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The Tarantino Situation

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Mark Kermode | 18:00 UK time, Monday, 10 August 2009

Everyone knows his name, everyone knows he's the ultimate fanboy turned auteur. So why has this Inglourious Basterd never again scaled the creative heights of his early oeuvre? Why has everything he's made since looked, well, rather shoddy by comparison?

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  • Comment number 1.

    I've given up expecting QT films to be any good. But I'll see IB for the experience: whether it's good or bad, interesting or boring, it'll be worth a look, unlike most of the other tripe on offer.

  • Comment number 2.

    I've personally really enjoyed all of Tarantino's work, with the exception of Death Proof (which I found far too long and tedious), but I still read persuasive reviews that tempts me to give it a second chance. Kill Bill was great fun, particularly if you remember the Shaw Brothers stuff from the '70s, so I just fail to understand why the good Doctor hates those films. But, yes, I agree that it's about time we had something of the quality Dogs, Fiction and Brown demonstrated.

    But maybe he's further evidence that a good 90% of great directors (like great musicians) have their time (usually 5 years), leave their indelible mark, and then never quite manage to recapture their glory years. For QT, it was '92-97, but I still think Kill Bill's great fun (if a tad indulgent.)

  • Comment number 3.

    The reason Jackie Brown is so great is because Elmore Leonard wrote it, someone who knows how to create good strong characters.

  • Comment number 4.

    Considering Death Proof bombed at the box office, hopefully he's reversed his strategy and decided to make a good movie in the form of Inglourious Basterds.

    I'm a cynic, though, and to quote a movie hero of mine, "I've got a bad feeling about this."

  • Comment number 5.

    No, Jackie Brown is good because he literally knew those people, those were the people he grew up with.

    Mark, you actually have already done a mini-review of "Inglorious Bastards" and said to something like "it's absolute rubbish and you don't even care after Eli Roth shows up".

  • Comment number 6.

    No, in his mini-review he said something along the lines of "it's overlong, makes no sense and the minute Eli Roth shows up it falls apart" but who knows if the good Doctor told us his true opinion there. I can actually see Mark liking this. Not because I've seen it but I've read in other various reviews that the film is pretty different from Tarantino's recent fanboy claptrap.

  • Comment number 7.

    Dear Dr K.

    I completely agree with you that Jackie Brown is the best thing Tarantino has done. It is truly an underrated masterpiece. However I do believe that it is a little harsh to say that lately Tarantino has been bad. The Kill Bill were technically fantastic, the fight between Uma Thurman and the crazy 88s has to go down as one of the most entertaining bloodbaths ever. He is a true film lover and you can clearly see that throughout his work. I think the problem that he has lately is that he has no filter. Everything that he loves about film, everything that enters his mind erupts from his mind onto the page with no filtering process, no producer or other director saying "do we really need this". Which is why I believe that one of the best Tarantino films is one that he never directed. True Romance. The reason that film works is because Tarantino had another director to filter his thought processes and turn it into a truly great film. Maybe this is what he needs now, a director (who isn't Robert Rodriguez) to act as a filter and trim the fat from his work to turn what he writes into the filmmaker that we all know he is.

  • Comment number 8.

    IB is on for 2 hours 55 minutes!!!

    So that means it's overlong, ripping off ideas from movies from a bygone era, and everyone speaking like Tarantino, just like Kill Bill 1 and 2, and Deathproof.

    So in effect he's chasing the buck again.

  • Comment number 9.


    Here's what I have to say about that!

    I agree, emphatically agree that something tremendous was lost in the aftermath of Jackie Brown, and that something dubious sprouted en route to Kill Bill. I love Tarantino. My second favourite director of all time, behind Peckinpah but before James Whale. Reservoir Dogs is Tarantino's masterpiece - in my opinion. You mentioned heartbreak pertaining to Mann's Public Enemies. I feel heartbreak because Tarantino will, in all probability, never go back to producing films of the calibre of his debut.

    Conversely, I completely forgive Tarantino for the numerous gripes of Kill Bill, Death Proof and, inevitably, the upcoming Basterds. In fact, I always will. Why? Tarantino is one of the GREATEST authorities on film that ever existed.

  • Comment number 10.

    I disagree with the statement that Tarantino is "somebody chasing a fast buck". He spent almost 10 years working on the script for Inglourious Basterds, he clearly wants to make the best film he can. He loves film.
    Also, I think Kill Bill is a fantastic film. But Death Proof was rubbish.

