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"When people ask me if I went to film school I tell them, 'no, I went to films.'"
Quentin Jerome Tarantino (born March 27, 1963) is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, cinematographer and actor. According to legend, he learned everything he knows about filmmaking from working at a video rental store in Manhattan Beach. Roger Ebert once quipped that the store owner should get a finder's fee based on QT's subsequent career.In the early 1990s he was an independent filmmaker whose films used nonlinear storylines and aestheticizing take on violence. He is known for his absurdly encyclopedic knowledge of film history. His films have earned him Academy, Golden Globe, BAFTA and Palme d'Or Awards and he has been nominated for Emmy and Grammy Awards. In 2007, Total Film named him the 12th greatest director of all-time. Known for being veryexcited about his movies in interviews, using many different sources of inspiration with his work and having many Shout Outs. Notable for his witty dialog and frequently using the same actors in his movies. He's also into feet.Is allegedly dating Uma Thurman (who he's "loved for years"), although she claims they're just friends.Brad Pitt presented him like this. Suits well for the trope page.
Works that he has been involved in:
"My Best Friend's Birthday" — Tarantino's first film, shot in black and white. The plot revolves around a man attempting to do something nice for his friend on his birthday, only to have his efforts continually backfire. The film was originally 70 minutes long, but was re-edited to run just over 36 minutes due to a fire in the warehouse where the originals were kept. Never officially released, nor likely ever to be. Unofficially, can be found on YouTube, etc.
Reservoir Dogs — A heist film that skips the heist, jumping back and forth between the set-up and the calamitous aftermath of a jewelry store robbery. This film uses a nonlinear narrative that became a trademark of Tarantino's. The storyline is said to be based on the Ringo Lam movie City on Fire. The nonlinear structure has caused a lot of comparisons to be made to Kubrick's The Killing...but Quentin makes it a point to downplay this.
Pulp Fiction — Various tales of sex, violence, drugs, and redemption intersect in the underworld of LA. This film put Tarantino on the map and had tremendous influence on the way films were made for the next decade.
The ER episode "Motherhood", arguably one of the best of the series, features his trademark foot and trunk shots.
Four Rooms (segment "The Man from Hollywood") — A group of Hollywood power players hire the bellhop to serve as an impartial hatchet-man to preside over an ill-advised dare. Contains a particularly impressive Oner.
Jackie Brown — A just-making-it flight attendant collaborates with a bail bondsman to pull a heist on an arms dealer. Low-key and more smart than bloody, it disappointed viewers who expected work as stylish as Pulp Fiction, but it has a loyal following. Loosely adapted from the novel Rum Punch by Elmore Leonard, and a subtle homage to the Blaxploitation films of the 1970s.
The Hateful Eight — Tarantino's second western. Recently rescued from a self-induced Development Hell- Tarantino initially canceled the project after the script was leaked, but has recently restarted pre-production after a rewrite.
Wrote but did not direct:
True Romance — A hipster with a screw loose marries a hooker with a heart of gold, steals a cache of cocaine, and flees to Hollywood with the mob and police in pursuit. Directed by Tony Scott, who gave the film a happy ending. As opposed to the below entry, Quentin is on record as liking the final product.
Natural Born Killers — Serial-murdering lovers on the lam allegedly illustrate something about violence, media, and the American psyche. Directed by Oliver Stone, who altered the story so much that Tarantino disowned the final product. (Interestingly enough, Quentin's original script is much more clearly the dark satire on media glamorization of serial killers that the film alleges to be.)
From Dusk Till Dawn — A pair of hardened criminals (Tarantino and George Clooney) abduct a preacher and his family, then get ambushed by vampires in Mexico. Directed by Robert Rodriguez—Tarantino's close friend in the business. Tarantino also produced.
Crimson Tide — Uncredited, but rewrote or added many scenes to include his signature pop culture references. Director Tony Scott went so far as to credit Quentin with saving the film, giving it what it needed to come "alive".
Jimmie in Pulp Fiction. You'll recognize him when he asks what sign does not appear over his garage. Tarantino was going to play either Jimmie or Lance the drug dealer. He decided on Jimmie so he could be behind the camera during the adrenaline shot scene.
A gangster in Desperado. He tells a classic joke and then gets shot.
Famous Hollywood director Chester Rush in Four Rooms.
Richard Gecko in From Dusk Till Dawn, brother of the main character and one of his largest roles.
