other gameplay elements and build the story. Basically what I’m proposing is Red Dead Django.

The Hateful Eight

Okay I admit, I got nothing for this one. Despite the fact The Hateful Eight is basically Reservoir Dogs wearing a cowboy hat with it’s minimal cast and locales. It’s story based on tension and deception… I still have nothing. You can’t really do a retread of the Reservoir Dogs game because that used the idea of the heist as it’s basis, but there is no heist in The Hateful Eight. What you have in this flick is several people taking to each other and no one trusting the next guy… and coffee drinking.

Maybe you could make an action game exploring the Domergue gang before Daisy was captured? I dunno, that’s all I got here.

So this is where I originally ended the article, but as I read through it, I realised I forgot a film that would make an awesome game…

From Dusk Till Dawn

Now I know he didn’t direct this one, but he did write and star in it. As with previous suggestions, there are multiple games that could be made here. A prequel looking at the Gecko brother’s criminal career. One directly based on the events in the film itself with all hell breaking loose at the Titty Twister, an OTT vampire game. But instead of ending like the film does with Seth leaving for El Wray, he stays on and explores the temple under the bar to end the vampires for good. I was thinking something along the lines of Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver with a large, expansive locale to explore while killing numerous vampires in all sorts of gruesome and ingenious way, using the scenery, etc.

From Dusk Till Dawn Seth


So that’s it, my suggestions on how Quentin Tarantino movies could be turned into games… but there’s more. See, as I researched this I found something interesting. QT himself has a bit of a history with video games. I’m sure many of you remember the whole CD-ROM revolution of the 90s. There was a period fairly early on in the decade when CDs became the got to format for games when there was an influx of FMV games. These titles were often pretty poor excuses for games that held little to zero gameplay and just showcased full motion video (FMV). Horrendous titles like The Daedalous Encounter, the Make My Video trilogy and of course I can’t help but mention Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties.

Well a certain film writer/director got in on the CD-ROM/FMV video game craze in the 90s and made his own game. No not Tarantino but Steven Spielberg with his effort called: Steven Spielberg’s Director’s Chair released in 1996. It was a bare basic ‘game’ where you are given a load of film clips and have to edit them together, choose camera angles, etc to make a ‘film’. So what does this have to do with Quentin Tarantino?

Well one of the clips you can edit…

Yup, that’s QT himself ‘acting’ in a clip from a shitty FMV game. The game was released in 1996 but apparently the footage was filmed in the early 90s before Quentin hit it big with Reservoir Dogs. He did this (along with selling film scripts) to help raise funds for his first film.

And yes, that is Jennifer Aniston too.

 

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

True Romance Poster.jpg

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

Pulp Fiction Poster.jpg

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

The Hateful Eight.JPG

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.

What’s In A Name? The Character Connections Between Tarantino Movies

I am a self confessed Quentin Tarantino fanboy. From his first full length movie that was Reservoir Dogs to his most recent picture, The Hateful Eight – I’ve enjoyed all of his films for very different reasons. Hey, I even liked Four Rooms.

Over the years, Tarantino has made films that all seem separate and yet he always throws in little nods, references and connections via his shared universe that he was doing long before Marvel got in on the act. Using his own made up products like Red Apple cigarettes in all of his films as one example of many.

red-apples

He has even extended his shared universe into the works of other directors like Robert Rodriguez, Tony Scott and even Oliver Stone… most of the time because Tarantino has had a hand in there somewhere from a writing/producing perspective. But it is in character names and possible connections where his shared universe really comes to light. From main characters to secondary ones and even off screen characters – all of his films are connected in one way or another via his characters. But there is more than one movie universe going on within his movie universe. Confused? I’ll let Quentin himself explain…

There is actually two separate universes. There is the realer than real universe, alright, and all the characters inhabit that one. But then there’s this movie universe. So From Dusk Till Dawn, Kill Bill, they all take place in this special movie universe. So when all the characters of Reservoir Dogs or Pulp Fiction, when they go to the movies, Kill Bill is what they go to see. From Dusk Till Dawn is what they see.

Got it? There is a ‘real’ movie universe and a ‘movie’ movie universe going on within Tarantino’s movie universe and characters from his ‘real’ universe can go to see moives from his ‘movie’ universe within that ‘real’ movie universe. So here, I’d like to make as many of the connections as I think I have found from his moives as a writer, director or producer. I’ll start with what I think is a very interesting connection.

