Is DEATH PROOF Tarantino’s Worst Movie?
The Hollywood Reporter has done an awards season director's roundtable thing, and they included Quentin Tarantino - who predictably dominated. Not only is he the funniest and quickest motherfucker on any panel, the guy bleeds cinema. He lives on celluloid. He's the ultimate film geek, the top of the heap, our supreme commander and ruler.
QT talks about a lot of stuff in the roundtable, including how digital is forcing him to retire, but perhaps the most interesting part is where he discusses his own legacy. As a film buff, QT is acutely aware of how some aging directors tarnish their own filmography with late period clunkers. There's a discussion to be had about this in larger terms (ie, does that really matter? Isn't Billy Wilder still Billy Wilder no matter his later stinkers?), but in the meantime, this led QT to name his own worst movie, and the film that he sees as the lowest he can go:
To me, it's all about my filmography, and I want to go out with a terrific filmography. Death Proof has got to be the worst movie I ever make. And for a left-handed movie, that wasn't so bad, all right? -- so if that's the worst I ever get, I'm good. But I do think one of those out-of-touch, old, limp, flaccid-dick movies costs you three good movies as far as your rating is concerned.
When he's talking about it being a left-handed movie, he's talking about now working with his best hand, largely because Death Proof is pretty much a gimmick movie (especially when taken in the larger Grindhouse context). In some ways he seems to almost not want to count it, but it's got his name on it. And so the definition of Death Proof as a 'left hand' movie.
Do you agree? There's been a real resurgence in love for Death Proof over the last couple of years, partially fueled by the director's cut release. The longer version is a better movie, but I find that Tarantino is right - it's his weakest directorial effort. It's not quite a full film. It has extraordinary moments, but it never quite gets past the restrictions placed on it by the gimmick.
And it's important to note that he isn't saying it's a bad movie - simply the least of his films. If you're ranking Tarantino, it's the one that should go on the bottom of the list. I agree. For me it's the bottom whether I rank it by best or by favorite.
Which raises an important question: how do you rate Tarantino's directorial efforts? With the new Blu box set I've been giving this some thought, so here's my list of my FAVORITE Tarantino movies. Chip in with yours:
1- Inglourious Basterds
2 - Reservoir Dogs
3 - Jackie Brown
4 - Kill Bill, Part 2
5 - Pulp Fiction
6 - Kill Bill, Part 1
7 - Death Proof
I have not listed Tarantino's Four Rooms contribution because we're just talking features here. And nobody's seen Django Unchained yet, so who knows where that lands.
These are listed by FAVORITE. I believe every film on this list, except Death Proof, is pretty much a masterpiece. Ranking them is almost an exercise in futility, but here it is.