Page 1

TARANTINO Ardavan Hp


TARANTINO Ardavan Hp


TARANTINO

Ardavan Hp

Penguin Books


Copyright © 2015 by Ardavan Hp All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher, addressed “Attention: Permissions Coordinator,” at the address below. Penguin 1233 Pennsylvania Avenue San Francisco, CA 94909 www.penguinbooks.com Ordering Information: Quantity sales. Special discounts are available on quantity purchases by corporations, associations, and others. For details, contact the publisher at the address above. Orders by U.S. trade bookstores and wholesalers. Please contact Big Distribution: Tel: (800) 800-8000; Fax: (800) 800-8001 or visit www.Penguinbooks.com. Printed in the United States of America Publisher’s Cataloging-in-Publication data Hp, Ardavan. TARANTINO: / Ardavan Hp ISBN 978-0-9000000-0-0 1. Film. 2. Another subject category —From one perspective. 3. More categories —And their modifiers. I. Johnson, Ben. II. Title. HF0000.A0 A00 2010 299.000 00–dc22 2010999999 First Edition 14 13 12 11 10 / 4 8 15 16 23 42


To the Lost art of film making


Content A Movie Geek

1

Page 10

From Dusk till Down

4

Page 54

Reservoir Dogs

7

Kill Bill vol.1

5

Inglorious Bastards

Page 58

3

Pulp Fiction

6

Page 38

8

Page 46

10

Natural Born KIllers

Page 26

Page 34

Page 42

Death Proof

2

Page 16

Page 30

Jackie Brown

Favorite Films

Kill Bill vol.2

9

Page 50

11

Django Unchained

Page 62

12


10

///

///


Section

1 A Movie Geek

///

A Movie Geek

///

11


12

///

A Movie Geek

///


“Quentin Tarantino jolted onto the Hollywood scene with his screenplay for True Romance, before directing the early 1990s films Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction.’’

B

orn in Tennessee in 1963, Quentin

4, Tarantino developed his love for

California. There he worked with

Tarantino grew up loving movies

movies at an early age. One of his

Roger Avary who shared his passion

more than school. In his early 20s,

earliest memories is of his grand-

for film.

he got a job at the Video Archives,

mother taking him to see a John

where he wrote the scripts for True

Wayne movie. Tarantino also loved

The two even worked on some script

Romance and Natural Born Killers.

storytelling, but he showed his cre-

ideas together. During his time at

ativity in unusual ways. “He wrote

Video Archives, Tarantino worked on

me sad Mother’s Day stories.

several screenplays, including True

His directorial debut came with 1992’s Reservoir Dogs, but he received wide

Romance and Natural Born Killers.

critical and commercial acclaim with

He’d always kill me and tell me how

He also landed a guest spot on the

Pulp Fiction (1994), which earned

bad he felt about it,” his mother Connie

popular sitcom The Golden Girls,

more than $108 million at the box

Zastoupil

playing an Elvis impersonator.

office—the first independent film to

Weekly. “It was enough to bring a tear

do so.

to a mother’s eye.”

once

told

Entertainment

In 1990, Tarantino left Video Archives to work for Cinetel, a production

In 2003 and 2004, Tarantino released

Tarantino loathed school, choosing

company. Through one of the pro-

his Kill Bill series, which led to a

to spend his time watching movies

ducers there, he was able to get his

Golden Globe nomination for Uma

or reading comics rather than study-

script for True Romance in the hands

Thurman, who starred in the films.

ing. The only subject that appealed to

of director Tony Scott. Scott liked

Tarantino was later nominated for

him was history.

Tarantino’s script, and bought the

two Academy Awards (best director

rights to it.

and best original screenplay) for the

“History was cool and I did well there,

film Inglourious Basterds (2009).

because it was kind of like the mov-

Working with producer Lawrence

ies,” he told Entertainment Weekly.

Bender, Tarantino was able to se-

Quentin Tarantino was born on March

After dropping out of high school,

cure funding for his directorial de-

27, 1963, in Knoxville, Tennessee. He is

Tarantino worked as an usher at a

but Reservoir Dogs (1992), for which

the only child of Connie McHugh,

adult film theater for a time.

he had also written the screenplay. Actor Harvey Keitel was impressed

who is part Cherokee and part Irish, and actor Tony Tarantino, who left

He also took acting classes. Tarantino

when he read the script, saying “I

the family before Quentin was born.

eventually landed a job at Video

haven’t seen characters like these

Moving to California at the age of

Archives

in years.”

in

Manhattan

Beach,

///

A Movie Geek

///

13


In 1994, Tarantino was elevated from

over 100 million dollars and topped

in Robert Rodriguez’s sequel to El

a cult figure to a major celebrity.

many critics’ top ten lists.