There will be SPOILERS ahead for pretty much every Quentin Tarantino film.


Mia Wallace Played Beatrix Kiddo

You remember that scene in Pulp Fiction where Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) and Vincent Vega (John Travolta) are out enjoying a $5 milkshake? Mia Tells Vincent that she is a struggling actress and shot a pilot for a TV show called Fox Force Five. If you listen to the description of the main characters in that show that Mia gives – they sound pretty familiar. Okay so they are not exact and water tight, but those characters sound a lot like the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad from Kill Bill. The blonde one was the leader – (Elle Driver?), The Japanese fox was a kung-fu master (O-Ren Ishii?), the black girl was a demolition expert (Vernita Green?), the French fox’s speciality was sex (Sofie Fatale?). And what type of character did Mia play in Fox Force Five… the deadliest woman in the world with a knife… or possibly a sword?

As Tarantino said that the characters from Pulp Fiction could go to the movies and watch Kill Bill, what if that Fox Force Five TV pilot got picked up but adapted and turned into a movie instead and that movie was called Kill Bill? And what if struggling actress, Mia Wallace was the one who played Beatrix Kiddo A.K.A The Bride? Sounds reasonable right? I mean you have to admit that they do look a lot a like too…

The Vega Brothers

Now this one is already pretty well known as Tarantino himself has spoken about this several times and even said he wanted to make a Vega brothers movie prequel a while back. But for those not in the know, Mr Blonde A.K.A Vic Vega (Michael Madsen) and Vincent Vega from Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction respectively are in fact brothers.

Yes, Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction are officially and canologicaly connected and even if he never made his proposed Vega Brothers flick, Tarantino still says these two films are directly connected. He never revealed much about his Vega Brothers picture, but he did say this…

I did think about the idea of the Vega brothers, taking place before the movies when like Vin was in Amsterdam and his brother Vic/Mr Blonde comes and visits him, and their adventures.

Its a very sketchy idea at best but it was enough to get me thinking – if the film was to be a prequel that would have been set in Amsterdam and involved the Vega brothers, aside from drugs, what else is Amsterdam famous for? Diamonds. What were they stealing in Reservoir Dogs? And what exactly was in that damn briefcase in Pulp Fiction? Its a rough idea but I’m sure Tarantino must have been thinking about linking everything together. What if Vic and Vincent stole diamonds in Amsterdam, brought them back to America where they were sold and Vic then got involved in a heist to steal them back once more? Then what if those diamonds that were taken by Mr Pink at the end of Reservoir Dogs ended up in a briefcase in Pulp Fiction?

The Dimmicks

Its possible that the Vega brothers may not be the only siblings sharing the Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction canon, what about Jimmie (Quentin Tarantino) and Lawrence Dimmick (Harvey Keitel) A.K.A Mr White? Now – as far as I have researched, Tarantino has neither confirmed nor denied that these two are related, but within this shared universe, why not? Bothers, cousins or other. Its possible right?

You remember Jimmie from Pulp Fiction right? He’s the fella that was not too happy about deceased gentlemen of colour being stockpiled within his vehicle shelter – who clearly has connections to the criminal underworld if he is friendly with hitman Jules (Samuel L. Jackson). Jimmie’s last name is Dimmick. Mr White from Reservoir Dogs reveals his real name is Lawrence Dimmick to a dying Mr Pink. But if they are related then I have one question. Why doesn’t Jimmie mention there is an uncanny resemblance between his sibling Lawrence and the guy that has been sent to help clean things up Winston Wolf?

Scagnetti And Scagnetti

This is an unusual one as only one of these characters are actually shown on screen – the other is only quickly mentioned in passing and many people miss it. Detective Jack Scagnetti (Tom Sizemore) from Natural Born Killers sports an impressive quiff and an unstable personality. He may be a lawman, but he’s not exactly on the right side of the law either. A good guy with bad tendencies. When Mr Blonde is catching up with old friends in Reservoir Dogs – he mentions his parole officer is someone called Seymour Scagnetti, who apparently is not a nice guy either. Does being a bad-good guy run in the family?

