The comeback King of supercharged splattercore, it is hard to overstate Tarantino’s revitalising influence on the last decade of cinema. Combining hilariously deadpan dialogue, comic-book savagery and offbeat arthouse technique with all the pumped-up energy of a rock’n’roll Jean-Luc Godard, the Kentucky-born B-movie aficionado has brought hyperbolically violent glamour back to mainstream Hollywood with a vengeance. But he has also re-energised indie cinema, using his notoriety to boost the best of his cultish left-field peers from all across America, Asia and Europe. He even succeeded in making John Travolta hip again.
Even when he is not writing, directing and acting, Tarantino grabs headlines. He exchanged harsh words and occasionally fisticuffs with fellow mouthy mavericks like Spike Lee, Oliver Stone and producer
Don Murphy. He launched his own record label and action-video line. And he invented his own music-driven Pop Art grammar of philosophical hit men, heroic-chic vamps, foul-mouthed gangsters and visceral violence that has spilled off the big screen and colonised rock videos, stage plays, TV shows, computer games and beyond.
Love him or loathe him, no director in recent years has matched Tarantino’s first decade of splashy, flashy, deceptively smart blockbuster hits for stylistic audacity and cultural impact. However gimmicky his Brechtian tricks, however overblown his irony-fried caricatures of hipster street cool, his canon is already packed with enough cinematic in-jokes to keep generations of Film Studies graduates busy for decades.
After a long sabbatical which began at the end of the ‘90s, last year’s Kill Bill duet also restored QT’s reputation for world-class carnage with its roaring rampage of references to sicko-pulp martial arts movies, spaghetti westerns and samurai revenge epics. “Sure, Kill Bill’s a violent movie,” he said. “But it’s a Tarantino movie. You don’t go to see Metallica and ask the fuckers to turn the music down.”