Quentin Tarantino is an iconic film director, producer, and writer. Even if you have never seen one of his many outlandish films, the cultural references are everywhere. Whether it’s that one song that everyone mutually agrees was from the infamous Reservoir Dogs scene, or counting how many of ‘that girl from Pulp Fiction’ there are on Sauchiehall during Halloween night. I’m writing this directors review from a perspective of enjoying Tarantino’s films rather than a fully qualified film critic, but I’ll try my best to make it sound like I’m not just fangirling throughout.
It is a stereotype to assume that Quentin Tarantino’s films are mindless acts of violence, as every violent act is there for a reason. Violence has always been a highly debated topic in the film industry, and Tarantino is a director that definitely has controversy stamped to his films due to his use of brutal, comic book-like violence. Looking at Reservoir Dogs Tarantino is able to cultivate a whole film around a botched jewellery heist where the actual event is only described, the film is then interlocked with before and after scenes building up to the conclusion. The violence in this film is important, we are getting to know the characters as they get to know each other and their reactions to, for example, Mr Orange’s shooting is a hint about their individual fate at the end of the film.
One of Tarantino’s favourite things to do in his films is to lure his audience in with a false premise, and make viewers question continuously what his real character’s motives are. It is impressive for a director to achieve this. What is in the case in Pulp Fiction? Why in Kill Bill: Volume 1 & 2 does Bill never actually commit any acts of violence when he is the most dangerous? Does Hans Landa (Inglourious Basterds) know Shosanna Dreyfus’ true identity? Tarantino’s fresh, invigorating character creations keeps viewers guessing whilst others are clearly inspired from Tarantino’s favourite childhood films and genres, such as the character of Oren Ishii (Kill Bill: Vol. 1), and Hans Landa, who is a clear depiction of Nazis in films; his character is equally camp just as he is terrifying.
Also, Tarantino is a director that produces some fantastic female leads who are not overly sexualised, instead fully fleshed figures who are simultaneously complete badasses in their own right. From the characters of Shosanna (Inglourious Basterds) to The Bride (Kill Bill: Vol 1 & 2) Tarantino’s characters are exceptionally strong and intelligent women, capable of overcoming their suppressors. The fight between Elle Driver and The Bride is fantastic and one of my favourite scenes from his films. The female characters in both Kill Bill films whilst having brilliant fight scenes, are also figures which show fragility and humanity and viewers (including myself) can relate to them. Oren Ishii, in Kill Bill: Vol 1 has a fully-fledged backstory that encompasses one part of the film and establishes Oren as one of the most difficult villains The Bride will have to face. In fact, despite the film being named after Bill, in no way does anyone remember him at all. We’d much rather prefer acting out possibly the most badass walk scene in Tarantino’s films; when Oren and Sofie Fatale, accompanied by the Crazy-88 gang, prepare to fight The Bride. Another strong character who is not one of Tarantino’s well-known is the eponymous heroine in his film Jackie Brown. Brown is a figure who is not possessed with the physical strength equal to those in Kill Bill but her cunning enables her to fool both the criminal arms dealer Samuel L. Jackson and FBI officer Michael Keaton. In this film Tarantino has created possibly his most relatable female character to date.
Quentin Tarantino’s films are fun to watch, with nods to genres that inspired him through his childhood, such as 70s Japanese kung-fu movies and spaghetti Westerns. His films also spark a lot of debate, such as whether or not his violence is actually relevant (in my opinion it is). His portrayal of female characters are fantastic, Tarantino himself summed up his view on writing strong female leads, “I just dig strong chicks – I wouldn’t know how to write them any other way.” These have been some of the best female leads in cinema to date – and many I consider to be my idols. So bring on The Hateful Eight, hopefully another fun film packed with these features that make Tarantino’s films so great to watch and enjoy.
[Emma Mckie – @emmamckie_]