Reel Talk: Tarantino Retrospective, Volume 1

Camille Summers
First up: Tarantino's "revisionist history" films.

I’ve done a lot of film lists for The OnLion. I’ve watched horror movies for Halloween, rom-coms for Valentine’s Day, and feel-good movies for Christmas. I was chatting with Mr. Newman, trying to figure out where to go next with my movie column, and we decided I should follow a great director.  We picked Quentin Tarantino. 

I’ve watched a lot of his films over the years...

This piece is part 1 of 3 of my rating of Quentin Tarantino movies. This segment of movies deals with more of Tarantino’s “revisionist history” films. These films blend action, his signature set pieces, and great dialogue, which makes it a lot easier to deal with their typically long run times. 

I can’t wait to watch my second set...Tarantino gang-related movies. 

Inglourious Basterds - 5 stars - Amazon Prime - 2hr33m

I loved Inglourious Basterds. It was definitely my favorite out of the three. The story, which takes place during World War II, follows three main plotlines: a Jewish woman who escapes her family’s death by Nazis and makes her way to Paris; a group of Jewish soldiers who have made it their mission to kill Hitler and his followers; and a Nazi officer seeking to catch the Jewish woman and thwart the Americans’ plans. There was a mixture of romance and action that made watching it so enjoyable. 

I think my favorite scene is the bar scene. I was just on the edge of my seat for the 25 minutes of tense dialogue that occurs in the below-ground bar. (As Brad Pitt’s character Aldo Raines says, “You know, fightin' in a basement offers a lot of difficulties. Number one being, you're fightin' in a basement!” It’s probably one of the most Quentin Tarantino-esque scenes, that feels almost like a movie all by itself.) 

I really enjoyed the action of the movie paired with the historical context of World War II-era Nazi Germany. I absolutely love history, and when you add Brad Pitt to that history, what more could you ask for. 

Sure it was a little boring at times because it is a 2.5-hour movie, but overall, the intensity of certain scenes really made up for it, for example that incredibly intense opening scene where Christolph Waltz’s character Hans Landa interrogates a French farmer while a Jewish family hides under the floorboards. Waltz makes Landa one of the great villains of all time.  

I would recommend this movie to any action adventure lover that has some time on their hands. 

Django Unchained - 4 stars - Netflix - 2h45m

Django Unchained was the first Quentin Tarantino movie I watched. I rewatched it for this article, and though it was really good, it just did not amount to the same intensity and plot sequence as Inglourious Basterds. Jamie Foxx did an excellent job in the movie, and I think he was perfect for his role. I think Jamie Foxx and Christopher Waltz had a great connection in the movie. I think the connection between the actors mixed with an elevated level of humor was better than Inglourious Basterds, but I think the plot as a whole of Inglourious Basterds was better. 

Django Unchained is about a slave named Django (Foxx) who meets a bounty hunter, Dr. Schultz (Waltz), and they try to seek out these extraordinarily abusive slaveholders. They continue shooting the most-wanted criminals in exchange for rewards. Eventually, they travel to Candie’s plantation where they try to rescue Django’s wife (Kerry Washington) from her owner, Calvin Candie (played with memorable menace by Leonardo DiCaprio). 

The dinner table scene between Django (Foxx), Dr. Schultz (Waltz), and Calvin Candie (DiCaprio) was by far my favorite scene. Though the action was superb (and as always a great part), one of the things that drew me the most was the tension that Tarantino conveyed through the scene, which kept rising, especially as things began to become uncovered. The emotions really seeped through the screen. 

I won’t spoil the ending, but wow, did it leave me on the edge of my seat. Blood everywhere, a Tarantino trademark. I enjoyed the ending, but I felt as though it was a little too predictable. Knowing Tarantino, I expected what was going to happen. 

Overall, I enjoyed the movie, but Inglourious Basterds was simply more enjoyable to watch. I would recommend this movie if you’re looking for a Tarantino movie with a bit more gore (there were certain parts that I had to look away). 

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood - 3.5 stars - Hulu - 2h40m

I do have to preface this one by saying that I have a love for Westerns and movies set during the golden age of Hollywood. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was actually set in the 1960s, but the main character, a nearly washed-up TV actor played by Leonardo DiCaprio, acts in shows set in those earlier times.  If it were not for parts of this movie being set in such a desired period, I probably would give it a 3-star rating. I did also really enjoy the actors of this movie, once again Brad Pitt, but this time paired with Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie. 

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is about an actor named Rick Dalton (DiCaprio) who is trying to find jobs in Hollywood and hold on to some semblance of his fame, supported by his best friend, assistant, and stunt double Cliff Booth (Pitt). Dalton encounters some of his new neighbors (Zawierucha and Robbie) and befriends them. The Manson family ultimately creates a drastic change in their lives. Can’t say much without spoiling the movie and the major twist, but I definitely recommend watching it. 

I enjoyed the plot of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, but I felt as if it was a bit long. There wasn’t the same intense background as in Inglourious Basterds or Django Unchained. There was not as much excitement or edge-of-your-seat tension as his previous films. 

As I’ve said, I was in love with the setting of this movie. One of my favorite scenes was when Rick Dalton (DiCaprio) plays his role of kidnapping Julia (Fraser). It gets so intense and DiCaprio’s acting was so good that I literally forgot it was a movie inside a movie. This movie was so enhancing and kinda confusing. It reminded me of Inception, but much easier to follow (just an inception of movies rather than dreams). Dalton did a great job snapping in and out of his roles. It felt like a Hollywood “behind-the-scenes” but with a bit more murder-mystery. 

In the context of movies as a whole, it probably deserves a 4-star rating; however, since I was expecting a Tarantino-esque movie, Once Upon a Time was a letdown. I recommend this movie if you’re looking for a less intense Tarantino movie and just want to watch Tarantino’s latest piece; I do have to say, it can get confusing if you tone out for a little bit. 
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