In the ten years between Reservoir Dogs (1992) and Kill Bill (2003), Quentin Tarantino was all some film fans could talk about, and who many up-and-coming directors idolized and copied. But it would take another ten years for his films to be intelligently discussed, and it’s a sign of these times that the best essays are not in print but in video format.
Matt Zoller Seitz and his colleagues over at Indiewire's Press Play blog led the charge with a series of 10 -12 minute video essays (collectively called "On the Q.T.") that explore individual Tarantino films and his approach to filmmaking.
The video above is part two of the series and probes what it means to be cool in Pulp Fiction, how characters create their own mythologies and what happens when reality confronts them.
If that video makes you look at Pulp Fiction in a deeper way, then you’ll enjoy the first in the series, on Reservoir Dogs. Seitz claims the film is both a collage of film quotes and references, from City on Fire to The Killing, but there’s a human heart beating beneath all of it. And that’s a lesson lost on all the imitators that came in Tarantino’s ‘90s wake, he says.
You might also want to check out this two part essay (Part 1 - Part 2) on Jackie Brown -- this one crafted by Press Play's Odie Henderson--which examines what Tarantino took from Elmore Leonard in his only adaptation to date, and what is pure QT. (Hint: It’s the casting of Pam Grier).
The final video in the series looks at the Female Archetype vs. the Goddess in Kill Bill. Created by Nelson Carvajal, who uses captions instead of narration, it’s the weakest in the series, being long on clips and short on ideas.
But with The Hateful Eight on the horizon, the entire series will get you ready for interpreting the latest in his oeuvre.
Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the FunkZone Podcast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.