Mariachi, Desperado, and the comedy

Pulp Fiction won the Palme d’Or at

Destiny Turns on the Radio, in which

the Cannes Film Festival that May,

Pulp Fiction earned seven Academy

beginning the flood of good reviews

Award

for the picture.

Best Picture, Best Director, Best

Tarantino also kept busy with televi-

Original Screenplay (Tarantino and

sion, directing an episode of the NBC

Before Pulp Fiction was released in

Avary), Best Actor (John Travolta),

TV hit ER and appearing in Margaret

October, Oliver Stone’s bombastic

Best

Cho’s sitcom All-American Girl.

version of Natural Born Killers hit

L. Jackson), and Best Supporting

the theaters in August; Tarantino

Actress (Uma Thurman);

nominations,

Supporting

he had a starring role.

including

Actor

(Samuel

The latter half of the ‘90s saw

distanced himself from the film

Tarantino continue his multifaceted

and was only credited for writing

It won one, for Tarantino and Avery’s

role as an actor, director, screenwrit-

the basic story.

writing.After

er, and producer.

the

film’s

success,

Tarantino was everywhere, from talk

14

Pulp Fiction soon eclipsed Natural

shows to a cameo in the low-budget

In 1996, he served as the screenwrit-

Born Killers in both acclaim and

Sleep With Me. At the beginning of

er and executive producer for the

popularity. Made for eight million

1995, he directed a segment of the an-

George Clooney schlock-fest From

dollars, the film eventually grossed

thology film Four Rooms and acted

Dusk Till Dawn, and the following

///

A Movie Geek

///


the making of From Dusk Till Dawn. His film work the following year was essentially confined to a role in friend Julia Sweeney’s God Said, Ha!, and in 1999, he was back behind the camera as the producer for From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money. Though Tarantino would lay relatively low in the early years of the new millennium, he did make a prominent

guest-starring

appear-

ance in 2001 on a two-episode story arc of the spy show Alias. In late 2002/early 2003, hype would soon start to build around his fourth feature, Kill Bill (2003). year renewed some of his earlier acclaim as the director and screenwrit-

Though originally envisioned to be a

er of Jackie Brown.

single release, Kill Bill was eventually seperated into two films entitled

The film, in which Tarantino had

Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Kill Bill Vol. 2 when

a voice-over cameo, reunited him

it became obvious that the story was

with Fiction star Samuel L. Jackson

simply too far-reaching to be con-

and won him the raves that had

tained in a single film.

been missing for much of his post-Fiction

career.

A kinetic homage to revenge movies of the 1970s, Kill Bill Vol. 1 featured

Also in 1997, Tarantino appeared in

Uma Thurman as a former assassin

Full Tilt Boogie, a documentary about

known as “The Bride.” ///

A Movie Geek

///

15


16

///

///


Section

2 Favorite Films

///

Favoriate Films

///

17


Favorite Films He lived and breathed his heros

A

handwritten list that Tarantino ap-

a highly curatorial video-store clerk, his

parently submitted in 2008, to Empire

ownership of the revival theater the New

Magazine. It just goes to show, if you ask

Beverly Cinema (which I myself frequent),

directors to jot down their favorite movies,

his cinephile’s-dream home theater and

the list can change from day to day, and

large collection of prints.

year to year. The director of Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown,

18

Speaking of, you might also want to see a

and Django Unchained voted for these

video where Tarantino Lists His Favorite

pictures in Sight & Sound‘s 2012 poll. Not

Films Since 1992. Yet more new films to save

only does this high-profile auteur select

for a rainy day. That sensibility has made

several other high-profile auteurs, he fa-

him a director of renown, but it comes

vors ones who show a similar enthusi-

in large part from his equally formidable

asm for genre: de Palma, Leone, Hawks,

stature as a film fan. His beginnings as

Spielberg, Friedkin.

///

Favoriate Films

///


ABBOT & COSTELLO ASSULT ON meet FRANKENSTEIN PRECINCT 13 Charles Barton 1948

John Carpenter 1976

arantino’s deft use of comedy to un-

Itself an homage to one of Tarantino’s

dercut horrifying or dramatic events

other

and catch audiences off-guard is

Assault’s claustrophobic, single-loca-

a constant throughout his work.

tion intensity was duplicated in both

(Reservoir Dogs leaps to mind, partic-

Reservoir Dogs and From Dusk Till

ularly Mr. Blonde’s dialogue with the

Dawn, in which young Scott wears a

severed ear.)

“Precinct 13”T-shirt.

“The Abbott and Costello stuff was funny, but when they were out of the room and monsters would come on, they’d kill people!When was the last time you saw anybody in a horror-comedy actually kill somebody? You didn’t see that. I took it in, seeing that movie.”

