Quentin Tarantino is one of the few directors who has never made a movie that has not been a hit with both critics and audiences alike. In fact, all his films have been received positively — evidence of which comes from Rotten Tomatoes’ ratings of Quentin Tarantino movies.
Tarantino has for long maintained that he would take his last bow as a feature film director with his 10th film or when he turns 60. And so, fans of the maverick auteur are excited following a revelation by The Hollywood Reporter (THR).
Citing various sources, THR reported that Tarantino is preparing to direct his “final film” later in 2023. Interestingly, he also turns 60 on 27 March.
According to THR, its title is The Movie Critic and it is set in Los Angeles in the 1970s, centering on a female lead. The report suggests that the film could be based on the life of the eminent film critic Pauline Kael.
It is pertinent to note that even though his filmography shows that Quentin Tarantino has directed 10 films already, the director counts two of his acclaimed works – Kill Bill Vol.1 and Kill Bill Vol.2 – as a single movie. Hence, his upcoming film is being counted as his 10th.
What makes Quentin Tarantino one of the greatest filmmakers?
Tarantino is a multi-talented filmmaker who can be credited for making some of the best and most memorable movies in Hollywood. Apart from directing nine (or 10, as his films are counted in lists), he is widely renowned for writing original stories for all the films, barring one. Tarantino has also written for films for which he hasn’t gone behind the camera, for instance, Tony Scott’s True Romance (1993) and Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers (1994) among others.
He has also produced a couple of his own feature films and has backed some of those that he hasn’t helmed — Robert Rodriguez’s From Dusk till Dawn (1996) and Grindhouse: Planet Terror (2007). He has appeared as an actor too, credited or uncredited, in some of his own films, including the landmark crime thriller Reservoir Dogs (1992), and has a credit as special guest director of Sin City (2005).
His distinctive and unique style, be it in direction or writing, is what has made him one of the greatest American cinematic icons in history.
At the outset, violence — sometimes stylishly gory and at times contained — is at the centre of all his stories. But deep within, it isn’t just the gunfights and clashing of swords that fans love; it is also the unpredictability of the plot, the expletive-laden yet philosophical dialogues, the pop culture references, and the outstanding performances which have made Tarantino’s movies incredible and timeless.
It is widely known that Tarantino often pays homage to iconic characters or other classic movies or genres in his films, and moviegoers apparently appreciate it.
For instance, film critics, experts and fans have pointed out that Kill Bill and its protagonist, the Bride, draw inspiration from a series of female-led action movies such as the Japanese films Lady Snowblood (1973) and Female Convict Scorpion: Jailhouse 41 (1972). On the other hand, the yellow jumpsuit that the character, played by Uma Thurman, wears in Kill Bill, is a nod to the yellow jumpsuit Bruce Lee wore in his final film, Game of Death (1978).
Then there is Reservoir Dogs, which marked his feature film debut as both director and actor. Speaking about the film three years after its release, Tarantino admitted that he drew influence and “some stuff” from Ringo Lam’s Hong Kong action thriller City on Fire (1987).
“It’s a really cool movie. It influenced me a lot. I got some stuff from it,” Tarantino told Stephen Hunter of The Baltimore Sun in 1995 when asked about the connection between Reservoir Dogs and Lam’s smash hit film.
In January 2023, film historian and novelist Grady Hendrix reiterated this fact to South China Morning Post (SCMP).
“Reservoir Dogs is an uncredited remake of City on Fire, only with less charismatic actors,” Hendrix said.
But despite the influences, Tarantino has ensured that his films remain distinctive and his characters live in a shared universe that he has built.
According to news.com.au, speaking on an Australian talk show, The Project, in January 2016, he said that there are “two separate universes” in which his characters reside.
“There’s the realer than real universe, all right, and all the characters inhabit that one. But then there’s this movie universe — and so From Dusk till Dawn, Kill Bill, they all take place in this special ‘movie’ universe. So basically when the characters of Reservoir Dogs or Pulp Fiction, when they go to the movies … Kill Bill is what they go see. From Dusk till Dawn is what they go see,” he said.
Consequently, fans of his films are able to connect scenes and dialogues of one Tarantino movie to another. It is also noteworthy that except for the two Kill Bill movies there is no chronological pattern in his films, unlike those in long-running franchises such as Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). But perhaps the best viewing order is to watch them according to their release. In this way, viewers can better appreciate his craft and feel drawn into each progressing story and the many captivating characters of the director’s quirky world.
