In honor of the Christmas Day opening of Django Unchained, let’s look at Quentin Tarantino’s back catalogue. One of the most unique filmmakers working today, Tarantino has a signature style that borrows heavily from ’70s-era genre films, adds in stylized and idiosyncratic dialogue, then mixes it all up with over-the-top imagery. His films often feature shocking violence and revenge themes. I’m ambivalent about the use of both; sometimes I think he’s being exploitative, and sometimes I think he’s rightfully using them in the service of the story or an issue. More study is necessary: At the time of writing, I’ve only seen half of his films (Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill: Vol. 1, Kill Bill: Vol. 2, Inglorious Basterds). I’m making a New Year’s resolution to see the rest.
What’s your favorite Tarantino film?
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In honor of Hobbit Week, I bring you the Peter Jackson Filmmaker Flashcard. I admit I’ve only seen one of Peter Jackson’s films outside of the Lord of the Rings trilogy: his 2005 remake of King Kong. I enjoyed it, and I’ve read he loved updating his favorite film, but it didn’t make a lasting impression on me. I want to go back and check out The Lovely Bones and Heavenly Creatures (with Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey), to see if my admiration of his LOTR work will extend to non-Tolkien films.
Jackson began as a DIY filmmaker who slowly built a blockbuster career after his first films became cult favorites. I appreciate his audience-first aesthetic. You can tell he’s not trying to be cool or achieve auteur status or win an Oscar (though he’s arguably been successful at all three)…he just wants to tell a good story. I respect that.
In honor of the new biopic Hitchcock, here’s a filmmaker flashcard to start your week. A prolific master of suspenseful storytelling, Hitchcock’s name has become synonymous with shivers, and rightly so. I have a lot of his early British works to catch up on, but have been a big fan of the later Hollywood films since high school. Rear Window (with Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly), Vertigo (with Kim Novak and Jimmy again) and North by Northwest (with Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint) are all on my drop-everything-if-this-is-on-and-watch list.