“I’d follow Assault on Precinct 13 wherever the hell it was playing. It was always great seeing it. It was neat.”

favorite

films,

Rio

Bravo,

///

Favoriate Films

///

19


BLOW OUT

BADLANDS

Brian De Palma 1981

Terrence Malick 1973

Though are

20

other

explicitly

Palma

films

spree was a model for both Natural

Tarantino’s work (Carrie in Kill Bill,

Born Killers and True Romance—with

for example), this one features a

director Tony Scott making the latter’s

world-weary John Travolta perfor-

debt even more plain by adding a fe-

mance that influenced Tarantino’s

male voice-over and a score echoing

desire to cast him in Pulp Fiction.

George Tipton’s music for Badlands.

“Brian De Palma is the greatest director of his generation. This is his most purely personal and cinematic film.”

“A religious experience. Great novelists wish they had written a novel as good as Badlands was a movie.”

Favoriate Films

///

quoted

This tale of young lovers on a crime

in

///

more

De


DJANGO

BREATHLESS

Sergio Corbucci 1966

Jim McBride 1983

Django was such a hit that it inspired

Richard Gere driving in front of a black

dozens, maybe hundreds, of unoffi-

and white rear projection tosses a gun on

cial

Tarantino’s

a comic book, an image that’s like a pre-

own Django Unchained. Corbucci’s

sequels

including

view of the entire Tarantino mythos. Later,

film also includes a young henchman

Gere argues about the superhero Silver

named Ringo (as does Pulp Fiction),

Surfer with a kid at a newsstand, a scene

and a brutalear-slicing scene (echoed

Tarantino later aped in the dialogue he

in Reservoir Dogs).

wrote for Tony Scott’s Crimson Tide.

“His West was the most violent, surreal, and pitiless landscape of any director in the history of the genre. His characters roam a brutal, sadistic West.”

“When I saw this in ’83, it was everything I wanted to do in movies.” Tarantino could reportedly recite its dialogue verbatim.

///

Favoriate Films

///

21


His Girl Friday Howard Hawks 1940

22

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Sergio Leone 1966

Tarantino ran Friday for the en-

Leone’s epic concludes with one of

sembles of Four Rooms and Death

Tarantino’s favorite climactic devices:

Proof and for Tim Roth and Amanda

the so-called Mexican standoff. In True

Plummer during Pulp Fiction. Its

Romance, when Clarence is describing

screenplay includes instructions to

the difference between films and mov-

speak their opening dialogue in “a

ies, he notes, “The Good, the Bad, and

rapid-pace His Girl Friday fashion.”

the Ugly, that’s a movie.”

“One of the things I’ll do, if it’s appropriate in a movie, is I’ll just get the actors together and I show them His Girl Friday just to show them not that we have to talk that fast in a movie, but you can talk that fast.”

“Probably the greatest example of reinvention of a genre on film. Horrible brutality, hysterical humor, blood, music, icons. What more could you ask for?”

///

Favoriate Films

///


THE INGLORIOUS BASTARDS Enzo G. Castellari 1978

LE DOULOS Jean-Pierre Melville 1962

Another of the more obvious influ-

This “shoot first, ask questions later”

ences; Tarantino stole (and deliber-

approach has been central to the struc-

ately misspelled) the title of this film

ture and chronology of all Tarantino’s

for his own 2009 men-on-a-mission

screenplays.

World War II epic.

cool heroes on characters in American gangster

Melville

patterned

pictures—which

his

American

filmmakers like Tarantino then reappropriated for their own works.

“I think it’s one of the best movies in all Italian exploitation. . . . It’s terrific, it really is, really good, and the script is fantastic.”

“I just loved the wildness o f watching a movie that up until the last twenty minutes I didn’t know what the fuck I was looking at. And the last twenty minutes explained it all.”

///

Favoriate Films

///

23


RIO BRAVO Howard Hawks 1959

ROLLING THUNDER John Flynn 1977

Male camaraderie in tight quarters,

Major Charles Rane returns home

as in Dogs; Clarence’s aforementioned

from Vietnam in his dress blues—just

speech in True Romance (“Rio Bravo,

like Captain Koons in Pulp Fiction.

that’s a movie”); the closing line of the

And Thunder contains a road movie

Killers script (“Let’s make a little mu-

element (in a convertible no less), with

sic, Colorado,” a reference to Bravo’s

Linda Haynes playing a tough heroine

singing cowboy, Colorado Ryan) all are

like Tarantino’s Alabama and Mallory.

tributes to Hawks’ classic film.

“When I’m getting serious about a girl, I show her Rio Bravo and she better fucking like it.”

24

///

Favoriate Films

///

“To me, it’s the greatest combo of action film and character study ever made. If you like revenge movies, this is the best revenge movie to see.”