  • Comment number 11.

    Dear Doctor K,
    I completely agree with you on Tarantino, but here's my take on why his latest stuff has been so rubbish.

    I like his first three films, but I think his biggest mistake was to leave such a long gap between Jackie Brown and Kill Bill. He originally wanted to do Kill Bill straight after Jackie, but then Uma Thurmann (with whom he developed the idea) got pregnant and took four years off.

    During this time, when Quentin wasn't doing drafts of either 'Bill or 'Basterds, every other filmmaker and commentator (perhaps including your good self) had the chance to sit back and proclaim Tarantino to be the saviour of modern cinema, to revel in how good 'Dogs, Pulp and Jackie had been. Like John Boorman before him, Quentin was hailed as an auteur whom endless people would write about. Hence Quentin went into Kill Bill feeling he had nothing to prove, and that whatever he did, everyone would still love him.

  • Comment number 12.

    I do not care what you say, i love all of Tarantino's films. This may be a total coincidence, and i do agree with every word you have said here, but lets face it, the argument put against those films, as incontrovertible as they may be, are just as legible to be faced with an equal amount of arguments against you sticking up for such piles of garbage as the abysmal Sweeney Todd, the cash-in High School Musical 3 and of course Rambo, which shouldn't really be open for argument at all as it is nothing but a sick joke anyway?

  • Comment number 13.

    I am VERY much looking forward to Inglorious Basterds and know for a fact it will NOT be a return to form for him... maybe an enjoyable fluke at best.

  • Comment number 14.

    I just wish that filmmakers like Tarantino, Rodriguez, Roth etc. would realize that nobody cares how many sleazy B-movies they watched when they were growing up. At this point, the only director in that group who is worth following is Edgar Wright. With Simon Pegg, he has made two outstanding films that are essentially just tributes to his favorite movies while still keeping his audience in mind. Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz are funnier, smarter, and a thousand times more entertaining than anything Tarantino has done since the 1990s. And yes, his Grindhouse trailer was the best thing in the whole three-hour snoozefest.

  • Comment number 15.

    I don't think he's motivated by financial reasons at all. I think he's obsessed with creating a bulletproof legacy -though clearly he's failed at this- he raves on about his future filmography at every opportunity. Apart from the Tarantino branding, I fail to see how 'Basterds' will make much money. I mean, it'll take money (TWC's future seems practically hinged on it) but not 'Transformers' money. All that's subservient, I think, to QT's massive ego - he talks down 'Jackie Brown' because it's an adaptation and not some outrageously 'original' creation of his.

    So I don't think his disenchantment with 'Jackie Brown' stems from it not taking much money, I think it comes from it not being as LOUD and FLASHY and as much of a self-concious Tarantino product. And though 'Brown' is ostensibly a blaxploitation throwback, it's not as much of 'hey, check out my genre exercise everybody!' as the rest of his filmography.

    So clearly the boy's got talent. But he's the star of all of his pictures and that's the problem. In fact, he seems to have some messianic complex about this film combatting the Nazis or some such nonsense.

    But the Bay analogy... really?

  • Comment number 16.

    Have realised other people have written what I was trying to much more concisely and a great deal better. Woops.

    Also, don't you think 'Basterds' was a film made for Cannes first and the rest of the world second?

  • Comment number 17.

    i would like to echo savvifilm's comment about tarantino not having a 'filter'. i don't like true romance that much, but i certainly think it's true that tarantino is a director who desperately needs a leash. it's funny because any other director i would be dead against the studio restraining their film, but it's something he really needs. i've enjoyed all of tarantino's films to varying degrees, but even the most die-hard fan should be able to see that the kill bill films and death proof are clearly all style no substance, and in the case of death proof, it suffers even more in the context of the 'grindhouse' thing, as planet terror was about a billion times better.

  • Comment number 18.

    AS many people have already stated of this blog, old QT has talent but as with many talented people he has made the mistake of trying to make films he thinks the public want, the check-list form of movie making as it were. He can make films like kill bill and deathproof in his sleep and there is no-body to say "come on Quentin you can do better than that!" the studios certainly wont because they make money and QT dosent seem able to do it himself. I personally lost interest after kill bill couldnt even make myself go and see the second one, hope IG is better but can't help feeling its going to be rather dirty dozenish with more swearing.

