Two decades ago, the man fired a bullet into the head of status quo filmmaking. A volatile combo of creative arrogance and innocence, Quentin Tarantino is an absolute original. His movies don't look or sound or move like anyone else's in the world; he transforms action, character, and landscape into something iconic, beautiful, strange, silly or sublime, like a glimpse of an alternative universe where everything is always becoming ... more. Forget assembly-line art, grinding out product to stay famous and rake in the big bucks. No, Tarantino takes his own sweet time writing and directing: only six movies have followed Reservoir Dogs, his 1992 bombshell. Surely the most blasphemous Christmas gift ever, Django Unchained makes eight.
Q.T.'s pictures are gorgeous mutations of style, genre, classics and cult faves. Like James Joyce, who fished streams of language for meaning, Tarantino "samples" eclectically from the well of cinema. No other working director takes—and offers—such exuberant joy in the sheer sensuality of movies, reveling in action choreography that transforms physical violence into modern dance and abstract art; salty dialogue and the art of the yarn; bold color design, dynamic composition and cutting; stylized performances; music as narrative bloodstream. Gleefully fracturing chronology, he manipulates memory and immediacy into a new species of narrative form—such as the shape of a woman's vengeance.
For Tarantino, style is signature, spelling out who you are and what you're worth. When David Carradine's Bill, rising to meet his end, drawls, "How do I look?" he's referencing an aesthetic that's a gloriously profane form of morality. Looking good is, for Tarantino, the art of cinema.
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