Here are all the movies by Quentin Tarantino in order of their release
Release date: 2 September 1992
Cast: Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Chris Penn, Steve Buscemi, Lawrence Tierney, Quentin Tarantino
RT rating: 90 per cent
Synopsis: Eight criminals come together for a perfectly planned jewellery heist, but it goes horribly wrong. The surviving gang members then suspect that one of them is an undercover cop.
More about the film: In Reservoir Dogs Tarantino plays the role of Mr. Brown, one of the gang members. To date, it is the only Quentin Tarantino film to have premiered at Sundance Film Festival.
Watch it here.
Release date: 14 October 1994
Cast: John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer, Ving Rhames, Bruce Willis
RT rating: 92 per cent
Synopsis: Several characters find their lives interconnected with that of two hitmen, Vincent Vega (Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Jackson), who work for a crime lord Marsellus Wallace (Rhames). In the mix are Wallace’s actress wife Mia (Thurman), two nervous robbers named ‘Pumpkin’ (Roth) and ‘Honey Bunny’ (Plummer), and a struggling boxer named Butch Coolidge (Willis) who has double-crossed Wallace.
More about the film: Of all the films directed by Quentin Tarantino, Pulp Fiction is the highest-rated on Rotten Tomatoes. Tarantino earned multiple Academy Awards, Golden Globes and BAFTA nominations – all of which were his first – for this film. He won all three major awards in their respective Best Screenplay categories.
The film also earned three acting nominations among its total of seven Oscar nods. It was awarded the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1994 and is therefore Tarantino’s only film to have won the prestigious honour.
Watch it here.
Release date: 25 December 1997
Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster, Bridget Fonda, Michael Keaton, Robert De Niro
RT rating: 87 per cent
Synopsis: Jackie Brown (Grier) is a flight attendant who is caught smuggling money for the arms dealer Ordell Robbie (Jackson). To escape prison time, Brown is forced to cooperate with agent Ray Nicolette (Keaton) and detective Mark Dargus (Bowen). But she hatches a plan to double-cross both Robbie and the investigators with the help of her lover, Max Cherry (Forster).
More about the film: Jackie Brown is based on Elmore Leonard’s 1992 novel Rum Punch and is the only Tarantino film adapted from someone else’s work. Grier and Jackson earned Golden Globe nods and Forster was nominated for an Oscar for their respective performances.
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Kill Bill: Vol.1
Release date: 10 October 2003
Cast: Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, Michael Madsen, Daryl Hannah, Vivica A. Fox, David Carradine, Sonny Chiba
RT rating: 85 per cent
Synopsis: After her ex-lover, Bill (Carradine), leaves her for dead on her wedding day, former assassin, the Bride (Thurman), slips into a coma. She wakes up four years later and embarks on a violent revenge mission against Bill and the other assassins who were part of the betrayal.
More about the film: Fans of Tarantino count both Kill Bill films among the finest martial arts movies of all time. In fact, Kill Bill is particularly noted for its brutal action sequences. Thurman earned both BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations for Best Actress thanks to this Quentin Tarantino movie.
Kill Bill: Vol.2
Release date: 16 April 2004
Cast: Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Michael Madsen, Daryl Hannah, Gordon Liu
RT rating: 84 per cent
Synopsis: After taking her revenge on some of those who tried to kill her, the Bride reaches Mexico in search of Bill. As she prepares to confront her final target, she has to fall back on a secret skill she learned as an assassin. But, at the same time, she is faced with a reality that could help build her future.
More about the film: Thurman received another Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress.
Grindhouse Presents: Death Proof
Release date: 31 May 2007
Cast: Kurt Russell, Zoë Bell, Rosario Dawson, Tracie Thoms, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Vanessa Ferlito, Rose McGowan, Sydney Tamiia Poitier, Jordan Ladd
RT rating: 66 per cent
Synopsis: Mike (Russell) is an insane stuntman who has modified his car into a ‘death proof’ killing machine. After murdering a group of women, he targets another group of female friends. But he doesn’t know that the new group is tough and one of them is a gritty stuntwoman.
More about the film: Despite being the lowest rated of all Quentin Tarantino movies, its rating still renders the film as ‘Fresh’ as per Rotten Tomatoes’ classification. It was originally released as part of a double feature under the title Grindhouse. (The other film in the double feature was Rodriguez’s Planet Terror, whose story has no connection to Death Proof.)
In a conversation with THR in 2012, Quentin Tarantino said that he considers the film his worst.
“To me, it’s all about my filmography, and I want to go out with a terrific filmography. Death Proof has got to be the worst movie I ever make. And for a left-handed movie, that wasn’t so bad, all right? – so if that’s the worst I ever get, I’m good,” he said.
Watch it here.
