Quentin Tarantino has a very unique style with his movies that makes him stand out as one of the most popular filmmakers of all time. Despite how different his movies might be in terms of setting, story, and characters, there are always certain hallmarks of filmmaking that let audiences know they are watching a Tarantino movie.
While repeated tropes by filmmakers can sometimes be limiting, Tarantino has created these aspects that fans have come to expect and love in his movies. These well-established tropes have helped him create such an exciting filmography in his amazing career.
10 Samuel L. Jackson
Samuel L. Jackson found fame with his role as Jules Winfield in Pulp Fiction. Along with his performance being one of the highlights of the movie, Jackson proved he could deliver Tarantino’s stylized dialogue better than almost any actor.
Not surprisingly, Jackson became a staple of Tarantino’s movies following that first collaboration. Sometimes he had big roles like in Jackie Brown and The Hateful Eight. Other times he had small cameos like in Kill Bill. But he is always a welcome addition and hopefully, Jackson will appear in Tarantino’s final movie.
9 Rewriting History
When it was revealed that Tarantino would make a World War II movie, no one expected him to make a dense historical drama. But few were prepared for the twists in history shown in Inglorious Basterds, namely, the fact that Adolf Hitler is killed in the wild finale.
It was a very satisfying ending even if it wasn’t historically accurate. And to highlight how little the “true story” matters to Tarantino, he pulled off the same trick in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, giving Sharon Tate a happy ending.
8 Fun Music Choices
From the opening credits of Reservoir Dogs when “Little Green Bag” by George Baker Selection plays, it’s clear Tarantino has unique music choices for his movies. His movies are filled with interesting songs and usually play out in extended sequences the heighten the mood.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood‘s musical moments include the wonderful neon sign sequence scored by “Out Of Time” By The Rolling Stones. Jackie Brown features the opening credits with Bobby Womack’s “Across 110th Street. And of course, Reservoir Dogs features the infamous torture scene with Stealers Wheel’s “Stuck in the Middle with You” playing.
7 Over-The-Top Violence
Given the genres Tarantino plays in, from crime stories to Westerns to war movies, it’s not surprising that there is a good deal of violence in his movies. However, Tarantino fully embraces the blood and mayhem, making it so over-the-top that it’s hard not to have fun with it.
Kill Bill is a perfect example of this as it is filled with wild fight scenes and plenty of blood. It is also shown in Death Proof when Stuntman Mike gets his comeuppance, the mansion shootout in Django Unchained, and Cliff Booth dealing with the Manson family in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
6 Captivating Villains
While even Tarantino’s protagonists are often hard to define as “heroes,” his movies certainly feature villains. These characters are shown to do terrible and evil things that go beyond whatever grey areas other characters may operate in. However, these villains are also often the most interesting characters.
The best example of this is Hans Landa from Inglorious Basterds, one of the best cinematic villains of all time. He is funny, charming, and even polite but he is also revolting. Other great Tarantino villains include Calvin Candie, Mr. Blonde, and Ordell Robbie, who are all detestable yet highly entertaining.
5 Dark Comedy
Despite sometimes dealing with some heavy subject matters, all of Tarantino’s movies could be considered comedies or close to it. And one of the talents of Tarantino as a filmmaker is making the audience laugh at really dark things.
In Pulp Fiction, the unexpected death of Marvin is hilarious while also being shocking and brutal. Kill Bill is another movie that features moments of extreme violence that are played for laughs. Indeed, the climactic home invasion sequence in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a perfect display of Tarantino’s twisted sense of humor.
4 Unexpected Deaths
Death is always a big part of Tarantino’s movies and it can often come in very unexpected ways. In fact, Tarantino seems to enjoy establishing key characters in his movies, only to kill them off much earlier than the audience expected.
After being set up as the main antagonist in Reservoir Dogs. Mr. Blonde is killed off before the third act. Michael Fassbender’s Hicox in Inglourious Basterds has the potential to be the movie’s hero, only to die shortly after being introduced. And Kurt Russell’s John Ruth is one of the first main characters to die in The Hateful Eight.
3 Paying Homage To Other Movies
Few filmmakers have such a vast knowledge of movie history as Tarantino and he uses that knowledge to great effect in his movies. While his movies are absolutely unique, Tarantino is known for borrowing from other movies to create his vision.
From the codenames in Reservoir Dogs to the climactic fight in Kill Bill Vol. 1 to countless musical choices, Tarantino uses these moments he loves to fit into his cinematic world and enrich it.
2 Bringing Back Forgotten Stars
Much has been made about Pulp Fiction serving as a terrific comeback role for John Travolta and that is not the only actor Tarantino has saved from obscurity. While his movies have featured huge stars like Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio, Tarantino likes to give overlooked actors another chance.
Among the forgotten actors who Tarantino cast are Pam Grier and Robert Forster in Jackie Brown, Don Johnson in Django Unchained, and David Carradine in Kill Bill. Each actor gave terrific performances that reminds audiences of their talents.
1 Long, Intense Dialogue Scenes
Tarantino’s movies are often filled with excitement and violence, but he is also not afraid to just let his characters talk. Sometimes these scenes are funny, as with the cheeseburger conversation in Pulp Fiction. But Tarantino’s real skills as a writer are when he uses extended dialogue scenes to keep audiences on the edge of their seats.
From the diner scene at the end of Pulp Fiction to the final confrontation between Bill and the Bride in Kill Bill, Tarantino uses conversation to create tension. The best example of this is the opening scene of Inglorious Basterds which is one of the most gripping movie moments of all time.
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