Well look at that, it’s Quentin Tarantino’s birthday! Cue music!
Seriously, though, am I the only one who pictures Tarantino waking up every day to an opening credit sequence and kick ass tunes that would foreshadow the events of the coming days? Yeah, probably. But still, it’s pretty safe to say that QT has made a huge impact on the world of film. So with that, let’s highlight all the amazing things Mr. Tarantino has brought the world.
Quentin Tarantino is a bit of a renaissance man when it comes to film. He’s a writer, a director and even has been known to act in front of the camera from time to time. Remember that one time he played Elvis in The Golden Girls? I figured it’s only fair to showcase some of his other notable stints in front of the camera. I can even appreciate his performance as Johnny Destiny in the Pulp Fiction inspired Destiny Turns On The Radio but that stint as McKenas Cole on Alias, we can disregard that one, right?
All that said, here are the five best Quentin Tarantino film cameos!
Chester in “Four Rooms” (The Man From Hollywood)
In the segment directed and written by Tarantino, he plays famous director Chester Rush. The story here revolves around a gruesome little wager between him, his buddies and bellhop Ted (Tim Roth) reminiscent of something a wee bit Hitchcockian.
Richard Gecko in “From Dusk Till Dawn”
Still one of my favorite vampire flicks, Quentin plays the younger and crazier of the Gecko Brothers. Richard here specializes in any sort of robbery. He helped break his brother out of prison and has a bit of a foot fetish.
Mr Brown in “Reservoir Dogs”
While a minor character in the film who ultimately bites it during the heist, Mr. Brown delivers one of the best monologues in the film. This scene showcases Tarantino’s brilliance with writing dialogue.
The Pick-Up guy in “Desperado”
The kind of remake/sequel to El Mariachi and since Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez are buddies, Rodriguez decided to throw QT in the film for good measure. Quentin wrote this pee themed joke before he’s offed in the back room.
Jimmy Dimmick in “Pulp Fiction”
Here’s a fun little bit of trivia, Tarantino’s cameo here as Larry Dimmick is a character that is related to Reservoir Dogs’ Mr White (Larry Dimmick). One of the many little connections that exists throughout the Tarantino universe! Here we see one of Tarantino’s best cameos. Maybe it’s just me, but I love those whiny coffee snobs!
As mentioned earlier, the man is also a writer (duh!). From his first ever film My Friend’s Birthday, which showcases early incarnations of K-Billy Radio as well as the role of long time collaborator Roger Avery as cinematographer, to his recent Academy Award for Django Unchained, it goes without saying that Tarantino has a penchant for words. Whenever I’m stuck writing something, I always look to his work for examples of dialog and character development for inspiration.
While this is a tough one to narrow down for me, here are five of my favorite (best) films written by Quentin Tarantino!
A simple concept combined with brilliant dialogue that brings this character driven piece to life, it’s no wonder that Harvey Keitel agreed to come on board. Known for the characters’ color names, the film is about a simple jewelry heist that goes terribly wrong. The drama ensues when the surviving criminals begin to suspect that one of them is an undercover cop.
Directed by Tony Scott and written by Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avery, True Romance is a bona fide classic. It was a breakthrough for Tarantino as this was his fist screenplay purchased by a major studio. Released after Reservoir Dogs, QT was originally opposed to the changes Scott had made to the film but has since come around to appreciate his directing work on the film.
Grossing over $321 million dollars in theaters worldwide, Inglourious Basterds follows a team of Jewish-American soldiers whose mission it is to assassinate Nazis. While it is fictional and based in an alternate version of history, there is something rather cathartic of watching tons of Nazis burn in a movie theater. It also introduced American audiences to the brilliant Christoph Waltz.
In 1994, Pulp Fiction changed the game. Delivered in a nonlinear narrative, mixing violence, amazing dialogue and a crap load of pop culture references, Tarantino and Avery won their first Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Also winning the Palme d’Or at Cannes, the film famously revitalized the career of John Travolta.
Okay, given the fact that this film sparked a bunch of controversy over the abundance of the n word throughout, Django Unchained is now the highest grossing film of Tarantino’s career. Raking in over $413 million worldwide, this is his first full blown western (shout out to Kill Bill: Vol 2). The film received many accolades and garnered QT his second Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.
Hell, it so happens that Mr. Tarantino has directed a bunch of the films I’ve mentioned above. So as to not get too repetitive, we’ve reached the point in this blog where we discuss music. Quentin Tarantino has not only made a massive impact in film for the past two decades, he also changed how movie soundtracks are packaged and presented. There’s quite the cohesive connection between music and visuals in Tarantino’s work. For instance, I cannot hear “Stuck In The Middle With You” by Steeler’s Wheel without picturing Reservoir Dogs’ famous ear scene.
Without further ado, here are five best Quentin Tarantino movie soundtracks!
The first soundtrack, his first film. Here, Quentin develops the structure that many of his later soundtracks follow. Included are clips of dialogue from the film that connect each song in telling the overall story as a nice companion to the film. The radio station K-Billy’s Super Sounds of the Seventies guides us through the soundtrack as the DJ (voiced by Steven Wright) guides us through the film. The soundtrack provides a nice counterpoint to the violence on screen with the happy go lucky feel of 70s pop rock.
Much like most of his soundtracks, Tarantino focused more here on dialogue and an eclectic mix of music genres. While he developed the script for Jackie Brown, he already had the majority of the songs to be featured in mind. He has gone on record by stating he finds the personality of the piece through the music that will be in it. First, he find the opening credit sequence and then he’s off! Oh, and the dude’s got one extensive record collection!
This soundtrack was the first one I had ever heard that did not feature a traditional film score. Like the previous ones mentioned, snippets of the film’s dialogue connects the nine unconventional songs together in an eclectic musical trip. From surf music to soul, Pulp Fiction is still one of my all time favorite soundtracks. Also, this was the first time I had ever heard Al Green. And I love me some Al Green!
“Kill Bill: Vol 1”
Quentin Tarantino and RZA both have a shared passion and love for kung fu films. So, the collaboration between the two for the soundtrack of the first Kill Bill movie is a no-brainer! The soundtrack was organized, mostly produced and orchestrated by RZA of Wu-Tang Clan. Vol. 2 saw the addition of Robert Rodriguez into the orchestrating mix.
The soundtrack to Django Unchained continues the pattern of mixing the film’s dialogue with music. There’s a variety of music grenres here, featuring new songs by John Legend and Rick Ross, but overall, QT relies heavily on spaghetti western soundtrack (Ennio Morricone, Luis Bacalov). While Morricone wrote a brand new song for the film, he went on record that he wouldn’t work with Tarantino again due to his music being used “without coherence”.
It’s been a long fruitful trip from those early days working as a video store attendant at Manhattan Beach Video Archives. Today, Quentin Tarantino turns 50 years old and we have so much to celebrate. Aside from the contributions above, it should also be stated that we may even have to thank him for the careers of actors like Steve Buscemi and Christoph Waltz. I suppose this wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t thank the man for saving The New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles and at least include a link to the vast universe the majority of QT’s films take place in. Red Apple Cigarettes, anyone? It also needs to be mentioned, his penchant for putting ass kicking females like Pam Greer and Uma Thurman in lead roles.
Fun fact: Chinese scientists just named a newly discovered wasp species “Beatrix Kiddo” after Uma Thurman’s character in the Kill Bill movies (Part 3 is now in devlopment!)
I’d like to make a toast…if only I could make it to Tarantino’s Bar in Berlin to do it! Happy Birthday, Quentin!
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