(Photo by Niko Tavernise / © Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection)

20 Movies To Watch If You Loved Joker

Joker: The highest-grossing R-rated movie ever at over $1 billion in worldwide box office, and also the most nominated movie at the 2020 Oscars. Not bad for a comic-book flick from the man who gave us three Hangovers. If you’re looking for more movies like Joker, the obvious place to start would be its direct influences: The Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese psychotic joints, Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy. Throw in ’90s Cape Fear for a full triumvirate.

As you’re undoubtedly aware, Joker was not universally beloved by critics as far as Joaquin Phoenix vigilantism flicks go (though those who loved it, loved it). For that, turn to Lynne Ramsay’s Certified Fresh You Were Never Really Here, where Phoenix plays a fearless hired gun who tracks down missing girls at any cost. And if you like your lawless justice even grubbier, go with the Charles Bronson action classic Death Wish, or the churning slow burn of Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs.

Beyond Scorsese, Joker director Todd Phillips has cited post-Vietnam War ’70s cinema in general as an influence, and that decade had no shortage of man-against-the-system stories. Look upon One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Dog Day Afternoon, and Network for proof.

Network also serves (and so does Dog Day honestly) as an indictment of media, a major and pervasive presence in Joker. Nightcrawler, Natural Born Killers, and Christine (not the one about the scary car) are the ones to watch if that’s where your interest in Joker lies.

Or if you’re just interested in seeing psychotic breakdowns, or breakdowns of psychosis, the medium of movies have long been a playground for the disturbed. American Psycho, Entertainment, and One Hour Photo go for the jugular, while The Vanishing, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, and Man Bites Dog truly try to get under your skin with their clinical explorations of madness.

Of course, Joker is still a story torn from the pages of DC Comics and in that vein we recommend checking out Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. It’s got Mark Hamill reprising his signature villain role, animated at his most intensely violent. (Ah, if only The Killing Joke adaptation were good!)

And as for our suggestion of UHF, “Weird Al” Yankovic’s foray into film spoofery… Imagine a world where Arthur Fleck actually achieved success in his professional ambitions. What would that look like? We think it’d be a little zany, a little weird, a little something like what the clown prince of music offers in his 1989 cult classic.

#20
#20
Adjusted Score: 50246%
Critics Consensus: Natural Born Killers explodes off the screen with style, but its satire is too blunt to offer any fresh insight into celebrity or crime -- pummeling the audience with depravity until the effect becomes deadening.
Synopsis: Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis are two young, attractive serial killers who become tabloid-TV darlings, thanks to a sensationalistic press... [More]
Directed By: Oliver Stone

#19

UHF (1989)
61%

#19
Adjusted Score: 61230%
Critics Consensus: UHF is bizarre, freewheeling, and spotty, though its anarchic spirit cannot be denied.
Synopsis: After losing yet another job, George (Weird Al Yankovic) wonders if there is any career that can handle his outrageous... [More]
Directed By: Jay Levey

#18

Death Wish (1974)
63%

#18
Adjusted Score: 65499%
Critics Consensus: Death Wish is undeniably exploitation fare -- and also undeniably effective.
Synopsis: Once a mild-mannered liberal, New York City architect Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson) snaps when intruders break into his home, murdering... [More]
Directed By: Michael Winner

#17

American Psycho (2000)
69%

#17
Adjusted Score: 74646%
Critics Consensus: If it falls short of the deadly satire of Bret Easton Ellis's novel, American Psycho still finds its own blend of horror and humor, thanks in part to a fittingly creepy performance by Christian Bale.
Synopsis: In New York City in 1987, a handsome, young urban professional, Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), lives a second life as... [More]
Directed By: Mary Harron

#16

Man Bites Dog (1992)
74%

#16
Adjusted Score: 73840%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The activities of rampaging, indiscriminate serial killer Ben (Benoît Poelvoorde) are recorded by a willingly complicit documentary team, who eventually... [More]

#15

Cape Fear (1991)

#15
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When attorney Sam Bowden (Nick Nolte) knowingly withholds evidence that would acquit violent sex offender Max Cady (Robert De Niro)... [More]
Directed By: Martin Scorsese

#14

One Hour Photo (2002)
82%

#14
Adjusted Score: 87620%
Critics Consensus: Robin Williams is very effective in this creepy, well-shot thriller.
Synopsis: Casual shoppers stocking up at the local SavMart may not pay much attention to the man at the photo counter.... [More]
Directed By: Mark Romanek

#13

Entertainment (2015)
82%

#13
Adjusted Score: 83660%
Critics Consensus: As brilliantly and uncomfortably confrontational as its protagonist, Entertainment is a boundary-blurring exercise in cinematic misanthropy that more than lives up to its title.
Synopsis: An abrasive stand-up comic (Gregg Turkington) hits the road to perform a series of shows at seedy venues.... [More]
Directed By: Rick Alverson

#12

Straw Dogs (1971)
81%

#12
Adjusted Score: 85101%
Critics Consensus: A violent, provocative meditation on manhood, Straw Dogs is viscerally impactful -- and decidedly not for the squeamish.
Synopsis: David Sumner (Dustin Hoffman), a mild-mannered academic from the United States, marries Amy (Susan George), an Englishwoman. In order to... [More]
Directed By: Sam Peckinpah

#11
Adjusted Score: 88959%
Critics Consensus: Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is an effective, chilling profile of a killer that is sure to shock and disturb.
Synopsis: Henry (Michael Rooker) is released from prison following his mother's murder. He supplements his job as an exterminator with a... [More]
Directed By: John McNaughton

#10

Christine (2016)
88%

#10
Adjusted Score: 97049%
Critics Consensus: Rising on the strength of Rebecca Hall's gripping performance, Christine offers an empathetic look at its subject's public career and painful private life.
Synopsis: In Sarasota, Fla., circa 1974, an ambitious, 29-year-old reporter is relentlessly motivated to succeed. She knows she has talent, but... [More]
Directed By: Antonio Campos

#9
#9
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Rupert Pupkin (Robert De Niro) is a failure in life but a celebrity in his own mind, hosting an imaginary... [More]
Directed By: Martin Scorsese

#8
Adjusted Score: 106362%
Critics Consensus: Bracingly elevated by a typically committed lead performance from Joaquin Phoenix, You Were Never Really Here confirms writer-director Lynne Ramsay as one of modern cinema's most unique -- and uncompromising -- voices.
Synopsis: A contract killer uncovers a conspiracy while trying to save a kidnapped teen from a life of prostitution.... [More]
Directed By: Lynne Ramsay

#7
Adjusted Score: 43866%
Critics Consensus: This feature length entry in the Batman Beyond mythos sends off the Mark Hamill-voiced Joker in thrilling fashion, hitting the same caped crusading peaks of the original series.
Synopsis: In the Gotham City of the future, an older Bruce Wayne (Kevin Conroy) trains a college student, Terry McGinnis (Will... [More]
Directed By: Curt Geda

#6

Network (1976)
92%

#6
Adjusted Score: 98176%
Critics Consensus: Driven by populist fury and elevated by strong direction, powerful acting, and an intelligent script, Network's searing satire of ratings-driven news remains sadly relevant more than four decades later.
Synopsis: In this lauded satire, veteran news anchorman Howard Beale (Peter Finch) discovers that he's being put out to pasture, and... [More]
Directed By: Sidney Lumet

