The Bear Jew. Hugo Stiglitz. The Jew Hunter. Bridget von Hammersmark. Names, identity, and personal reputation management are important elements in Inglourious Basterds, as they are in all of Tarantino’s films (Vincent Vega, our man in Amsterdam; Mr. Pink; The Bride / Beatrix Kiddo / Black Mamba). In this video essay, Drew Morton shows how Tarantino’s characters assert their identities over and over again, with varying results.
Quentin Tarantino is the type of writer/director who writes roles in movies with specific actors in mind. For Pulp Fiction, he wanted Harvey Keitel to play Winston Wolf, Tim Roth to play Pumpkin, and Ving Rhames to play Marcellus Wallace. But he also wanted Michael Madsen to play Vincent (with Travolta as a strong second choice), John Cusack to play Lance, Matt Dillon to play Butch, and Laurence Fishburne to play Jules. Another possibility for Jules was Eddie Murphy, and Tarantino also specified “No Rappers” for that role. Bruce Willis and Uma Thurman weren’t even listed for their respective roles. Gary Oldman, Nicholas Cage, Johnny Depp, and Alec Baldwin were considered for several roles but ultimately didn’t appear in the film.
The worlds in many of Quentin Tarantino’s movies are connected; here are ten of the biggest connections, including the Vega brothers, Red Apple cigarettes, and Big Kahuna Burger. Tarantino has even said that some of his movies are watchable within others…e.g. the characters in Pulp Fiction could have watched From Dusk Till Dawn in the theater.
A montage of hundreds of sounds from Quentin Tarantino’s movies, from Zed drumming his fingers on top of the gimp’s head in Pulp Fiction to the schiiiiing of The Bride’s Hattori Hanzo sword in Kill Bill.
So, a few months ago Quentin Tarantino scrapped plans to make what was supposed to be his next film, The Hateful Eight, after the script leaked. Which struck me as weird and petty, but Hollywood in general seems weird and petty to me. Turns out that Tarantino’s gonna do the movie after all.
During the Comic-Con panel, one of the audience members point blank asked Tarantino if he’ll be making the script as his next feature, following recent word that it could be heating back up again. Tarantino hemmed and hawed for a bit — before finally committing: “Yeah — We’re going to be doing The Hateful Eight.” So there you have it: The Hateful Eight will be the next Quentin Tarantino feature.
The photo at the top is the first official poster for the film.
When Pulp Fiction thundered into theaters a year later, Stanley Crouch in the Los Angeles Times called it “a high point in a low age.” Time declared, “It hits you like a shot of adrenaline straight to the heart.” In Entertainment Weekly, Owen Gleiberman said it was “nothing less than the reinvention of mainstream American cinema.”
Made for $8.5 million, it earned $214 million worldwide, making it the top-grossing independent film at the time. Roger Ebert called it “the most influential” movie of the 1990s, “so well-written in a scruffy, fanzine way that you want to rub noses in it — the noses of those zombie writers who take ‘screenwriting’ classes that teach them the formulas for ‘hit films.’ “
Pulp Fiction resuscitated the career of John Travolta, made stars of Samuel L. Jackson and Uma Thurman, gave Bruce Willis new muscle at the box office, and turned Harvey and Bob Weinstein, of Miramax, into giants of independent cinema. Harvey calls it “the first independent movie that broke all the rules. It set a new dial on the movie clock.”
“It must be hard to believe that Mr. Tarantino, a mostly self-taught, mostly untested talent who spent his formative years working in a video store, has come up with a work of such depth, wit and blazing originality that it places him in the front ranks of American filmmakers,” wrote Janet Maslin in The New York Times. “You don’t merely enter a theater to see Pulp Fiction: you go down a rabbit hole.” Jon Ronson, critic for The Independent, in England, proclaimed, “Not since the advent of Citizen Kane … has one man appeared from relative obscurity to redefine the art of movie-making.”
So many great things in this piece. Daniel Day-Lewis as Vincent Vega, Samuel L. Jackson had to fight to play Jules, how to replicate a heroin high (“drink as much tequila as you can and lay in a warm pool or tub of water”), Travolta’s contribution to the humor (and choreography) of the film, and the true contents of the briefcase.
I saw Pulp Fiction on opening weekend in a mall theater in Iowa. We had no idea what to expect going in and holy hell the drive home was a weird mixture of shellshocked and wired. (via df)
In the past day, I’ve run across two related theories of how all of Quentin Tarantino’s films are part of the same universe: this video and this post on Reddit. They differ slightly but the Reddit one is more interesting…specifically that Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, etc. take place in the aftermath of Inglourious Basterds and its unorthodox ending to World War II.
Because World War 2 ended in a movie theater, everybody lends greater significance to pop culture, hence why seemingly everybody has Abed-level knowledge of movies and TV. Likewise, because America won World War 2 in one concentrated act of hyperviolent slaughter, Americans as a whole are more desensitized to that sort of thing. Hence why Butch is unfazed by killing two people, Mr. White and Mr. Pink take a pragmatic approach to killing in their line of work, Esmerelda the cab driver is obsessed with death, etc.
You can extrapolate this further when you realize that Tarantino’s movies are technically two universes - he’s gone on record as saying that Kill Bill and From Dusk ‘Til Dawn take place in a ‘movie movie universe’; that is, they’re movies that characters from the Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, True Romance, and Death Proof universe would go to see in theaters. (Kill Bill, after all, is basically Fox Force Five, right on down to Mia Wallace playing the title role.)
According to Indiewire, Waltz’s character “joins up with former slave Django to save his wife from an evil plantation owner.” According to Deadline, Django will reunite Tarantino with Pulp Fiction producer Stacey Sher, and the movie will begin production as soon as this summer or fall.
Christoph Waltz, who was excellent in Inglourious Basterds, and perhaps Will Smith, who was excellent in the Parents Just Don’t Understand video, will star.
Tarantino doesn’t just explore language’s capacity to reveal and conceal motives and personality, he shows how people pick words and phrases (consciously or subconsciously) in order to define themselves and others, and describe the reality they inhabit (or would like to inhabit). Even low-key and seemingly unimportant exchanges are as carefully choreographed as boxing matches. Clever flurries of interrogatory jabs are often blocked by witty responses; the course of conflict can be shifted by deft rhetorical footwork that re-frames the terms of debate.
Dazed & Confused
Joint Security Area
Lost In Translation
Memories of Murder
Police Story 3
Shaun of the Dead
Tarantino’s latest film is about Nazi-killing American soldiers and stars Brad Pitt. I can’t decide if this movie is going to completely suck or be really great. Vampire movies notwithstanding, Quentin always gets the benefit of the doubt from me so great it is.
A band of U.S. soldiers facing death by firing squad for their misdeeds are given a chance to redeem themselves by heading into the perilous no-man’s lands of Nazi-occupied France on a suicide mission for the Allies.