My latest article for Return of Kings can be found here.
Even though Tarantino is a giant cuck, I did enjoy his first three films but after Jackie Brown, I felt his films presented diminishing returns (Hateful 8 is probably his best post-Jackie film but it’s still too long). This was either due to a director who didn’t know where to go because he had become so successful in such a short period of time or didn’t have any creative tension—in other words he’s a spoiled brat under the patronage of the Weinstein’s. Could be both. Could be neither. He might have shot his creative wad with his first three flicks. It’s happened to many.
This I will say for sure: Quentin Tarantino is NOT an originator. He’s always been an aggregator. As his recent output has shown, his muse is from the (usually superior) work of others.
So, on that note, here are some recommendations if your looking for alternatives to QT’s work:
Reservoir Dogs: City on Fire (duh), A Better Tomorrow (John Woo’s version—haven’t seen the Korean remake), The Killer (and if you’re gonna watch that might as well watch Le Samourai), Hard Boiled and Le Cercle Rouge are good places to start. Even though it was made in the same year as Dogs, Ringo Lam’s Full Contact is head over heels better, riskier and daring than anything Tarantino has made.
Pulp Fiction: It’s hard to beat this one. It’s a true classic and game changer. I won’t deny it. But it borrowed from Deliverance, A Better Tomorrow II (the outfits) and even Sonny Chiba movies (SamJack’s hair style). The celebrated patois is David Mamet and Elmore Leonard having coffee. How much of the script was Roger Avary’s? It was definitely more than he was given credit for.
Jackie Brown: I recommend reading Elmore Leonard’s novel (Rum Punch). Or any Leonard novel. I think this is Tarantino’s best traditional narrative film and probably the best screen adaptation of Leonard.
Kill Bill: Any Kung Fu movie directed by Chang Cheh. Shit, any Kung Fu movie period. Also, Lady Snowblood and Broken Oath (naturally). If you haven’t seen the Lone Wolf and Cub series, then you should immediately.
Death Proof: My friend at Cool Ass Cinema has a great article on slasher films here. Any of the movies listed are better, I’m sure (this genre isn’t my specialty).
Inglourious Basterds: Dirty Dozen, American Sniper, Blackhawk Down, 13 Hours or any war film that actually features combat. It’s a genre I don’t care for given my brother’s service.
Django Unchained: Once again, I refer to my friend at Cool Ass Cinema.
Hateful 8: Once more Cool Ass Cinema.
Also for further reading, I recommend Armond White’s review of Django and Hateful 8. His work inspired me to write the article. He’s one of the few independently minded writing about film these days (and one the few writer’s at National Review worth reading).