He has a quick appearance as an Elvis impersonator in The Golden Girls, during the episode where Sophia gets married. He's the conservatively-dressed one in the back who snaps his fingers instead of gyrating when they all get up and sing. (This is perhaps his earliest on-screen role.)
His smallest role is Jackie Brown, where he just plays a voice on an answering machine.
He was a guest star in J. J. Abrams' Alias. He played McKenas Cole, a former SD-6 agent turned mercenary, in four episodes.
Sukiyaki Western Django, a Japanese Western with a very similar modus operandi to his own works, directed by Takashi Miike.
Sid in Sleep With Me, where he goes on a filibuster on the Ho Yay in Top Gun.
Inglourious Basterds as a dead Nazi being scalped. Also seen from behind in Nation's Pride as the American soldier who says, "I implore you, we must destroy that tower!" His hands also strangle Bridget von Hammersmark.
Django Unchained as an Australian slave trader with a questionable accent who gets tricked and blown up by Django.
Killing Zoe, the directorial debut of former writing partner Roger Avary. Avary had previously written a script titled The Open Road, which was the basis for True Romance, and Pandemonium Reigns, which became "The Gold Watch" story in Pulp Fiction.
Action Girl: Tarantino's appreciation for tough chicks is one of his personal fondnesses. The Bride (and almost all of the female characters from Kill Bill), the second group of women from Death Proof, Jackie Brown and Inglourious Basterds' Shoshanna Dreyfus are all examples. Action Girls are also referred to in other films. In Pulp Fiction, Uma Thurman's character once appeared in a TV pilot entitled "Fox Force Five." In Reservoir Dogs, the thieves talk about strong Pam Grier characters. Though this film notably averts this principle by having an all male cast- no woman even gets a line of dialogue.
Anachronic Order: Tarantino is arguably the director most responsible for popularizing this trope in American cinema; for a brief period it was referred to as "Quentinuity".
Attention Deficit Creator Disorder: Tarantino suffers from this whenever he finishes his last film. He had been talking about Inglourious Basterds for over ten years before the film came out, in one form or another, to the point where it became near-vaporware in Hollywood. He also talked about a Kill Bill Vol. 3 after the second one was released focusing on Vernita Green's daughter (which has never become anything concrete). In addition, he mentioned in passing a prequel to Inglourious Basterds after the film finally saw release. He's also talked for years about doing a Vega Brothers movie, uniting the two Vega brothers from Reservoir Dogs (Vic Vega aka "Mr. Blonde", played by Michael Madsen) and Pulp Fiction (Vincent Vega played by John Travolta). Eventually he just abandoned the idea when the actors got too old. It's a common belief amongst Tarantino films to take EVERY one of his proposed ideas with a grain of salt until filming actually starts.
Whenever he uses music from his personal record collection he uses his own LP's with all the scratches and other audio noise to give it a personal feel. (On the officially released soundtracks he uses the official recordings)
Mixed race couples and romances appear fairly regularly.
Author Tract: Some people think that Tarantino is speaking through his characters when they deliver opinions on various subjects.
Brand X: Big Kahuna Burger, Red Apple cigarettes, Acuna Bros. Tex-Mex. He also has a tendency to revive dead brands from his own childhood like "Fruit Brute" cereal (he held onto a box after it was discontinued, which has made several appearances).
Canon Welding: Tarantino has created a largely common universe of his films by including subtle cross-references (for instance, characters commonly refer to others; Mr. White mentions Alabama and Mr. Blonde has Scagnetti as a parole officer, Vic Vega and Vincent Vega are brothers, Jimmie from Pulp Fiction and Mr White from Reservior Dogs have the same last name, etc.) and cameos, but he says that his movies are divided into two universes.
Career Resurrection: Tarantino has a knack for bringing forgotten or underappreciated film genres back to attention. Certain actors whose career has been in a slump for a while have had their careers resurrected by appearing in his movies. The most spectacular example is John Travolta, who was a hasbeen ever since the Saturday Night Fever craze died down, but became an A-list star again after starring in Pulp Fiction. Other actors Tarantino brought back in the limelight haven't had quite the same level of career revival but still became more notable in mainstream media again: Pam Grier, Harvey Keitel and Kurt Russell.
