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The Best & Worst Films By Quentin Tarantino

April 24th, 2008 8:30am EDT
Quentin TarantinoThe serendipitous career of eccentric movie producer, director and writer Quentin Tarantino is a complex one. Tarantino has made a name for himself by creating nonlinear storylines and filming multiple perspectives from different characters in his movies - a technique that strays from the more commonly used straight-time storyline.

His films are not off the wall, but they invoke an element of surprise that comes from the small details within a scene that catches one off guard and by adding mysterious elements that never get explained. A good example of this was in Pulp Fiction when Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames) and Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis) take their bloody fight into a pawn shop with a psychotic owner who shows them that a fight to the death is the least of their worries (you know where this is going).

Take a look at the best and worst films from Quentin Tarantino and judge for yourself:

THE BEST:

5. Jackie Brown
Pam Grier doing classic Pam Grier in QT's adaptation of Elmore Leonard's "Rum Punch." A bona-fide pioneer actress in many a blaxploitation pic, Grier's title character seems like an innocent flight attendant, but we quickly find out that she's just as bad-ass as Foxy Brown was. Sneaky and conniving, Jackie Brown pits the feds against her "employer," Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson) so she can sneak off with a big bag full of money. Co-stars Michael Keaton, Bridget Fonda, Robert Forster and Robert De Niro solidify this masterpiece of dialog-driven celluloid.

Jackie Brown


4. Kill Bill (Vol. 1 & 2)
"Kill Bill" is actually one whole movie that was broken into two parts. Uma Thurman stars as "The Bride," one-fifth of a team of assassins working for Bill (David Carradine). Beatrix Kiddo, a.k.a. "The Bride," opts out of Bill's gang and is on the verge of getting married and leaving her past skeletons locked up, but as fate would have it, Bill shows up at her wedding to prove that you can't run too far away from your problems. Bill and his cohorts massacre the folks at Kiddo's wedding rehearsal and leave her for dead; but she survives and decides that exacting revenge on those parties responsible for ruining her new life is the way to go.

In Vol. 1 she sets her sights on Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox) and O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu) before sending a recently limbless Sophie Fatale (Julie Dreyfus) to let Bill know that she's coming for him. Vol. 2. is the gem of the two though, thick with Tarantino's rich dialog and having perhaps the greatest sword fight ever filmed in a trailer between The Bride and the sinister and relentless Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah).

Kill Bill Vol. 1

3. Reservoir Dogs
Tarantino's directorial debut was made possible by selling the script for True Romance in order to finance it. The film details the events prior to and following a bank heist gone awry. QT's signature dialog-filled scenes give his short-lived characters depth, despite having conversations that really don't have much to do at all with the story. "Reservoir Dogs" quickly went on to cult classic status, and although it was a box office bomb the film solidified Tarantino's place in Hollywood as one of the top up-and-coming directors.

2. True Romance
"True Romance" is the one Tarantino film that gets too often overlooked. Brilliant writing coupled with an array of stars ranging from Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette to Bronson Pinchot and Brad Pitt provide the backbone of the story; but it's the exchange between Dennis Hopper's cop and Christopher Walken's mob boss that steals the show here.

1. Pulp Fiction
Nominated for seven Oscars (including Best Picture), "Pulp Fiction" earned $212.9 million in gross revenue and was a blockbuster smash. This masterpiece remains today to be QT's best film, pairing uber-violence with rich dialog and a bevy of stars, including Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, Eric Stoltz, Tim Roth, Harvey Keitel and John Travolta (whose career was resurrected following the film's success).

Pulp Fiction

The Worst:

5. Death Proof
In 2007 Tarantino paired with director Robert Rodriquez (Sin City, Desperado) to create something to pay homage to bloody exploitation pictures of the 60s and 70s. The result is "Grindhouse," a double feature containing the films Planet Terror (directed by Rodriquez) and "Death Proof" (helmed by QT). But after a brilliant first-half effort from Rodriguez, "Death Proof" paled in comparison and that element of dialog that the director is famous for seemed lacking and slowed the movie down to a snail's pace. Stuntman Mike's (Kurt Russell) car is awesome though, and the final showdown car chase was fantastic, but after an hour of boring dialog it proved too little, too late.

Death Proof

4. From Dusk Till Dawn
Ireland didn't think too highly of this film due to its harsh content. The film, screenplay by Tarantino and directed by longtime friend Robert Rodriguez, was about two brothers that escape from a court hearing and make a run to Mexico. While in Mexico, they encounter blood-thirsty Vampires in a strip joint. Despite featuring gore-mastermind Tom Savini it only grossed $25 million. It was released in 1996, and the Emerald Isle released its ban on the film in 2000.


3. Four Rooms
A sloppily pieced together series of vignettes about a hotel bellhop and the four rooms he visits during his first night on the job, Tarantino's portion of the film centers on whether or not someone can get a Zippo lighter to light 10 times in a row. The results are hilarious and the film has its moments, but on the heels of "Pulp Fiction's" release it was unexpected and seemed out of place for QT.

2. Destiny Turns On The Radio
Bad plot, bad acting, unbelievable ending. Quentin Tarantino plays Johnny Destiny and keeps showing up to guide people along the proper paths. If you think this sounds out of place for QT, it is. Perhaps if he had written the screenplay for it instead of just starring in it the film might have been a better effort, but that's unlikely.

1. Natural Born Killers
Tarantino was one of four screenwriters on Oliver Stone's film that glorified serial killers. The story of Mickey and Mallory Knox, played by Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis, satirized mass murder and portrayed the media as a hunger driven, unapologetic beast. This attention whoring couple that loves violence as much as each other seeks fame and glory by brutally murdering people in an attempt to keep the tabloid media sated with stories of their antics. Robert Downey Jr. stars as Wayne Gale, a reporter more interested in getting the big stories from and about the couple, than respecting their victims.

Natural Born Killers is a modern-day telling of Bonnie and Clyde, only instead of having main characters that one can sympathize with and even come to like, Killers' killers are nothing short of despicable. Throw in ridiculous, over-the-top killings; such as the gruesome murder of Mallory's parents-- carried out as a game show parody-- and it makes this attempt at satirizing the media and the American public's attitude toward violence just an uncomfortable ride along a cold-hearted killing spree.


Up next for QT is a major project he's been working on for years: a loose remake of the 1978 WWII drama Inglorious Bastards, about a group of American soldiers due for court-martial who escape and become unsung heroes in the war. This one is due in 2010, and Tarantino will reteam with perennial favorites Tim Roth and Michael Madsen. Rumor has it that it may be released as a miniseries instead of in theaters due to its epic six-hour length; or it may be split up like Kill Bill was. Stay tuned to find out if it makes either of the two aforementioned lists!

Do you agree? Disagree? Make a comment!

Story by Seneca “The Beast” Doss
Starpulse contributing writer