  • Comment number 19.

    I'm just off to the shop - need some bread. I'm going to try speaking to the checkout girl in a Tarantino style. I'll let you know how I get on.

  • Comment number 20.

    i agree with what the good doctor has said about tarantino

    jackie brown is a masterpiece and i've been bored by what he's done since although i will give them all a second chance as i have'nt seen them in the director's context

    i do hope inglorious basterds is good but it does look rubbish!

  • Comment number 21.

    I'm thinking the guy is clearly in need of therapy. Recent interview in the Observer magazine made me worry greatly about his state of mind. He needs a leash all right, if nothing else to stop him from producing such garbage since Jackie Brown.

  • Comment number 22.

    For me his first four films are superb, as in Reservoir to kill bill 1
    and his screenplay for true romance is amazing

    however i agree with savvfilm

    he does need someone to save him from his overindulgence

    i do think Mark you are onto something

    yet for me it started with the reaction to kill bill 1. a lot of people were disappointed that it lacked the typical tarantino dialogue (although there was some great tarantino dialogue in the film, maybe not in english, i'm referring specificaly at the scene with Sonny Chiba) Tarantino reacted by focusing the second part on dialogue, which did not work at all purely because the dialogue was below par and became the end in itself, rather than serving the story.

    He follows this with the awful Deathproof, another film that has long exchanges of really dreadful dialogue (with one amazingly visceral car chase)

    Now from what I'm hearing about Ingluourious basterds, it seems like it suffers from the same things, overlong, uninspired dialogue contributing to an overindulgent and flabby film.

    It seems like Tarantino is too preoccupied with delivering what the general public expects of a Tarantino film, rather than actually being concerned with what works best for the film itself.

    I know that what was most refreshing about Tarantino in the first place was his brilliant dialogue, but it was always in a context and it never strayed too off from serving the story, it was never an end in itself. I think the massive praise for his dialogue confused him.

    There is so much more to Tarantino that just his dialogue. He has developed into into a really amazing action director, creates fascinationg worlds and is inherently gifted at creating suspensful set pieces, but he really needs to surround himself with the right people who can temper his self indulgence and make him forget about the public's expectations.

    Reading that fascinating interview in the Observer, I really felt sorry for him, but I've no doubt he has the potential to do more great work.

  • Comment number 23.

    Tarantino's new movie is yet another rip off. This time of an 1978 spaghetti war movie 'Quel maledetto treno blindato' released as Inglorious Bastards in the USA; probably with a dash of Dirty Dozen and all the movies that got made on the coat-tails of that film.

    As many know Reservoir Dogs was based on Ringo Lam's City on Fire. The fragmented structure of Pulp Fiction comes from the French New wave and early US noire thrillers such as Kubrick's The Killers.

    Jackie Brown was good simply (as others have noted) because he did a straight-forward adaptation of the Elmore Leonard novel and cast good actors in it.
    Compare Tarantino's best work with Michael Mann's for example; or even with an old timer such as Robert Aldrich; no contest.

    Kill Bill One took me straight back to my youth as he goes from scene to scene; it's a case of what old Hong King movie does that remind you off? I'm sure Tarantino would say its deliberate homage.
    Kill Bill two was actually a fairly pedestrian thriller.

    I'm unconvinced that Tarantino is a great director simply chasing a buck; he seem incapable of doing a film where you feel involved with the characters or where the characters appear to have depth. Jackie Brown is the exception because Elmore Leonard wrote the book; and Leonard is one great writer; arguably much better at dialogue than Tarantino can ever be because he can write for different characters.

    I think Tarantino is a mediocre director, a much better writer of a certain type of dialogue, but who at heart is infantile. The misogyny in the films he scripts himself (or with Rodriguez) is appalling; there's too much love of the exploitation flicks and hardboiled thrillers of old. Perhaps a good script could discipline him; but my guess it'd be based on someone else's source material.

    Mind you, Tarantino would be the natural choice to adapt any of Mickey Spillane's novels for the screen; but that's about his level.

  • Comment number 24.

    Coincidentally, Pulp Fiction's glowing suitcase is supposed to be an homage to 'Kiss Me Deadly', a film adaption of the Mickey Spillane novel. I'm probably preaching to the choir, though.

  • Comment number 25.

