He’s a renegade behind the camera. A writing, producing and directing trifecta. He’s arguably then most thought-provoking filmmaker of his generation. He is, of course, Mr. Quentin Tarantino.
Born in Knoxville, Tennessee, Tarantino was an avid film fan growing up and worked in a movie rental store while training to be an actor. He began his film career the late 80s, when he wrote and directed the short film My Best Friend’s Birthday. Its screenplay would later form the basis for True Romance. In the early 90s, he began his career as an independent filmmaker with the release of Reservoir Dogs, which became a classic cult hit and was named the “greatest independent film of all time” by Empire magazine. Then came Pulp Fiction, a neo-noir crime film that is widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time. This was my first introduction to a Tarantino flick.
While some of the subject matter in his films is pervy, crass and uber-violent, there often lies a much deeper meaning in the underbelly of each film. I’ve always appreciated how Tarantino has turned gorgeous, seemingly delicate Hollywood starlets into full on ass-kicking machines. He is perhaps the only filmmaker writing roles for women that don’t typecast them into the category of love interest or the subject in which his male leads are fighting over. Tarantino films are incredibly empowering and in some ways refreshing, at least from my own slightly feminist perspective. I had the biggest girl crush watching Uma Thurman battle Vivica A. Fox in Kill Bill: Vol. 1 in one of my favorite fight scenes of all time. Eat your heart out, boys.
Something else I’ve always loved about Tarantino films are the soundtracks, which have played a big part in his storytelling techniques. How many people didn’t run out to buy the Pulp Fiction soundtrack after that film was released?! Zach Braff’s gem of a film Garden State is the only movie that comes to mind with a soundtrack comparable to Pulp Fiction. The kind of soundtrack that stays with you and affects you somehow each time you hear it, even if the film isn’t fresh in your mind. Could he have picked a better song for this scene?
Now Tarantino is up for 5 Oscars during this Sunday’s Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay for Django Unchained. During an interview on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight last night, Taratino revealed a list of other considerations for the role of Django. Among them were Terrence Howard, Tyrese, Chris Tucker and Will Smith (could you imagine?). He said he ended up going with Jamie Foxx because he could authentically pull off a cowboy, because he sort of is one. The horse Foxx rides in the film is actually his horse!
Are you a fan of Tarantino’s films? Who will you be cheering on for Best Picture this Sunday?
Also published in the Huffington Post.