Paula And The Dentist

Dentist, Dr King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) was born in Düsseldorf, Germany but moved to America where he took up the rather profitable career of being a bounty hunter. It has been theorised that sometime in the 1850s, Schultz married a younger woman who outlived him as Dr. King Schultz is killed during the events of Django Unchained. Then later in Kill Bill, Beatrix Kiddo is burred alive in grave – and the name on the grave? Paula Schultz. Even more so, the chapter from the film it titled; ‘The Lonely Grave Of Paula Schultz’ and she would have been lonely if she died a widow. Maybe Dr King Schultz and the unseen Paula were married within this universe? Plus, the dates on the grave seem to add up too…

The War Hero And The Bandit

Back in Pulp Fiction and Captain Koons (Christopher Walken) tells a young Butch Coolidge (Chandler Lindauer) a little about the Koons heroic family history and a lovely story about a very important watch. Yet it seems that not everyone in the Koons bloodline may have been quite as upstanding as their family think. In Django Unchained while Dr King Schultz is training Django (Jamie Foxx), a wanted poster is shown for the Smitty Bacall Gang and one of the gang members is called; Crazy Craig Koons. I wonder if this Koons family member also placed timepieces in hard to reach places?

The Cops And The Bandit

That very same wanted poster from Django Unchained reveals yet another name, Gerald Nash who is wanted for murder. It seems that Gerald must have had children at some point because during Natural Born Killers a re-enactment of a murder of a police officer is shown and the name of the dead cop? Gerald Nash. But that is not all, doesn’t the name Nash sound familiar? What if I said this other Nash was also a cop? Still unsure, then lend me your ear. The kidnapped cop from Reservoir Dogs that Mr Blonde plans on torturing while listening to Steeler’s Wheel is named Marvin Nash (Kirk Baltz) and Tarantino has confirmed that Natural Born Killers Nash and Reservoir Dogs Nash are in fact cousins.

Maynard The Bigoted Family

Maynard (Duane Whitaker) from Pulp Fiction is the owner of a pawn shop… and has a perverse hobby that involves a gimp, a corrupt security guard and underworld crime boss being… well just watch the film. He seriously seems to have several problems, but if you have a racist/bigot bloodline then what do you expect? But what bloodline is this? Well during the awesome Candyland shootout in Django Unchained – an unnamed, rifle toting racist screams out “Ain’t no (insert racial slur towards black people here) gonna kill Maynard!”. After which, said self-proclaimed Maynard is brutally shot to death by Django in a satisfying orgy of blood and bullets.

Clarence And Lawrence’s Shared Love

True Romance is a great love story flick. A love story full of drugs, vengeance, guns and plenty of dead bodies…but a love story none the less. Aside from having one of my all time favourite movie scenes ever where Clifford Worley (Dennis Hopper) and Vincenzo Coccotti (Christopher Walken) engage in an intense game of cat and mouse. The film also features another possible Tarantino connection. The hooker with a heart of gold, Alabama Whitman/Worley (Patricia Arquette) seems to have had a life before True Romance where she teamed up with Lawrence Dimmick from Reservoir Dogs as Mr White reveals that Alabama was his ex-partner. So if she was his ex-partner, after the break up – did she fall into prostitution to make ends meet and finally find love with Clarence Worley (Christian Slater) later?

The Nazi Killer And The Film Director

Sticking with True Romance, Clarence tries to sell the cocaine he acquired to a film director called Lee Donowitz (Saul Rubinek). During the events of the film, Lee is putting the finishing touches to his latest in-movie flick; Coming Home In A Body Bag 2, a sequel to his hit Vietnam film that Clarence is a big fan of. But what if Lee got inspiration for his war movies from members of his own family? Maybe Sgt. Donny ‘The Bear Jew’ Donowitz (Eli Roth) from Inglourious Basterds and his Nazi brain-bashing ways played a hand in Lee’s film career?

Another Nazi Killer And His Great, Great Grandfather

Inglourious Basterds featured a lot of Nazi killing… a hell of a lot. One of the best and most intense scenes in the flick took place in an underground tavern where English Army officer Lt. Archie Hicox (Michael Fassbender) goes undercover as a German officer and things go badly. It seems that bloodshed and gunfights in enclosed places is a family trait as Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth) from The Hateful Eight can attest to. But how are these two characters linked? Well Oswaldo Mobray is just an alias as his real name is actually ‘English’ Pete Hicox and he is the great, great grandfather of Archie.