#5
Adjusted Score: 100989%
Critics Consensus: The onscreen battle between Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher serves as a personal microcosm of the culture wars of the 1970s -- and testament to the director's vision that the film retains its power more than three decades later.
Synopsis: When Randle Patrick McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) gets transferred for evaluation from a prison farm to a mental institution, he assumes... [More]
Directed By: Milos Forman

#4
#4
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When inexperienced criminal Sonny Wortzik (Al Pacino) leads a bank robbery in Brooklyn, things quickly go wrong, and a hostage... [More]
Directed By: Sidney Lumet

#3

Nightcrawler (2014)
95%

#3
Adjusted Score: 105922%
Critics Consensus: Restless, visually sleek, and powered by a lithe star performance from Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler offers dark, thought-provoking thrills.
Synopsis: Los Angeles denizen Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) survives by scavenging and petty theft. He stumbles into a new career as... [More]
Directed By: Dan Gilroy

#2

Taxi Driver (1976)
96%

#2
Adjusted Score: 104527%
Critics Consensus: A must-see film for movie lovers, this Martin Scorsese masterpiece is as hard-hitting as it is compelling, with Robert De Niro at his best.
Synopsis: Suffering from insomnia, disturbed loner Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) takes a job as a New York City cabbie, haunting... [More]
Directed By: Martin Scorsese

#1

The Vanishing (1988)
98%

#1
Adjusted Score: 98302%
Critics Consensus: A clinical, maddening descent into the mind of a serial killer and a slowly unraveling hero, culminating with one of the scariest endings of all time.
Synopsis: Rex (Gene Bervoets) and Saskia (Johanna Ter Steege) are enjoying a biking holiday in France when, stopping at a gas... [More]
Directed By: George Sluizer

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Paramount courtesy Everett Collection

(Photo by Paramount courtesy Everett Collection)

All Robert Downey Jr. Movies Ranked

Before he became synonymous with playing playboy millionaire rascal Tony Stark, Robert Downey Jr. was…a playboy millionaire rascal, but with an Oscar nomination! Born into minor Hollywood royalty, Downey spent his formative ’80s career as a Brat Pack honorary in films like Weird Science and The Pick-Up Artist. An Oscar nomination for playing the titular silent-era legend in Chaplin suggested a watershed moment for Downey and his future career.

Instead, he spent the rest of the ’90s in a maelstrom of wild parties and tabloid headlines as he publicly battled addiction. Early 2000s work in A Scanner Darkly, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and Zodiac told the world he was still capable of intriguing work, though, and the marked the early stages of a career comeback.

His tumultuous decades seem like a lifetime ago, simply a precursor to his role today as the Man in the Iron Mark IV. Director Jon Favreau fought hard to get Downey in as star of the first Iron Man, with Marvel Studios literally put up as collateral, and the rest is modern history. Across nearly a dozen appearances in Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, Downey has utterly owned the Tony Stark role, whose redemption arc mirrors the actor’s own in real life. Downey’s first post-Avengers: Endgame appearance was Dolittle, a high-profile critical disaster. We’ll see where the future takes him (including Jamie Foxx’s All-Star Weekend this year, and Sherlock Holmes 3 next fall), but first we’re taking the time to rank the best Robert Downey Jr. movies (and the worst!) by Tomatometer!

#62

Johnny Be Good (1988)
0%

#62
Adjusted Score: 433%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: High-school quarterback Johnny Walker (Anthony Michael Hall) is being courted by elite colleges nationwide. To get the sports star to... [More]
Directed By: Bud S. Smith

#61
#61
Adjusted Score: 4628%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Ian (George Newbern) doesn't have the greatest relationship with his father, Richard (David Rasche). The problem is that Ian resents... [More]
Directed By: George Haas

#60

Air America (1990)

#60
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Despite having just had his Los Angeles pilot's license revoked, Billy Covington (Robert Downey Jr.) is hired by Air America,... [More]
Directed By: Roger Spottiswoode

#59

Gothika (2003)
15%

#59
Adjusted Score: 19639%
Critics Consensus: Berry's acting talents can't save Gothika from its preposterous plot and bad dialogue.
Synopsis: The life of psychiatrist Miranda Grey (Halle Berry) is derailed after she nearly hits a girl with her car one... [More]
Directed By: Mathieu Kassovitz

#58

Tuff Turf (1985)
17%

#58
Adjusted Score: 9356%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The new guy (James Spader) in a Los Angeles high school does some singing and fights a hotshot (Paul Mones)... [More]
Directed By: Fritz Kiersch

#57

Dolittle (2020)
14%

#57
Adjusted Score: 30586%
Critics Consensus: Dolittle may be enough to entertain very young viewers, but they deserve better than this rote adaptation's jumbled story and stale humor.
Synopsis: Dr. John Dolittle lives in solitude behind the high walls of his lush manor in 19th-century England. His only companionship... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Gaghan

#56

Too Much Sun (1991)
14%

#56
Adjusted Score: 8774%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: To cash in, the homosexual son (Eric Idle) and daughter (Andrea Martin) of a dying millionaire must somehow produce an... [More]
Directed By: Robert Downey

#55

In Dreams (1999)
25%

#55
Adjusted Score: 26622%
Critics Consensus: Some interesting visuals, but the movie is as confusing as a dream.
Synopsis: After clairvoyant Claire Cooper (Annette Bening) has a disturbing dream about the murder of a young girl, her daughter, Rebecca... [More]
Directed By: Neil Jordan

#54

U.S. Marshals (1998)
25%

#54
Adjusted Score: 26328%
Critics Consensus: A rote albeit well-cast action thriller, U.S. Marshals suffers badly in comparison to the beloved blockbuster that preceded it.
Synopsis: An airplane bearing gruff U.S. Marshal Sam Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones) crashes in the wilderness. On board the same flight... [More]
Directed By: Stuart Baird

#53

The Shaggy Dog (2006)
26%

#53
Adjusted Score: 29003%
Critics Consensus: This Disney retread has neither inspiration nor originality, but may please moviegoers under the age of ten.
Synopsis: Deputy District Attorney Dave Douglas (Tim Allen) is a workaholic and frequently puts his job before his family. After taking... [More]
Directed By: Brian Robbins

#52

Lucky You (2007)
29%

#52
Adjusted Score: 33794%
Critics Consensus: Lucky You tries to combine a romantic story with the high-stakes world of poker, but comes up with an empty hand.
Synopsis: Huck Cheever (Eric Bana) is a talented poker player who must balance an intense love affair with the feats he... [More]
Directed By: Curtis Hanson

#51

Hugo Pool (1997)
29%

#51
Adjusted Score: 29271%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A disabled client (Patrick Dempsey) charms a lonely Los Angeles pool cleaner (Alyssa Milano) and her cynical helpers.... [More]
Directed By: Robert Downey Sr.

