In a new feature I am going to attempt to rank the works of some of my favourite directors worst to best. On the eve of The Hateful Eight’s cinematic release there would appear to be no better starting point than QT.
11. Death Proof (2007)
‘Hey, Pam, remember when I said this car was death proof? Well, that wasn’t a lie. This car is 100% death proof.’
Death Proof is the only Tarantino flick that I actively didn’t enjoy. Whilst the Grindhouse concept was a solid one, Robert Rodriguez’ entry Planet Terror worked much better than Death Proof which at it’s best had a stunning soundtrack but at it’s worst feels like a cheap Tarantino knock off.
10. My Best Friend’s Birthday (1987)
‘I don’t give a shit what unruly Julie plays on her show…’
My Best Friend’s Birthday is barely a film at all. Filmed in grainy black and white and incomplete due to the final reel being destroyed in a fire, My Best Friend’s Birthday still contains all the hallmarks of what would later make Quentin Tarantino a cinema legend – monologues about pop culture, violence, drugs and fucking brilliant music.
My Best Friend’s Birthday is rough around the edges but it is worth watching for Tarantino completists.
9. Four Rooms – The Man From Hollywood (1995)
‘A hatchet as sharp as the devil himself’
Four Rooms was a project perhaps doomed from the start due to it’s ambition. Four very different directors each direct one segment based in a hotel room whilst Tim Roth’s bellboy Ted links the four stories together.
Aside from the forgettable opening segment (featuring Madonna), Four Rooms mostly works pretty well and Tarantino’s closing segment The Man From Hollywood is perhaps the highlight. Also notable for an uncredited cameo from Bruce Willis.
8. The Hateful Eight (2015)
‘A bastard’s work is never done…’
Of all Tarantino’s lesser films, The Hateful Eight is perhaps the most frustrating. All the pieces are in place for a classic QT movie with a great cast, a smart script and some beautiful cinematography. Like with Django Unchained however, Tarantino struggles to keep things going to the end and The Hateful Eight also drags on far too long.
Every Tarantino film is still an event but his next project will perhaps not be quite as anticipated after the disappointment of The Hateful Eight. Also loses marks for crimes against guitars…
Read my full review of The Hateful Eight here.
7. Django Unchained (2012)
‘D-J-A-N-G-O… The D is silent.’
There is no doubting that Django Unchained was a massive success. Three great performances from Jamie Foxx, Di Caprio and Christoph Waltz drive a quite frankly, fucking crazy movie.
I enjoyed Django but I found the relentless violence to be a bit cartoony at times in a way that doesn’t really fit like it did in Kill Bill for example.
6. Jackie Brown (1997)
‘AK-47. The very best there is. When you absolutely, positively got to kill every motherfucker in the room, accept no substitutes.’
Jackie Brown often gets overlooked after following two of the best films of the 90’s in Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction but judged on it’s own merits it is a brilliant piece of work. From Pam Grier’s kick ass turn in the titular role to Bobby De Niro’s hilarious performance and taking in Samuel L. Jackson’s ridiculous pony tail, it is ludicrous that a film as good as Jackie Brown doesn’t even crack Tarantino’s top 5.
5. Kill Bill: Vol 1 (2003)
‘That woman deserves her revenge and we deserve to die.’
Kill Bill is a love letter to Tarantino’s many influences and is a full blown assault on the senses as it looks and sounds fucking phenomenal. The first entry sets the scene for the sequel but Kill Bill Vol.1 is a brilliant piece of work in it’s own right and of course it has an amazing soundtrack. We all knew Uma Thurman was cool but wow! Just wow.
4. Kill Bill: Vol 2 (2004)
‘And what, pray tell, is the five-point-palm-exploding-heart technique?’
It is almost impossible to choose between the Kill Bill films but Vol. 2 just edges it with more memorable scenes and the unforgettable ending.
Kill Bill Vol. 2 became more than the sum of it’s influences to become one of the most original and memorable films of the 21st century.
3. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
‘We got a German here who wants to die for his country! Oblige him!’
Inglourious Basterds is the perfect storm of Tarantino at his most focused along with breakout performances from Christoph Waltz and Michael Fassbender as well Brad Pitt’s finest hour since Fight Club.
The obligatory excellent soundtrack is flanked by one of the most memorable opening scenes in movie history to form vintage Tarantino.
2. Reservoir Dogs (1992)
‘I don’t tip because society says I have to. All right, if someone deserves a tip, if they really put forth an effort, I’ll give them something a little something extra. But this tipping automatically, it’s for the birds…’
The film that started it all. Reservoir Dogs is Tarantino’s first feature length film and a seminal work. An incredible cast, one of his finest soundtracks and perhaps Tarantino’s finest dialogue were the catalyst for everything else that would come later including…
1. Pulp Fiction (1994)
‘And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy My brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay My vengeance upon you.’
Quite simply one of the most stylish, iconic and influential films ever made. There are certain films that are so good they are universally loved by everyone, Pulp Fiction sits alongside Shawshank Redemption, Jaws and Back To The Future as one of the greatest ever movies.
Like him or loathe him as a person, there is no denying that Quentin Tarantino has been responsible for some of the most important cinema ever produced.