Born Quentin Jerome Tarantino on March 27, 1963, Quentin Tarantino is easily one of the most prolific and recognizable directors of our generation. As identifiable as his name is with directing, his actual film credits include only six feature length films, one segment, and a series of scenes. Surprisingly enough, this mastermind never attended film school; he didn't even finish high school. His "formal training" consisted of his job as a video store clerk in Manhattan Beach. It was here that Tarantino was able to flesh out his massive knowledge and love of cinema, advise and entertain customers with his opinions, and meet Roger Avary (who was a film school graduate), with whom he would later collaborate on screenplays of "Reservoir Dogs," "True Romance," and, most notably, "Pulp Fiction," which would earn the duo an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Tarantino has a unique style of directing which favors an unconventional approach. In "Pulp Fiction," he employed a non-linear technique and cemented his status as an avant-garde filmmaker. He often uses flashbacks and/or a chapter format to develop a plot.
Tarantino's style has probably been the most imitated and influential of any director of this generation. His work distinctly couples graphic violence with extensive, narrative-like dialogue. His films require audiences to listen attentively to exchanges while giving them the luxury to simply sit back and absorb dazzling audio and visual theatrics. This multi-faceted approach makes Tarantino's work so compelling, he has the power to make the viewer laugh, gasp, gag, and yell in just one scene. He's examined themes such as: the morality of seasoned criminals ("Pulp Fiction", "Reservoir Dogs"); loyalty and greed ("Jackie Brown"); trust and betrayal ("Reservoir Dogs"); and the deep reaches and repercussions of love ("Kill Bill").
He is also a master of suspense, revealing critical plot points at the exact moment an audience needs them. While his films are characterized as being violent, upon further inspection, the brutality in his movies is frequently performed offscreen. It is implied violence, often just referred to and seldom shown directly to the viewer (with the exception of the "Kill Bill" movies and "Deathproof").
Tarantino's genius stems from the fact that it is both inspired by and a result of an extreme infatuation with movies. His technique comprises what he has seen and admired in other films. His penchant for pop culture is evident in the seemingly endless references that decorate his films. His work pays homage to the motion pictures that initially aroused his creativity, whether directly or indirectly. Tarantino's method and execution emphasize the notion that he makes films for the sheer joy of it. If watched in close succession, his movies are closely connected to and reference each other, as if he is rewarding the viewer for paying close attention to his creations. It seems that Tarantino's ultimate goal is to get audiences to appreciate the same films he does, and in the same way. And to be honest, it is a respectable ambition- the man has good taste.
Ten Tarantino trademarks
Music - Tarantino has said that he doesn't believe in adding music to hide slow cinematic moments; it should either enhance the action or "take it to a whole new level."
Fake products - Tarantino hates blatant product placement in film, so he counters by including discontinued or fictitious brand names. Notice the "Fruit Brute" cereal in "Pulp Fiction" and the "Red Apple" cigarettes in both "Pulp Fiction" and "Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2."
Ode to the foot - The man definitely has a fetish. Note: foot close-ups for Uma Thurman in "Kill Bill Vol. 1," Bridget Fonda in "Jackie Brown" and Rosario Dawson in "Deathproof." Also, the discussion regarding the serious consequences of giving another man's wife a foot massage in "Pulp Fiction."
Dialogue - He often writes (or adapts) the screenplays for the movies he directs. Early on he considered a career as a novelist, which explains the razor-sharp, revolving dialogue that distinguishes him from his peers.
Uma Thurman - Tarantino has been quoted as calling Thurman his "muse." On the set of "Pulp Fiction" they collaborated on the concept of "Kill Bill," a movie he wrote specifically for her. In addition to Uma Thurman, Tarantino definitely has a preferred list of actors. Often cast in his movies: Samuel L. Jackson, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Willis, Harvey Keitel, and Steve Buschemi.
Career resurrection - He did it for Pam Grier in "Jackie Brown," David Carradine in "Kill Bill Vol. 2," John Travolta in "Pulp Fiction," and some would argue Kurt Russell in "Deathproof."
The trunk of a car - It is rare to find a movie written and directed by Tarantino without a camera shot paying attention to the contents of a car's trunk.
Facetious humor - After the initial shock wore off, who didn't laugh when John Travolta quietly exclaimed, "Aw man, I shot Marvin in the face!" You're not supposed to, but you did.
Suitcase - The infamous suitcase in "Pulp Fiction" that contains the golden glow of who-knows-what (some speculate it's the soul of Marcellus Wallace), and the suitcase holding a million dollars cash as well as a black mamba snake in "Kill Bill Vol. 2."
Himself - Tarantino often appears in his films playing a small role.