Taxi Driver

Switchblade Sisters

Jean-Pierre Melville 1962

Jack Hill 1975

This “shoot first, ask questions later”

While the warehouse setting of the

approach has been central to the struc-

gang’s hideout and Hill’s favored me-

ture and chronology of all Tarantino’s

dium-wide compositions foreshadow

screenplays.

his

Reservoir Dogs. But you also see the

cool heroes on characters in American

roots of Tarantino’s love for tough

gangster

American

female protagonists. The final knife

filmmakers like Tarantino then reap-

fight feels like a warmup for Beatrix

propriated for their own works.

and Ellie’s battle in Kill Bill Volume 2.

“It’s just perfect.”

“I’ve watched this with audiences all over the place. But then, as it goes on, you start laughing with the movie. And then a very strange thing happens all of a sudden, you realize you actually care about these people.”

Melville

pictures

patterned

which

///

Favoriate Films

///

25


26

///

///


Section

3 Natural Born Killers

///

Natural born killers ///

27


Natural Born Killers A geniuse from the start

N

atural Born Killers, like True Romance, was a by-

product of Tarantino’s Open Road rewrite, which included, according to Avary, “literally . . . everything he ever wanted to do . . . bits and pieces of Reservoir Dogs, Natural Born Killers, Pulp Fiction.”

“Clarence, the lead character in True Romance, was writing a screenplay as all this was going on. What he was writing was Natural Born Killers with Mickey and Mallory.” 28

/// Natural born killers

///


01/ Director Oliver Stone

02/ Story Quentin Tarantino

03/ Budget $ 34 million

04/ Cast Juliette lewis Woody Harrelson

“I wish Stone had just fucking ripped it off,” he told a

James Fenwick Illustration

reporter, opting out of screenplay credit.He gota “story

by” byline instead.’’

The project ultimately fell into the

Sean Penn. Stone revised the screen-

of screenplay credit. He gota “story

hands of up and coming producers

play with writers David Veloz and

by” byline instead.

Don Murphy and Jane Hamsher,

Richard Rutowski.

setting off a long, complicated,

The two stubborn filmmakers trad-

well documented, he said she said

Though the option that Tarantino

ed harsh words in the press during

battle for control of the project be-

had sold to Murphy and Hamsher al-

their roughly concurrent Killers and

tween those producers.

lowed the script to be altered with or

Fiction press tours, with Tarantino

without his participation, he was still

dismissing Stone’s lack of subtlety

steamed by the changes to his baby.

(“To me the best thing about him is

Tarantino’s

friend

Rand

Vossler,

his energy.)

Tarantino himself, and Oliver Stone, who ultimately directed the film af-

“I wish [Stone] had just fucking ripped

ter the script was passed to him by

it off,” he told a reporter, opting out ///

Natural born killers ///

29


30

///

///


Section

4 From Dusk Till Down

///

From dusk till down

///

31


Both filmmakers are on-the-record fans of exploitation

Rodriguez and tarantino cast their exploitation idols

by Matt Ryan Tobin

J

ust before Tarantino left Video

worked up a twenty-page treatment

was paid all of $1,500 for his eighty-

Archives for good, he picked up

for a “gangster-vampire” movie set

eight-page draft of From Dusk Till

his first, according to Hoyle paid

near the Texas-Mexico border, which

Dawn and was glad to have it. The

writing gig. It came from KNB EFX

Kurtzman would direct.

guys at KNB were equally happy with

Group, a special effects house whose

32

movies, and they peppered the movie with their favorites.

A Vampire classic

his screenplay and set about trying to

founders wanted to create a film of

The treatment in hand, they went

their own, primarily as a showcase

looking for a writer who would

for their makeup and visual effects.

work cheaply. Kurtzman read True

But Kurtzman came upagainst the

So cofounder Robert Kurtzman and

Romanceand

BornKillers

same funding trouble as his screen-

his writing partner John Esposito

and knew he had his man. Tarantino

writer: producers didn’t want to tak e

/// From dusk till down

///

Natural

get it made.


01/ Director Robert Rodrigez

02/ Story Quentin Tarantino

03/ Budget $ 19 million

04/ Cast George Clooney Harvey Keitel

a risk on afirst-time director. Kurtzman shopped it around for a couple of years, but (like Quentin) wasn’t able to get it made until he was willing to turn it over to another director—and only then after his nobody writer had become a cinematic rock star. From Dusk Till Dawn was finally released in 1996, with Tarantino in one of the leading roles, under the direction of his buddy Robert Rodriguez. Rodriguez and tarantino cast their exploitation idols Both filmmakers are on-the-record fans of exploitation movies, and they peppered the movie with their favorites.