#50

One Night Stand (1997)
32%

#50
Adjusted Score: 33318%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In Los Angeles, Max Carlyle (Wesley Snipes) makes a good living directing commercials and has a happy home life with... [More]
Directed By: Mike Figgis

#49
Adjusted Score: 36289%
Critics Consensus: This portrait of a groundbreaking photographer lacks the daring of its subject.
Synopsis: In 1958 New York Diane Arbus (Nicole Kidman) is a housewife and mother who works as an assistant to her... [More]
Directed By: Steven Shainberg

#48

Eros (2004)
34%

#48
Adjusted Score: 35039%
Critics Consensus: Though Wong's short lives up to the promise of the title, Antonioni's is a serious disappointment.
Synopsis: This anthology film features three different tales of passion. In "The Hand," young tailor Zhang (Chen Chang) is attracted to... [More]

#47

Firstborn (1984)
36%

#47
Adjusted Score: 35330%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A teen (Christopher Collet) protects his divorced mother (Teri Garr) from her boyfriend (Peter Weller), a drug dealer in a... [More]
Directed By: Michael Apted

#46

Black and White (1999)
39%

#46
Adjusted Score: 41268%
Critics Consensus: The atmosphere is affecting, and the story, at times, is compelling, but with a lean script and limp direction, Black and White doesn't add up to much.
Synopsis: Rich Bower (Power) is an up-and-coming star in the hip-hop world. Everyone wants to be around him, including Raven (Gaby... [More]
Directed By: James Toback

#45
#45
Adjusted Score: 41241%
Critics Consensus: Delightful performance from Robert Downey Jr. can't save The Singing Detective's transition from TV to the big screen.
Synopsis: Hospitalized for a severe skin disease, a bitter writer (Robert Downey Jr.) imagines he is the gumshoe from his novel.... [More]
Directed By: Keith Gordon

#44

Due Date (2010)

#44
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.) will be a dad for the first time when his wife gives birth in five... [More]
Directed By: Todd Phillips

#43
#43
Adjusted Score: 50246%
Critics Consensus: Natural Born Killers explodes off the screen with style, but its satire is too blunt to offer any fresh insight into celebrity or crime -- pummeling the audience with depravity until the effect becomes deadening.
Synopsis: Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis are two young, attractive serial killers who become tabloid-TV darlings, thanks to a sensationalistic press... [More]
Directed By: Oliver Stone

#42

The Judge (2014)
49%

#42
Adjusted Score: 56441%
Critics Consensus: Solidly cast and beautifully filmed but thoroughly clichéd, The Judge seems destined to preside over a large jurisdiction of the basic cable afternoon-viewing circuit.
Synopsis: Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr.), a brilliant but shady attorney, returns to his Indiana hometown after learning that his mother... [More]
Directed By: David Dobkin

#41
#41
Adjusted Score: 53074%
Critics Consensus: Two Girls and a Guy has an intriguing premise and a talented trio of leads, but doesn't do quite enough with any of them to make the end result truly worth a watch.
Synopsis: Two women (Heather Graham, Natasha Gregson Wagner) confront their boyfriend (Robert Downey Jr.), a two-timing actor who professed eternal love... [More]
Directed By: James Toback

#40

Less Than Zero (1987)
52%

#40
Adjusted Score: 52592%
Critics Consensus: A couple of standout performances -- notably Robert Downey, Jr. and James Spader -- and a killer soundtrack can't quite elevate a somewhat superficial adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis' story of drugged-out LA rich kids.
Synopsis: Clay (Andrew McCarthy) comes home to Los Angeles after his first semester of college and encounters some disturbing developments. His... [More]
Directed By: Marek Kanievska

#39

Only You (1994)
54%

#39
Adjusted Score: 55771%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A childhood incident has convinced Faith Corvatch (Marisa Tomei) that her true love is a guy named "Damon Bradley," but... [More]
Directed By: Norman Jewison

#38

Weird Science (1985)
57%

#38
Adjusted Score: 58606%
Critics Consensus: Hardly in the same league as John Hughes' other teen movies, the resolutely goofy Weird Science nonetheless gets some laughs via its ridiculous premise and enjoyable performances.
Synopsis: Teen misfits Gary (Anthony Michael Hall) and Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) design their ideal woman on a computer, and a freak... [More]
Directed By: John Hughes

#37

1969 (1988)
55%

#37
Adjusted Score: 53224%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Two rebellious youths, Ralph (Robert Downey Jr.) and Scott (Kiefer Sutherland), find themselves struggling with adulthood as the Vietnam War... [More]
Directed By: Ernest Thompson

#36
#36
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Harrison (Charles Grodin), Penny (Alfre Woodard), Julia (Kyra Sedgwick) and Milo (Tom Sizemore) die in 1959 when the bus they... [More]
Directed By: Ron Underwood

#35
#35
Adjusted Score: 60111%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Serial pick-up artist and commitment-phobe Jack Jericho (Robert Downey Jr.) takes lessons in the art of seduction from aging player... [More]
Directed By: James Toback

#34

Charlie Bartlett (2007)
58%

#34
Adjusted Score: 61918%
Critics Consensus: With engaging performances marked by an inconsistent tone, Charlie Bartlett is a mixed bag of clever teen angst comedy and muddled storytelling.
Synopsis: Awkward teenager Charlie Bartlett (Anton Yelchin) has trouble fitting in at a new high school. Charlie needs some friends fast,... [More]
Directed By: Jon Poll

#33

The Soloist (2009)

#33
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Los Angeles columnist Steve Lopez (Robert Downey Jr.) has reached an impasse in his life. His marriage is on the... [More]
Directed By: Joe Wright

#32
#32
Adjusted Score: 61290%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Rick (Kenneth Branagh), a divorced lawyer, has what he thinks is going to be a one-night stand with the troubled... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#31

Chaplin (1992)
60%

#31
Adjusted Score: 63039%
Critics Consensus: Chaplin boasts a terrific performance from Robert Downey, Jr. in the title role, but it isn't enough to overcome a formulaic biopic that pales in comparison to its subject's classic films.
Synopsis: Re-creation of the life of comic genius Charlie Chaplin, from his humble beginnings in south London through his early days... [More]
Directed By: Richard Attenborough

#30

Game 6 (2005)
62%

#30
Adjusted Score: 61877%
Critics Consensus: Though packed with Don DeLillo's witty dialogue and bolstered by strong performances, particularly by lead Michael Keaton, Game 6 also suffers from uneven direction and overwrought symbolism.
Synopsis: It's 1986, and New York playwright Nicky Rogan (Michael Keaton) faces a series of fears, but none more frightening than... [More]
Directed By: Michael Hoffman

#29
Adjusted Score: 67865%
Critics Consensus: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is a good yarn thanks to its well-matched leading men but overall stumbles duplicating the well-oiled thrills of the original.
Synopsis: When Austria's crown prince is found dead, evidence seems to point to suicide. However, detective Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.)... [More]
Directed By: Guy Ritchie

#28
#28
Adjusted Score: 66883%
Critics Consensus: Much like a real-life visit Home for the Holidays, this Thanksgiving-set dramedy can get a little bumpy -- but it also has its share of fondly memorable moments.
Synopsis: When her teenage daughter opts out of Thanksgiving, single mother Claudia Larson (Holly Hunter) travels alone to her childhood home... [More]
Directed By: Jodie Foster

#27

Chances Are (1989)
67%

#27
Adjusted Score: 67910%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A man's love for his pregnant wife, Corinne Jeffries (Cybill Shepherd), is interrupted when a car accident sends him to... [More]
Directed By: Emile Ardolino

#26

A Scanner Darkly (2006)
68%

#26
Adjusted Score: 75006%
Critics Consensus: A faithful adaptation of Philip K. Dick's novel, A Scanner Darkly takes the viewer on a visual and mind-blowing journey into the author's conception of a drug-addled and politically unstable world.
Synopsis: In the near future, as America virtually loses the war on drugs, Robert Arctor, a narcotics cop in Orange County,... [More]
Directed By: Richard Linklater

#25

Soapdish (1991)
71%

#25
Adjusted Score: 73402%
Critics Consensus: Soapdish may not be as addictive as the serialized dramas it's spoofing, but a talented cast helps make this affectionate sendup feel fresh.
Synopsis: Celeste Talbert (Sally Field) is the star of the long-running soap opera "The Sun Also Sets." With the show's ratings... [More]
Directed By: Michael Hoffman

