Influenced by Sergio Leone, Brian De Palma, Howard Hawks, Jean-Luc Godard, Samuel Fuller, Martin Scorsese, Jean-Pierre Melville, Jack Hill, Richard Pryor, Elmore Leonard, David Mamet, Mario Bava, Sergio Corbucci, Douglas Sirk Stanley Kubrick, Chang Cheh
Quentin Jerome Tarantino is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, and actor. His films have been characterized by nonlinear storylines, satirical subject matter and an aestheticization of violence that often results in the exhibition of neo-noir characteristics. Tarantino has been dubbed a "director DJ," comparing his stylistic use of mix-and-match genre and music infusion to the use of sampling in DJ exhibits, morphing a variety of old works to create a new one.
Born in Knoxville, Tennessee, Tarantino grew up an avid film fan and worked in a video rental store while training to act. His career began in the late 1980s, when he wrote and directed My Best Friend's Birthday; its screenplay would form the basis for True Romance. In the early 1990s, he began his career as an independent filmmaker with the release of Reservoir Dogs (1992); regarded as a classic and cult hit, it was opined as the "Greatest Independent Film of All Time" by Empire magazine. Its popularity was boosted by the release of his second film, Pulp Fiction (1994), a neo-noir crime film that became a major critical and commercial success, widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time. Paying homage to 1970s blaxploitation films, Tarantino released Jackie Brown in 1997, an adaptation of the novel Rum Punch.
Kill Bill followed six years later—released as two films, Vol. 1 (2003) and Vol. 2 (2004)—a highly stylized "revenge flick" in the cinematic traditions of Chinese martial arts, spaghetti westerns and Italian horror. He released Death Proof (2007) as part of a double feature with friend Robert Rodriguez under the collective title Grindhouse. His long-postponed Inglourious Basterds (2009) became Tarantino's second highest-grossing film to date ($321 million), which tells the fictional alternate history story of two plots to assassinate Nazi Germany's political leadership. His most recent and highest grossing work is Django Unchained (2012), a western film set in the antebellum era of the Deep South, receiving critical acclaim.
Tarantino's films have garnered both critical and commercial success. He has received many industry awards, including two Academy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, two BAFTA Awards and the Palme d'Or and has been nominated for an Emmy and Grammy. Filmmaker and historian Peter Bogdanovich has called him "the single most influential director of his generation."
Tarantino was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, the son of Tony Tarantino, an actor and amateur musician, and Connie (McHugh), a nurse. He has a younger half-brother, Ron. Tarantino's father, from Queens, New York, is of Italian descent, while his mother has Irish and Cherokee ancestry. His stepfather was Curt Zastoupil, a musician. He was raised by his mother, as his parents separated before his birth. When he was two years old, he moved to Torrance, California, and later to the Harbor City neighborhood of Los Angeles. There, he went to Fleming Junior High School in Lomita, and took drama classes. He attended Narbonne High School in Harbor City for his freshman year before dropping out of school at age 15 (Quentin Tarantino has provided contradictory information about this – elsewhere, he claimed he was 16 when he dropped out), to attend an acting class full-time at the James Best Theater Company in Toluca Lake. He grew bored with the James Best Acting School and quit after two years, although he made a point of keeping in touch with all his acting friends. Then he landed a job which threatened to interfere with his long-term acting ambitions.
As an employee of the Video Archives, a now-defunct video rental store in Manhattan Beach, he and fellow movie enthusiasts, including Roger Avary, discussed cinema and customer video recommendations at length. He paid close attention to the types of films people liked to rent and has cited that experience as inspiration for his directorial career. Tarantino has been quoted as saying, "When people ask me if I went to film school I tell them, 'no, I went to films.'"
After Tarantino met Lawrence Bender at a Hollywood party, Bender encouraged him to write a screenplay. Tarantino directed and co-wrote a movie called My Best Friend's Birthday in 1987. The final reel of the film was almost fully destroyed in a lab fire that occurred during editing but its screenplay would form the basis for True Romance.
