Wednesday, 28 June 2017

My Favourite Albums That I've Never Reviewed (Part 1)

My Favourite Albums That I've Never Reviewed (Part 1)
Just over a year ago, I wrote a five part series of blogs, sending much praise most high to my favourite albums from each decade (starting from the 60s and ending with the 00s), much love, thank you God for this music, Amen. It was an idea I had for a while and I was stoked with the execution, not because I thought they were great bits of writing or anything (well, they were, but) but because the motive behind them was actually a sneaky one, a hidden ploy to try and shove my music taste into other people's faces, granting me an easy collection of urls to throw at my friends when they asked me what I wanted for my birthday or Xmas. I WANT VINYL. I WANT THESE VINYLS SPECIFICALLY. BUY ME THESE FUCKING SPECIFIC VINYLS YOU ASS BALL.

The months have passed as they do, some friendly folk bought me some friendly vinyls, I bought a load more myself, and at the time I type these very words, I own 30 out of the initial stated 50, which isn’t bad for a year of collecting when you’re an alcoholic. But as I approached the finish line, I didn’t feel the sense of achievement one might expect. No, instead I felt miserable, because I am a dramatic masochist and I crave pain. I desire the perpetual chase towards an impossible dream. I need the suffering when nothing is attainable and then I ultimately die unsatisfied, mid-complaint. Which is exactly the purpose of this blog. To top-up the list of vinyls I am requesting for my collection, and therefore impossibly increasing the volume of money needed to do so, piling on the stress.

So let’s get to it then, but before we do, please keep in mind that these aren’t necessarily my favourite albums I’ve never reviewed (despite the title), but rather just the first ones that came to my mind. Hence the “part 1” bit. I'll probably write one every year because I really enjoy writing album reviews. If I had to write nothing but album reviews for the rest of my life, I’d be about 20% happy.

Oh, and finally, if you do feel like buying me vinyl, then may Lorde bless you! Allow me to help by directing you towards all the articles featuring albums I’ve reviewed. Buy me any one of these please thanks!

The Top 10 Albums Of The 60s
The Top 10 Albums Of The 70s
The Top 10 Albums Of The 80s
The Top 10 Albums Of The 90s
The Top 10 Albums Of The 00s
The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (even if a bit outdated)
Worst to Best: David Bowie
Worst to Best: Sonic Youth
Worst to Best: Nick Cave
As well as a Top 50 from every year this decade: 2010, 2011 (short stories ugh), 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016.

My Favourite Albums That I've Never Reviewed (Part 1): 10. Jethro Tull - Aqualung

10. Jethro Tull - Aqualung (1971)

Progressive Rock

The biggest debate between fans and the band, was whether or not Aqualung could be considered a concept album. Scholars argued that the folky effort attacked organised religion as a whole, attempting to make a distinction between the doctrine of the Church and God himself. Jethro Tull, on the other hand, said this was rubbish and it all meant nothing. Regardless, it is us, the buyers, who deserve to label Aqualung whatever we like, because it was we who lifted this record as the group’s crowning achievement, forever unchallenged as their most famous thing, still to this very day. The old school hard rock solos and medieval type of whimsical fantasy flavour coupled with the sprightly trademark flute meanderings (the main aspect you will always remember this sound by) was initially ignored by critics, and yet now, thanks to us, this release is universally agreed upon as one bonafide classic from the entire progressive rock genre, and you are so welcome, Jethro. For me personally, however, I think progressive rock is shit, an overrated style ruined by how seriously it takes itself, but I cannot deny that the presence of all good records should trump even the content, and in that regard, Aqualung’s presence has the aura of legends.

