Tag Archives: quentin tarantino

Django Unchained

Django Unchained is a 2012 Tarantino flick. It fact, it’s Quentin Tarantino’s highest grossing film to date. It’s not his best film, but it’s worth watching (all his films are). It’s about a slave named Django who teams up with a bounty hunter. They go around killing bad guys and collecting bounties while searching for Django’s wife in an effort to free her. It’s an interesting story but it’s not as structured as Tarantino’s other films. It’s more rambling and loose, and it feels almost as if he was trying to stretch out the running time. Granted it’s Tarantino, so it’s never boring. There’s always tremendous dialog, beautiful visuals, an epic soundtrack, and glorious violence. It’s a great movie. It’s just not quite a masterpiece.

Jamie Foxx plays Django and he’s good and all, but Christoph Waltz carries the movie as Dr. King Schultz. Schultz is arguably the main character. He’s the one that sets the story in motion. He frees Django, he teaches him how to become a bounty hunter, and he helps him find his wife. This movie has tremendous actors in it. Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, Kerry Washington, etc. all had solid performances, but the movie wouldn’t have worked without Christoph Waltz. He won the Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor, and it was well deserved.

You can’t claim to be a movie lover if you don’t watch Tarantino movies. You don’t have to like them, but you have to experience them. Tarantino watches films, studies them, analyzes them, and incorporates certain aspects of great films into his films. He pays homage to classic cinema while simultaneously pushing the boundaries forward. Yeah, he overuses the N-word and has a foot fetish. He’s still a true artist and you can’t deny his impact on cinema and pop culture.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Planet Terror

            Planet Terror is a 2007 Robert Rodriguez movie and one half of the double feature experience known as Grindhouse. Now when I say that it’s a Robert Rodriguez movie, I really mean that it’s a Robert Rodriguez movie. He wrote it, he directed it, he co-edited it, he produced it, he did the cinematography, and he even scored it. That’s about as hands on as you can get in Hollywood. It’s a glorified B movie about zombies and a stripper with a machine gun leg.

Rose McGowan stars as a stripper named Cherry Darling and Freddy Rodriguez plays her ex-boyfriend, the mysterious El Wray. They bump into each other on a quiet night in a rural Texas town. Things don’t stay quiet for long. A deadly biochemical gas is released at a nearby military base and it’s turning the townspeople into zombies. It’s your classic zombie movie, complete with a ragtag group of survivors doing battle with the undead.

There’s a great supporting cast including Josh Brolin, Bruce Willis, Fergie, Marley Shelton, Naveen Andrews, Michael Biehn, Jeff Fahey, and Quentin Tarantino. The look of the film is pretty unique. They scratched the film to make it look aged and more like a ‘70s flick. At one point there’s a “missing reel” and the film jumps from a steamy sex scene to all hell breaking loose. Suddenly there are more survivors, more zombies, and shit’s on fire. They jumped from the second act straight into the climax and it still works.

I remember watching Grindhouse in the theater. It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had at the cinema. It had two movies from two of my favorite directors for the price of one ticket, and there were also bonus trailers for fake movies (some of which were so awesome that they turned them into real movies, like Machete). I felt like I went back in time. Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof is pretty decent, but Planet Terror is more entertaining and fun.

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Inglourious Basterds

Inglourious Basterds is Quentin Tarantino’s seventh film and an abomination of spelling. It’s your basic World War II fairy tale, taking place in an alternate timeline. The basic plot involves a Jewish-French chick and a ragtag group of soldiers trying to kill Hitler. And everyone has snazzy dialog because it’s a Tarantino movie.

Brad Pitt plays Lieutenant Aldo Raine, the leader of the Jewish-American “Basterds.” The Basterds enjoy spending their time killing and scalping Nazis. One of their main targets is Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz), a.k.a. the “Jew Hunter.” Landa is a formidable foe. His job is to track down Jews and he does his job well and without mercy. He’s a master of languages and is cunning and diabolical. His only mistake was letting the young Shosanna Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent) escape from his clutches.