Tom Savini, who plays Sex Machine, is the legendary stuntman and special effects creator behind movies like Dawn of the Dead; Tom Saxon, who plays FBI Agent Chase, is an actor who appeared in Enter the Dragon and other films; and Fred Williamson, who plays Frost, was in many popular Blaxploitation movies in the ‘70s and the original movie inspiration for Inglourious Basterds. it used to include a famous tarantino speechThe infamous Ezekiel 25:17 speech from Pulp Fiction was originally in Tarantino’s script for From Dusk Till Dawn.

///

From dusk till down

///

33


34

///

///


Section

5 Reservoir Dogs

///

Reservoir Dogs

///

35


Reservoir Dogs The first film

“I wrote it real quick,”but that’s slightly deceptive, simply because I had done so much homework on it before.” 01/ Director Quentin Tarantino

I

get a kick out of heist pictures,” Tarantino would later explain, “so I thought I’d write

one. I’d had the idea in my head about a film that doesn’t take place during the robbery,

02/ Story

but in the rendezvous afterwards.” When he

Quentin Tarantino

movies by the handful.

03/ Budget $ 1.2 million

worked at Video Archives, he took home heist

“I wrote it real quick,” he said of the Reservoir Dogs script, “but that’s slightly deceptive, simply because I had done so much homework on it before.”

04/ Cast True to his word, Tarantino showed the fin-

Tim Roth

ished script to Bender, who was confident he

Harvey Keitel 36

///

Reservoir Dogs

///

could get the live-wire picture made.


A friend of a friend passed

sioned from years of shop-

the screenplay to Monte

ping his screenplays around

Hellman, the cult director

an d hanginghis hopes on

of Two Lane Blacktop and

near-misses before hand-

Cockfighter, who took on

ing them off to other direc-

an executive producer god-

tors, wasn’t going to dance

father position.

to raise funds,

Bender a ridiculously short two month window

Tarantino bent, but only slightly: he gave

the script was too good to not at least try. But the filmmaker, disillu-

that dance again. In that role, he got the

After all, he’d written the

script to executives at LIVE

funniest role, Mr. Pink, for

Entertainment,which most-

himself.

ly produced films for the

Bender

pleaded

with him; the script was

home video market.

too good to not at least try. Tarantino bent, but only slightly: he gave Bender a ridiculously short two month window and

to

made

raise him

funds, promise

that if (and, Tarantino figured, when) it didn’t happen,

Bender

would

play

Nice GuyEddie for him. Yet Bender got it done.

///

Reservoir Dogs

///

37


38

///

///


Section

6 Pulp Fiction

///

Pulp Fiction

///

39


Pulp Fiction

L

ike premature reports of Mark

This reworking of story causality and

film historian David Bordwell calls

Twain’sdemise,

linear narrative does

“intensified

death

of

greatly

classical

news

of

narrative

the is

exaggerated.

not, however,

continuity.”

represent a rejection of the principles of classical filmmaking; indeed,

Tarantino and Avary’s script for Pulp

flashbacks and narrative ellipses are

Fiction is an exemplar in this regard.

Rather, like generic conventions the

common storytelling devices in clas-

As the screenplay’s subtitle, “Three

Western’s climactic showdown, film

sical filmmaking.

stories About one story,” suggests,

noir’s mysterious femme fatale, or

40

interpenetrations between people, places, and actions

by by oldredjalopy

“Three stories... About one story,” suggests, Tarantino

and Avary are interested in exploring the intersections and

The script that changed everything

Tarantino and Avary are interested in

the horror film’s monstrous “other”

Rather than rejecting the princi-

exploring the intersections and inter-

story structure itself, including the

ples of Hollywood classicism, the

penetrations between people, places,

treatment of narrative and temporal

narrative

innova-

and actions: precisely those ingredi-

relations is undergoing some (radi-

tions prevalent in contemporary

ents that Pauline Kael suggests are the

cal, perhaps) reinterprtation.

American movies constitute what

“stuff” of movies.

///

Pulp Fiction

///

and

stylistic


01/ Director Quentin Tarantino

02/ Story Quentin Tarantino

03/ Budget $ 30 million

by Peter Strain

04/ Cast Samuel L. Jackson John Travolta

In this essay, I want to suggest

up very well either in practice or un-

determined.Its

that Pulp Fiction’s emphasis on sto-

der critical scrutiny.

variation and affords filmmakers

ry and storytelling indicates a dis-

flexibility

invites

an opportunity to create individ-

cernible interest in time or, more

Kristin Thompson suggests a four-

ual and distinctive works within

precisely, different aspects of time

part invention that offers a more ro-

a hierarchical and disciplined re-

in cinema. Pulp Fiction exploits

bust model for understanding how

gime of production: the hallmark

film’s unrivaled facility for tempo-

Hollywood films are structured and

of classical Hollywood cinema.

ral construction and (re)ordering.

how they operate.