#24

Restoration (1995)
71%

#24
Adjusted Score: 70465%
Critics Consensus: Restoration spins an engaging period yarn out of its bestselling source material, brought to life through the efforts of an eclectic ensemble cast led by Robert Downey Jr.
Synopsis: In order to keep one of his mistresses, Celia (Polly Walker), at arm's length, King Charles II (Sam Neill) asks... [More]
Directed By: Michael Hoffman

#23
#23
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When a string of brutal murders terrorizes London, it doesn't take long for legendary detective Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.)... [More]
Directed By: Guy Ritchie

#22

Iron Man 2 (2010)

#22
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: With the world now aware that he is Iron Man, billionaire inventor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) faces pressure from... [More]
Directed By: Jon Favreau

#21
#21
Adjusted Score: 90810%
Critics Consensus: Exuberant and eye-popping, Avengers: Age of Ultron serves as an overstuffed but mostly satisfying sequel, reuniting its predecessor's unwieldy cast with a few new additions and a worthy foe.
Synopsis: When Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) jump-starts a dormant peacekeeping program, things go terribly awry, forcing him, Thor (Chris Hemsworth),... [More]
Directed By: Joss Whedon

#20
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Dito Montiel (Robert Downey Jr.), a successful author, receives a call from his long-suffering mother (Dianne Wiest), asking him to... [More]
Directed By: Dito Montiel

#19

Iron Man 3 (2013)
79%

#19
Adjusted Score: 92897%
Critics Consensus: With the help of its charismatic lead, some impressive action sequences, and even a few surprises, Iron Man 3 is a witty, entertaining adventure and a strong addition to the Marvel canon.
Synopsis: Plagued with worry and insomnia since saving New York from destruction, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), now, is more dependent... [More]
Directed By: Shane Black

#18

Bowfinger (1999)
81%

#18
Adjusted Score: 85759%
Critics Consensus: A witty commentary on modern film-making, with enough jokes to keep it entertaining throughout.
Synopsis: On the verge of bankruptcy and desperate for his big break, aspiring filmmaker Bobby Bowfinger (Steve Martin) concocts a crazy... [More]
Directed By: Frank Oz

#17

Tropic Thunder (2008)
82%

#17
Adjusted Score: 91388%
Critics Consensus: With biting satire, plenty of subversive humor, and an unforgettable turn by Robert Downey, Jr., Tropic Thunder is a triumphant late Summer comedy.
Synopsis: Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller), pampered action superstar, sets out for Southeast Asia to take part in the biggest, most-expensive war... [More]
Directed By: Ben Stiller

#16

Wonder Boys (2000)
81%

#16
Adjusted Score: 85627%
Critics Consensus: Michael Douglas and Tobey Maguire do wonders in this clever dark comedy.
Synopsis: Grady (Michael Douglas) is a 50-ish English professor who hasn't had a thing published in years -- not since he... [More]
Directed By: Curtis Hanson

#15

Back to School (1986)
86%

#15
Adjusted Score: 89012%
Critics Consensus: Back to School gives Rodney Dangerfield plenty of room to riff -- and supports the freewheeling funnyman with enough of a story to keep things interesting between punchlines.
Synopsis: Thornton Melon (Rodney Dangerfield) is concerned that his son Jason (Keith Gordon) is unsure whether to go to college, so... [More]
Directed By: Alan Metter

#14
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Two-bit crook Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr.) stumbles into an audition for a mystery film while on the run from... [More]
Directed By: Shane Black

#13
#13
Adjusted Score: 114161%
Critics Consensus: Avengers: Infinity War ably juggles a dizzying array of MCU heroes in the fight against their gravest threat yet, and the result is a thrilling, emotionally resonant blockbuster that (mostly) realizes its gargantuan ambitions.
Synopsis: Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk and the rest of the Avengers unite to battle their most powerful enemy yet --... [More]
Directed By: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

#12

Chef (2014)
87%

#12
Adjusted Score: 93968%
Critics Consensus: Chef's charming cast and sharp, funny script add enough spice to make this feel-good comedy a flavorful -- if familiar -- treat.
Synopsis: After a controlling owner (Dustin Hoffman) pushes him too far, chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) quits his position at a... [More]
Directed By: Jon Favreau

#11

Zodiac (2007)
89%

#11
Adjusted Score: 100390%
Critics Consensus: A quiet, dialogue-driven thriller that delivers with scene after scene of gut-wrenching anxiety. David Fincher also spends more time illustrating nuances of his characters and recreating the mood of the '70s than he does on gory details of murder.
Synopsis: In the late 1960s and 1970s, fear grips the city of San Francisco as a serial killer called Zodiac stalks... [More]
Directed By: David Fincher

#10
Adjusted Score: 117397%
Critics Consensus: Captain America: Civil War begins the next wave of Marvel movies with an action-packed superhero blockbuster boasting a decidedly non-cartoonish plot and the courage to explore thought-provoking themes.
Synopsis: Political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability when the actions of the Avengers lead to collateral damage. The... [More]
Directed By: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

#9
#9
Adjusted Score: 106046%
Critics Consensus: Thanks to a script that emphasizes its heroes' humanity and a wealth of superpowered set pieces, The Avengers lives up to its hype and raises the bar for Marvel at the movies.
Synopsis: When Thor's evil brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), gains access to the unlimited power of the energy cube called the Tesseract,... [More]
Directed By: Joss Whedon

#8
#8
Adjusted Score: 120986%
Critics Consensus: Spider-Man: Homecoming does whatever a second reboot can, delivering a colorful, fun adventure that fits snugly in the sprawling MCU without getting bogged down in franchise-building.
Synopsis: Thrilled by his experience with the Avengers, young Peter Parker returns home to live with his Aunt May. Under the... [More]
Directed By: Jon Watts

#7
Adjusted Score: 102100%
Critics Consensus: A passionate and concise cinematic civics lesson, Good Night, And Good Luck has plenty to say about today's political and cultural climate, and its ensemble cast is stellar.
Synopsis: When Senator Joseph McCarthy begins his foolhardy campaign to root out Communists in America, CBS News impresario Edward R. Murrow... [More]
Directed By: George Clooney

#6

Iron Man (2008)
94%

#6
Adjusted Score: 104599%
Critics Consensus: Powered by Robert Downey Jr.'s vibrant charm, Iron Man turbo-charges the superhero genre with a deft intelligence and infectious sense of fun.
Synopsis: A billionaire industrialist and genius inventor, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), is conducting weapons tests overseas, but terrorists kidnap him... [More]
Directed By: Jon Favreau

#5

Baby, It's You (1983)
94%

#5
Adjusted Score: 94799%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: An aspiring lounge singer (Vincent Spano) romances a rich girl (Rosanna Arquette) in 1960s New Jersey.... [More]
Directed By: John Sayles

#4

Richard III (1995)

#4
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A murderous lust for the British throne sees Richard III (Ian McKellen) descend into madness. Though the setting is transposed... [More]
Directed By: Richard Loncraine

#3

True Believer (1989)
95%

#3
Adjusted Score: 96134%
Critics Consensus: A compelling mystery, social themes, and powerful performances from a pair of well-matched leads make True Believer a legal thriller that definitely passes the bar.
Synopsis: Jaded lawyer Eddie Dodd (James Woods), a well-regarded activist in the 1960s whose moment has long passed, now smokes marijuana... [More]
Directed By: Joseph Ruben

#2

Short Cuts (1993)
95%

#2
Adjusted Score: 98620%
Critics Consensus: Robert Altman's ensemble drama deftly integrates its disparate characters and episodes into a funny, poignant, emotionally satisfying whole.
Synopsis: Many loosely connected characters cross paths in this film, based on the stories of Raymond Carver. Waitress Doreen Piggot (Lily... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 127912%
Critics Consensus: Exciting, entertaining, and emotionally impactful, Avengers: Endgame does whatever it takes to deliver a satisfying finale to Marvel's epic Infinity Saga.
Synopsis: Adrift in space with no food or water, Tony Stark sends a message to Pepper Potts as his oxygen supply... [More]
Directed By: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

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The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a wonder for many reasons, not least of which is the way it wove together an intricate continuity across all of its movies. Throughout 23 films (and counting), there are crossover characters, intersecting storylines, and resonant names, locations, and even brands. Of course, when you step back, you realize that the MCU was only doing what comic books have been doing in print for decades. Take another step back, and you’ll notice that what they’ve done isn’t all that unique to movies, either. Because Quentin Tarantino, for one, has been doing it for decades, too.

