by Eric Weintraub
Most Famous Works: Pulp Fiction (1994), Kill Bill (2003-2004) Inglorious Basterds (2009)
Every artist has that moment in their life where they suddenly realize their calling. You’re looking at a painting, or listening to a song, or watching a movie and then bam it hits you and you realize, “That’s what I wanna do with my life. I wanna be an artist just like the person who made this thing I’m looking at now.” I was only twelve years old when my moment happened, but I remember it perfectly. I was on my mom’s old Dell computer one day after school, procrastinating a book report on The Giver – or whatever the hell I was reading in sixth grade – and for some reason I stumbled upon a website called “Drew’s Script-O-Rama”. The site contained hundreds of movie scripts, all free, all available to read instantly. As I scrolled through the vast amounts of screenplays I came across something called Kill Bill. I had never heard of the movie – not surprising since it wouldn’t be released theatrically for another year – and had no idea who this Quentin Tarantino person was. But for some reason, fate compelled me to click on his script. On page one, I knew I was in for something special. On page 222, I knew I needed to be a writer.
After almost nine years of following Mr. Tarantino, looking to his films the way other geeks look to Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, I’ve come to learn a great deal about him as a filmmaker, why he makes films, who inspired him to make films, and how his films have affected him as a person. One of my favorite things about Tarantino is that unlike some of the other people I’ve profiled in past blogs, he wasn’t born with any advantages or connections to the industry. Tarantino grew up in the South Bay to a single mother, dropped out of high school at sixteen and worked at a video store through most of his twenties. With that kind of start, most people would be damn lucky to make any sort of name for themselves at all. But Tarantino’s endless hours of working in the video store, watching and discussing movies led him to the creation of the most popular trademark of his filmmaking style: stealing concepts and ideas from the films he loved and mashing them together to create his own story.
If you wish to truly understand the complex relationship of Quentin Tarantino cinema, it is essential not only to view all of his films but view the many films that inspired his films as well. By doing so, you’ll be able to see how Inglorious Basterds reflects the same epic spaghetti-western style of Sergio Leone’s The Good the Bad and the Ugly, Reservoir Dogs echoes the ultra-violence of Martin Scorcese’s Taxi Driver, and Pulp Fiction steals a certain dramatic object from Robert Aldrich’s Kiss Me Deadly. Tarantino’s projects can be looked at the way one looks at a mash-up song, he samples the best pieces of different works but in the end produces something entirely his own. In a way, he’s sort of the Glee of film directors.
Quentin has stated in interviews that he plans to retire from film directing when he turns sixty. If this is true, it means we only have another twelve years before the curtains draw on Tarantino cinema. Based on his track record, it’s likely to think there are still a few more gems in that brain of his just waiting to hit the silver screen. We’ll hopefully even get to see him win that Best Director Oscar he’s been deprived of twice now. But no matter what the future holds for Quentin, it’s safe to say that cinema will never be the same now that he’s left his mark. With one script the man influenced my entire life, with one movie he might just influence yours too.
Most Aesthetically Pleasing Scene:
As difficult as it is to narrow Tarantino down to just one scene, I’d have to put my money on the climactic showdown of Kill Bill Volume 1 between Uma Thurman’s The Bride and The Crazy 88’s (although there aren’t really 88 of them, they just think it sounds cool). The scene is explosive for the very reason that it’s real people doing real fighting with real fake blood. No CGI here. It’s Quentin’s great homage to the Japanese action flick and a testament to how much better the real thing looks to special effects.