Our Top Ten Tarantino Characters

Above all else, director Quentin Tarantino has a talent for creating some of the most memorable film characters of all time. Ever since his debut with “Reservoir Dogs,” he’s shown that he can take much of his favorite influences and transform them in to appealing and charismatic characters with great back stories that you can quote until the cows come home. Whether you think of him as a hack or a true artist, Quentin Tarantino is one of the rare filmmakers who can build his characters as pastiches of his favorite pop culture influences and still be able to come out fresh as a daisy. While most of his characters are all derived from some source, Tarantino’s charismatic writing, sharp one-liners, and flashy personalities for each persona grants even the weakest character in the Tarantinoverse some sense of staying power in the collective memories of fans and movie viewers alike. Whether it’s the Bear Jew, Vinnie Vega, or English Bob, you know when it’s a Tarantino character. And you love them, even when you hate them.

In celebration of Tarantino’s newest, and very explosive film entitled “Django Unchained,” we present our Top 10 Tarantino Characters of all time. So far.

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Samuel L. Jackson: Bad Motherfucker

samljackson“I tend to play characters that I can infuse with certain kinds of humour. Even the baddest guy can be funny in his own particular way. I want the audience to engage with the character on some deeper level so that they leave the cinema still thinking about him.” – Samuel L. Jackson

Samuel L. Jackson just has a presence that makes even his worst films slightly watchable. From shit like “xXx,” to “The Man,” right down to the entertaining “Red Violin,” and “”Die Hard with a Vengeance,” Jackson’s constant appearance in films is really no surprise. So I figured, what the hell, why not a list of my favorite appearances from the man? Be warned: Spoilers are extremely nigh.

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The PC Thug: Grinding Better Than the Pros

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For a long time I’ve boasted that if you want to see what’s happening in the neo-grindhouse movement, the best thing you can do is go look for the independent filmmakers and see what they’re up to. Because whether it’s “The Hood Has Eyez,” or “Foxxy Madonna vs. The Black Death,” the odds are it’s better than the entirety of “Grindhouse.” Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed “Grindhouse,” I did. I thought it had a lot of creativity to it but felt more like a throwback than an attempt to mimic the actual grindhouse motif. Because even the most ardent grindhouse fans will tell you that the best grindhouse films have a lot going for them: One is that they’re usually comprised of zero budgets, and two, they’re often tedious. “Thriller: A Cruel Picture” is one of my favorite cult films of all time, but mid-way it lags with gratuitous sex scenes with Christina Lindberg, and her ultimate plot for revenge.

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The Quentin Tarantino Report Card

I don’t know if you can call Tarantino the best director of all time. He’s not even the most original director of all time. The man rips scenes and plot elements from many films and calls them tributes and homages. Let’s be realistic, most of the general movie audience won’t be able to pick up 95 percent of the references and nods he includes in his films. Until reading it, I thought Hattori Hanzo was an original character created by Tarantino, and I originally thought the final stand off involving the shadows in The House of Blue Leaves was amazing until I read it was a basic shot for shot copy of a scene in “Episode One.” Fans of Asian cinema have even claimed Tarantino remade “City of Fire” and simply renamed it “Reservoir Dogs.” Many film critics and knowledgeable film buffs have conceded that Tarantino does indeed fancy himself an auteur and blatantly pilfers obscure cult films and directors.

But the questions linger: Is there a certain line where an homage becomes outright plagiarism? And does plagiarism automatically devalue the artist behind it? Hell, even Tarantino has admitted to taking from other films to form his own stories and confesses to it proudly. And yet in spite of his self indulgence, egomania, and rather self-aggrandizing temperament the man is still a very popular filmmaker in Hollywood. What about the man appeals to even the most cynical cineaste? Is it his unabashed enthusiasm? His roots as a school drop out turned film fanatic? Or the fact that he knows how to competently structure stories?