From his earliest days as a struggling screenwriter to his iconic and era-defining films, Tarantino has built his own world of interconnected characters and original brands. In honor of the 25th anniversary of his legendary opus Pulp Fiction (released October 14, 1994), let’s take a look at the QTCU — the Quentin Tarantino Cinematic Universe.


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A short film co-written, directed, and starring Tarantino while he was famously working at Video Archives in Manhattan Beach, California (it’s no longer there, so don’t plan a visit), My Best Friend’s Birthday only exists in a truncated 36-minute cut because large parts of it were destroyed in a fire. Still, the seeds of the QTCU are there. For one, Quentin plays a character named Clarence who, early on, discusses his love of Rockabilly music and Elvis’ acting ability. This would, of course, foreshadow Christian Slater’s character in True Romance, a script written by Tarantino but directed by the late Tony Scott. In Birthday, Tarantino’s Clarence hires a call girl to show his friend a good time on his special day — a sequence of events that would be flipped in True Romance, when Slater’s Clarence finds himself on the receiving end of a birthday call girl surprise.


Reservoir Dogs (1992) 92%

Tarantino’s signature work, the movie that launched him as a filmmaker. In this tale of a jewel heist gone wrong, the audience is treated to flashbacks that fill in the stories of each of the movie’s black clad, code-named criminals. We find out that Mr. White (Harvey Keitel) used to run with a partner named Alabama. Of course, a woman named Alabama Whitman (later, Worley) is seen getting a taste for a life of crime in True Romance, the Tony Scott film that Tarantino wrote (see below). We also learn that Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen) is named Vic Vega, as in the brother of John Travolta’s Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction.


True Romance (1993) 93%

Warner Bros. courtesy Everett Collection

(Photo by Warner Bros. courtesy Everett Collection)

Apart from the obvious connections to earlier films — the Rockabilly-loving Clarence and call girl-turned-crook Alabama — there is a more subtle cinematic link in Tony Scott’s Tarantino-penned action adventure. The movie climaxes with a drug deal in the hotel suite of big time movie producer Lee Donowitz (Saul Rubinek, channeling real life producer Joel Silver). Donowitz is a producer of war movies — fitting because his father, Donny Donowitz, fought in WWII as part of the Inglourious Basterds. You might remember him as the baseball bat-wielding avenger known as “The Bear Jew” (played by Eli Roth).


Pulp Fiction (1994) 92%

Miramax Films

(Photo by Miramax Films)

Pulp Fiction, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, is arguably the Iron Man of the QTCU, because it’s really the one that takes the threads and begins to weave them together. The film introduces us to several brand names that would become central players in Tarantino’s world, starting with “that Hawaiian burger joint” Big Kahuna Burger — Samuel L. Jackson’s Jules takes the world’s most intimidating bite of one of these burgers and washes it down with “a tasty beverage” from the place early in the movie. Later, Bruce Willis’ Butch Coolidge orders a pack of Red Apple cigarettes, a brand that shows up in just about every subsequent QT movie. Finally, Christopher Walken’s Captain Koons — he of the legendary “gold watch” speech — is also a descendant of “Crazy” Craig Koons, one of Django’s bounties in Django Unchained.


Natural Born Killers (1994) 49%

Warner Bros. Pictures

(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

Although Natural Born Killers was directed by Oliver Stone, the script was pure Tarantino. We mentioned earlier the brother connection between Vic and Vincent Vega, but there is another set of brothers that was first introduced in Reservoir Dogs, too. In Dogs, Vic complains about a pain-in-the-ass parole officer named Seymour Scagnetti (we never actually see him), whose own brother, Jack, would show up in Natural Born Killers (played by Tom Sizemore).


Four Rooms (1995) 14%

In the Tarantino-written and -directed segment of this anthology film, the characters are seen smoking Red Apple cigarettes. Tarantino’s character also refers to his drink as a “tasty beverage,” which echoes the same colorful turn of phrase Jules used in Pulp Fiction.


From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) 62%

Tarantino wrote the script for this Robert Rodriguez-directed horror film and peppered in some of his signature touches. There are Red Apple cigarettes present and accounted for, and George Clooney’s Seth Gecko at one point makes a run for Big Kahuna Burgers. The movie also introduces gravelly-voiced, no-nonsense Texas Ranger Earl McGraw (played by Michael Parks), who would become a key player in the QTCU. It’s also worth noting that the movie features yet another pair of brothers (Seth and his brother, Richie, played by Tarantino) who have a thing for black suits.


Jackie Brown (1997) 87%

Miramax Films

(Photo by Miramax Films)

Beware of people who claim that, because it was based on an Elmore Leonard novel and not an original Tarantino idea, there are no overt connections to the QTCU in Jackie Brown. They’re just not paying attention. Midway through the film, we see Jackie in the Del Amo Mall food court, enjoying a meal from Teriyaki Donut — the same fictional fast food franchise whose food Ving Rhames’ Marcellus Wallace is carrying when Butch Coolidge runs him down in Pulp Fiction. In a second food court scene not long after, we not only see Jackie indulging in Teriyaki Donut again, but her accomplice Sheronda (LisaGay Hamilton) sits down at her table with a tray full of food from Acuña Boys, which would later be referenced in Kill Bill Vol. 2 and appear a couple of times in Grindhouse.


Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) 85% and Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004) 84%

Miramax Films

(Photo by Miramax Films)

We’ll treat this kung fu-inspired magnum opus as one film, with plenty of easter eggs to link it to the larger QTCU. For one, if you look at The Bride’s (Uma Thurman) old gang, the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, you’ll notice that they all fit a little too easily into Mia Wallace’s description of her failed TV pilot, Fox Force Five – the blonde leader, the Japanese kung fu master, the black demolition expert, the French seductress, and Mia’s. character, the deadliest woman in the world with a knife (or sword?). The first cop on the scene after the Bride’s wedding day massacre is, of course, Earl McGraw, and Red Apple and Big Kahuna also make appearances. And remember Acuña Boys from Jackie Brown? In Vol. 2, they happen to be the name of the gang that Michael Parks’ Esteban Vihaio runs.


