Staff Opinion: A love letter to Tarantino's films
Connor Lorber is a photographer and videographer for The Beacon.
I love movies. Ever since I was in the fourth grade, my dream has been to make movies. It started with simply wanting to put videos on YouTube. My 10-year-old self made a channel titled — a name I regret to this day since I can’t put my page’s URL in my Instagram bio without being just a little bit embarrassed.
I started out posting random videos of me playing guitar poorly and my dog doing dog stuff, but I quickly started making short comedy videos that I thought out and wrote beforehand (at least partly). I got addicted and immediately changed my dream career from playing in the NBA to being a film director (although, if you’re reading this, Coach Porter, I would not say no to a spot on UP’s team).
I wanted to make movies, and when you want to be good at something, you need to do two things: practice and study. I practiced a good amount, producing a few new videos each year (something I still do when I can), but what I was really great at was studying (a skill that somehow did not follow me to college).
During the summers, I probably watched an average of a movie a day, but there were some days I would watch three or four movies. I don’t consider myself the buffest of movie buffs, but because I have watched my fair share of films, I would like to think I at least have a theoretical six-pack and some decent biceps (I’m sorry for that terrible analogy).
While I could make this whole article about my top 10 movies, I’m not going to, mainly because I actually don’t know what my top 10 are. However, what I do know is that there is one set of films I will never not recommend to somebody. These are the films of my favorite director, Quentin Tarantino.
I am a huge “Lord of the Rings” geek, so I will never not say my favorite movie is Peter Jackson’s adaptation (which I consider one movie), but with “LOTR” set aside, my favorite movie by far is Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds.” I love history and love books, video games, TV shows and movies that transport me to different times, and WWII is one of my favorite to visit. Basterds is set near the end of WWII, and it offers spectacular cinematography (its opening shot is one of the greatest in any film ever made), writing, acting, and most of all — comedy.
Tarantino’s greatest asset is his ability to make movies that are incredibly funny without being labeled primarily as comedies. Comedy enhances his movies but is (almost) never the sole purpose of anything he includes in them. Also, Brad Pitt as Lt. Aldo Raine is my second favorite Tarantino character of all time, and he is just the cream on top of the strudel that is this amazing film.
The next two spots on my all-time movies list are also Tarantino, and these two are incredibly close to each other. First is “Django Unchained,” which is set in the Antebellum South (again pleasing the history lover in me). This movie has all the same terrific qualities as “Basterds” (and nearly all of Tarantino’s movies), and what really makes the movie amazing is the acting. Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, and especially Samuel L. Jackson (one of my favorite actors) all are incredible to watch and offer flawless performances.
Next is “Pulp Fiction,” which many consider to be the most classic of Tarantino’s films (it’s rated #8 on IMDB’s ). It’s set in the ‘90s (when it was made), but it’s an obvious throwback to the mid-20th century “diner” era (this is explicitly acknowledged during one of the film’s iconic scenes halfway into the movie). “Pulp” has two main things going for it: its non-chronological style of storytelling and its acting. Without spoiling anything, “Pulp” begins and ends in the middle of the story, and the rest of the narrative is broken up throughout the movie, leaving you to put the order of events together yourself.
There is good acting throughout the movie, with Uma Thurman, John Travolta, Ving Rhames, Tim Roth, Bruce Willis and more all delivering solid performances. However, none of them hold a candle to Samuel L. Jackson as Jules Winnfield, my favorite of all Tarantino characters. Sam Jackson’s improvisation while (roughly) reciting Ezekiel 25:17 is one of the greatest scenes in movie history, and it is incredibly quotable. Actually, now that I think about it, this movie has three things going for it — it is incredibly quotable, and Jackson accounts for probably 75% of the film’s most memorable lines.
These first three are what I consider the Holy Trinity of Tarantino films. I watch each of them annually — “Basterds” on my birthday in March, “Pulp” around late June/early July, and “Django” sometime around late November/early December. They hold a special place in my heart, and while his other movies are great, these three are a cut above the rest in my opinion.
Moving on with the list, Tarantino’s most recent movie, “The Hateful Eight,” is awesome. I liked it the first time I watched it, and I loved it the second time. It’s another period piece, set after the Civil War, and it’s almost all set in one room. It’s written almost as if it was a play, but shot as a movie. It’s a really interesting way to shoot a movie, and I think it worked out. It has Sam Jackson again, and he’s awesome, as is Kurt Russell and the rest of the cast. There’s not much else to say about this movie. It’s good, and I think it’s more than worth your time.
After “The Hateful Eight,” there are four more Tarantino movies. In order of my preference, they are “Kill Bill” (both volumes), “Reservoir Dogs,” and then the Tarantino films I have not seen: “Jackie Brown” and “Grindhouse.” The latter two are widely regarded as being the worst out of Tarantino’s films, and because of that, I have been kind of slow in getting around to watching them.
“Reservoir Dogs” is Tarantino’s first feature film, and it’s pretty good, but I don’t have a strong love for it, and therefore, not much to say about it. I just watched “Kill Bill” a month or so ago, and again, it’s pretty good. It’s inspired mainly by old westerns and Japanese cinema, which I thought he did a great job of paying homage to. There are a few scenes I really liked, and overall, it's a very good movie, but I felt like it was just lacking something extra. I thought its pacing to be kind of weird (it’s a two-volume movie, so it takes a while to watch), and I just didn’t connect with it like I did the first four movies on this list.
Movies are incredibly important to me, and there is no feeling quite like walking out of the movie theater after an amazing movie. Tarantino movies (or at least most of them) give me this feeling every time I watch them (and I have watched several of them many times). If you love movies, I can almost guarantee you will like at least a couple of Quentin Tarantino’s films. If you don’t love movies as much as I do, I still recommend you give these films a try, because they just might be your gateway into the world of cinema — an endless world that I gladly let take up my free time whenever I can spare it. Quentin Tarantino has stated he plans on making 10 feature films, of which he has already made eight. The next, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” starring Leo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie, is set to come out in August 2019. If you haven’t seen any of Tarantino’s movies already, there has been no better time to start than now.
Connor is a sophomore economics major and a videographer for The Beacon. To discuss Tarantino movies, guitars, basketball, photography, or anything else, email him at , or follow him on Instagram @connorlorber.