In January 1992, Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs was screened at the Sundance Film Festival and was an immediate hit. The film received a positive response from critics. Reservoir Dogs was a dialogue-driven heist movie that set the tone for his later films. Tarantino wrote the script in three and a half weeks and Bender forwarded it to director Monte Hellman. Hellman helped Tarantino to secure funding from Richard Gladstein at Live Entertainment (which later became Artisan). Harvey Keitel read the script and also contributed to funding, taking a co-producer role, and a part in the movie.
Tarantino's screenplay True Romance was optioned and eventually released in 1993. The second script that Tarantino sold was Natural Born Killers, which was revised by Dave Veloz, Richard Rutowski and director Oliver Stone. Tarantino was given story credit, and wished the film well. Following the success of Reservoir Dogs, Tarantino was approached by Hollywood and offered numerous projects, including Speed and Men in Black. He instead retreated to Amsterdam to work on his script for Pulp Fiction.
In Pulp Fiction (1994), Tarantino maintained the aestheticization of violence, for which he is known, as well as his non-linear story lines. Tarantino received an Academy Award in the category Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, which he shared with Roger Avary. He also received a nomination in the category Best Director. The film received another 5 nominations, including Best Picture. Tarantino also won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival for Pulp Fiction. The film has grossed over $200 million and was met with outstanding reviews.
After Pulp Fiction was completed, he then directed Episode Four of Four Rooms, "The Man from Hollywood", a tribute to the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode that starred Steve McQueen. Four Rooms was a collaborative effort with filmmakers Allison Anders, Alexandre Rockwell, and Robert Rodriguez. The film was very poorly received by critics. He appeared in and wrote the script for Robert Rodriguez's From Dusk Till Dawn, which saw mixed reviews from the critics yet led to two sequels, for which Tarantino and Rodriguez would only serve as executive producers.
Tarantino's third feature film was Jackie Brown (1997), an adaptation of Rum Punch, a novel by Elmore Leonard. An homage to blaxploitation films, it starred Pam Grier, who starred in many of that genre's films of the 1970s. Leonard considers Jackie Brown the best of the twenty-six different screen adaptations of his novels and short stories.
Tarantino had planned to make the war film provisionally titled Inglourious Basterds, but postponed it to write and direct Kill Bill (released as two films, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2), a highly stylized "revenge flick" in the cinematic traditions of Wuxia (Chinese martial arts), Jidaigeki (Japanese period cinema), Spaghetti Westerns and Italian horror. It was based on a character (The Bride) and a plot that he and Kill Bill's lead actress, Uma Thurman, had developed during the making of Pulp Fiction. In 2004, Tarantino returned to Cannes, where he served as President of the Jury. Although Kill Bill was not in competition, Vol. 2 had an evening screening, while it was also shown on the morning of the final day in its original 3-hour-plus version, with Tarantino himself attending the full screening. Tarantino then went on to be credited as "Special Guest Director" in Robert Rodriguez's 2005 neo-noir film Sin City for his work directing the car sequence featuring Clive Owen and Benicio del Toro.
The next film project was Grindhouse, which he co-directed with Rodriguez. Released in theaters on April 6, 2007, Tarantino's contribution to the Grindhouse project was titled Death Proof. It began as a take on 1970s slasher films, but evolved dramatically as the project unfolded. Ticket sales were low despite mostly positive reviews.
Among his producing credits are the horror film Hostel (which included numerous references to his own Pulp Fiction), the adaptation of Elmore Leonard's Killshot (for which Tarantino was credited as an executive producer, although he was no longer associated with the film after its 2009 release.)] and Hell Ride (written and directed by Larry Bishop and Jonny Lane, who both appeared in Kill Bill Vol. 2).
Tarantino's 2009 film Inglourious Basterds is the story of a group of guerrilla Jewish-American soldiers in Nazi-occupied France during World War II. Filming began in October 2008. The film opened on August 21, 2009 to very positive reviews and the No. 1 spot at the box office worldwide. It went on to become Tarantino's highest grossing film, both in the United States and worldwide.
