Tuesday, June 17, 2014

On the QT: My 10 Favourite Quentin Tarantino Characters

So, as anyone who knows me can attest to, I am a huge Quentin Tarantino fan. Now I know there are a lot of Tarantino haters out there, and I really feel bad for them. Not only are these haters obviously not very good at being cinephiles (and may actually be downright stoopid in the head), and equally obviously know very little, if nothing at all, about film, and what makes the good ones good and the bad ones bad, but they are also missing out on the greatness of Tarantino's brilliant (yeah, I said it!!) oeuvre, by hating on 'em all, and possibly not even seeing some of them. Hell, even Jackie Brown, arguably the director's worst film, is better than most of the schlock being put out in and around Hollywood these days. Paul Thomas Anderson, and possibly Scorsese (but only in his hey day) are the only current Hollywood directors who I would call his near equals. So there!! Take that!! Anyhoo, I digress.

The reason we are gathered here today, is to take a look at my ten favourite Quentin Tarantino characters - and a few special and honourable mentions to boot. First off, some ground rules. The only characters I am counting, are those from films which QT himself wrote and directed. These films are Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill (vol. 1 & 2), Deathproof (aka, the second half of Grindhouse), Inglourious Basterds, and Django Unchanined. There was also the director's segment of the omnibus film, Four Rooms, but none of those characters make the cut here anyway. As for those films he wrote, but did not direct (True Romance, From Dusk til Dawn, Natural Born Killers), these do not count, mainly due to Tarantino not having as full of control over them as he does with those characters he also directs. But not to worry faithful readers and true believers, for this is exactly why we have a special mention section before the countdown. So, without further ado, here are my 10 Favourite Quentin Tarantino Characters...and then some. Oh, and to Jackie Brown, the aforementioned worst Tarantino film (but still better than most of today's dreck), sorry that you were the one film left out in the cold. Get over it. Oh, and to Mia Wallace, Winston Wolf, Zoe Bell (basically playing herself in Death Proof), and yes, Jackie Brown herself, sorry but you guys just missed the boat. Anyhoo, on with the countdown.

And awaaaaaaay we go...

Special Mention:
Mickey & Mallory Knox from Natural Born Killers

Directed by Oliver Stone, this batshitcrazy QT-penned story of a pair of love bird spree killers, is quite the hated film in many circles. But ya know what? Fuck those people! Fuck 'em!! Natural Born Killers may be a sick and twisted paean to ultraviolence (which, considering it was Tarantino and Stone, was oh so obviously on purpose, and meant as satire of the subject matter) but it is a damn good paean to ultraviolence - and at the center of that cracked-up whirlwind are Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis as Mickey and Mallory Knox - the titular batshitcrazy love bird spree killer duo. Oh, and they are freakin' heeelarious too. There, I said it!

Honorable Mentions: Bill & Stuntman Mike

So, on one hand you have the manipulative cult figure leader of a group of assassins, and on the other you have a sleazy, psycho serial killer who kills using his driving skills. Yup, that's right. This list is so chock full of great characters that two great ones like David Carradine's Bill, from (duh) Kill Bill, and Kurt Russell's Stuntman Mike, from Death Proof, are mere honourable mentions. 

10. Elle Driver in Kill Bill

Let's face it, people with eye patches are cooler than people without eye patches - and usually just a bit more evil as well. No offense to actual people with eye patches (yeah right, like I care if I offend) but it's just a fact of nature - eye patches are cool and eye patches are sexy and eye patches are evil. All three of these things come together in the form of Daryl Hannah as the sexy, badass evil bitch from hell in the Kill Bill films. Of course, by the end of the second film, poor Elle is in need of a second eyepatch. I guess that just makes her all the cooler, all the sexier, and all the more evil.

9. Mr. Blonde in Reservoir Dogs

Thanx to the actions of Michael Madsen's Mr. Blonde (aka, Vic Vega) in Tarantino's debut feature, my ear hurts every time I hear Stuck in the Middle by Steeler's Wheel. This dude is one bad motherfucker. I mean, he cuts a cop's ear off. Cuts his motherfucking ear off. Right off. That is bad ass, and that is why Madsen's psychotic bank robber/cop killer (actually, he's not the one who kills the cop, but I'm guessing he's killed other ones) makes the list. Damn, my ear hurts.

8. Django in Django Unchained

I wrote a similar list to this a few years back (for a now defunct website called Anomalous Material) and it pretty much looked a lot like this, sans the title bad ass of the as-of-yet released Django Unchained. Well, now the film has come out, and we have a new member of the list (poor Stuntman Mike was then one kicked to the curb to make room for Django). Anyway, Jamie Foxx's escaped slave turned bounty hunter, based (obviously) on the Spaghetti Western series starring Franco Nero (who incidentally, pops up in a cameo in this film) kicks more than enough white man ass to get himself included on our list. Oh, and by the way, the D is silent.