Despite its playful, but by no means Although screenwriters often fol-

This model consists of: (1) the setup;

inconsequential, disregard for nar-

low the three-act narrative structure

(2) complicating action; (3) devel-

rative chronology, Pulp Fiction 

championed by Syd Fields in his in-

opment; and (4) a climax, followed

fits Thompson’s four-part structure

dustry standard text Screenplay, the

by an epilogue.

quite well.

tripa tite formulation does not hold

tion is neither fixed nor rigidly

This formula-

///

Pulp Fiction

///

41


42

///

///


Section

7 Jackie Brown

///

Jackie Brown

///

43


Jackie Brown Its Pam Grier

‘‘Jackie Brown centers around the title character played

with sexy gusto by an always illuminating Pam Grier who works for a lowlife Mexican airline as a flight attendant.,,

J

ackie Brown centers around the title character played with sexy

gusto by an always illuminating Pam Grier who works for a lowlife Mexican airline as a flight attendant. It’s all she can get after a runin with the law a few years back. Earning a measly $16K a year, she earns some extra scratch helping local gun runner Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson) transfer cash from his offshore bank account.

When he finds out one of his underlings (Chris Tucker) ratted him out to the Feds, he grabs a .45 and goes after him. In the meantime, Jackie is stopped at the airport by ATF agent Ray Nicolette (Michael Keaton) and LAPD detective Mark Dargas (Michael Bowen). They got a tip about the money, and now our heroine is in hot water. 44

///

Jackie Brown

///


01/ Director Quentin Tarantino

02/ Story Quentin Tarantino

03/ Budget $ 30 million

04/ Cast Samuel L. Jackson Pam Grier

Enter bail bondsman Max Cherry (Robert

When he’s hyper, hitting on all crazy 88

Forster), who takes an instant shine to

cylinders with madcap aplomb, Tarantino

Jackie. When he finds out that his main

is terrific.

lifeline to Mexico has been pinched, Ordell has a decision to make kill her, or

He is unmatched in vision and vitality.

play along with a plan she has to trick the

Take the horrific crash in Death Proof, set

cops and get all $500K of his loot.

to the lost gem “Hold Tight” by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mitch & Tich.

Naturally, he goes along with the ploy, making sure his new right hand man

Every shot, every moment of that men-

Louis (Robert DeNiro) and gal pal Melanie

acing mayhem is conceived and created

(Bridget Fonda) got his back.

Of course,

to get the hairs standing on the back

with things growing between Max and

of your head and the heart pumping

Jackie, there may be more than a mere

along to the beat.

double cross in order. ///

Jackie Brown

///

45


46

///

///


Section

8 Kill Bill Vol.1

///

Kill Bill Vol.1

///

47


Kill Bill Vol.1 The story of the The Bride

‘‘In others you find yourself cringing out of concern for

the guy. That these kinds of doubts never cross our minds

while watching a movie by Tarantino tells you everything you need to know about him.’’

T

his idea of the fearless filmmak er brings to mind a picture I

watched last year called at Ebertfest called “You, the Living,” in which Roy Andersson spends 90 minutes throwing twenty-some vignettes at the audience with a certain attitude of indifference as to whether they catch the humor in them or not. In some cases you end up laughing out loud; In others you find yourself cringing out of concern for the guy. That these kinds of doubts never cross our minds while watching a movie by Tarantino tells you everything you need to know about him. One would not advise anybody to choose this same approach, as for most it would be like trying to fly without wings.

Everyone who knows a little about the history of “Kill Bill” is well aware that the film was split in two. The introduction to the first volume refers it as “Quentin Tarantino’s fourth film” but this detail was omitted in the second, so it’s evident that the director considers it 48

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Kill Bill Vol.1

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01/ Director Quentin Tarantino

02/ Story Quentin Tarantino

03/ Budget $ 30 million

04/ Cast Uma Thurman Lucy liu a single entity (and so do we for reviewing purposes). Still, the halves couldn’t be more different, which makes it hard to blame Tarantino for splitting them in the first place. The first part is basically an homage to the martial arts films he loves, the second one to Spaghetti Westerns (among other genres), and together they chronicle a woman’s long “roaring rampage of revenge” against the team responsible for a massacre at her wedding and putting her in a coma. Even though “Kill Bill” it is made up of only nine, seemingly simple chapters, Tarantino (as usual) can’t help but avoid telling them in a straight-ahead way. As the Hanzo character says: “the road to revenge is never a straight line.” No road ever seems to be with this guy.

