There are a lot of screenwriters and directors who I have so much respect for. A good movie can just drag you through emotion and I’m a big “rewatcher” (there are movies in our collection that I’ve seen dozens of times). Now I realized Quentin Tarantino can be a somewhat polarizing figure as a director. He’s very eccentric in interviews, his movies are ultra-violent and some people I guess just don’t like him.
But I adore Tarantino. I love his balance of humor and violence, I love the voice of his work (you can always tell Tarantino), I just look forward to his movies every time. In fact, Django Unchained was probably my favorite movie I saw at the end of 2012. And after we saw it, I started thinking about the scope of Tarantino’s work and wondering how I would rank them. This is what I came up with and why:
1. Kill Bill: Vol. 1 & 2 — This is really one movie so I’m listing it as such. It’s also Tarantino’s opus. It has such great performances, it’s funny, it’s sad, it’s complex and interesting. Plus, Uma Thurman is the baddest of the bad-asses, which is something I love about Tarantino. He writes killer female characters. They’re tough, they’re likeable and they are more than capable of taking care of themselves. So this is my very favorite Tarantino movie. In fact, just writing about it makes me want to go watch it again.
2. Pulp Fiction — This was the first Tarantino movie I ever saw. Yes, I know Reservoir Dogs comes first in the timeline, but somehow I missed that in the ‘I’m off to college’ fray (plus indies never came to our small theatre). So this was my first exposure to him. And man, doesn’t it still hold up? The music is awesome, the winding storyline is great, it saved multiple careers and it’s just… fun! That’s another thing I love about the man. He does FUN movies.
3. Grindhouse: Deathproof — This is Taratino’s side of the doublefeature he did with Robert Rodriguez. And I love it. The seventies filming style, Kurt Russell being badass and smooth, the girls in the car who are not about to get murdered, thank you. It all just has such style. The rankings on Amazon say that other people don’t love it, but man I really do.
4. Django Unchained — The new one comes in really high on my list. Once again, Tarantino coaxes some fantastic performances from an equally powerful cast. Christoph Waltz, especially is just so lovely in the movie. Another aspect I love about Tarantino is that he uses the same actors over and over because he knows he can trust them. Waltz, who won an Oscar for his terrifying Nazi in Inglorious Basterds, takes a whole different direction here and it works just as well.
5. Jackie Brown — Oh my God, Pam Greer. She plucks this movie up and just runs away with it. Now it came out right after Pulp Fiction and there were lots of people who judged it pretty harshly against that (and Reservoir Dogs), but it’s truly one of my favorite movies. Once again, there is such style here, plus there are so many characters you just root for. Tarantino doesn’t make many black-and-white choices, so even the ‘bad guys’ are guys you smile for, laugh with and ultimately feel for. That’s a real gift.
6. Reservoir Dogs — Tarantino’s break-out movie that shocked people into awareness. Funny that it’s in the lower part of my list. There are so many fan-freakin’-tastic moments in this movie. It wasn’t like anything out at that time (or maybe any time). Funny that even my 6th favorite Tarantino movie is still better than some of my top 5 movies for other directors.
7. Inglorious Basterds — Okay, so this movie had some problems. It’s definitely not my very favorite. But damn, it’s still good. Violent, maddening, character driven, sad and absolutely bombastic, it’s so completely bold and out there that it still works even in the places it doesn’t work.
Four Rooms — This one I don’t rank because it’s the only one I haven’t seen. Tarantino directs one of four stories all set in the same hotel. It’s on my Netflix. I’ll get there someday.
So what about you? Do you have a director you are head-over-heels with? Maybe Tarantino? Do you take issue with my ranking system?