Reflections on the Career of Tarantino

Tarantino is one of my favorite directors. This might sound obvious when I tell you that I am a twenty-something film geek, but I genuinely think that Tarantino is one of the best directors around today. I say this mostly because he still makes films in the way that a lot of other more independent filmmakers do not. In an era when the search for realism dominates the independent film scene (although by strict definitions he can no longer be considered “independent,” he is still left of mainstream and I don’t have a better word to describe him), Tarantino makes film full of fantasy, genre bending and wisecrackery while still staying rooted in a “real world.” He also doesn’t employ these tactics that I described in the sentence before in an obvious way. For example a couple of his more recent films involve revenge fantasy coming to fruition. In Inglorious Basterds, Shosanna takes revenge on Col. Hans Landa and the Nazi regime by burning down a movie theater with Hitler and other vital members of the Nazi regime still in it. This is not something that remotely happened in real life and probably never had a chance to happen, and yet it is the natural progression of Shosanna’s anti-Nazism. You want her to burn down the building, thus saving millions of lives and winning the war against one of the cruelest dictators of all time. There is nothing outlandish about the execution of the plan and there is nothing that would lead to think that she made an unwarranted step. And yet this plot line still fits in nicely with the revenge fantasy genre.

Tarantino’s films on the surface seem to be one type of genre, but he usually employs multiple genres in order to get his desired effect. To take a film like Pulp Fiction and say that it is only a melodrama, blaxploitation with white people rip off is to dilute the film. It is a boxing film, a chase film, a romantic comedy and a crime thriller all rolled into one expertly done film. The same can be said about every other film that he is done.

I also think he is one of the few directors (female or male) who gives actresses a meaty enough role to sink their teeth in. Uma Thurman is not what I would call the best at the whole acting game, and yet I can watch her in Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2 all day. She is a believable character who is strong on her own. She may have pastor present romantic entanglements with Marcellus Wallace or Bill himself but she wears those entanglements as a given and a motivator to make her a stronger case. In every one of his films (with the obvious exception of Reservoir Dogs) there is at least one female character who is interesting and leaves me wanting more story on the character. I wanted to see Shosanna live at the end of Basterds and go on advocating against Nazism and Holocaust Denial and also re-build her theater. I wanted Zoe Bell to ride more cars.

Tarantino has influenced me beyond any other director out there. He helps me improve my dialogue and to make sure that I relish what the characters are saying as much as what they are doing. He helps me construct strong female characters that pull from multiple genres. He helps me realize that I don’t always have to play towards genre conventions and sometimes I can even invent my own that is a hybrid of other genres. I love Tarantino very very very much.

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