    I'll have to respectfully disagree, Dr. Kermode. I thought Jackie Brown was too long and too dull, even though it had a top notch class. However, we are both agreed that Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction were his very best, which he has yet to match. I did like the Kill Bill films though... they aren't classics, but they are enjoyable. I won't bother with the Grindhouse films though.

  • Comment number 26.

    Whoops, I just noticed I made a typo in my last post. 'Class' in the second sentence should be 'cast'.

  • Comment number 27.

    As far as Jackie Brown goes, though, don't you think that despite the excellent characterization the film is an almost epic length bit of hoopla for a rather simple little heist plot? The cutting around back and forth, all just so Pam Grier can walk out of a mall with some money and get away with it--and it's like three hours!

    I must admit I wasn't exactly sure why you disliked Death Proof so very very much. Granted it would have been nice if Tarantino had given the thing something resembling a genuine narrative, but the dialogue was extremely entertaining, snappy, and the actresses were all wonderful--so what if they all sound like Tarantino, it's a nice sound. It was like Woody Allen crossed with an exploitation film. And Planet Terror (off the subject, I suppose), I was surprised you merely gave this a minimal pass, though it happened to be one of the best zombie movies, if not the best zombie movie I've come across in years, funny, suspenseful, bloody, well acted, with real style. Much better than the remake of Dawn of the Dead or others.

    I do think Tarantino is a great director. In most great movies there are marvelous moments, bits of dialogue, business, staging, that burn themselves into your brain forever (the camera rising up above the stage in Citizen Kane, the telephone booth in The Birds, the English Officer falling sideways onto the detonator in The Bridge on the River Quai, the bucket of blood sequence in Carrie, etc. etc.); Taraninto is so in love with these kinds of moments he tries to sustain the dreamy atmospheric magic of them for the length of an entire movie, and the effect often throws things off-kilter, i.e. there seems to be no story or characters to provide rhythm and dramatic economy to put these high points in relief. He also parodies material as he cannabalizes it, making intriguing comments on tired conventions at the same time he resuscitates them. I don't think borrowing from pop sources, ripping them off, is necessarily so bad; it's what he does with them that counts. Sure he uses techniques and structures from Kubrick or the New Wave, but his way of doing so is quite unique. For instance the scene in Pulp Fiction where Travolta and Thurman do the twist is said to have been influenced by a scene in the early Godard picture Band Apart where Karina and her two male costars dance in a club; as they do so all the sound but the mincing of their feet drops out entirely in a signature move by Godard, which, as we watch the actors dancing in weird silence, comes across as sardonic, pathetic and cerebral; Brechtian. Tarinto's take is visceral, makes the hairs stand up on the neck. Watching Thurman dance gives you the same feeling you have when Lauren Bacall lights her cigarette in To Have and Have Not without ever taking her eyes off Bogart--he found a way back into genuine movie glamor that remains a self-conscious question mark. That's what makes him a genuine movie maker. And remember Hitchcock himself mostly worked with source-material he did not originate, and had screenwriters help him get his movies into and out of their famous situations. So cut the guy a break.

    By the way Mark, I found this funny piece about the bromance phenomena clicking around on the web. The author's sort of a showy blowhard who seems to think a lot of his own opinions, but I chuckled once or twice over this, and thought of your review of The Hangover:

  • Comment number 28.

    Pulp fiction and reservoir dogs represented a director very much in tune with his own influences ie. scorcese, de palma et al, and yet trailblazing a path all his own. Jackie Brown certainly showed a step up in maturity.

    Since then it has been like watching a dragon eat it's own tail....what the hell happened? I respect Tarantino for the above efforts but I repeat my above comment; I feel after that interview that his state of mind is seriously in question and someone needs to step in and take control.

    Its not looking good lets be honest. Lets hope he can recover his mojo but I suspect his well being needs to be addressed first....I could be wrong of course. Lol.

  • Comment number 29.

    I'm a big fan of Tarantino. I admire his auteur-self indulgence in a way - he's saying; these are the aspects of film I've loved and I want to pay homage to them. But, in the recent issue of Sight & Sound he renounces suggestions of pastiche. Is he deluding himself? I was interested to see Jonathan Ross declare to Tarantino's face (on his ailing BBC talk show) that he personally dislikes sorts of pastiche in his films such as the adding of bits of music, say, from 1960s/70s war films, then putting them in Inglorious Basterds. I don't like how ambiguous Tarantino is about his little artistic 'flourish' by changing the title's letters - as if he is trying to claim the film's pastiche as his own originality.
    I found the whole Grindhouse thing lacking in conviction, and that film is ruined by it's editing - add more of a darker tone, add Mickey Rourke (originally intended for the 'lead' role) and take away the indulgent quarter of the film and the 70's tired effects and it would make a much better movie.
    I hope Basterds is cinematically better, as Tarantino has often put too much emphasis on his dialogue, and not his directing, because as Mark says, he has proved he can be brilliant.

