Whenever you ask someone to name one of the best directors of modern cinema, there is a good chance they will name Quentin Tarantino. From his debut with “Reservoir Dogs” to his last film “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood,” each of his films has its place in pop culture. While many criticize Tarantino for his use of graphic violence, depictions of racism, and use of feet-angle shots, he still knows how to create a great film.
Tarantino’s style is evident in each of his films, which shines when his films take on different genres and time periods. Each film nails all bullet points of a good movie.
First and foremost, Tarantino knows how to write his characters from top to bottom. They are usually dressed fashionably and speak some of the most fancy, refreshing dialogue that has ever been said in cinematic history.
The protagonists are standouts and are memorable because of their unique traits, from Jules Winnfield in “Pulp Fiction,” a hitman switching from charismatic to furious in an instant, to Cliff Booth in “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood,” a laid-back stunt double who faces danger head-on.
Because of Tarantino’s ability to create abominable humans, the only characters that are a challenge to like are the films’ villains. Walking into “Django Unchained” with knowledge of its slavery-theme, you will know who to hate before they are on screen. Plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) tries to justify his racist actions with phrenology, smiling all the way. Likewise, SS Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) from “Inglourious Basterds” is a Nazi with a disturbing presence and kill-count. As terrible as these people are, you will love to hate them and never feel bad for them.
The pristineness of writing also carries over into the narrative itself and all of Tarantino’s stories go down different roads. “Inglourious Basterds,” for example is told in chapters with stories that eventually intertwine. In contrast, “Pulp Fiction” tells multiple stories haphazardly but compensates by answering questions from previous chapters.
Tarantino’s films fit into a specific genre and carry a different vibe. “Pulp Fiction” and “Jackie Brown” stand as neo-noirs in the ‘90s, but everybody acts like it is the ‘50s. “Django Unchained” violently pays homage to spaghetti westerns. “Death Proof” is a solidified grindhouse slasher with the murder weapon being a highly durable Chevy Nova. Both volumes of “Kill Bill” turn the martial arts genre into a gory splatfest. “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood” drives more into comedy, but it also twists history once Charles Manson creeps his way into the plot.
Each film uses the same sort of elements. Nearly all of his characters are foul-mouthed, with their favorite four-letter word starting with “F.” Racial slurs and sexual content may catch the audience off guard depending on the film, and sometimes it is questionable. If anything, gratuitous blood, gore, and violence can always be expected. This is one element Tarantino has been hassled for by interviewers, but from a film standpoint, it is nothing that has not been seen before.
Shock value on its own is something Tarantino gets creative with. Some of the most memorable moments of Tarantino’s films are when they go over the top. In “Inglourious Basterds,” instead of just ordering troops to carry the plan out, Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) demands 100 Nazi scalps from each soldier. During “Pulp Fiction,” two men in a pawn shop questionably house a gimp in the back. In “Kill Bill,” one of Beatrix’s targets is unintentionally killed in front of her child, letting awkwardness settle in. These are the elements that make Tarantino original and unpredictable.
Today, Tarantino’s movies are some of the most influential and original works to date. Nothing like them are seen anywhere else, and that is a good thing. It takes a high level of creativity and gumption to make such moving, exciting, and memorable works of art like he has, and this is why they are in popular culture.