As the release of ‘Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood’ is eagerly awaited, I’m ranking Tarantino’s first eight directorial efforts.
The king of ultra-stylized dialogue is making his return in 2019 with the much anticipated ‘Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood’. In prospect of this, I’m ranking his first eight directorial efforts. The second of this three-part saga will be looking at the films which I ranked fifth, fourth and third from the Tarantino catalog.
5. Jackie Brown (1997)
If ‘The Hateful Eight’ is the most Tarantino-esque Tarantino flick, then ‘Jackie Brown’ is the least. It really does stick out like a sore thumb amongst his other seven entries, though that isn’t by any means a bad thing.
There are a few reasons for this, the most obvious being the doing-away with his typical dialogue, instead choosing to place a greater focus on genuine character development and an emphasis on backstory. Robert Forster’s ‘Max Cherry’ epitomises this best – a character who seems to be very world-weary – something we rarely see in a typical Tarantino character. Where ‘Reservoir Dogs’ and ‘Pulp Fiction’ focused on flashy situations, ‘Jackie Brown’ focuses on actual humans with very real problems.
‘Jackie Brown’ massively underperformed at the box office and as a result, Tarantino has never made another movie quite like it.
4. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
‘Inglourious Basterds’ might be the Tarantino film which frustrates me the most, because it just feels like such a missed opportunity and so much wasted potential.
It really does contain some of the best individual scenes and pieces of dialogue that Tarantino has ever written. The opening exchange for example, between Hans Landa and the French farmer is absolutely superb and incredibly tense, thanks, in no small part, to Christoph Waltz who fully deserved his Oscar for this performance – largely thanks to Waltz’ performance, Landa is my favourite Tarantino villain and one of his best characters ever. This is true to the point where his side of the story is much more interesting than the ‘Basterd’ side. The transition from Brad Pitt-led to Christoph Waltz-led scenes just seems so jarring, to the point where I almost feel as though I’m watching two different movies. Another brilliant scene takes place in a tavern – it’s over 15 minutes long and highlights Tarantino’s brilliance when it comes to making seemingly uninteresting situations the most interesting thing in the world – all through his wonderfully written dialogue.
Unfortunately, I just never really felt as though these individual scenes fit together very well to form a cohesive movie. ‘Inglourious Basterds’ is a collection of brilliant scenes, but for me, these scenes come together to make a good movie, not a brilliant one.
3. Django Unchained (2012)
A freed slave (Jamie Foxx) and a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) team up to take on the owner of a Mississippi plantation and its brutal owner (Leonardo Dicaprio). What’s not to like? The performances across the board are great. A special shoutout to Samuel L. Jackson who might just be Tarantino’s most evil character to date – a former slave who has since betrayed his own kind and now serves under DiCaprio’s ‘Calvin Candie’.
As tends to be the case with a lot of Tarantino films, ‘Django Unchained’ is way too long. I think that 45 of the 165 minute run time could have been cut out and the movie would be much better off as a result.
Here, Tarantino makes his first delve into the Western genre and the result is exactly what you’d expect. ‘Django Unchained’ is completely over the top, pretty nonsensical at times but so, so entertaining.
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