Shosanna goes on to change her name to Emmanuelle Mimieux and takes over a small cinema. One day she gets the opportunity to host a Nazi movie premiere that will be attended by the Nazi elite, including Hitler. She decides to use the opportunity to kill him. The Basterds also have a plan to kill Hitler. The result is rather explosive when two Hitler assassination plots merge in a Tarantino movie.

The best thing about the movie was casting Christoph Waltz as Hans Landa. He steals every scene; it doesn’t matter whether or not he is speaking English, German, French or Italian. You hate the guy and you like hating the guy. It makes it really satisfying when Aldo carves a swastika in his head. The worst thing about this movie is all the foreign languages resulting in a whole lot of subtitles. I don’t mind subtitles most of the time, but sometimes I just want to watch a movie without reading.

Inglourious Basterds is a good film. But it’s not one of Tarantino’s best. Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, and the Kill Bill saga are better. Inglourious Basterds is too ambitious with too many plot holes. For instance, Aldo’s plan never would have worked if Landa didn’t have a secret agenda. All in all, this is a solid film and is required viewing if you’re a Tarantino fan.

Critically Rated at 13/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Pulp Fiction

There are a few ways that men prove they are men. We light fires. We memorize sports statistics. And we quote Pulp Fiction. Quentin Tarantino is movie nerd and you can tell that he knows how to make a great film. He might lift things from obscure movies, but he has his own style and voice and he makes movies that you can watch over and over again.

The movie is non linear. There are three main stories that are somewhat self-contained, but certain events and characters are common in all the segments. The film starts with Pumpkin (Tim Roth) and Honey Bunny (Amanda Plummer) staging a robbery in a restaurant, before it jumps into the first story about Vincent Vega (John Travolta). Vincent and his partner Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) are two hit men working for Marcellus Wallace (Ving Rhames). Vincent and Jules make casual conversation before they kill off Brett, some fool who owes Marcellus Wallace money. Later Vincent has to take Marcellus Wallace’s wife out to dinner and keep her company. Vincent and Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) go to Jack Rabbit Slim’s, a ‘50s style diner and enter a dance contest and they win. They have chemistry, but there’s no way that Vincent can act on it. While Vincent is talking to himself in the bathroom, Mia finds his heroin, assumes that it’s coke, and overdoses. Vincent manages to save her life and his own in the process.

The next segment is about Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis), an aging boxer who agrees to throw a fight for Marcellus Wallace. He then bets on himself to win and beats the other boxer to death. Now he’s a rich man but has to get out of town before Marcellus Wallace finds him. His girlfriend forgets to pack his gold watch, and the sentimental value is through the roof, so he has to go back to get it. He gets his watch and nearly gets away, but he runs into Marcellus Wallace and they have one of those savage street fights where you end up trapped in a pawnshop by two sadistic rapists and their pet gimp. While Marcellus is getting some unwanted attention, Butch manages to escape, but comes back to save Marcellus from getting more raped.

The last part is about Jules, and the film jumps back to Vincent and Jules shooting Brett. After the kill him, a guy that was hidden in the bathroom jumps out and unloads his gun at Vincent and Jules but doesn’t hit anything. Random fact of the day: the guy that was hiding in the bathroom is Alexis Arquette, better known as the tranny Arquette. Jules is convinced that it was a miracle he didn’t get shot. And then Vincent shoots Marvin in the face and they have do deal with that. They have to get off the road and get cleaned up. And then they get breakfast.

They get breakfast at the same restaurant that you see in the beginning, and sure enough Honey Bunny and Pumpkin are robbing the place and the movie comes full circle.

This movie requires repeated viewings. It is just so dense, and the stories are so interwoven and integrated that you will always note something new. Not only will you notice previously neglected details, but also you will be able to absorb the dialog. The dialog flows like poetry. Christopher Walken’s cameo is his best monolog on film. Harvey Keitel stands out as the Wolf and has some great lines.

The soundtrack is amazing. Tarantino has a gift for choosing the perfect song to suit the scene. He doesn’t resort to using cheesy pop hits by popular artists, and that’s why the soundtrack still holds up today.

This is a great movie. It’s a cult classic and it inspired a bunch of copycat movies. Tarantino makes movies for movie nerds. He steals stuff from other movies and doesn’t hide it or deny it. And even though he takes stuff, he still personalizes it and makes it his own. He has his own style from copying from multiple genres and it works. He makes great movies, and if Pulp Fiction is a respectable favorite movie to have.