  • Comment number 30.

    well mark, your just right aren't you. i hope your happy!

    tarantino certainly needs a leash, the reason i think his early films were better were because he was making big idea films for no money. you want to do a big heist movie for a tiny budget you have to be clever.

    i think the real bad guys here are the people tarantino has around him, he needs to shake his ties with the weinsteins, the only good they do is discovering new talent, they certainly don't nurture it. when tarantino made jackie brown he was growing up but when it didnt make any money the weinsteins probably rubbed his nose in it like he made a mess on the carpet. now he can make big films with big budgets, one problem is that he is paying homage (i'm starting to get sick of that word, but we'll save that for another time) to small films with big ideas, like his early work. the reason these films work is that you can only do so much, you have to be intelligent and clever and witty to solve problems in story and plot. where as money takes that challenge away.

    he also needs to lose the yes men he surrounds himself in, rodriguez, roth (i won't start ranting about him either) etc. you just know they spend hours on the couch watching movies with tarantino going "could i do that?" and everyone around him going "of course you can, you're qt!" his ego must be the size of his chin.

    dont get me wrong, i love the guy, dogs, fiction and brown are some of my fave films and i also must be in the minority who liked death proof despite its many flaws.

    my hopes are not held high for basterds, it just feels to big and expected to be amazing, my heart sank when in the trailer in massive letters it said "the 7th film by quentin tarantino" it just felt wromg and also why are his films numbered? dowes anyone else do that?


  • Comment number 31.

    On an unrelated point I’ve just read about this years Kermode curated Shetland festival featuring my no. 1 film-making hero terence davies
    Sadly im unable to attend, but is there any chance of posting footage on here?

  • Comment number 32.

    ...yes, yes, yes and yes.

    Jackie Brown is by the the best film QT has made and, in my mind, one of the best American films of the 90's. I have enjoyed all his other work but (with the exception of Pulp Fiction) do find it incredibly lazy and, usually about two days later, I find myself wishing he had done something more.

  • Comment number 33.

    Kermode's theory is incorrect because Tarantino was developing Kill Bill and Inglourious Basterds before Jackie Brown was released. These are clearly the films he wants to make and has wanted to make for some time, not products motivated by a savvy business sensibility. I think Kermode would do better to talk about the merits of the films themselves, rather than grasp at some tangental reason why they shouldn't have been made, which, in my opinion, betrays Kermode's prejudice against Tarantino. Why not discuss why you dislike the films instead of trying to revise their creator's intentions to show what you perceive to be a lack of artistic integrity that simply does not exist? This is essentially a fabrication of evidence and a character assassination to justify Kermode's dislike for Tarantino's recent films, not a true criticism of them.

  • Comment number 34.

    "Coincidentally, Pulp Fiction's glowing suitcase is supposed to be an homage to 'Kiss Me Deadly', a film adaptation of the Mickey Spillane novel." Bowlby

    As I'm sure you know, 'Kiss Me Deadly' was directed by Robert Aldrich, and is one of the great film noires.
    Tarantino would fall in love with Mike Hammer, give him of snappy dialogue, treat him as a hero, probably with lots of uninvolving action scenes and Michael Madsen as Hammer. Aldrich kept him as an unthinking brute thrust into something much bigger.

    Spillane's plot is rudimentary and revolves round a suitcase full of heroin, yet in Aldrich's hands - and Aldrich also collaborated with much better writers and craftspeople - it became a mediation on the nuclear arms race and a low budget, nihilistic stylistic masterpiece. (Spillane hated it.)

    I can't see Tarantino doing anything close to that with a Spillane adaptation.

    Aldrich did much better after that: 'Hustle' for example. That's one d*mn, dark cynical movie; even when Reynolds cop tries to bend the system to bring some justice into the world he pays a high price for it in the ending.