The Dead Texas Ranger With A Long Life

Texas Ranger Earl McGraw (Michael Parks) first appeared in From Dusk Till Dawn – where he was quickly executed via a bullet to the head. But you just can’t keep a good Texas Ranger down as he resurfaced in Kill Bill where he was joined by his son Edgar McGraw (played by Michael’s real-life son James Parks). The McGraw family kept on growing when Earl popped up again in the Death Proof and Planet Terror combo of Grindhouse. This time around Earl and Edgar were joined by Dr Dakota Block née McGraw (Marley Shelton) the daughter of Earl and sister of Edgar.

The Hateful Eight

So I finally got around to watching Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, The Hateful Eight.

painting

This is a film that has really split opinions. It seems to be one of those either love it or hate it pictures.
Now I’m a self-confessed Quentin Tarantino fan, so it has to be a winner right? Well I read a few spoiler free reviews before I went to see this and there are some big fans of Quentin that really, really hate this one.
So what camp do I find myself in with this film, love or hate?

This is going to be relatively spoiler free, but the odd little one will slip in. So if you don’t want anything spoiled, stop reading now.

My old mate Paul saw this before me and really enjoyed it. He likened it to a stage play, and I can certainly see that. It is a fairly ‘simple’ production with a small cast and mostly all taking place in one location. This could easily be adapted into a stage play.

In fact, the whole film reminded me of something else from Quentin Tarantino. His first feature film; Reservoir Dogs. Really, The Hateful Eight is Reservoir Dogs wearing a cowboy costume.
Now I’m not saying that The Hateful Eight is a copy of Reservoir Dogs or that it is some kind of a remake either. Just that the two films have that same vibe. That claustrophobic, small cast and (pretty much) single location feel.
Anyway the whole feel of this film will be very familiar if you have seen Reservoir Dogs…and that is not bad thing at all.

But then it also reminded me of something else too. The John Carpenter classic; The Thing. Again, the whole claustrophobic atmosphere, the paranoia, distrust among the characters and small cast. But then you have the snow setting that film had also showing up here.
Adding on to The Thing connections, film score legend Ennio Morricone provided the music for The Thing and he also did the music for The Hateful Eight too. Oh yeah, Kurt Russell. Coincidence? I think not. I think its quite clear Quentin was inspired by The Thing with this film.

While structure wise The Hateful Eight is similar to Reservoir Dogs with a touch of The Thing thrown in too, the stories and characters are worlds apart.

Anyway, first up, my views on the cast.

characters

Quentin has done it yet again. The perfect cast for the film.
The main eight.
We have Tarantino favourites Samuel L. Jackson, Tim Roth and Michael Madsen.
With Walton Goggins and Demián Bichir.
Then there is the legend that is Bruce Dern.

Everyone here does a sterling job, with Jackson being his usual shouty but awesome self and Madsen that cool, low key performance he does so well.
Roth (for me) was the best of Tarantino’s usuals doing a sublime job. With Dern who’s part is fairly small, but what little screen time he has is not wasted at all.
Goggins is almost scene stealing and Bichir is equally impressive in the film too.

Now there are two names missing from the cast there and I left them out for a reason. That reason being, in think they deserve their own separate mention.

R&L

Jennifer Jason Leigh and Kurt Russell.
Why do they deserve their own separate mention? Because I feel they stole the entire film. Best performances by far and the two have a great chemistry throughout the whole film.
Tarantino has done with Leigh what he has achieved with other forgotten actors in his previous films. John Travolta with Pulp Fiction, Pam Grier and Michael Keaton with Jackie Brown, David Carradine and Daryl Hannah with Kill Bill. By taking an actor(ess) long forgotten about and making them relevant and memorable.
Leigh is amazing, her performance only beaten by the make up effects to make her look so grimy and repulsive, when normally she is really attractive and pretty.
While Russell is both bad ass and utterly charming too and I’m sure he is channelling a little MacReady from The Thing here, probably at Tarantino’s request.
These two actors really make this film worth watching alone.

So onto the plot/story.
Well to get it down to basics and trying to avoid spoilers.
Major Marquis Warren (Jackson) is a famed bounty hunter who is left out in a blizzard after his horse dies. Luckily For him, a stagecoach is passing by and he asks for help.
However, getting help is not going to be easy as riding in the stagecoach is John Ruth (Russell) and his prisoner Daisy Domergue (Leigh) with a $10,000 bounty on her head is wanted for murder and John Ruth is their man that tracked her down and is taking her to be hanged in the town of Red Rock, this is where he gets his nickname of ‘The Hangman’ from as he always brings his bounties in alive for them to be hanged.
Eventually John Ruth agrees to give Major Marquis Warren a ride in the stagecoach, but not without keeping the new passenger at a gun barrels length. It also seems this is not the first time they have met either. Along their journey, they eventually come across another man wondering around in the snow. Chris Mannix (Goggins) who reveals himself as to being the new Sheriff of the town Red Rock, which is where the stagecoach is heading and he too asks for a lift. This is where the first stitches of distrust start to be sewn as John Ruth thinks it rather suspicious that he just so happens to come across two random people out in a blizzard. Are they working together to claim that $10,000 bounty for themselves?

