Quentin Tarantino: The Ultimate Collection
Directed by Quentin Tarantino
To begin with, the title of this box set is a bit of a tease. Sure, this collection handsomely repackages QT's first six features ― Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, and Death Proof ― but it tactfully excludes this year's Inglourious Basterds, the masterpiece he's been building to his whole career. Although considering that the oft-brilliant Basterds (released a week after this collection) is head-and-shoulders above these other films, perhaps it's fitting that it sits beside this almost-ultimate collection on your shelf: a film apart. Despite this omission, this Tarantino box set provides an occasion to revisit the director's successes and stumbles on the eve of Basterds' impending release. And although Tarantino will always divide audiences and critics, depending on whether you read his compulsive tendency to "reference" other films as shameless banditry or winking pastiche artistry, there's plenty to like about these films. Reservoir Dogs remains an engaging exercise in absence (it is, after all, the heist movie where the job goes down off-screen), standing in stark contrast to the bold excesses of the Kill Bill films. Some 15 years and dozens of viewings after the fact, Pulp Fiction remains wildly entertaining, while Jackie Brown reveals how brilliant a director Tarantino can be when working within the confines of another author's narrative world. The Kill Bill films and Death Proof have always struck me as QT's nadirs ― films that reek of unchecked adolescent enthusiasm and naval-gazing indulgence. For anyone who already owns every Tarantino film, this collection may be a bit of a hard sell. It pares back the special features offered in the two-disc releases of Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown in favour of fitting single-discs housed in a very attractive package that opens like a book, with each film tucked inside its own page. And even though the latest, and most robust, chapter in the book of Tarantino is missing, the Quentin Tarantino: Ultimate Collection is the perfect stocking stuffer for any fan of American cinema's post-modern enfant terrible.
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