    There are no real heroes or happy endings in Aldrich's world. But people keep trying, even if for the wrong reasons retrospectively. Is it me, or were thrillers just more complex, cynical and thoughtful back then?

    But if you wanted a straight-forward 'please the masses' Spillane adaptation then call QT. I'm expecting this latest film (Is the spelling a homage to Allo, Allo?) to be a rip off of The Dirty Dozen. (Also an Aldrich film.)

  • Comment number 35.

    Kiss Me Deadly is great. The ending, specifically, is so crazy and chilling and cynical - as is the entire film - that it's just unforgettable.

    I'll definately check Hustle out. Thanks for the recommendation. :)

  • Comment number 36.

  • Comment number 37.

    I think you guys need to give QT a break. He made the only decent film George Clooney was ever good in, a cinematic miracle!

  • Comment number 38.

    On the subject of Death Proof being "far too long and tedious," I would recommend anyone interested to check out the full Grindhouse movie, available on DVD from Japan, which is far better paced and more enjoyable then the extended cut which came out in cinemas here.

    The entire projected was conceived as an homage to Grindhouse cinema of the 70/80s and if there's one thing these films were not, it's self-indulgent. Tarantino's films post-Fiction (and arguably before) have all suffered from this problem, as Kermode might say, the "John Boorman Problem", where, when everyone keeps telling you how good you are, you loose all ability to judge your own work and decide what should stay and what should go.

    Death Proof was originally intended to be much shorter but then grew out of control, as Tarantino himself has said. Ironically the 'limitations' of the Grindhouse form gave him the conditions he needed to create what I believe is one of his most affecting works.

  • Comment number 39.

    I am surprised nobody has noticed the apparent self-negation in this video. Dr K expresses the notion that QT has somehow “returned” to an inferior, previous style of film-making, namely the “fanboy claptrap that made him famous in the first place” and draws comparison to the material we have seen in the more recent years, yet in the same video he mentions how much he really enjoyed the early Tarantino. This is something I’ve been puzzling over for a while – in a Newsnight interview years back whilst reviewing Kill Bill with Ian Hislop and Bonnie Greer, Dr. K was again singing the praises of Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs, but in a much more recent review of Death Proof on 5Live he called one a “calling-card movie” and was similarly derogatory about the other (in a very fleeting manner). So which one is it Mark?! Are they both rubbish – or both brilliant? I agree that the last few years have seen a colossal decline in the artistic merits of QT’s endeavours, but as others have mentioned, this I believe, is the outcome of a lucrative (for him) alliance with the brothers Weinstein – willing to fund his every insane idea – rather than necessarily an expiration of originality or integrity on the part of QT. Most worryingly, this suggests that whilst studios quite inexcusably have previously tried to stultify great movies like Blade Runner by slapping on appallingly sentimental Hollywood endings, it just goes to show that in some cases (such as Michael Cimino and Heaven’s Gate) you really do sometimes need the concerted firmness of a Roger Corman to quench your self-indulgence. Indeed the argument people should be having about QT (that they seem to have recently forgotten) is whether or not his work is genuine Homage or unapologetic Plagiarism. Of course, Pulp Fiction is a splicing together of Godard and other movies, and Reservoir Dogs is a blatant remake of City On Fire, but interestingly, I still find them to be compelling and nonetheless intriguing – he takes old, exhausted ideas and does something new and sexy whilst also evidently nostalgic with them. I also enjoyed his other screenplays – True Romance and Natural Born Killers (where, contrary to your statements, I thought there was differentiation between individual characters via their dialogues). There is no doubt at all in my view that Kill Bill is whole orders of magnitude inferior to Jackie Brown and his other films, yet there are still some worthwhile reasons to watch Kill Bill - it’s certainly not as bad as anything from Michael Bay! To summarise, what I reckon you mean to say is that although QT’s films in general may not have a modicum of originality, there’s still something compelling about them (certainly his early films) that keeps bringing people back in to the cinemas. Certainly the RATE at which he makes quality material has diminished (Pulp and Dogs were only two years apart and Jackie was three later) and he has been manifestly overtaken by his early contemporaries (Paul Thomas Anderson consistently still makes good movies for example). I do worry though about how much longer people will tolerate his more recent material – can we really stomach another Death Proof? I really don’t know, I guess the fire of freshness that QT first brought has finally extinguished – how long ago it went out depends on whether you feel there was anything truly novel there to begin with...