Do Not Do This Cool Thing: Most of his films walk this line. Probably most obvious in Kill Bill, where it's repeatedly lampshaded. In Inglourious Basterds, where it is lampshaded in a subtle, creepy way: there is a scene where Germans are watching a Nazi propaganda movie about a German sniper who killed massive numbers of Allied troops while behind enemy lines. They are laughing and enjoying themselves watching people from our side get slaughtered. Then the audience is invited to laugh and enjoying itself watching people from their side get slaughtered.
Halfway Plot Switch: From Dusk Till Dawn and Death Proof both change gears jarringly. Death Proof's switch was a deliberate homage to grindhouse films, where directors would often cut together two completely unrelated films, often unfinished, to make one whole product.
Revenge plays a big part of Django Unchained for Django. First against the Brittle brothers, then later against the people of Candieland. Django also often expresses the desire to kill white people as revenge for the suffering of the black slaves.
The main motivation of the villain of the CSI episode he directed is revenge for the death of his daughter, which he blames the cops for.
Noble Demon: Since in most of Tarantino's movies almost every single character is a ruthless murderous criminal, there's usually at least one of these to give the audience someone to vaguely support.
N-Word Privileges: Some of Tarantino's white characters have them. Some don't, but use the word anyway, as racists.
One-Liner Echo: From Death Proof: Now, look, You can't look like you're trying to get her out of here before Christian Simonson shows up, but you've got to get her out of here before Christian Simonson shows up."
Pop Culture Osmosis: Tarantino's use of certain bubblegum pop hits or movie soundtracks has given certain melodies different associations in the ears of younger movie audiences. For instance, when one hears the whistling theme "Twisted Nerve" by Bernard Herrmann most people won't think of the 1968 film thriller Twisted Nerve, but rather Kill Bill.
In Pulp Fiction Marsellus Wallace is being raped by two creepy guys in a basement. Yet Butch comes back to save him and kills one of them with a sword, while Marsellus shoots the other one in his crotch and informs him that he's gonna call up some of his gang members to torture him for hours, basically getting "medieval on your ass."
In Kill Bill it is implied that The Bride was raped multiple times while she was in a coma. She gets her revenge, though, in the most badass way possible!
Reference Overdosed: Tarantino fills his films with references, especially to other movies, to the point that some critics have accused him of being derivative. Even his production company is named A Band Apart, after Bande à Part, the famous Godard film.
Rule of Cool: He more or less bases entire movies around something that just sounds damn cool (to him).
Seinfeldian Conversation: Characters will often engage in discussions about various trivia that do not seem to have any bearing on the plot. Sometimes they actually do, and other times they're more for character or effect.
Small Name, Big Ego: Many have accused his performances in his own works as seeming like this trope. Whether this is intentional or not is up for debate.
Soul Brotha: One or more cool (but not superficial) black/Afro-American characters are present in most of his films.
Soundtrack Dissonance: Music tends to be classic pop, rock, and soul hits from the '60s and '70s. Or even really obscure stuff from the '60s and '70s. Inglourious Basterds, in particular, features a scene with an awesomely anachronistic pop soundtrack.
Reservoir Dogs has a torture scene set the tones of the bubblegum hit "Stuck In The Middle With You".
Pulp Fiction uses a lot of surf instrumentals in a story that doesn't even take place near a beach.
The fight between the Bride and O-Ren Ishii in Kill Bill is set to a funky disco cover of "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" by Santa Esmeralda.
The Verse: Various films Tarantino has worked on feature callbacks to other works, showing they are in the same universe. For instance:
Various product and company names are referenced, such as Big Kahuna Burger and Red Apple cigarettes.
Reservoir Dogs was supposed to imply that Alabama from True Romance went on to become Mr. White's old accomplice, but the ending of True Romance was changed, making this unlikely.
Victor Vega (Mr. Blonde) from Reservoir Dogs and Vincent Vega from Pulp Fiction are supposed to be brothers, and a spin-off film about them was planned but never made. Because both brothers die, the movie would have had to be a prequel, but by the time that both Michael Madsen and John Travolta had an open schedule at the same time, they had both visibly aged enough that having them play younger men would break the Willing Suspension of Disbelief.
Lee Donowitz of True Romance is reportedly the son of Donny Donowitz of Inglourious Basterds. As Cracked points out, this implies Hitler was successfully assassinated at the La Gamaar cinema in this universe.
One of the bandits mentioned in Django Unchained is Crazy Craig Koons, a member of Smitty Bacall's gang — and a possible ancestor of Captain Koons from Pulp Fiction.
Trunk Shot: One of his most famous trademarks, appearing in all his films.