Grindhouse (2007) 84%

The Weinstein Co./Dimension

(Photo by The Weinstein Co./Dimension)

In both the Tarantino portion of this double feature homage, Death Proof, and the Rodriguez portion, Planet Terror, there are connections to the QTCU. Big Kahuna burgers are mentioned, and Red Apple cigarettes are smoked. On top of that, an ad for Acuña Boys “Authentic Tex-Mex Food” — first glimpsed in Jackie Brown — pops up during intermission, and one of Stuntman Mike’s early victims, Vanessa Ferlito’s Arlene, can be seen sipping from an Acuña Boys cup. Texas lawman Earl McGraw also reappears, along with his son, Ed, and we learn there is a sister named Dakota, too, who features in Planet Terror. As kind of a bonus, Rosario Dawson’s Abernathy has a familiar ringtone on her phone  — it’s the same melody whistled by Elle Driver (Darryl Hannah) in Kill Bill Vol. 1.


Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Francois Duhamel/©Weinstein Company

(Photo by Francois Duhamel/©Weinstein Company)

In addition to Donny Donowitz, Michael Fassbender’s English soldier-turned-spy Archie Hicox has deep ties to the QTCU, it turns out. Late in the old west-set Hateful Eight, it is revealed that Tim Roth’s Oswaldo Mobray is actually a wanted man named “English Pete” Hicox, Archie’s great-great-grandfather.


Django Unchained (2012) 86%

The Weinstein Co.

(Photo by The Weinstein Co.)

We’ve already mentioned “Crazy” Craig Koons, but there is another deep cut reference to Django hidden in an earlier Tarantino movie. In Kill Bill Vol. 2, Bill’s brother Budd (played by Michael Madsen – also another pair of QT brothers!) buries the Bride alive in the grave of Paula Schultz. This is the lonely final resting place for the wife of bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) in Django.


The Hateful Eight (2015) 74%

The Weinstein Company

(Photo by The Weinstein Company)

In addition to the Hicox family tree, Red Apple tobacco — the early version of the soon-to-be ubiquitous (in the QTCU, anyway) cigarette brand — makes a couple of appearances here. Demián Bichir’s Bob smokes a “Manzana Roja” right after the intermission, and Channing Tatum gets a custom-rolled Red Apple cigarette — his “favorite” — from Dana Gourrier’s Miss Minnie.


Once Upon a Time... In Hollywood (2019) 85%

Columbia Pictures

(Photo by Columbia Pictures)

At one point in Kill Bill Vol. 2, The Bride drives a blue Volkswagen Karmann Ghia. That same car shows up (driven by Brad Pitt’s Cliff Booth) in Hollywood. And not only do Booth and Leonardo DiCaprio’s Rick Dalton smoke Red Apples (of course), but there’s an end-credits scene in the movie that shows Dalton doing a TV commercial for the cigarette brand.


Pulp Fiction was released in theaters on October 14, 1994.

#1

Pulp Fiction (1994)
92%

#1
Adjusted Score: 98550%
Critics Consensus: One of the most influential films of the 1990s, Pulp Fiction is a delirious post-modern mix of neo-noir thrills, pitch-black humor, and pop-culture touchstones.
Synopsis: Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) are hitmen with a penchant for philosophical discussions. In this... [More]
Directed By: Quentin Tarantino

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This week on home video, we’ve got a super successful space odyssey from Marvel, a feelgood sequel, and an inspirational sports film to lead things off. Then, there are a number of smaller releases, some notable TV box sets, and a few remastered anniversary Blu-rays of popular older films. Read on for details:



Guardians of the Galaxy

92%

Unless you were already into the comics scene, chances are you’d never heard of these so-called Guardians of the Galaxy. Boy, has that changed. The film surprised almost everyone by ruling the late summer box office, thanks to a number of factors: a cast of charming misfits, a wry sense of humor, top-notch special effects, a killer soundtrack, and James Gunn’s steady directorial hand. This is the movie that made Chris Pratt a star and put a dancing baby Groot on everyone’s stocking-stuffer wishlist. With a Tomatometer score of 90 percent and an Audience score of 94 percent, Marvel’s Guardians succeeded in impressing nearly everyone, which isn’t easy to do. If you pick this one up this week, you’ll get a pretty in-depth commentary track featuring James Gunn, a making-of featurette, and deleted and extended scenes, among other things.



Dolphin Tale 2

66%

Speaking of late summer surprises, 2011 had one of its own in Dolphin Tale, a feelgood movie about a handful of people rescuing a dolphin that was Certified Fresh at 82 percent. Naturally, we got a sequel this year, and though it didn’t fare as well as the first film, most critics found it pleasant enough. This time out, Winter the dolphin is struggling because her dolphin friend Panama has died; in an effort to raise Winter’s spirits and keep her at the aquarium, a search begins for a new companion to share Winter’s tank. Critics agree that Dolphin Tale 2 is a sweet, heartfelt drama for the whole family, even if it doesn’t quite distinguish itself from its predecessor, and it’s Fresh at 68 percent. Bonus features include a couple of short making-of docs, a look at Clearwater Marine Academy’s mission, and a brief piece covering the true events that inspired the film.



When the Game Stands Tall

20%

One of the reasons we love sports is that there are so many incredible stories to tell; the only problem is, when you’ve seen so many of them dramatized on screen, they become more difficult to distinguish from each other. When the Game Stands Tall suffers from this problem; although its tale of football coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel) and the De La Salle High School team he led to a record-setting 151-game winning streak is undoubtedly remarkable, the film ultimately gets lost in all too familiar clichés. If you’re looking for something inspirational to watch, this may do the trick, but at 18 percent on the Tomatometer, don’t expect any surprises whatsoever, especially when the story plays out exactly like you might expect it to. Extras include a handful of deleted and extended scenes, a profile of the real Coah Ladouceur, and a look at the on-field filming techniques employed in the movie.

Also available this week:

  • Frank (93 percent), starring Michael Fassbender and Maggie Gyllenhaal in a dramedy about a young musician who joins an avant-garde band led by an eccentric man who never takes off his giant papier-mâché mask.
  • Kelly Reichardt’s Night Moves (85 percent), starring Jesse Eisenberg and Dakota Fanning in a drama about a trio of environmental activists who plan to blow up a hydroelectric dam in protest.
  • I Origins (52 percent) starring Michael Pitt and Brit Marling in a sci-fi drama about a biologist studying the evolution of the eye who makes a breakthrough discovery that alters his understanding of the world.
  • French import The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears (47 percent), a horror film in the Giallo style about a man who descends into psychosexual chaos when his wife disappears without a trace.
  • Warner Bros. is releasing a handful of films on “Diamond Luxe Edition” Blu-rays that are celebrating various anniversaries this year: The Green Mile: 15th Anniversary (80 percent), Natural Born Killers: 20th Anniversary, Forrest Gump: 20th Anniversary, Tim Burton’s Batman: 25th Anniversary, and Gremlins: 30th Anniversary. Feel old yet?
  • We also get three choices from the Criterion Collection this week: Todd Haynes’ Safe (84 percent), starring Julianne Moore in a paranoid thriller about a woman who falls victim to an inexplicable disease; Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits (93 percent), about a boy who experiences the journey of a lifetime with a band of time-traveling dwarfs; and Liliana Cavani’s The Night Porter (67 percent), starring Charlotte Rampling as a Nazi concentration camp survivor who attempts to rekindle her sadomasochistic relationship with her former torturer in post-war Vienna.
  • Season eight of the BBC’s Doctor Who (91 percent), the first season with Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, is available on DVD and Blu-ray.
  • Season two of Under the Dome (57 percent), a sci-fi mystery about a town trapped under a mysterious dome, is available on DVD and Blu-ray.
  • The first of three classic TV sets coming out this week, the complete series of 1960s comedy Mister Ed, about the famous talking horse, is available on DVD.
  • Second, the complete series of the popular 1980s sitcom The Jeffersons is also available on DVD.
  • And third, the complete series of the Robin Williams Happy Days spinoff Mork & Mindy is also available on DVD.