In the meantime, the blizzard is slowly getting worse and worse, becoming more of a danger.
They will never make it to Red Rock before the blizzard caches them, so they stop off at a well known place out in the mountains called; Minnie’s Haberdashery with the intent to wait for the blizzard to pass.
It is in Minnie’s Haberdashery where we meet Bob (Bichir), Oswaldo Mobray (Roth), Joe Gage (Madsen) and General Sandy Smithers (Dern) who have also sought out shelter from the incoming blizzard.
This is where most of the film takes place and where the distrust and paranoia gets turned up to 11 as John Ruth starts to suspect everyone is out to steal his prisoner and that $10,000 bounty.

This is where I’ll leave the plot as I’m heading into some major spoilers here.

Trio

A few thoughts on the movie.
The cinematography is simply gorgeous. The whole film is beautifully shot, from establishing shots of the mountains and scenery to the main set piece of the haberdashery itself. It all looks beautiful and authentic.

The dialogue is top notch too as you would expect from Quentin Tarantino. Often long speeches being delivered, some full of really intricate plot details, some just people talking.

The acting (as I touched upon) is also sublime. I already mentioned how great Roth is as well as how good both Russell and Leigh are. But I really have to mention Jackson too as he is memorising and thoroughly enjoyable throughout the film. Bichir playing Bob is funny and provides some great and needed comic relief. With Goggins really surprising me as he almost steals the whole film.

The plot is really well constructed, as the paranoia of the characters unfolds, you’ll notice little details in meaningless dialogue that end up actually meaning a hell of a lot.

Tarantino also uses misdirection really well here and will always have you trying to second guess where the film is heading…and you’ll mostly be wrong too. By the time the film ends, you’ll be thinking back on some of the smaller details and trying to piece all the little bits together.

It is a long film and it is slow paced too. The standard “digital” version comes in at 2 hours 47 minuets (including credits). But there was also a special limited 70mm print made available…very limited as there is only one of these prints in this country and it is only being shown in the West End of London. This cut is slightly longer at 3 hours 7 minutes (with an intermission) as there are a few additions. Yet despite how long the film is, I was surprised at how fast it all went by, it didn’t seem like I had sat there in the cinema for close to 3 hours by the time the credits rolled.

As I said before, this is getting very split reviews and opinions. Love it or hate it?
I thought it was good and thoroughly entertaining…I didn’t think it was amazing though as an overall film. Still, I didn’t really think Jackie Brown was all that good when I first saw it and now I think it is (probably) the best thing Quentin Tarantino has written so far. I can see this film growing on me and I’ll definitely be watching it again.

For me, the tension just was not there. Tarantino can write tension brilliantly, see the Dennis Hopper/Christopher Walken ‘eggplant’ scene from True Romance or that toe curling, teeth grinding scene from Inglourious Basterds during the LaLouisiane underground tavern.
Here, there is tension…but it never really feels that tense when it should be with so much distrust and paranoia.

While I didn’t mind the long running time, I don’t think the film needed to be almost 3 hours long at all either. There is nothing wrong with a long run time of the film has the legs for it. As much as I’ll praise the plot, it didn’t need almost 3 hours for it to be told.

It is a good film, most definitely. It was just not the genius that I know Quentin Tarantino can do.
I’d have loved to have seen the 70mm print version, but I’m not travelling to London just to watch a film. I hope that cut gets released for the home market though.

Anyway, those are my feelings on the film. Yeah I liked it…but it just was not a ‘masterpiece’.

8

Now to finish up, a few fun things I spotted and some of these do contain spoilers…

Roth’s character’s (Oswaldo Mobray) real name is later revealed to be ‘English’ Pete Hicox. In Inglourious Basterds, Michael Fassbender played Lt. Archie Hicox…some kind of relative? If Vic Vega from Reservoir Dogs and Vincent Vega from Pulp Fiction can be brothers (according to Tarantino, they are), I suppose the two Hicox could be related some way?

