Quentin Tarantino Reviews Movies: From Dunkirk and King of New York, to Soul Brothers of Kung Fu & More

Some of the most influ­en­tial direc­tors of the French New Wave, like Jean-Luc Godard, François Truf­faut, and Éric Rohmer, first stepped into the world of film as crit­ics. They found their voic­es by pub­lish­ing in the Paris cinephile insti­tu­tion of Cahiers du ciné­ma; a few decades lat­er, Quentin Taran­ti­no found his own by work­ing at the Man­hat­tan Beach cinephile insti­tu­tion of Video Archives. Sto­ries of all the myr­i­ad ways in which he would express his enthu­si­asm for and exper­tise on cin­e­ma there have passed into leg­end. But just like the crit­ics Godard, Truf­faut, and Rohmer, the video-store clerk Taran­ti­no ulti­mate­ly seems to have signed on to the old propo­si­tion that the best response to a work of art is anoth­er work of art.

Taran­ti­no’s endorse­ments of and intro­duc­tions to the work of oth­er direc­tors (for exam­ple, the one he record­ed for Wong Kar-wai’s Chungk­ing Express) have giv­en us a sense of his cin­e­mat­ic taste. So, in an even more telling man­ner, do the ele­ments he steals — by his own admis­sion — from oth­er movies.

A look at the dance scene in Pulp Fic­tion, for exam­ple, reveals a film­mak­er well acquaint­ed with the French New Wave, and even more so with the work of Italia mas­ter Fed­eri­co Felli­ni that came out in the same era. And even if you think you could go head-to-head with Taran­ti­no on mid­cen­tu­ry Euro­pean auteurs, could you match his under­stand­ing of A Man Called TigerFatal Nee­dles vs. Fatal Fists, or Soul Broth­ers of Kung Fu?

Those are just three of the films Taran­ti­no has reviewed at the web site of the New Bev­er­ly Cin­e­ma, the the­ater he owns in Los Ange­les. Pub­lished in a low-pro­file man­ner, these short essays on the kind of 1970s Hong Kong mar­tial-arts pic­tures that right­ful­ly belong on down­town triple-bills (and that Taran­ti­no sure­ly first saw on down­town triple-bills) exude the kind of fan-crit­ic ener­gy that brings to mind bygone days of the inter­net.

Not that Taran­ti­no eschews more recent movies and movie media. In late 2019 and ear­ly 2010, he appeared three times on The Ringer’s The Rewatch­ables pod­cast to share his thoughts on three pic­tures worth see­ing again: Christo­pher Nolan’s Dunkirk from 2017, Tony Scot­t’s Unstop­pable from 2010, and Abel Fer­rara’s King of New York from 1990. Lis­ten and you may just feel like a Video Archive cus­tomer in the 1980s, get­ting rec­om­men­da­tions from an odd­ly per­sua­sive clerk.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Quentin Taran­ti­no Picks the 12 Best Films of All Time; Watch Two of His Favorites Free Online

Quentin Tarantino’s Hand­writ­ten List of the 11 “Great­est Movies”

An Analy­sis of Quentin Tarantino’s Films Nar­rat­ed (Most­ly) by Quentin Taran­ti­no

Quentin Tarantino’s Copy­cat Cin­e­ma: How the Post­mod­ern Film­mak­er Per­fect­ed the Art of the Steal

Quentin Taran­ti­no Releas­es His First Nov­el: A Pulpy Nov­el­iza­tion of Once Upon a Time in Hol­ly­wood

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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