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Kill Bill Vol.1

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50

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Section

9 Kill Bill Vol.2

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Kill Bill Vol.2

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51


01/ Director Quentin Tarantino

02/ Story Quentin Tarantino

03/ Budget $ 30 million

04/ Cast Uma Thurman Michael Madsen

Kill BILL voL.2 The Avenging Female

“I wrote it real quick,” he said of the Reservoir Dogs

script, “but that’s slightly deceptive, simply because I had done so much homework on it before.”

I

’m the deadliest woman in the world

to see Uma fully assume the mantle

- but right now, I’m just scared shit-

of warrior queen, martial arts mom,

less about my baby! With these words,

and for all I know, first gay diva of the

Uma Thurman’s pregnant Bride puts

Shaolin Temple.

the finishing touches to her iconic status: flinging her description defiantly,

Once again, with an insouciant

imploringly, at a would-be assassin.

blaze of energy and style, Tarantino has seen off the imitators, detractors

52

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Kill Bill Vol.2

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This second part of Quentin Tarantino’s

and condescenders. True, the Kill Bill

gruesomely violent, deliriously bril-

films do not have the dialogue riffs of

liant pulp-guignol shocker is destined

his earlier work co-scripted with Roger


Avary, apart from one small verbal arabesque here about Superman and Clark Kent. But as any screenplay handbook will tell you, writing for motion pictures is not about penning lines of dialogue; it is about fashioning a narrative and constructing an event. Kill Bill just seems to bypass the rational filters which impede the respectable films and attacks the endorphin centres of the brain. For volume two, the Bride has a different stylist. She has put aside the yellow-and-black tracksuit, based on the outfit Bruce Lee wore in his unfinished film Game of Death, opting instead for more tactful civilian garb, including a nondescript hoodie worn as a hunched pyjama top, and for

her final showdown with Bill

and put her in a coma by, as she

a startlingly demure and fem-

grimly summarises it, “busting

inine combination.

a cap in her crown”. In Volume One, she took out O-Ren Ishii

She models a delicate frilly

(Lucy Liu) and Vernita Green

skirt and pale top designed to

(Vivica A Fox).

show her enviable skin-tones, but which is surely not a mar-

In this effective female aveng-

tial arts movie allusion un-

ing story, the antagonist is

less there’s a lost scene in Fist

similar to the stuntman Mike.

of Fury where Bruce Lee goes

Both are perverted, both de-

shopping at Monsoon.

serves to be killed in a disgusting and harsh way.

The project remains exactly the same: revenge, a dish gobbled

In Sympathy for Lady Vengeance,

up piping hot. She’s out to get

similar to the stuntman Mike,

her ex-lover Bill, who, with his

the teacher is perverted as a kill-

murderous minions, massacred

er and also he is perverted in his

her Groom and wedding guests

sexual desires.

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Kill Bill Vol.2

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54

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Section

10 Death Proof

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Death Proof

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55


Death Proof A Grindhouse Experience

T

arantino’s not saying “Death Proof” is bad,

just that he likes it the least of all the movies he’s made. But I think he’s got it wrong. “Death Proof”’s not the worst movie of his career by a long shot. And if he’s really quitting the movies because he hates “television in public” then “Death Proof” is not only a good film, it’s also the most important and most personal of his entire career. It premiered as part of an unusual theatrical experiment called “Grindhouse.” Tarantino

and

his

fre-

quent collaborator Robert Rodriguez each made an exploitation film, and then packaged them together as a double feature. For one ticket, you got to see Tarantino’s “Death Proof” and

Rodriguez’s

“Planet

Terror,” plus a bunch of 56

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Death Proof

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01/ Director Quentin Tarantino

02/ Story Quentin Tarantino

03/ Budget $ 30 million

04/ Cast Kurt Russell Rosario Dawson

‘‘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.”

fake trailers and vintage house ads.

It was an interesting idea and a

from the drive-in days. Their imag-

The idea was to recreate the expe-

complete flop. “Grindhouse” earned

es were weathered, discolored, and

rience of going to see sleazy movies

just $25.0 million at the U.S. box of-

scratched; jagged jump cuts were

at one of the so called “grindhouses”

fice;

it’s

made to mimic the wear-and-tear on

that populated New York’s 42nd Street

Tarantino’s second lowest grossing

an old film print that was damaged

in the 1970s.

film of his career after the tiny,

and repaired.

adjusted

for

inflation,

independent “Reservoir Dogs” (in In an era when some filmmak-

comparison, lease).

ers cut a single story into three

‘‘Death Proof has got to be the worst movie I ever make. And for a

films to maximize their profits,

As part of the hook of “Grindhouse”

left-handed movie, that wasn’t so

Tarantino and Rodriguez actually

and its throwback aesthetic, both

bad, all right? so if that’s the worst I

gave viewers two complete stories

films were artificially aged to look

ever get, I’m good.

for the price of one.

like they could have been lost movies ///

Death Proof

///

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58

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Section

11 Inglourious Bastards

/// Inglourious Bastards

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59


Ingourious Bastards

decade’s out.”