Release date: 21 August 2009
Cast: Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Michael Fassbender, Eli Roth, Diane Kruger, Daniel Brühl, Til Schweiger, Mélanie Laurent
RT rating: 89 per cent
Synopsis: Under the command of Allied officer Lt. Aldo Raine (Pitt), a team of Jewish soldiers hatch a plan to kill Nazi leaders inside Germany during World War II with the help of German actress and undercover agent, Bridget von Hammersmark (Kruger). A young theatre owner, Shosanna Dreyfus (Laurent), joins their cause to avenge the execution of her family at the hands of the ruthless Nazi officer Hans Landa (Waltz).
More about the film: In an interview with American talk show host Charlie Rose in 2009, Tarantino said that he had originally written the character of Shosanna as “a real badass” years ago.
“When I wrote the character, I had a much, much more like her being a real badass. And she was killing Nazis and she had a list of officers, she was like a real Joan of Arc of the Jews. And you know, she’d snipe Nazis from the rooftops of Paris and all this kind of stuff,” he said.
When asked why he changed the character, Tarantino said, “Well, because I put it away and I did Kill Bill, and almost everything that I liked about Shosanna, I gave the Bride.”
As for the awards, so phenomenal was the performance of Christoph Waltz that he swept the Best Supporting Actor Award at all major ceremonies — Golden Globe, BAFTA, Critics’ Choice Awards, Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and Academy Awards. He also won another SAG award as a member of the cast when the film won Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. For the same film, Waltz was awarded Best Actor at Cannes Film Festival the same year. Tarantino was nominated for both Best Director and Best Screenplay at Golden Globes, BAFTA and Oscars, and won his first Critics’ Choice award for Best Screenplay. The film itself was in the running for Palme d’Or at Cannes.
Watch it here.
Release date: 25 December 2012
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson
RT rating: 87 per cent
Synopsis: Django (Foxx), a freed slave, works with German bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz, (Waltz) and hunts down criminals in the American South. The two then embark on a mission to save Django’s wife, Broomhilda (Washington), who is a slave at the plantation of the cruel Calvin Candie (DiCaprio).
More about the film: Django Unchained is Tarantino’s highest-grossing movie with a worldwide collection of over USD 425 million.
Tarantino won an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, and a Critics’ Choice Award for Best Screenplay, besides earning nods in other categories across the major ceremonies. Waltz won his second Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Django Unchained, which was itself nominated for Best Picture and two other categories at the Academy Awards.
Watch it here.
The Hateful Eight
Release date: 30 December 2015
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demián Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern
RT rating: 74 per cent
Synopsis: Bounty hunter Major Marquis Warren (Jackson) travels to a stopover at a mountain pass in a stagecoach with another bounty hunter, John ‘The Hangman’ Ruth (Russell), his prisoner, the fugitive Daisy Domergue (Leigh), and a man named Chris Mannix (Goggins). All of them are seeking shelter from an incoming blizzard in the harsh Wyoming winter. They find four suspicious strangers at the stopover, leading to a tense confrontation.
More about the film: Tarantino received a BAFTA and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Screenplay. But its best-known accolade is the Oscar win for Italian composer Ennio Morricone for Best Original Score. It was the only competitive Academy Award won by Morricone, who passed away in 2020. In fact, the film marked his first composition for a Western in around 40 years. Morricone also won a Golden Globe and a BAFTA for The Hateful Eight.
Watch it here.
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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Release date: 26 July 2019
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Timothy Olyphant, Bruce Dern, Dakota Fanning, Emile Hirsch, Austin Butler
RT rating: 85 per cent
Synopsis: Once a top TV actor, Rick Dalton (DiCaprio) is unable to find decent work in Hollywood in 1969. As he struggles and spends time with his stunt double, Cliff Booth (Pitt), he finds an opportunity to move up in the A-list circles when Roman Polanski (Rafał Zawierucha) and Sharon Tate (Robbie) move next door.
More about the film: Though the main characters are fictional, Tarantino’s film is an alternate take around the infamous Tate-LaBianca murders committed by the Manson Family. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood has several characters based on real-life figures, including Tate, Polanski and the members of the Manson Family played by Fanning, Butler, Lena Dunham and Maya Hawke.
The film received 10 Academy Award nominations including two wins — Best Supporting Actor for Pitt and Best Production Design for Barbara Ling and Nancy Haigh. Of his nominations in multiple categories across awards, Tarantino was awarded Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay at both Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice Awards.
Watch it here.
(Main image: IMDb; Featured image: © 2004 – Miramax/IMDb)
This story first appeared in Lifestyle Asia Singapore