In 2011, production began on Django Unchained, about the revenge of a slave in the U.S. South in 1858. The film stemmed from Tarantino's desire to produce a spaghetti western set in America's Deep South; Tarantino has called the proposed style "a southern", stating that he wanted "to do movies that deal with America's horrible past with slavery and stuff but do them like spaghetti westerns, not like big issue movies. I want to do them like they're genre films, but they deal with everything that America has never dealt with because it's ashamed of it, and other countries don't really deal with because they don't feel they have the right to". The film was released on December 25, 2012. During an interview with Krishnan Guru-Murthy about the film on Channel 4 News, Tarantino reacted angrily when questioned about an alleged link between movie violence and real life violence in light of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. A long running rumor in the industry is that Tarantino has been interested in filming a new version of Bret Easton Ellis′ book Less Than Zero (1985). His fellow "Archivist" Roger Avary adapted Rules of Attraction, also based on a novel by Ellis, in 2002 and since both he and Tarantino like the works by Ellis, Tarantino has been eyeing the possibility of adapting Less Than Zero. Ellis recently confirmed, in an interview for Vice Magazine, that Quentin Tarantino has been "trying to get Fox to let him remake it"  At a Q & A at Harvard Book Store (2012) Bret Easton Ellis once again confirms, in a reply to a question if Less Than Zero will be remade, that Quentin Tarantino "has shown interest" in adapting the story. This Q & A filmed by WGBH Forum Network an is available on You Tube  called Bret Easton Ellis - Imperial Bedrooms.
In recent years, Tarantino has used his Hollywood power to give smaller and foreign films more attention than they might have received otherwise. These films are usually labeled "Presented by Quentin Tarantino" or "Quentin Tarantino Presents". The first of these productions was in 2001 with the Hong Kong martial arts film Iron Monkey which made over $14 million in the United States, seven times its budget. In 2004 he brought the Chinese martial arts film Hero to U.S. shores. It ended up having a No. 1 opening at the box office and making $53.5 million. In 2006, the latest "Quentin Tarantino presents" production, Hostel, opened at No. 1 at the box office with a $20.1 million opening weekend, good for 8th all time in January. He presented 2006's The Protector, and is a producer of the (2007) film Hostel: Part II. in 2008 he produced the Larry Bishop helmed Hell Ride, a revenge biker film.
In addition, in 1995 Tarantino formed Rolling Thunder Pictures with Miramax as a piece to release or re-release several independent and foreign features. By 1997, Miramax shut down the company due to "lack of interest" in the pictures released. The following films were released by Rolling Thunder Pictures: Chungking Express (1994, dir. Wong Kar-wai), Switchblade Sisters (1975, dir. Jack Hill), Sonatine (1993, dir. Takeshi Kitano), Hard Core Logo (1996, dir. Bruce McDonald), The Mighty Peking Man (1977, dir. Ho Meng-Hua), Detroit 9000 (1973, dir. Arthur Marks), The Beyond (1981, dir. Lucio Fulci) and Curdled (1996, dir. Reb Braddock).
Before Inglourious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino had considered making The Vega Brothers. The film would have starred Michael Madsen and John Travolta reprising their roles of Vic (Mr. Blonde) from Reservoir Dogs and Vincent from Pulp Fiction. In 2007, because of the age of the actors and the onscreen deaths of both characters, he claimed that the film (which he intended to call Double V Vega) is "kind of unlikely now."
In 2009, in an interview for Italian TV, after being asked about the success of the two Kill Bill films, Tarantino said "You haven't asked me about the third one", and implied that he would be making a third Kill Bill film with the words "The Bride will fight again!" Later that year, at the Morelia International Film Festival, Tarantino announced that he would like to film Kill Bill: Vol. 3. He explained that he wanted ten years to pass between The Bride's last conflict, in order to give her and her daughter a period of peace.
In a 2012 interview for the website We Got This Covered, Tarantino said that a third Kill Bill film would "probably not" happen. He also said that he would not be directing a new James Bond film, saying that he was only interested in directing Casino Royale at one point. In a late 2012 interview with the online magazine The Root, Tarantino clarified his remarks and described his next film as being the final entry in a ″Django-Inglourious Basterds″ trilogy called Killer Crow. The film will depict a group of World War II-era black troops who have "been fucked over by the American military and kind of go apeshit. They basically — the way Lt. Aldo Raines (Brad Pitt) and the Basterds are having an 'Apache resistance' — [the] black troops go on an Apache warpath and kill a bunch of white soldiers and white officers on a military base and are just making a warpath to Switzerland."