  • Comment number 40.

    Dear Dr Mark,
    I have to totally agree with your comments.

    I have always thought that Tarantino has lacked the confidence of his own talent. As can be seen in his own acting ability whenever he appears in his own films.

    When this happens there's a touch of the amateur hour about the whole thing, distracting us from the excellent production he is making.

    He should stick to what he is good at, writing and directing great films - and for God sake stop being a 'try-hard' film fan.

  • Comment number 41.

    If you'll pardon the pun, you're missing the mark, Kermode. It is VERY easy to simply highlight the most blatant fan referencing movies Quentin has made i.e. Kill Bill and Death Proof and dismiss them as fanboy tripe. But really, let's look at it a little deeper and honestly.

    Jackie Brown is as much a "fanboy film" if you want to call it that, what I mean by that is full of genre references, as Kill Bill, as is Pulp Fiction and Dogs. With Kill Bill the references were to a much less sophisticated form of cinema so it seemed more in-your-face, maybe even contrived to some. But beneath those Kill Bill had a brilliant story with character whom you loved (especially Bill). Death Proof did not have a good story/characters which is why it was rubbish.

    That was a small blip in his career that hopefully Inglourious Basterds will demonstrate. However, for you propose such a crude dualistic divide to Tarantino's filmmaking as "proper film" and "fan film" is simplistic and, at best, short-sighted.

  • Comment number 42.

    Tarantino lost the plot big time after Jackie Brown. The next three films were incredibly frustrating as they all showed in small parts how good he can be (the end fight sequence in Kill Bill 1, all the bits with David Carradine in 2, even some of Death Proof). But the overall product just read like a pastiche of everything he watched when he was working in that video store. Howard Hawks, Hitchcock, Mankiewicz and various others are all referenced but he comes nowhere near capturing the brilliance on a Rio Brave or Rear Window because he seems less interested in the characters of the story than in creating a series of (often spectacular) set pieces whilst winking at his fan boy audience.

  • Comment number 43.

    I´ve watched Dr Kermode´s blogs now for months and I am afraid to admit that I finally..almost..agree with him.
    Tarentino is to 1960s and 1970s cinema what Lucas and Speilberg were for 1930s and 1940s matinees. Good old George took tired old Flash Gordon reels (the movie he wanted to make before Star Wars) and produced the industry transforming "I am your father" trilogy to a whole generation. He then pooped on it all to make a few bucks with the prequels and merchandising.
    Tarantino took all he enjoyed from the Kung Fu tv series, exploitation flicks and so on to make Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown before joining the band wagon with Kill Bill and......I suspect.....Inglorious Basterds.
    The answer though isn´t a return to form for Tarentino as suggested by Dr Kermode. No. My faith lies with the soon to be discovered kid who grew up with 1980´s and 1990´s tosh and is soon to be ready to refine it, add the dialogue he /she wished it had in the first place and have a big studio back his or her idea to remake Pretty in Pink come Evil Dead. Personally speaking...I can´t wait.

  • Comment number 44.

    One: Non Serviam said just about everything I thought only much, much better. Also, Mr. Kermode, your review of the movie and your assessment of Tarantino's unique talent seems to me exact and precise; absolutely right.

  • Comment number 45.

    I admire your optimism, fingig, though I myself am not all that hopeful. I guess it depends what you mean by 'trash', but I doubt that anyone could take any of the ideas in North, Kazaam or Super Mario Bros. and turn them into something meaningful.

    My great hope for cinema is with the likes of Duncan Jones. His next film will be another sci-fi film and if it's as good as Moon we may well have the new Ridley Scott on our hands. I just hope that he doesn't end up like his dad, being on the cutting edge for ten years and then screwing it all up by wanting commercial success.

  • Comment number 46.

    Hi Mark,
    Having revisited this post after Inglourious *ahem* dropped out of the Top 10, I think your history of Tarantino is flawed in one way.

    You argue that the reason Tarantino 'retreated' to the fanboy claptrap of Kill Bill and Death Proof is because Jackie Brown underperformed at the box office. Surely this implies that Tarantino's underperforming is our fault? That we are to blame for his 'retreat' either because we couldn't pay up in the first place, or because we went to see it and then told our friends it was rubbish.

    If that's the case, that's pretty damn arrogant - and rich, coming from a man who tells us to boycott films on a regular basis. Love your reviews but this needs clarification.



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