Critically Rated at 16/17

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Kill Bill Volume 2

The Bride is back and she only has three more names on her list. We finally get to meet Bill and see his face for the first time. And not to spoil anything, but she kills Bill. Volume 1 was all action, but now we get to the story. We learn more about the Bride and we get more back-story and character development.  We finally find out the Bride’s real name and suddenly all those cryptic references to Trix and being affectionately called Kiddo makes sense.

The first Kill Bill was an action flick. Volume 2 is mostly exposition and story. There is a very savage fight between the Bride and Elle Driver, they beat the crap out of each other and destroy Budd’s trailer in the process. Daryl Hannah’s reaction to losing her eye is classic. She freaks out, loses all control, and starts flailing and trashing about. It is very realistic and very unsettling.

The most memorable and disturbing scene is when the Bride is caught by Budd and buried alive. If you watch the widescreen version, prior to being nailed into the coffin, the screen is cropped and full frame. Not only does it foreshadow what is to come, but it makes you feel trapped and claustrophobic. When the Bride is put in the coffin, the screen goes dark and the sounds get heightened. You hear each nail being pounded into place, you hear the coffin dragging along the ground and being tossed into the shallow grave, and as the shovelfuls of dirt fall on top of the casket and the Bride’s breathing becomes shallower and quicker, you feel like you are right there with her, being buried alive. It was a relief when she delves into her flashback and you can escape the confines of the pine box.

Her flashback to training with Pai Mei is a fun sequence. It is a good training montage. It provides a little humor and action with learning more about where the Bride is coming from. There is a lot more Tarantino dialog in this movie compared to the previous installment. The Bride has a great conversation with one of Bill’s father figures, Esteban, in Mexico. Budd has a nice moment with his brother. Everything Bill says is important and awesome and terrifying. His first conversation with the Bride right before the wedding massacre shows how loving and dangerous he is. His final great monolog is about Superman and Clark Kent, and even though it is brief, it sums up the themes of the Kill Bill saga.

In the first volume, the Bride kills dozens and dozens of people. She does it skillfully and violently, and with a lot of style. In this volume, she only kills Bill, and she does it quickly and simply, without any real fanfare or build up. Budd almost killed her, but failed. Elle Driver kills Budd with a black mamba. The Bride gets the better of Elle, and leaves her blinded and trapped with the black mamba, but she doesn’t kill her. It is almost the exact opposite of the first movie, but they fit together, they are both sides of the same coin. Volume 1 was a great action movie, but Volume 2 is a complete film and makes the first one even better.

Critically Rated at 16/17

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Kill Bill Volume 1

Quentin Tarantino’s 4th film is his first action film, and it is pure exhilaration from beginning to end. Most two-part movies are all story in the first half, and all action in the second half. Kill Bill is the opposite, the second part has all the story and exposition, and the first volume is non-stop action.

Uma Thurman is a viable action star. She is unconventional but tough. She fights ruthlessly, but also with honor. All we know is that she lost her baby and is on a quest for revenge. We don’t even know her character’s name. In this volume, the character that has the most back-story is Lucy Liu’s O-Ren Ishii. One of the best and most surprising parts of the movie was her japanimated backstory.

Volume 1 has an amazing soundtrack. RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan produces, and both him and Tarantino have a great appreciation for Kung Fu movies, and so their soundtrack works well with the movie. Tarantino has a great ear for music, and it often seems as if the scenes are tailored to fit the soundtrack.

There are some great scenes in this flick, even though it is a bit lighter on the dialog that Tarantino is known for. The Bride vs. the Crazy 88 is one of the best fight sequences in all cinema.  It is a truly epic fight, as she faces off against dozens of ruthless Yakuza, slaughtering all who oppose her.

This was Tarantino’s first movie since Jackie Brown, and his passion for Kung Fu movies is apparent. He is a great director, he absorbs things and recreates them as his own. He combines and warps different genres together to complete one cohesive film. This is a great movie, but only half of the Kill Bill experience. You haven’t even met Bill at this point.

Critically Rated at 14/17

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