Casting John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson as the main leads in this film was a stroke of genius, as they pulled off the roles of hitmen for hire with such unforgettable levels of flair and style. And unforgettable is not an exaggeration, Pulp Fiction's influence in film and popular culture shows how much of an impact the visual style of this movie has pushed the boundaries of the industry. This movie is a great lesson to screenwriters: telling the story can be more important than the story itself. Indeed, the whole movie is presented in a non-chronological order, and there are plenty of details (such as the contents of the briefcase) that are never fully explained, and yet this movie feels like a complete experience.
The movie starts out with an armed robbery inside a diner, and as it so happens, two hitmen (Travolta and Jackson) were also sitting at that very same diner right at that moment. The rest of the movie unfolds in a series of flashbacks leading up to the robbery and then provides a few more details about what happened after.
This is, without a doubt, our favorite Tarantino film. This also happens to be his first major film -which probably explains why the movie involves less scenes about Tarantino trying to show off (which hits an all time high in Inglorious Bastards). Taking on the same stylish visual themes of the Blues Brothers (like Pulp Fiction later on), Reservoir Dogs makes its own mark as an amazing reverse-heist movie where tension peaks and falls at an amazing rhythm.
The movie is about 8 men who go on a heist -a mob boss, his son, and 6 men with unique aliases (Blonde, Blue, Brown, Orange, Pink, and White). The fact that each character has no distinct name (aside from the mob boss and his son) makes following the story a bit of a challenge -which is an intended result. As it turns out in Reservoir Dogs, the heist happens and they actually manage to steal the diamonds, however, the operation does not go smoothly and they confirm that there is, indeed a snitch in the group. Both the characters and the viewers try to follow along with the chain of events while trying to figure out who did what.
Django Unchained starts with a slave named Django being freed by Schultz, who is a bounty hunter. Schultz requires Django's aid in identifying several wanted men, and in their task, Schultz sees that Django is a talented gunslinger. The bounty hunter than introduces Django to the job and tries to reunite the former slave with his wife. However, Django's wife is a slave in the Candyland Plantation, and the man who runs it is the incredibly evil Calvin J. Candie.
Not surprisingly, when you pull together a cast that contains Jaime Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, Cristoph Waltz and several other amazing actors, you're going to get quality acting. This is why some of the behind-the-scenes moments are some of the best. Not to spoil anything, but when you see Foxx doing awesome things while riding a horse and DiCaprio cutting his hand on a piece of broken glass while delivering an angry speech, know that those scenes are as authentic as they come.
This movie is about a team of Allied soldiers known as the Basterds. They are a group whose specialty is the terrorization of the German Forces. When the team learns that Hitler and several German military officers are planning to watch a film, the Basterds make a plan to attack the theater. What the Basterds do not realize is that the owner of the theater is a Jewish woman who is living under a fake identity, and that she has plans of her own for disposing of the Fuhrer. Despite the fact that the two have similar goals, it is inevitable that their crisscrossing paths interfere with one another.
For those of you who have seen The Hateful Eight but not this film, be warned, Basterds is a much greater show of Tarantino's ego than Eight. There are a lot of self referencing and pointless speeches here (how film burns, a jab at King Kong, how much Tarantino knows about film and history). And this movie is boringly long -about 2 hours and a half. Still, there are a few key moments that just manage to shine. As a movie, Basterds could have been much better (drop the Jewish girl's storyline and make it an action flick with full focus on the Basterds), but as a signature "Tarantino film" this one is as close as it can possibly get (titular misspelling and all).
One of the best Tarantino movies is one where he actually does not direct. True Romance is directed by the talented Tony Scott. The movie stars a man named Clarence who ends up falling in love with a call girl named Alabama. She loves him back and the two get married. When Clarence decides to free Alabama from her past (coerced by visions of Elvis in his dreams -which is a recurring thing in the movie), he ends up getting tangled in a big mess that draws in the cops, the mob, and a whole lot of other people with guns.
Obviously, the ending of the film is the least Tarantino-ish thing you would ever see, and yet it fits his screenplay so well that it actually makes for a better Tarantino film (even Quentin himself admits that much).
Wrap Up: More Than a Heart-Stopping 5 Point Strike
Ha! If you thought we were going to end this film with the amazing Kill Bill duology (starring Uma Thurman in what is probably her finest role ever), nope, we're not. As cool as that movie is, it is still far more an action flick than anything else and Tarantino is best signified by films that do not focus too heavily on the action (which is why True Romance earns its place here). Even with all the jabs we take at Quentin Tarantino, it is hard to deny that his work is incredibly good. And while films like Grindhouse, Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, Hateful Eight and many others seem to have such very different approaches (and still so many similar elements) one thing is for sure, the man is indeed a filmmaking genius, though probably not as great as he thinks he is.