7. Lt. Aldo Raine in Inglourious Basterds

"You probably heard we ain't in the prisoner-takin' business; we in the killin' Nazi business - and cousin, business is a-boomin'." That sirs and madames, is a line from one Lt. Aldo Raine, leader of the Inglorious Basterds, and killer (and scalper!) of hundreds of Nazis. As played by Brad Pitt, in a role that should have been played by me (and was, in my own make-believe dream world), Aldo the Apache is one Smokey Mountain-raised Nazi killin' sonofabitch, and is the first of three characters from the film to make the list. And he wants his scalps. Bonjerno. 

6. O-Ren Ishii in Kill Bill

The second of three Kill Bill characters (all kick-ass women - and who says Tarantino is a woman hater), Lucy Liu's former Viper Assassin, O-Ren Ishii, later to become the queen of the Japanese underworld, is a central part of the best scene from the first Kill Bill film. And trust me, you do not want to piss this bitch off. You might just lose your head. Or, well, spoiler alert, she might just lose hers. At least the top of hers. But up until then, O-Ren kicks some serious motherfuckin' ass. Yet another strong female character from Tarantino. Imagine that.

5. Shosanna in Inglourious Basterds

And speaking of strong female characters, Melanie Laurent's French Jewish girl turned cinema owner turned Nazi killer extraordinaire, Shosanna Dreyfus, is one hell of a strong woman - and one hell of a sexy one too. Actually the central figure of the mostly ensemble film, and the closest thing the movie has to a lead character, Shosanna is forced into hiding (as many Jewish folks were during WWII) and is Tarantino's voice of film history (being the owner of a cinema and all) and the firecracker that sets off the deaths of a cinema full of Nazi's, and, spoiler alert (again) Hitler himself. Yeah, she kicks ass.

4. Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction

Once upon a time, John Travolta was a star. Then he spent years in cinematic purgatory (and the Look Who's Talking films). Then he was cast as Vincent Vega in Quentin Tarantino's sophomore film, Pulp Fiction. Granted, the actor has since gone back into a sort of cinematic purgatory, but for a while there, the guy was big big big, and that was all due to his great turn as the badass hitman from Pulp Fiction. Yeah, you'd dig it the most, baby.

3. The Jew Hunter in Inglourious Basterds

Okay, any character called the Jew Hunter, better damn well be an interesting character. Otherwise he is in danger of being anything from a mere stereotype to an ugly, racially insensitive monster. Lucky for us, not only does Tarantino write one of the most complex characters he has ever written, but he gives the role of a lifetime to then-unknown (at least outside of Germany) actor, Christoph Waltz, and the guy fucking flies with it. He actually takes a character called the Jew Hunter, and makes the guy likable, and even a bit sympathetic. And hey, the guy won an Oscar for it as well. And then the guy wins another Oscar for another Tarantino film.  That's a-bingo!

2. Jules in Pulp Fiction

Just the fact that Samuel L. Jackson's iconic Pulp Fiction character carries around a wallet that says Bad Mother Fucker on it, should be enough to get the guy on this list. Hell, just the fact that it is Samuel L. Jackson should be enough to get this mother fucker on this motherfucking list. Damn straight! But give Sam Jackson, the coolest motherfucker on the planet, the role of Jules Winnfield, the coolest motherfucker in the Tarantino Universe, and you have...well, one bad motherfucker.

1. The Bride in Kill Bill

I am pretty sure that there is no possible way to have a list of the best and/or favourite Quentin Tarantino characters and not have Uma Thurman's Bride, aka Beatrix, in the number one spot. No possible way. I mean, come on. First of all, this is Uma fucking Thurman, Tarantino's best bud and cinematic muse. Secondly, have you even seen Kill Bill? Volumes 1 and 2! She kicks more as than any woman in the history of cinema. Okay, I don't know if that is actually true, but it sounds about right to me. And hey, spoiler alert, but she does indeed accomplish the titular act. So there ya have it, Uma Thurman as The Bride in the Kill Bill films (the whole bloody affair!) is my favourite (and the  best!) Quentin Tarantino character. Take that!!

That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.

4 comments:

  1. I think Kurt Russell is one of the more underrated actors out there.

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  2. I never thought that Mr. Q disliked women. Most of the women in his films are strong bad ass babes. I have seen most of his films but not Kill Bill(I know for shame!) or Reservoir Dogs but have seen the rest and he is an original. I did not like From Dusk til Dawn at all but he wrote it only. Loved Django and Inglorious(The scene with the Bowie music in the background is striking). I would have place Christoph Waltz's character from Django Unchained in your top 10 (make it 11) as I loved his introduction and his little wagon with the big molar bopping away

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  3. So that's actually 14 favorite QT characters. I don't think I could stop at 20, myself, but I'd definitely put Beatrix Kiddo as number one. Hell, she is one of my favorite characters in the last 25 years of cinema, and Uma Thurman one of my favorite actresses.

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  4. Fox - Yes he is.

    B - Many have called QT a woman hater. Stupid people, of course.

    Cecil - If I were to move on, I would include Mia Wallace, Jackie Brown, Herr Schultz, Mr. Pink, Nice Guy Eddie, The Wolf, Butch & Fabienne, Marcellus Wallace, Archie Hicox, Bridget von Hammersmark, Hugo Stiglitz, Donny 'the Bear Jew' Donowitz, Max Cherry, Ordell Robbie, Pumpkin & Honey Bunny, and so on and so on and so on.

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