Tarantino has been romantically linked with American actress Mira Sorvino, directors Allison Anders and Sofia Coppola, writer/author Lianne Spiderbaby, actresses Julie Dreyfus and Didem Erol, and comedians Kathy Griffin and Margaret Cho. There have also been rumors about his relationship with Uma Thurman, whom he has referred to as his "muse". However, Tarantino has stressed that their relationship is strictly platonic. Tarantino stated "I'm not saying that I'll never get married or have a kid before I'm 60, but I've made a choice, so far, to go on this road alone. Because this is my time to make movies." Tarantino revealed in an interview with Howard Stern, that he is now dating a writer for a horror film magazine. Tarantino is the best friend of fellow filmmaker Robert Rodriguez who, in the credits of Kill Bill Volume 2, he refers to as his brother. He is also close friends with Eli Roth, Paul Thomas Anderson, and Harvey Keitel.
Tarantino also has said that he plans to retire from filmmaking at age 60, to focus on writing novels and film literature. He also is skeptical of the film industry going digital, saying, "If it actually gets to the place where you can't show 35 mm film in theatres anymore and everything is digital projection, I won't even make it to 60." On February 18, 2010, it was announced that Tarantino had bought the New Beverly Cinema. Tarantino allowed the current owners to continue operating the theater, but he will be making programming suggestions from time to time. He was quoted as saying: "As long as I'm alive, and as long as I'm rich, the New Beverly will be there, showing films shot on 35mm."
An awards ceremony in the Critics Choice Awards celebrated Tarantino, citing his start in filmmaking in his 20s. Music is an important part of his filmmaking style. He said he would listen to music in his bedroom and create scenes that correlated to the music playing.
In the 2002 Sight & Sound directors' poll, Tarantino revealed his top 12 films: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly; Rio Bravo; Taxi Driver; His Girl Friday; Rolling Thunder; They All Laughed; The Great Escape; Carrie; Coffy; Dazed and Confused; Five Fingers of Death; and Hi Diddle Diddle. In 2009, he named Kinji Fukasaku's violent action film Battle Royale as his favorite film released since he became a director in 1992. He is also a fan of the 1981 film Blow Out directed by Brian DePalma, so much so that he used the main star of the film (John Travolta) in Pulp Fiction. Tarantino praised Mel Gibson's 2006 film Apocalypto, saying, "I think it's a masterpiece. It was perhaps the best film of that year."
In August 2007, while teaching a four-hour film course during the 9th Cinemanila International Film Festival in Manila, Tarantino cited Filipino directors Cirio Santiago, Eddie Romero, and Gerardo de León as personal icons from the 1970s, citing De Leon's "soul-shattering, life-extinguishing" movies on vampires and female bondage, particularly Women in Cages. "It is just harsh, harsh, harsh," he said, and described the final shot as one of "devastating despair". Upon his arrival in the Philippines, Tarantino was quoted in the local newspaper as saying, "I'm a big fan of RP (Republic of the Philippines) cinema." He often uses graphic violence that has been proven seductive to audiences and has received harsh criticism for his use of gore and blood in an entrancing simultaneously repulsive way. His films have been subject to staunch criticism and scorn for his use of violence, blood and action as a "colour" within cinema, rebuked for allegedly using human suffering as a punchline.
Actor Steve Buscemi has described Tarantino's different style of film making as "bursting with energy" and "focused," a style that has earned him many accolades worldwide. According to Tarantino, a recurring hallmark in all his movies is that there is a different sense of humor in each one, which gets the audience to laugh at things that aren't funny. However, he insists that his films are dramas, not comedies. Michael Winner, while appearing on an episode of Piers Morgan's Life Stories (an ITV production), stated that Quentin Tarantino was a "big fan" of Death Wish.
Tarantino has admitted that the celebrated animation-action sequence in his film Kill Bill (2003) was inspired from the use of 2D animated sequences in actor Kamal Hassan's Tamil film Aalavandhan. Tarantino often seeks to harness, manipulate and ultimately imitate the aesthetic elements and conventions typically used in the cartoon medium. More specifically, he often attempts to meld comic strip formulas and aesthetics within a live action film sequence and in some cases uses the literal use of cartoon or anime images. Tarantino's cinematic ambition to marry artistic expression via live action and cartoonism is yet another example of his ability to morph genres and conventions to produce a new and authentic style of his own.
