Culture

Quentin Tarantino, the Most Overrated Director in Hollywood

Tarantino marches in New York City, October 24, 2015. (Kena Betancur/Getty)

Quentin Tarantino is getting exactly what he wants. Over the last two weeks, he’s made much-needed headlines for saying Hollywood-leftist things at a Black Lives Matter rally in New York City — conveniently inserting himself into the news before the release of his latest inevitably-terrible move, The Hateful Eight. Police groups are boycotting, and each new round of boycott and response is generating yet another day’s worth of headlines, with each story conveniently mentioning his new movie. Congratulations, Quentin, you’re an excellent troll.

Your movies, however, are terrible. And I don’t mean “morally reprehensible” or “too violent.” I mean they’re simply bad. But don’t tell the movie press. Rarely has so much celebratory ink been spilled on a director who has made such dreck. Ever since Pulp Fiction — your best movie — they believe you’re an artist, but over time you’ve proven to be nothing more than a splatter-film director who can attract top talent. And you’re the least original splatter-film director in the United States. You simply can’t stop making the same movie. Consider your recent offerings.

POLL: Should Quentin Tarantino Apologize to Police Officers?

There’s Kill Bill (Volumes I and II) — vengeance movies built around stylized hyper-violence. You followed the Bill series with Inglorious Basterds, a vengeance movie built around stylized hyper-violence. And then came Django Unchained, which was — wait for it — a vengeance movie built around stylized hyper-violence. I mean, look, I understand the philosophy that says, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but no one worships the directors of the 50 or so movies in the Halloween, Jason, or Freddy franchises.

Rarely has so much celebratory ink been spilled on a director who has made such dreck.

Imagine if Robert Zemeckis and Tom Hanks fell into your same rut. “We’ve got a bold and original idea. It’s groundbreaking. Tom is a UPS pilot, and his plane goes down over the Sahara. He gets stuck on an oasis, and his only companion is a beach ball he calls Albert. You like that? I’ve got something else — something no one’s seen before. Tom’s a navigator on an Air Force cargo jet. It crash-lands in Antarctica. His only friend is a snowball named Steve.”

Sure, your movies are well acted. But I guarantee you that if you put Brad Pitt or Uma Thurman or Jamie Foxx or Samuel L. Jackson in Freddie vs. Jason, then critics would suddenly have strange new respect for super-killer teen slaughter. Heck, Samuel L. Jackson single-handedly took Snakes on a Plane from straight-to-DVD oblivion to a pop-culture event.

#share#And yes, I know that I just said that I don’t hate your movies because they’re morally reprehensible, but let’s be honest: They are pretty vile. You gotta admit, you love that N-word. Everything else about your movies can be ludicrously unrealistic (think of the mighty mountains of Mississippi in Django Unchained, the fiction of “mandingo fighting,” or virtually any scene in the Kill Bill series), but if anyone in the cast is black, you will marinate your screenplay in racial slurs. You do it — get this — in the name of realism. And the media — mostly — is fine with it. Why? Because you’re an “artist.” But mostly because you’re liberal. So all the typical double standards apply.

But let’s not forget the violence. Make no mistake, I’m not squeamish about violence in films or television (after all, I love Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead), but you actually seem to get off on it. Sure, you sometimes cleanse it through the “right” victims (Nazis, slavers, Japanese mobsters), but it seems as if you direct films for the purpose of showing arterial spray, or exposed brain matter, or shrieking, screaming victims staring at their hacked-off limbs.  

Samuel L. Jackson in “Hateful Eight”

Maybe Hateful Eight will be better. Maybe it will have a shred of originality (doesn’t this movie have double the bounty-hunters of Django?), a plot that varies one or two degrees from your last four big films, and maybe the top acting talent can somehow make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. In other words, maybe you’ll get better. Stranger things have happened.

I’m not holding my breath. But I’m not boycotting your film, either. A “boycott” implies that I’m skipping a movie I’d otherwise see. I’ve given your work more than enough chances to live up to the hype, and I’ve been let down time and again. So I’ll probably sit this one out — not because you’re liberal but because you are bad.

— David French is an attorney and a staff writer at National Review.

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