(continued from Quentin Tarantino: An Appreciation Part One)
Largely inspired by the 1973 Japanese film Lady Snowblood, Tarantino’s follow-up to Jackie Brown was originally intended as one epic film, but the running time clocked in at over four hours and there was too much substantial material that couldn’t justifiably be cut, hence the two-film split of Kill Bill. Kill Bill follows a character identified as “The Bride,” a former assassin who seeks revenge on her ex-colleagues, who massacred members of her wedding party, left her for dead, and took her daughter. The first part, 2003’s Kill Bill Vol. 1, focuses on the Bride hunting down O-Ren Ishii and Vernita Green. The second part, 2004’s Kill Bill Vol. 2, follows the Bride as she hunts down Budd, Elle Driver, and Bill. Featuring Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Vivica A. Fox, Lucy Liu, Daryl Hannah, Michael Madsen, Julie Dreyfus, Gordon Liu, and Sonny Chiba, both critically-acclaimed box office hits mixed a number of film genres that include the spaghetti western, blaxploitation, Chinese wuxia, Japanese yakuza films, Japanese samurai cinema, and kung fu movies of the 1960s and 1970s.
For his next film, Tarantino teamed up with director Robert Rodriguez and created the double feature known as Grindhouse. It consisted of two feature-length segments, one by Rodriguez (Planet Terror) and one by Tarantino, and was book-ended with fictional trailers for upcoming attractions, advertisements, and in-theater announcements. Tarantino’s feature-length segment was 2007’s Death Proof, which centers on a psychopathic stunt man who stalks young women before murdering them in staged car accidents using his “death-proof” stunt car. Featuring Kurt Russell, Rosario Dawson, Vanessa Ferlito, Jordan Ladd, Rose McGowan, Sydney Tamiia Poitier, Tracie Thoms, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Zoë Bell, the critically-acclaimed film (but box office flop) pays homage to the exploitation, muscle cars, and slasher film genres of the 1970s.
After working on the script for a number of years, Tarantino finally made his fictional World War II film, 2009’s Inglourious Basterds. It focuses on two simultaneous plots to assassinate Nazi Germany’s political leadership, one planned by a young French Jewish cinema owner and the other by a team of Jewish-American soldiers led by First Lieutenant Aldo Raine (otherwise known as the Basterds). Featuring Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Michael Fassbender, Eli Roth, Diane Kruger, Daniel Brühl, Til Schweiger, Mélanie Laurent, B.J. Novak, and Mike Myers, this critical and box office hit was nominated for eight Oscars, including two for Tarantino (Original Screenplay and Director), but only won one (Supporting Actor for Waltz).
Tarantino’s newest film, Django Unchained, opens today to excellent reviews. Set in the Deep South, Jamie Foxx stars as Django, a freed slave who treks across the deep South with Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), a bounty hunter who has promised to help Django rescue his kidnapped wife (Kerry Washington) from the clutches of the brutal Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). I am definitely looking forward to this film (as well as ignoring Spike Lee’s rant), and it looks like a sure Oscar contender. Thank you, Quentin Tarantino, for the films you’ve made. You’ve breathed new life into a lot of old genres that a lot of Americans weren’t even aware of.