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 finale of this three-part saga will be looking at the films which I ranked second and first from the Tarantino catalog.
2. Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Tarantino’s brutal inaugural film just misses out on the top spot. Nonetheless, it’s still a fantastic debut entry which, despite a comparatively limited budget, instantly showcased Tarantino’s directorial flair and unique writing style.
The conversations here are some of the best in any Tarantino movie. My personal favourite involves a lengthy discussion about tipping, with Steve Buscemi’s Mr Pink disagreeing with the notion of automatically tipping in restaurants/cafes (I personally think Mr Pink is bang on the money here). The performances are brilliant all-round and the violence/gore always feels appropriate and never gratuitous.
In short, Tarantino’s first film is absolutely one of his best. Reservoir Dogs is a film with an incredibly simple concept – a heist gone wrong. Yet, the excellent dialogue, storytelling and acting helps to elevate this simplicity to epic proportions, culminating in an extremely fitting ending.
- Pulp Fiction (1994)
Of course Pulp Fiction is first, how couldn’t it be? I’ll admit that Reservoir Dogs did push it very close but Tarantino’s second film remains his best and most culturally significant to date. From a narrative perspective alone, Pulp Fiction is a work of art. Tarantino expertly blends together four stories into a brilliantly crafted, looping tale of redemption, revenge and violence.
Not only does the non-linear storytelling showcase Tarantino’s excellent ability – both in terms of writing and directing – but it also allows the film’s most important character (and possibly Tarantino’s best), to complete his character arc at the film’s climax, rather than at the midpoint. I am of course referring to Jules Winnfield, played brilliantly by Samuel L. Jackson.
The only real issue with Pulp Fiction is that of pacing – I’ve always found the stories involving John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson, Harvey Keitel etc. to be far more interesting and enjoyable than that of Butch (Bruce Willis) and his interactions with girlfriend Fabienne. Things seem to really, unnecessarily slow down during this part.
There isn’t much you can say about Pulp Fiction which hasn’t already been said a million times before. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it helps to illustrate just how important this film has been for the progression of cinema over the last 25 years, and just how many modern movies can attribute their writing/directorial style to the genius of Quentin Tarantino and Pulp Fiction.
Featured Image Copyright IndieWire.