RT Interview: Quentin Tarantino on Inglourious Basterds

With his sixth film, Quentin Tarantino has fashioned the ultimate in pulp fiction, a Second World War epic set in Nazi-occupied France that sees two parallel assassination plots vying to kill off the Big Four: Adolf Hitler, Martin Borman, Joseph Goebbels and Heinrich Himmler. Far from a weighty WWII drama, Inglourious Basterds is full of outstanding, dry-comedic turns – notably from Brad Pitt as the Tennessee-born Lieutenant Aldo Raine – and an effervescent black humour.

But while it dares square up to history, in ways that will surprise and possibly shock, Tarantino’s latest is not irreverent and empty: it is a revenge drama in the most extreme sense possible, with a smart and unsettling climactic showdown that forces us to confront the very idea of movie violence as entertainment.

Debuting in Cannes in May 2009, where it screened in a slightly different form, Inglourious Basterds is yet another experiment in style and genre from a master of pastiche – in the true, artistic sense of the word – but this time with a ferocious intelligence we perhaps haven’t seen before. Sitting down exclusively with Rotten Tomatoes, the director discusses his wartime adventure, over ten years in the making…


Inglourious Basterds

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When did you finally write the script for Inglourious Basterds?

Quentin Tarantino: I literally started in January of last year, and I wrote January through to July. The first two chapters in the movie are made up of older material. I did a little rewrite on them, but it’s older material. Everything from chapter three to the end I wrote in that big go.

Were you aware of any pressure while writing it? Of all the projects you’ve talked about, this one has been the kind of Holy Grail…

QT: Not really, because I felt the same way about it too! If I couldn’t make it as good as thought it should be then I would have just not done it. But I knew I had to write it, I knew I had to finish, even if it I ended up not doing it, just to get it out of my system. Just to move it out to the side so I could find the next thing. I had to climb that mountain before I could see where any other mountain was. Because I had thought about maybe not doing it. And in a weird way it was kinda liberating. Just letting go of the idea of doing it kinda steered me back to it.

Is there a reason all your films have two-word titles?

QT: [laughs] I’ve never thought about that before, but I guess that’s right. I guess it just always worked out that way. To me, the title is always very organic: it’s not just about, “Oh, that would look good on the poster.” If for some reason I couldn’t have used the title Inglourious Basterds, I probably would have called the movie Once Upon A Time in Nazi-Occupied France.

How would you describe it? In some ways it’s very reminiscent of the earlier scripts, like True Romance and Natural Born Killers

QT: To me, it’s a lot like Pulp Fiction, it’s a lot like True Romance and it’s a lot like Reservoir Dogs. The La Louisiane scene is like a reduced Reservoir Dogs, but with Nazis and in German. It’s a 23-minute scene, and instead of that warehouse they’re in a little basement bar. But to me, there’s this aspect that’s like Pulp Fiction, where you have all these different stories that are going in one direction. In this, it’s more so. The stories are even more diverse, but it actually is telling one big story, as opposed to being a big mosaic. But it also kind reminds me of True Romance a lot, because there’s always a new character that comes in and takes the movie — someone who just takes the movie and runs with it. Every 20 minutes it’s like, “What the fuck movie is this?”

Inglourious Basterds

Mélanie Laurent as Shosanna in Inglourious Basterds

A lot of people might be expecting a Dirty Dozen-style, men-on-a-mission film, but Inglourious Basterds isn’t that film, is it?

QT: Well, y’know, it was the Dirty Dozen idea that set me down to start writing in the first place. But that’s how it always is with me: the thing that sets me down to start writing is usually not what I end up doing. Because, as much as I love genre, and I try to deliver the goods, I go off from it. I go do my own thing. When I sat down to write Reservoir Dogs, I sat down to write a heist film. Well, I did. [laughs] But you didn’t see the heist!

You take a lot of liberties with history with this movie. Was that your original intention?

QT: That’s not where it started. That’s definitely not where it started. I had no idea that was going to happen. When you start writing, you have your characters on a metaphorical paved road, and as they go down it, all these other roads become available that they can go down. And a lot of writers have roadblocks in front of those roads: they won’t allow their characters to go down those roads. For whatever reason – usually movie conventions. Well, I’ve never put any roadblocks on any of these paths. My characters can go wherever they would naturally go, and I’ll follow them.

So what happened when you followed them?

QT: Well, on this movie there’s one real big roadblock, and that’s history itself. And I expected to honour that roadblock. But then at some point, deep, deep, deep into writing it, it hit me. I thought, Wait a minute: my characters don’t know they’re part of history. They’re in the immediate, they’re in the here, they’re in the now, this is happening. Any minute, they’re dead. And you know what? What happens in this movie didn’t happen in real life because my characters didn’t exist. But if they had, this could have happened in real life. And from that point on, it simply had to be plausible, and I had to be able to pull it off.

Continue on as Tarantino expands on his theory that his characters might have changed the course of the war had they actually existed, discusses breaking with war-movie cliches and working with Brad Pitt.

RT Interview: Quentin Tarantino on Inglourious Basterds


Inglourious Basterds

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What do you mean by that?

QT: My characters change the course of history. And when I say that, I’m not just talking about Shosanna, or Aldo and the Basterds. I’m talking about Fredrick Zoller. If a German soldier had done what he did at that point in time in the war, I’m here to tell you that Joseph Goebbels would have made a movie about him. Just like Hollywood made To Hell and Back, with Audie Murphy. And if that soldier had looked like Daniel Bruhl, he would have been the star too. But not only that, Goebbels did make a similar movie, called Kolberg, which was basically saying, “OK, so we’re not going to win any more battles – but we can make this big, epic production that will be a propaganda victory as if we’d won a battle.” So I believe Goebbels would have done that, and they would have had a gala premiere, and a lot of people would have been there… And so on and so on. So it’s just the idea that my characters changed the course of the war.

There are a lot of references to spaghetti westerns, especially in the music. How much is this film influenced by Sergio Leone?

QT: Leone is a huge influence on me, all right. He’s probably my favourite director. He is my favourite director, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is my favourite film. His aesthetic and mine are kind of intertwined, ’cause I’m really influenced by him, but I’ve tried to go my own way. I’ve never done a spaghetti western. I couldn’t do a spaghetti western. [laughs] I’m not that Italian! And the minute you shoot one of those movies with synch-sound it makes it a completely different movie anyway. But taking a style that he developed, and then applying it to other genres, does make it quite different. So he’s a big influence.

Did you deliberately try to shut out the usual war-movie conventions?

QT: I wanted to stay away from all the silly war-movie clichés that I never bought into. You know, those scenes where a bunch of guys have to take out a guard, so they very lightly strangle him and that takes care of that. [laughs] They kill a German soldier and all of a sudden, not only is there no blood on his uniform, or even a bullethole, but it miraculously fits them when they put it on! All that kind of stuff. That was a big thing in mind that I had, but as the movie started heading towards a climax… You know, I’ve never really done anything like this before. It truly is a plot-driven movie at a certain point. The plot takes its time getting there, but it is about a big event. It is, in some ways, more of a genre film than I’ve ever done before, because the end does play by the rules. There is a mission at the end, and they go on it. Now, I monkey around with the expectations of that mission, but, ultimately, it is that.

Inglourious Basterds

Diane Kruger (Bridget von Hammersmark) and Michael Fassbender (Lt. Archie Hicox) during Tarantino’s 23-minute La Louisiane scene.