“Yes. I wanted to have a masterpiece before the

A Basterd’s Work Is Never Done

Q

uentin Tarantino is one of those

Everyone

resorts

to

talking

about

directors that thoroughly di-

the work in the ways they are most

vides people: You either love to hate

comfortable. Inglourious Basterds is

him, or hate to love him. As an artist,

Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece and

this might be the best place to find

my job here will be to introduce a

your self because no matter what you

glossary of sorts with which to discuss

create you are guaranteed a high lev-

the director’s most important work.

el of critical attention.

I know the usual criticisms. His lucky

work is too violent. He steals from

enough to find themselves in this

his predecessors. His films are mor-

predicament is that when they do

ally suspect.

The

problem

for

artists

create something truly wonder-

60

/// Inglourious Bastards

///

ful, when their genius comes into

Easily the most enduring and percep-

full flower, the critical community

tive criticism of Tarantino’s work is

lacks the vocabulary to adequately

that he makes the films that he wants

celebrate the work.

to see. Lucky for us, as Tarantino edges


01/ Director Quentin Tarantino

02/ Story Quentin Tarantino

03/ Budget $ 100 million

04/ Cast Brad Pit

by Tyler Stout

Christoph waltz

closer to 50, his taste has matured along with his crow’s feet. So why is Inglourious

Basterds, itself a carrying case for all these criticisms, Tarantino’s masterpiece? First, because he tells us so, and if there is one thing to keep firmly in mind when discussing Quentin Tarantino, it is his extreme literalness.

Lynn Hirschberg of The New York Times Style Magazine caught up with Tarantino in April of last year and asked whether there was a reason for the frenzied pace of filming. Tarantino boldly and without a hint of irony responded: “Yes. I wanted to have a masterpiece before the decade’s out.” Bob Clark, in a brilliant, if exhausting, review for The Aspect Ratio, wrote the following: “Tarantino has given the world a pulse-pounding WWII story that everybody but neo-Nazis wish was the truth.

/// Inglourious Bastards

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61


62

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Section

12 Django Unchained

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Django Unchained

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63


Django Unchained Days of N words and bounty hunting

01/ Director Quentin Tarantino

02/ Story Quentin Tarantino

03/ Budget $ 100 million

04/ Cast Jamie Foxx Christoph waltz

Q

been

on celluloid will be the day he retires.

what people are saying, the articles

Googling himself, and it’s start-

“But I do have an iPad, and I have a

that are out there, and that’s been

ing to become a problem. The film-

lot of fun with it,” Tarantino tells me.

kind of fun for a while, but now I’ve

uentin

Tarantino

has

got to get out of it. It’s hard to not

maker, whose eighth feature, Django Unchained, opens on Christmas Day,

It’s

a

rainy

afternoon

in

late

is famously an analog evangelist: He

November, and the 49-year-old for-

writes his scripts in longhand.

mer video-store clerk is sequestered

access to that kind of shit.

in the bar at the Four Seasons Hotel

And I’ve never really had that be-

He bans cell phones from his sets

in Beverly Hills, nursing a healthy

fore, so I’m gonna actually have

and hasn’t owned one in years; he’s

pour of pinot noir.

to get rid of my iPad for a while.” By the time you read this, Django

claimed that the day the film indus-

64

want to do that when you have easy

try “evolves” to the point where it

“But because of that, I found myself

Unchained will have been wide-

will be impossible for him to shoot

Googling Django Unchained, seeing

ly screened for industry members

///

Django Unchained

///


and critics; some will have suggested that Tarantino’s latest confection could have used more time in the oven, while others will name it one of the best films of the year. But at the time of our interview, almost anything anyone’s saying online about Django is almost certainly speculative. Aside from Tarantino’s collaborators and confidants, no one has ac-

second,” Tarantino says without hes-

tually seen the movie, me included.

itation. “And we locked our cut two

There are few filmmakers I would

weeks ago.”

agree to interview for a cover story without actually having seen their

So why not let me see it before our

movie first.

interview? “I don’t want anyone to see it now, until the mix is finished,”

In all that Googling, I wonder, is

he says, adding, “People can see it

there anything he’s read that’s total-

when I’m fucking done. They can

ly inaccurate? “They’ve been saying

wait a couple days.” And, besides, “It

that me and [editor] Fred [Raskin]

would actually spoil Saturday if any-

have been editing up until the last

one had seen it.” ///

Django Unchained

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66

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Django Unchained

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Django Unchained

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67


A look through the works of the Hollywood madman Quentin Tarantino, and what makes his works true to the art of film making.

Penguin Books

Profile for Ardavan Hemmat Pour

Tarantino  

Tarantino