Quentin Tarantino knows how to set up a scene and let it out play beautifully. If he's not using dialogue to drive a scene forward, it's the music.
As Quentin Tarantino turns 56 today here's five of his best scenes.
5. "All you gotta do is pop and rack this mother..." JACKIE BROWN
Although Jackie Brown is somewhat overlooked in Tarantino's work, it's one of his straightest films. There's no back-and-forth narrative, there's larger-than-life characters, but nowhere near the extent of his later work and it and it follows a believable story. It's a crime drama with real people in real situations. This scene, however, is probably the most unrealistic in the film. But what makes it even more funny is that Samuel L. Jackson's character can't even believe it himself. It's that little look back at the trunk in which Chris Rock's character has willingly locked himself in.
4. "Being a fool for a woman such as yourself is always the right thing to do." KILL BILL, VOL.2
More than anything, Quentin Tarantino knows how to make characters memorable and put them into the perfect context. Kill Bill is populated by huge, almost comic-book style characters. With names like the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, Pai-Mei and Esteban Vihaio, it's all filled with knowing nods to film and comics. This scene, however, works best as a showcase for Tarantino's use of close-up dialogue scenes. It's all the little quirks and minute inflections in the performances of Michael Parks and Uma Thurman that makes it. Tarantino said that this was the final scene he filmed with Thurman, who had been playing the role for close to two years by that point.
3. "Au revoir, Shoshanna!" INGLORIOUS BASTERDS
Inglorious Basterds brought Christoph Waltz to prominence with mainstream cinema, known up to that point for starring European arthouse films. Watching Inglorious Basterds, however, it's hard to imagine how he wasn't discovered sooner. Tarantino said that the film hinged on finding his Hans Landa. In fact, the film would never have been made were it not for Waltz.Tarantino had almost given up trying to cast a German who could fluently speaking English, Italian, French and German. Together with the terrifying music, this scene shows that although you may find yourself liking Landa, the truth is that he's actually a monster.
2. "I don't tip." RESERVOIR DOGS
Some of Tarantino's strongest dialogue scenes are when the characters are talking about nothing that relates to the point of the film. Tarantino himself refers to Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown as "hang-out" movies, where characters are merely hanging out and shooting the proverbial. This scene - although one of the many scenes you'd instantly think of with Reservoir Dogs - has nothing to do with the plot, but it tells us so much about the film itself and the characters therein. They're just talking about tipping and yet, it's effortlessly cool and completely in sync with the rest of the film. Steve Buscemi's Mr. Pink makes a reasoned argument for not tipping, especially with the McDonalds reference. He's convinced me. Gimme my dollar back.
1. "Mrs. Mia Wallace." PULP FICTION
For all the talk about Quentin Tarantino's dialogue, use of colour and close-ups, it's his choice of music that sets him apart from any other director. He makes it as much a part of a scene as the actors or the set design. In some cases, it speaks more about the scene than anything else. Steely Dan's Stuck In The Middle With You is inextricably linked with Reservoir Dogs. Across 110th Street to Jackie Brown. Django Unchained's got Rick Ross' 100 Black Coffins. Pulp Fiction was a masterclass in soundtrack choices. You've got Kool & The Gang's Jungle Boogie, Dick Dale's Misirlou and our own personal favourite, Chuck Berry's You Never Can Tell. What's great about this scene is how you can see the attraction play out between Thurman and Travolta without a word said or anything even remotely overt. They're just dancing along to a rockabilly classic.
Here's everything you need to know about the next film from Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.