How was it working with Brad Pitt?

QT: Well, Brad was a blast. He was a blast in this role. As I was writing the script, it went from “Oh, Brad could be good in this,” to, “Brad would be damn good in this,” to, “Brad would be fuckin’ awesome in this,” to, “OK, now, I need to fuckin’ get Brad, because if I don’t, what am I going to do?” [laughs] But one of the things that was so cool was, a lot of his character is about rhythm – the way he speaks – and he loved that character so much, he would stay in character for the most part during the day. It wasn’t some method-y, psychotic kind of thing, or some unnerving kind of thing. He could always respond as Brad, but there was always a little Aldo in there. And I loved the character of Aldo, so to be able to hang out with him all day long was a joy!

What was your approach to the violence in this film?

QT: I remember a critic actually saying, sometime after Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, that I was too much a lover of minutia to ever become a master of suspense. So the technique I was trying to employ in this movie was this: the suspense is like a rubber band that’s being stretched throughout the scene, getting tighter and tighter and tighter. And if I’m pulling that off, if I am successful in that, then the idea isn’t to make the scene shorter. The idea is to see how long I can stretch the rubber band out. The scene should be as long as it can be, as long as the rubber band will hold. It should take it to its finest, finest point. And then – snap! And when it snaps, it’s over in a second.

Is that why there’s so little blood, especially in the first scene?

QT: Oh yeah. I thought it could be more horrifyingly realistic if you didn’t see the blood. if you just saw the sawdust. Anyone can just – POW! POW! POW! – show that stuff. But both in that sequence in the La Louisiane sequence I was experimenting with modes of suspense, in a way that I’ve never really done before.

Continue on as Tarantino talks about the pressure of readying the film for Cannes, Maggie Cheung’s deleted scenes and the power of cinema.

RT Interview: Quentin Tarantino on Inglourious Basterds


Inglourious Basterds

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Did you feel any pressure to get it ready for Cannes?

QT: There was definitely pressure! It’s up to you to say, but I don’t feel there was any quality loss in there, and there’s nothing ragtag about what we did. Me and Sally, my editor, we can work fast. [laughs] I don’t know if I really want to work this fast ever again, on this big a film, but we’ve always worked best under some sort of a deadline. This is not new to us. It was new to us in terms of how big the movie was and how little time we had, but we had a complete rush job to get Reservoir Dogs ready in time for Sundance, and we had a complete rush job to get Pulp Fiction done in time for Cannes, and we had a big rush job to get Jackie Brown ready in time for our Christmas release date. So we’ve always lived there. And we like there. We like not second-guessing things. You can fuck around with a movie too much. We like rushing the judgement. It’s like, “We’re going this way, and that’s it.” Bam!

During Cannes, the press reported that there was going to be a much shorter cut of the released movie…

QT: And, by the way, they published that before anyone had seen the movie! [laughs] That’s BS. They also had the running time completely wrong. Everyone just assumed the movie would be 2hrs 40. Including me, alright! [laughs] Because we were rushing to make Cannes, there was only step that me and my editor Sally Menke hadn’t done. and that was to watch the movie with an audience. And that’s usually the last step: we watch the movie outside of California with people we don’t know, and just gauge the audience. It’s just a case of listening to them. Like, “OK, there’s a laugh in that scene but we didn’t realise it and we cut the scene too short.” Or, “We extended that scene to get a laugh, but we didn’t get it, so maybe we should think twice.” I don’t do cards, or talk to the audience about it, it’s just about feeling. And then after we do that, we go back to the editing room, using little things that we felt after seeing the film in a giant room full of people. I wasn’t going to use the Cannes audience for that. I can’t judge it from that. I have to judge it from a normal, multiplex-y kind of theatre. And that’s the last step. It’s just a little bit of pruning. Like you’d prune a bush.

What happened to the scenes with Maggie Cheung, who plays the real manageress of Shosanna’s cinema?

QT: Maggie was fantastic. She was terrific in the movie — she’s one of the best actresses on the planet and she doesn’t need me to defend her. But it was literally a situation where we did the scene, and she was wonderful in the scene, but when we were cutting the movie together we realised we didn’t need the scene. Not only wasn’t it essential to chronicle Shosanna’s first years in Paris before we see her again, it was kinda the opposite of what I would normally do. To describe how Shosanna survived is a movie unto itself. So I’d rather leave that to the viewer, for them to make that movie in their head. I’ve given you a little signpost, to how she could have done what she did, but I’d like to leave it open to your imagination. ‘Cause you’re either going to tell it or you’re not going to tell it. Now, in the writing of the script I did feel it was necessary, in order for you follow the scenario on the page. But in the making of the movie it wasn’t necessary. I’ve talked to Maggie, I’m going to show her the scene, and if she allows me to, I’ll put it as a deleted scene on the DVD.

Inglourious Basterds

Christoph Waltz as Col Hans Landa, proud of his nickname, “The Jew Hunter.”

All your films talk about cinema, but in this film, cinema is something more serious…

QT: The metaphor is not lost, you know, in that, via these film prints and via her cinema, Shosanna is intending to put the Nazis in an oven and create her own final solution. I must say, that’s an aspect that most people don’t talk about with regard to The Dirty Dozen, and to me it’s one of the strongest aspects of that film. I don’t know how much people contemplated that when the film came out. But now that we’re so knowledgeable about the Holocaust, when you see that film now, you can’t not see it: they create their own oven for the Nazis. And not just the Nazis: their wives, their girlfriends, all the collaborating-with-the-enemy bitches that are hanging out with them. They pile up those grenades and they douse them with gasoline, creating their own napalm, and they just burn ’em. [laughs] I mean, it’s pretty fucked up!

So is this film about the power of cinema?

QT: Well, yeah. One of the things that’s actually very interesting to me about that is that, one, nitrate stock can do that, so it’s just a neat, cool, practical aspect. But I like the idea that it’s the power of cinema that fights the Nazis. But not even as a metaphor – as a literal reality.

Inglourious Basterds is released in the UK on 19th August, in Australia on 20th August and in the US on 21st August.

John Malkovich sure isn’t shying away from the high-end special effects movies these days. While doing some press for his recent "Eragon," the veteran actor spilled a few beans regarding his work on Robert Zemeckis‘ adaptation of "Beowulf."

This project is officially starting to sound pretty excellent to me. Here’s some fairly interesting stuff from Malkovich and IGN Movies: "Malkovich pointed out that he is not simply providing a voice for the motion-capture film. "No, it’s not that. You do everything but then it’s given a form of computer animation afterwards. But, no, we were all on set. We were all acting. It’s not film. There’s no film, there’s no lights. There are video references that the specialists and technicians utilize, but it’s actually all recorded on computer and all the data is fed to the technicians and then they will animate it."

Click here for the rest of the report, which isn’t all that unique, but does paint a pretty compelling picture for "Beowulf."

The producers of the Ray Charles bio-pic "Ray" have purchased the rights to Rodney Dangerfield‘s life story, says Variety. The celebrated funnyman, who did the stand-up circuit for several decades while also appearing in movies such as "Caddyshack," "Back to School," "Easy Money," "Natural Born Killers," and several others I’ll not mention out of respect for the dead, passed away following heart surgery in 2004.

Producers Howard and Karen Baldwin were given permission to tell Rodney’s story on the silver screen, and the project will be based in part on Mr. Dangerfield’s 2004 autobiography "It’s Not Easy Bein’ Me."

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