He often manipulates the use of commodities to propel plot development or present an intriguing juxtaposition that ultimately enhances his notorious combination of humor and violence, equating a branded genre with branded consumption. He often pairs bizarre props with an equally bizarre scene, in which the prop itself develops into something of higher substance. Likewise, he often favors particular brand names of his own creation to make promotional appearances. The typical brands he uses within his films are "Acuna Boys Tex-Mex Food", "Big Kahuna Burger", "G.O. Juice", "Jack Rabbit Slim's", "K-Billy", "Red Apple cigarettes", "Tenku Brand Beer", and "Teriyaki Donut".
In an interview with Charlie Rose, Tarantino said: "There is one [biopic] story that I could be interested in, but it would probably be one of the last movies I [ever make]", "My favorite hero in American history is John Brown. He's my favorite American who ever lived. He basically single-handedly started the road to end slavery and the fact that he killed people to do it. He decided, 'If we start spilling white blood, then they're going to start getting the idea.' "
Quentin Tarantino does not believe that violence in movies inspires acts of violence in real life, stating in response to a question about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, that "the issue is gun control and mental health." He also said "it's disrespectful to their memory… of the people who died to talk about movies." When asked in 2013 by Britain's Channel 4 News reporter Krishnan Guru-Murthy "Why are you so sure that there's no link between enjoying movie violence and enjoying real violence?", Tarantino responded by saying, "I refuse your question. I'm not a slave and you're not my master… It's none of your damn business what I think about that… I have explained myself many times over the last twenty years, I just refuse to repeat myself over and over again."
Spike Lee questioned Tarantino's use of racial epithets in his films, particularly the racially offensive epithet "nigger". In a Variety interview discussing Jackie Brown, Lee said: "I'm not against the word… and I use it, but Quentin is infatuated with the word. What does he want? To be made an honorary black man?" Tarantino responded on Charlie Rose by stating:
As a writer, I demand the right to write any character in the world that I want to write. I demand the right to be them, I demand the right to think them and I demand the right to tell the truth as I see they are, all right? And to say that I can't do that because I'm white, but the Hughes brothers can do that because they're black, that is racist. That is the heart of racism, all right. And I do not accept that… That is how a segment of the black community that lives in Compton, lives in Inglewood, where Jackie Brown takes place, that lives in Carson, that is how they talk. I'm telling the truth. It would not be questioned if I was black, and I resent the question because I'm white. I have the right to tell the truth. I do not have the right to lie.
In addition, Tarantino retaliated on The Howard Stern Show by stating Lee would have to "stand on a chair to kiss my ass." Samuel L. Jackson, who has appeared in both directors' films, defended Tarantino's use of the word. At the Berlin Film Festival, where Jackie Brown was being screened, Jackson responded to Lee's criticism by saying:
I don't think the word is offensive in the context of this film… Black artists think they are the only ones allowed to use the word. Well, that's bull. Jackie Brown is a wonderful homage to black exploitation films. This is a good film, and Spike hasn't made one of those in a few years.
Tarantino has defended his use of the word, arguing that black audiences have an appreciation of his blaxploitation-influenced films that eludes some of his critics, and, indeed, that Jackie Brown, another oft-cited example, was primarily made for "black audiences".
Django Unchained was the subject of controversy due to its use of racial epithets and depiction of slavery; many reviewers have defended the usage of the language by pointing out the historic context of race and slavery in America. Spike Lee, in an interview with Vibe magazine said he would not see the film, explaining "All I'm going to say is that it's disrespectful to my ancestors. That's just me…I'm not speaking on behalf of anybody else." Lee later tweeted, "American Slavery Was Not A Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western. It Was A Holocaust. My Ancestors Are Slaves. Stolen From Africa. I Will Honor Them." Writing in The Los Angeles Times, journalist Erin Aubry Kaplan noted the difference between Tarantino's Jackie Brown and Django Unchained: "It is an institution whose horrors need no exaggerating, yet Django does exactly that, either to enlighten or entertain. A white director slinging around the n-word in a homage to '70s blaxploitation à la Jackie Brown is one thing, but the same director turning the savageness of slavery into pulp fiction is quite another."