Documentary QT8: The First Eight is director Tara Wood’s wonderfully exuberant and satisfying retrospective of the work of American auteur Quentin Tarantino. The documentary tracks Tarantino from his beginnings working in a video store in Manhattan Beach, to his time as a screenwriter, eventually parlaying the earnings from an early script, and from a TV appearance as Elvis impersonator on The Golden Girls, into the production of Reservoir Dogs. He’s been a mainstay of film ever since.
Twenty-one years after the release of Reservoir Dogs, the darling director of the Indie film scene is now arguably so popular and successful that he is maybe not so Indie anymore. This hardly matters as long as Tarantino keeps making films that express, above all else, his love for the art and film history during his lifetime in a way that resonates with hardcore fans and annoys everyone else.
“Mystery and questions surround him these days. Will he survive post-Weinstein? Will he really stop at ten films? Are his best days behind him? “
Hallmarks of a QT film thrill his fans and baffle his detractors, featuring non-linear storylines, old music, new music by old composers (his love for Ennio Morricone is charming. The soundtrack for The Hateful Eight is extraordinary), extreme violence, and call-backs to great cinematic moments that were glossed over because the old films were considered cheap and trashy. Tarantino digs up tropes from Kung Fu, Blacksploitation, drive-in movies, and other forgotten gems and re-purposes them both as nostalgia and as effective vehicles for his ideas.
Sometimes the films are better on the second viewing. Once it’s clear what a Tarantino film isn’t, the audience can appreciate what it is and what he’s done with the story. With the time jumps in Pulp Fiction, for example, the film makes dramatically more sense once you’ve seen the whole thing.