Also I noticed that Jackson and Goggins are the last two people to die in this film, they were also the last two to die in Django Unchained. Adding on, in Django, Jackson is shot in the leg and Goggins is shot in the balls while in the film Jackson is shot in the balls while Goggins is shot in the leg.

There’s some nice foreshadowing with some of the dialogue too. At the start, Daisy Domergue falls out of the stagecoach with John Ruth being pulled out as he is cuffed to her. After the fall John Ruth says “Nearly ripped my god damn arm off!” That line is quite clever for something that happens later.
During the stagecoach ride in the opening, John Ruth asks Major Marquis Warren: “You never stick around to see ’em hang?” Which ties into the ending.
Also John Ruth asks Daisy Domergue “You want a little snakebite in your coffee?” Again, that is quite important in relation to what happens later.
There are probably more little bits I missed too.

John

John Ruth:Yeah, Warren, that’s the problem with old men. You can kick ’em down the stairs, and say it’s an accident, but you can’t just shoot ’em.

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Quentin Tarantino Part III

Well lets just dive right into it and take a look at his new film.

TH8

The Hateful Eight: Not too much is known about the film right now, it is still being filmed as I write this.
But the basic synopsis is: In post-Civil War Wyoming, bounty hunters try to find shelter during a blizzard but get involved in a plot of betrayal and deception.

With an impressive cast of: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, James Parks and others.

The film is said to be set in the same universe as Django Unchained, but not connected plot wise.
Could we see the return of Django even if only for a cameo?

The film already has me excited and I can not wait to go and see it.

While the official relased date is Christmas 2015, it’ll only be initially released in select cinemas with a full release set for early 2016.
Some have suggested this is due to the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which will definitely be the big Christmas hit this year. But as I said in part I, I couldn’t care less about Star Wars.
So due to some “creative marketing”, I’ll have to wait until 2016 to see the film.

Still, seeing as not too long back, Quentin decided to not make this film thanks to a leaked script on the internet. I think I can wait until early 2016 to catch this flick…but it’s going to be a long wait indeed.

QT 2

So what is my favourite Quentin Tarantino film?
Though one to answer as I don’t have one favourite. So I’ll just offer my own opinion on his films so far instead.

Reservoir Dogs: This film is to Ringo Lam’s City on Fire (1987) what Sergio Leone’s Per un pugno di dollari (1964) was to Akira Kurosawa’s Yôjinbô (1961). With it being an unofficial remake. What a movie Reservoir Dogs really is, especially for a first time director…of a full theatrical feature. A heist film without a heist with 90% of the film just being dialogue with most of the film set in an empty warehouse. But it really showcased how great Tarantino is at writing his characters. This one set the bar high with many copycats trying to make similar films for years after, yet only Quentin himself could nail and even beat the high standards set by Reservoir Dogs.

Pulp Fiction: For quite a while, this was my favourite Tarantino film…but that was during the mid-late 90s when he only had 2-3 films to his name. Pulp Fiction is still one of the very best films made to date from anyone and again had other writers and directors tying to “out Tarantino” Tarantino with other similar films attempting to cash in on the character led, crime genre were the bad guys were the focus. Pulp Fiction is a simply awesome film, I’m even close to saying the best film made in the 90s.

Four Rooms: I can not stress enough how overlooked this film is. While not all four stories are great, the film as a whole is a fun watch. But Quentin Tarantino’s segment is really worth watching, full of that snappy dialogue, with interesting characters. Tarantino’s, The Man From Hollywood story is the final tale of the four, and I can safely say…they saved the best till last.

From Dusk Till Dawn: I still remember the first time I saw this flick and was lucky enough to not have it spoiled for me pre-viewing. Talk about yer great film twists eh? I really do not want to talk too much of this one in case some of you readers have not yet seen it. As I said previously, this is a film you need to know nothing about before seeing it. Just go watch it, don’t research it, don’t look at a cast-list or even read a synopsis…just go watch it.

Jackie Brown: I never did like this one when I first saw it…and I can’t remember why. However, the film has definitely grown on me over the years and now think it’s great. Not one of Quentin’s best films I admit, but it’s still pretty damn amazing and I find myself enjoying the film much more now than I did previously. Jackie Brown is a wonderful homage to crime “blaxploitation” cinema of the 70s, starring the queen of “blaxploitation” herself the amazing, “whole lot of woman” and sexy Pam Grier.

