Top Ten Moments from Quentin Tarantino Films
To celebrate the Prince Charles Cinema‘s comfy chairs, smashing staff and perfect popcorn, we present a list of our Top Ten moments from Quentin Tarantino’s body of work. P.S. Spoilers!
#10. Robert De Niro goes shopping (Jackie Brown)
A big theme in Jackie Brown is the feeling of being past your prime. Although Robert De Niro is playing a bit of a washed-up criminal, he is by no means a slouch in his performance. When he is forced to go along on a weird parody of a shopping trip, Melanie (Bridget Fonda) finally gets De Niro’s character Louis to snap. Seeing De Niro trying to restrain his utter rage is an emotion most people can identify with. His solution to this, is of course, priceless. The odd blend of the mundane and the extraordinary is a definite theme in Tarantino’s films, and this scene is one of the best examples of it.
#9. “Get the shot!” (Pulp Fiction)
When Mrs. Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) finds the super strong stash of heroin in the coat of Vincent (John Travolta), she mistakes it for cocaine, and proceeds to guzzle it up. Her subsequent overdose is both extremely tense and hilarious at the same time, and it’s remarkable how Tarantino hit just the right balance between the two. The entire back-and-forth between Vincent and drug dealer Lance (Eric Stoltz) is funny, and manic, and perfect, and the scene climaxes beautifully with a shot of adrenaline.
#8. Jack Rabbit Slim’s (Pulp Fiction)
Of course we had to mention the swing dancing scene. It’s not the first time we’ve talked about it. It’s iconic. However, the real magic comes from the entirety of the pseudo-date beforehand. The introduction of Vincent into this kitsch, colourful and weird 50s themed restaurant is shown through a couple of fantastic tracking shots, immersing the viewer in the location and making them really feel as if they are with Vincent and Mia on this dinner. The witty dialogue, the continuing activity in the background, even the lighting, everything is spot on throughout the entire scene.
#7. “I don’t tip” (Reservoir Dogs)
The opening to Tarantino’s first film is Movie-Making 101. Following an organic and flowing conversation around a table in a cafe, we are shown, not told, every character’s personality from minute 1. It’s not perfect by any means, a couple of line deliveries from Chris Penn feel out of place, for example, but as a scene it really is brilliant. Quentin Tarantino’s own diatribe on what Like a Virgin by Madonna really means (“Dick dick dick dick dick”) is great, but Steve Buscemi‘s defence on why he doesn’t tip really stands out here. He just sells it so well and, as Tim Roth says, “He’s convinced me. Give me my buck back”.
#6. Training with Pai Mei (Kill Bill Vol. 2)
The montage of The Bride (Uma Thurman) training with Pai Mei (Chia Hui Liu) in China is an homage to every classic martial arts film you can think of. The megalomaniac Pai Mei just punishes Uma Thurman, and you get a real sense of all the effort and time she put into her training. The greatest part is, of course, Pai Mei showing her how to perform the one-inch punch, but we can’t forget the pay off to this flashback – The Bride breaking out of her coffin and clawing her way out Paula Schultz’s grave.
#5. Bruce Willis experiences love at first sight (Pulp Fiction)
When Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames) and Butch (Bruce Willis) are, bizarrely, captured by a couple of hillbilly rapists and their gimp, Butch manages to escape. The horrific wails coming from the basement stop him before he can reach the door, however. In a perfectly timed scene, where every beat of Willis’ performance matches up with the music, he looks around for a weapon to go and save Marsellus with. His eyes hits something above the door. The break in the music, the angle of the camera, the lingering on Bruce Willis’ face that resembles a religious experience and the final reveal of the katana – this scene still causes spinal shudders even on the 100th watching.
#4. Kurt Russell breaks the 4th wall (Death Proof)
Death Proof is a ludicrously under-appreciated film. The final climax of the film is just bloody brilliant: the girls in the Dodge Challenger from Vanishing Point return Kurt Russell‘s attempt to car-rape them by returning the favour in spades. The no.1 moment in Death Proof, however, comes much earlier. With a ton of build-up of Kurt Russell’s serial killer Stuntman Mike, he finally gets Pam (Rose McGowen) into his Death Proof car. Staring the audience full in the face, Kurt Russell gives the most excited, boyish smile his face can muster, and our faces break out into an identical evil grin.
#3. The Jew Hunter (Inglourious Basterds)
For many, the first scene in Inglourious Basterds is also the best. Christoph Waltz gives an Oscar-winning performance as crazed Jew-hunting Nazi Hans Landa, and his interrogation of the poor French farmer is just terrifying and heart breaking. Just the look Christoph Waltz gives, the warmth fading to a cold, murderous stare is just phenomenal. Here’s looking forward to his role in Django Unchained!
#2. Christopher Walken’s soliloquy (Pulp Fiction)
A definite technique Quentin Tarantino used early on in his career was to give generally washed-up actors a bit of a comeback. Christopher Walken is only in Pulp Fiction for about 4 minutes, but his monologue is one of the greatest performances of his career. It really is breath-taking. When this scene is on, everyone falls silent. Walken is mesmerising.
#1. “I’m Trying, Ringo” (Pulp Fiction)
This is perhaps a little unexpected, considering Tarantino’s films include mass-murder with samurai swords, Marvin getting shot in the face, Zoe Bell hanging from the bonnet of a car and Hitler getting the fuck shot out of him, but the final scene of Pulp Fiction truly is Tarantino’s finest hour. Samuel L. Jackson is not known for his acting abilities, but in this moment he shines. Completely commanding the scene, Jules decides to let Tim Roth’s Pumpkin (as he is known in the credits) escape with his life. There is no performance more awe-inspiring than Jules’ line “I’m trying, Ringo. I’m trying real hard to be the shepard”. Tingles, guys. Tingles all over.