Even in spite of the derivations and blatant plagiarism Tarantino is still very well loved and has even inspired College courses and dissertations and has prompted many to debate about what his true impact on film will be and whether or not he is still just a fad. His words and influence certainly are powerful in spite of his retractors, and his films continue to inspire many aspiring filmmakers. Being a casual fan myself, I thought with his recent success of “Inglourious Basterds” and his recent bid of respect for his roots by purchasing the ailing New Beverly Cinema, that it’d be interesting to look at the films he’s directed. The man certainly will leave a legacy behind him because in spite of lacking originality, he really knows how to make movies.
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Inglourious Basterds (2009)

inglourious_basterds_ver9Tarantino is often touted as a filmic sensation, a director who understands film and the art of storytelling and despite the backlash he gets from some, the man simply knows how to tell a damn story. In a world where blockbusters and animated films shake us down for cash in exchange for a movie that only acts as an amusement park ride (experienced now, easily forgotten later), Tarantino opts instead to give us bang for our buck with films that surpass their genres and provide us with the old fashioned art of storytelling. With his flair for dialogue and his mastery of the film camera, Tarantino is always performing at his best regardless of his film’s quality (erm–“Death Proof”) and “Inglourious Basterds” is one of his best works yet.

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Best Served Cold: Our Favorite Revenge Films

We all have that dark voice in us. That little spark that says punch the guy who called you a bitch right in his throat. Go scratch your name into his car. Get revenge. That, my friends, is why we enjoy movies about others seeking vengeance so much. We can sit down, watch the violent release and never have to worry about feeling guilty. The pompous directors in pure denial want to call them thrillers. Hell, they would prefer if we called them thrillers, and not revenge films, but we know what they are. Hell, strippers want to be called erotic dancers, but we all know it’s not going to happen. Strippers are strippers, and revenge films are revenge films.

And that’s just how we likes ’em. Suddenly, the revenge genre is big news in Hollywood, and those of us who love a good revenge tale are in hog heaven. In the last two years along we’ve have flicks like “Death Sentence” with Kevin Bacon, “Straightheads” with Julianne Moore, and “The Brave One” with Jodie Foster. So, in honor of this sudden resurgence, we wanted to pay respect to our absolute favorite revenge films. Be aware, we excluded some utter classics, but we felt these deserved a spot in the top ten in the end. Let the blood flow.

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42nd Street Blues: Waiting for the Second Revival

The “Grindhouse Review Fest” originally began back in 2007, when, to ring in the arrival of the much anticipated “Grind House,” we spent an entire month reviewing grindhouse flicks of old and new. And we had a blast. And so did our readers apparently, since the hits on Cinema Crazed jumped considerably around this period. So this year, we decided to do it again. With more movies, a small time crunch, and much better planning, we’ve gathered classic Grindhouse and Neo-Grindhouse from independent filmmakers, and brought to you the 2nd Annual Grindhouse Review Fest. And just to show you that we’re not fucking around with this occasion, we posed a survey to ourselves and to our gracious contributors to show that we absolutely adore grindhouse and all of its sub-genres from sexploitaiton, to nazisploitation. And we hope you love what contributors Lillian Patterson, William Garcia, and I, Felix Vasquez, have to say about Grindhouse movies, and why it’s one of our favorite hobbies as movie lovers.

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"King of the Grindhouse" 42nd Street Pete: The Deuce, Stag, and The New School

Movie lovers already know who 42nd Street Pete is, he’s a man you’ll either love or hate, who has spent most of his life talking about and writing about movies. That’s our kind of man. Simply known as 42nd Street Pete, he is a connoisseur of trash cinema and has an encyclopedic knowledge of everything from stag films right down to Hammer, and loves sharing his insight about what he’s experienced. Pete, even at the height of his cult fame interviewing Joe Knetter and George Romero, garnering a following, and sporting almost ten specialty compilation DVDs with his brand name, the man was still kind enough to take the time out for an interview and share his sights and sounds with us for the readers. Pete is extremely humble for a man who has seen and done it all, and at his fifties he doesn’t seem to be slowing down. You’ll find no shortage of opinions from Pete who constantly rants on his MySpace blog about social issues, and saves the movie stuff for his two very entertaining websites, where he mixes movie reviews with his own personal anecdotes on how and why he found them.

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