Kill Bill: Remember when I said Pulp Fiction was my favourite Quentin Tarantino film for a while? Well this is the film that made me change my mind. An expertly observed and executed love letter to classic Kung-Fu flicks. While the plot is as basic as it gets, with its all too simple revenge driving force. Kill Bill ends up being so much more thanks to Tarantino’s love for the genre and his (again) amazing writing/directing. You can always tell when the director loves and respects a genre, and this film displays that love and respect in every scene. I also feel this film was a turning point for Tarantino as his writing seems more “dynamic” and this is a trait that follows on from this point on.

Sin City: If you are reading this Paul, remember how long it got you to get me to watch this film? Seriously, it was a good 3-4 years. In all honesty, I never did like the look of this film back then, which was party why I never got round to watching it. Then one summer day (after getting tattoos) I relinquished and picked up a copy of Sin City on DVD and watched it that very day…and it hit me like a sledgehammer to the head. A truly stunning film is so many regards and while Quentin only directed one scene, it’s a great scene in a great film.

Death Proof: This one was a nice surprise, I never really knew what to expect with this one. Tarantino’s slice of 70s style exploitation cinema in this Grindhouse double bill was really good fun and with the underused Kurt Russell in the lead role, makes this one a must watch even if you are not a Quentin fan. That crash mid way through and car chase at the end are some of the best stunt work I’ve seen in recent years…and it was all practical, no CGI. It is a “stupid” film I admit, but it is “stupidity” done with panache.

Inglourious Basterds: Is this really a “masterpiece” as Brad Pitt’s Lt. Aldo Raine says? Well you remember when I said Pulp Fiction was my favourite Quentin Tarantino film for a while, and then replaced that with Kill Bill later? You can see what’s coming here can’t you? See, this is why its so damn difficult for me to chose a favourite Quentin Tarantino film…cos for most part they are all my favourites. Inglourious Basterds is one of the best films I have seen in the last 10 years from any writer/director. This is what The Dirty Dozen (1967) would have been like if Quentin Tarantino had directed it. It’s violent, it’s tense, it’s full of memorable characters and dialogue. Yes, it is a masterpiece.

Django Unchained: Remember when I said Pulp Fiction was my favourite Quentin Tarantino film for a while…and so on…? Yup, this is one of “those” Quentin Tarantino films, one that changes my opinion…again. I grew up watching the Spaghetti Western genre, ever since my older brother, Robert introduced me to Clint Eastwood and the “Dollars Trilogy”. I love this genre, and so does Quentin…and you can tell when watching this picture. A great modern Western is a tough film to get right, I can only think of two truly great modern Westerns. Clint Eastwood’s, Unforgiven and this film right here.

So there you go, I can’t chose a favourite Tarantino film, its just impossible for me to do so. All of his directing efforts have been great, whether they be full feature films, a short story or even just one scene. Everything he does has so much polish and style to it.

QT 4

Why do I enjoy Quentin Tarantino films so damn much?
So many reasons…

1) His characters, they always seem so “real”, multi dimensional with depth and a purpose. Those characters always seem to stay with me over the years and are fondly remembered. They are never over or underused and they always seem integral to the plot even if it’s a small character with little screen-time.

2) His writing, from the stories he creates…and “borrows” to the dialogue he comes up with. How great is that “Royale with cheese” chat in Pulp Fiction? But why is it so great and memorable? really, it bears no relation to the plot of the film. It’s just two friends chatting shit, and I feel that is why his dialogue works, as it’s not “movie speak”. It really sounds and feels like how people genuinely talk to each other. All of his films have an instance of a “Royale with cheese” chat. His stories are always interesting and far deeper than they first appear too.

3) His music, how is it that Quentin Tarantino always selects the best and most apt music for his films? Have you ever watched one of his films, heard the music and felt that it does not work…even when the music is anachronistic like the use of Cat People (Putting Out The Fire) by David Bowie (1982) in Inglourious Basterds which is set in during World War II. Yes, completely the wrong decade…but that song was so damn apt, it would have been an offence not to have used it. Every tune he selects seems to be just as important as getting the right actor to play a part.

