We have a returning guest this week. Joining me to talk about one of my absolute favourite directors, the one and only Quentin Tarantino, is Alex Hayler (you can find our first Top 5 here: Top 5 Best Picture Winner. Tarantino has never made truly bad film in my eyes (Death Proof isn’t great, but its not bad) so this was a very hard list to make. But we have managed it, so here are our Top 5 Quentin Tarantino films.
- Shuggie: The Hateful Eight – I reviewed Tarantino’s newest film earlier this year and loved it. All of the performances are fantastic, the dialogue is gripping, and the ending is beautifully chaotic and unexpected. It may be essentially the same storyline as Reservoir Dogs with both having these morally bad characters trapped in a single location looking for the one who means them harm, but that is really not the point. These films are both about the characters that Tarantino presents to us. We learn about them through his wonderful dialogue, but these personalities are who the film is focused on.
- Alex: Kill Bill Volumes 1 and 2 – Now I realise I’m technically cheating here, but Tarantino himself has said that he considers Kill Bill one film, so I’m lumping these two in together. Sitting at five on my list, Kill Bill has beaten off some tough competition for the bottom spot, as I had to decide which Quentin films to leave out. Jackie Brown and The Hateful Eight were solid contenders, but ultimately, Uma Thurman slicing through hordes of mooks with a katana won the day. Five point palm exploding heart technique anyone?
- Shuggie: Kill Bill Volume 1 – This is a masterpiece in action. Whilst Volume 2 is great itself, there is nothing that compares to the Bride fighting the Crazy 88. This scene alone is makes the film worth watching, as it is one of the greatest action films I have ever had the pleasure to watch. In the film as a whole we are treated to a great central performance from Uma Thurman, who absolutely carries both parts of Kill Bill. She is well supported by the rest of the cast. However this isn’t one of Tarantino’s typical films focusing far more on the bloody action than the dialogue, and it’s a treat to watch. (Unlike Alex I haven’t cheated and made a decision.)
- Alex: Reservoir Dogs – The film that started it all, and the film which showed us what to expect from Tarantino. Ultraviolence – check. Witty dialogue and monologuing – check. Flips the genre on its head (it’s a heist movie that never shows the heist) – check. Copious use of the N-word – check. The only thing missing is Samuel L. Jackson. Dogs is a truly classic piece of cinema, featuring some of the most memorable movie scenes of the 90’s. Mr Pink’s rant about tipping and THAT Mr Blonde scene (you know the one) are two that particularly stand out. This is the film you show to a cinema lover who has never seen a Tarantino flick, but I’m not sure such a person exists.
- Shuggie: Reservoir Dogs – For a first film Reservoir Dogs is just incredible. To open with a long scene of all the principle characters in a dinner discussing the nature of tipping or music. It’s such a bold choice that really set out what Tarantino was about as a director. The storyline may have been relatively simple, but Tarantino elevates it through his use of non-linear storytelling and his rich and interesting characters. We also got to see how important music is to Tarantino’s films, with the famous ‘Stuck in the Middle With You’ scene possibly the best example of that to date. Overall it was such a perfect introduction to Tarantino’s work.
- Alex: Inglourious Basterds – Inglourious Basterds is a truly fantastic film, but for me it is elevated to that level by a single character. In Colonel Hans Landa, Christoph Waltz perfectly embodies one of the greatest villains ever to appear on the silver screen, up there with Hopkin’s in The Silence of the Lambs and Darth freakin’ Vader. Other elements of Basterds contribute to the film’s brilliance, Shoshanna the Nazi-burning Jew for one, but Waltz’ barnstorming performance as the meticulous, evil, and yet genuinely likable Landa is what truly drives the film. Probably the best world war two film that doesn’t feature a single battle, and one of the very few that actually rewrote history and murdered Hitler.
- Shuggie: Pulp Fiction – Everything that I said we were introduced to in Reservoir Dogs is arguably improved upon in Tarantino’s second film Pulp Fiction. We get the first example of Samuel L Jackson’s wonderful collaborations with Tarantino in one of his finest roles. There are so many iconic moments in the film from Vincent and Jules discussing hamburgers from different countries, to Christopher Walken’s 5 minutes appearance telling the story of a pocket watch, and Mia and Vincent in the dance competition. Whilst Reservoir Dogs may have been Tarantino’s first film, Pulp Fiction is the one that really put him in the map.
- Alex: Django Unchained – Of Tarantino’s period pieces, I like Django the best. The Hateful Eight was very clever and atmospheric, and Inglorious had the aforementioned Colonel Hans Landa, but Django is just truly epic. Jamie Foxx is brilliant as the titular hero, the action sequences are flashy and stylish, and Leonardo Dicaprio’s portrayal of despicable plantation owner Calvin Candie should have won him his Oscar years before The Revenant did. I also see this as Tarantino’s funniest film, with Jonah Hill’s cameo scene standing out especially in that regard.
- Shuggie: Inglourious Basterds – It may be a surprise for a number one pick, but Inglourious Basterd is hands down my favourite Tarantino film. It perfectly blends the brutal and bloody action of Kill Bill with the superb dialogue heavy scenes of a Reservoir Dogs. The opening scene introduced us to incredible Christoph Waltz as Hans Landa. Meanwhile the bar scene is one of the greatest bits of cinema I’ve ever had the privilege to witness, as the tension just builds in such a realistic way to a bloody climax. As well as Waltz we get great performances from Brad Pitt, Eli Roth, Mélanie Laurent, and many others. It is my personal favourite Tarantino film without a doubt.
- Alex: Pulp Fiction – Whilst Reservoir Dogs may have been the film that launched Tarantino’s career, Pulp Fiction was the one which propelled it into the stratosphere. Pulp Fiction took everything that was great about Reservoir Dogs and then slammed it all up a gear: the dialogue got wittier, the plot got cleverer, the characters got cooler and, perhaps most importantly of all, we got Samuel L. Jackson. Nearly every scene is cinematic gold, from the watch up Christopher Walken’s ass to Ezekiel 25:17. In my humble opinion, this is not only the greatest Tarantino film, but also one of the greatest films full stop. Nobody makes movies like QT, and none of his movies showcase his talent more than Pulp Fiction.
So that is out Top 5 favourite Quentin Tarantino films, sadly no love for Jackie Brown out there so I’m going to give it a mention here. What are your favourite Tarantino films? Are there any other directors you’d like to see me tackle? Let me know.