4) His comedy, yes you read that right…comedy. Not too many think of Quentin as being a funny writer/director…but he really is. All of his films have comedy in them, even if you don’t realise it at first. Often his comedy is very subtle and will pass you by, but it is there. He’ll also use dark comedy that many people miss. Sometimes his use of comedy is so obvious, you don’t even think about it. I watched all of the films mentioned here before writing this up (yes, even My Best Friend’s Birthday) and all of them had some form of comedy in them that made me smile or even outright laugh.

5) His actors, remember when everyone forgot about John Travolta? Who was Samuel L. Jackson before Pulp Fiction? Tim Roth, Kurt Russell, Christoph Waltz, Michael Madsen, Steve Buscemi, Ving Rhames, Pam Grier, Michael Keaton, and so on. Now of course not everyone in his films were a nobody or forgotten about pre-Tarantino. He’s attracted some big name stars too, Brad Pitt, Robert De Niro, Jamie Fox, Michael Fassbender and others. But even so, he still always manages to bring back a forgotten actor or a new name and give them the spotlight…and make it work too.

6) He’s a genre man, he makes the kind of films he grew up and enjoyed watching. He is a fanboy and his films prove as much too. From his “homages”, in jokes, references and even some of the actors he chooses. Everything is selected and pandered to perfectly fit into the genre he is trying to capture. While he does have his own unique style, his films are also very different from each other. Heist film, Kung-Fu/Samurai revenge flick, Spaghetti Western epic, Gangster/thriller picture…he’ll have a go at anything as long as it’s a genre he loves.

7) His violence, probably the biggest thing Quentin is (in)famous for. But he does not just throw in violence for the sake of having violence. Often, he makes us, the viewer, “earn” that violence. Anyone remember the “ear cutting scene” in Reservoir Dogs, remember the controversy, remember how graphic it was? The great thing about that scene is the simple fact that is was not graphic at all, in fact the camera pans away to look at a blank wall…yet people always “remember” how violent that scene was. This is the mark of a truly great film-maker, one that can make you see something that is not there.
But my favourite part of the whole “ear cutting scene” is actually something more jovial and deeply dark at the same time. I’m talking of Mr. Blonde putting the radio on and dancing around to Stuck In The Middle With You by Stealers Wheel. It’s a great, light and “bouncy” song and Michael Madsen as Mr. Blonde dancing around is a joy to watch…but somewhere in the back of your head, you know things are going to get really bad, really quickly and the whole dancing thing just makes what is to come next even more disturbing…even though you do not see “it” happen.
Of course he’s not always as “subtle” with his violence, the Crazy 88 fight from Kill Bill for example. But even here, you are teased before the big showdown. From when The Bride first enters The House of Blue Leaves, the whole scene is dragged out (in a great way) to make you wait for the vengeance fuelled blood rage that is about to come.
But I think my personal favourite piece of foreplay to the violence comes from Inglourious Basterds. That one particular scene in the German basement bar. The way Quentin slowly unfolds this undercover plot that we, the audience all know is going to go wrong, we all know its gonna end in (lots of) bloodshed…yet we are teased for what seems like hours. It’s like Quentin is saying to us, he knows you want violence, he knows you want to see some dead Nazis…and possibly some dead good guys too. But, you have to wait, and wait and wait. He makes it almost unbearable to the point you can not take your eyes of the screen so much so you do not want to blink. It’s “magical” movie making at it’s finest.
But I can not end this point without mentioning the slow-motion gun fight near the end of Django Unchained. Its so beautifully shot (and again pre-teased to us the audience), its like watching a ballet of violence.

So, what is next for Tarantino after the release of The Hateful Eight?

Well Quentin has hinted he plans to retire. I think this is terrible if true, but on the other hand. If Quentin Tarantino honestly thinks he had nothing left to offer, then maybe retirement is the best thing for him?
I’d rather Tarantino going out on top then keep making films he no longer enjoys making. But either way, it’ll be a sad day in film-making if/when Quentin Tarantino decides to end his amazing career.

But come on QT, you have more to come after The Hateful Eight…right?

QT 3

Quentin Tarantino:As far as I’m concerned, digital projection is the end of cinema. The fact that most films aren’t presented in 35 mm means that the world is lost. Digital projection is just television in cinema. I’m very hopeful that future generations will be much smarter than this generation and realize what they lost.”

Thank you for joining me on my Birthday (dependent on when you read this) and for reading my fanboyism of one of the worlds biggest film fanboys, Mr. Quentin Tarantino.
Now…”let’s go to work”.

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