Selected Accolades:
Peaked at #4 on the UK Album Chart
Seven million copies reported sold worldwide
#43 on Prog’s list of The 100 Greatest Prog Albums of All Time
#7 on Q’s list of the 40 Cosmic Rock Albums
#22 on The Village Voice’s list of the 1971 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll
#30 Classic Rock’s list of the 100 Greatest Rock Albums of All Time

My Favourite Albums That I've Never Reviewed (Part 1): 09. Nick Drake - Pink Moon

09. Nick Drake - Pink Moon (1972)

Contemporary Folk

After his last two albums flopped miserably, Nick Drake was in a bad way. He was suffering from major depression disorder, refusing to take any medication and smoking far too much weed, all of which crippled the man, rendering him incapable of writing or recording during his darkest bouts of torment. Thankfully, he persevered as best he could, and came out the other side with Pink Moon, an album so painfully soft and bare that it exposed his deteriorating mental state on one immensely intimate stage, considered his greatest work by almost everyone since. The accomplished acoustic guitarwork and hushed vocals move in solitude without any additional glazing, lonely but finding peace within the quiet of being alone, running for only 28 minutes because that’s all the effort he could gather, yet still troubling a sweet yearning inside of me, wishing to sit with the singer, hold him, lie to him that everything was going to be ok, and then ultimately die with him. Because, regrettably, that’s exactly what happened. It took three decades for this album to be recognised as the treasure it deserved to be, but upon initial release, no one cared, and shortly after, Nick committed suicide with an overdose of prescribed antidepressants, stubbing his career out short, and leaving this as his final statement.

Selected Accolades:
#320 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time
#48 on Melody Maker’s list of the All Time Top 100 Albums

My Favourite Albums That I've Never Reviewed (Part 1): 08. Metallica - Metallica Black

08. Metallica - Metallica [The Black Album] (1991)

Heavy Metal

With three members going through a divorce, the continuous mixing and remixing, and a price tag that exceeded £1 million, these turbulent recording sessions produced something nobody could have ever expected: the most important metal album of the 90s, bridging the gap between the heavy punches and slick commercial appeal, featuring nothing but instant classics and absolutely zero filler. Naturally, the purists were appalled by this sedated and uncomplicated delivery, disgusted that the thrash had been sheened out of their precious leaders, but there was very little they could do except watch Metallica as they skillfully dodged every predictable trademark within the style they’d helped to popularise, right to the top of the charts, unperturbed by the fans who’d loudly turned their backs on them, swearing the worst sin the scene could articulate: they sold out!. Such a dirty term was not unwarranted either, as the sly trade of their dedicated fanbase for a much more lucrative one was a very calculated strategy, leading to so much radio attention that a large majority of this record has been severely overplayed, to the point that listening to it now can feel as jaded as an ancient sunburn. But do you remember your first time?? Goddamn. Regardless, even if you don't, you cannot argue that The Black Album is a metal phenomenon of the most royal statures, Metallica suddenly finding themselves as household superstars, wobbling on top of a monstrous podium, and then swiftly falling off shortly afterwards, never to return up there again.

Selected Accolades:
Debuted at #1 in 10 countries and spent four consecutive weeks at the top of the Billboard 200
One of the ten longest Billboard charting discs of all time (363 weeks in total by February 2016)
At sixteen million copies sold in the US alone (the first album in the SoundScan era to do so), it’s one of the best-selling albums ever, worldwide
Won the Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance
#16 on Melody Maker’s list of the Best Albums of 1991
#8 on The Village Voice's annual Pazz & Jop critics poll for Best Album of 1991
#52 on Spin’s list of the 90 Greatest Albums of the 90s
#252 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time

My Favourite Albums That I've Never Reviewed (Part 1): 07. Madonna -Ray of Light

07. Madonna - Ray of Light (1998)

Downtempo Pop

Remember 90s pop? It sucked! The airwaves were infested by boy bands and bubblegum princesses, selling sex and platform sneakers to underage children via easy-stick beats and repetitive lyrics—a practice Madonna herself had helped nourish, granted. But that’s what makes Ray of Light all the more special. Rather than follow the safe path she’d previously sprinkled her sugar upon, Madonna discovered a spiritual atmosphere to escape with, an inner peace which was set free by her fascination with Kabbalah, Hinduism, Buddhism, and the daily practice of Hatha Yoga. She then partook in vocal lessons, hired the right people, and set about birthing a record that combined eastern aromas with ambient technos and trip hoppy drum patterns, bending any cohesive genre without becoming a messy hybrid, forever maintaining an electronica dance pop core, refusing to spoil the lengthy party. And the result was no short of ethereal, her most mature offering still to this day, one rich package which was feathery without daintiness and subtle in its sexiness—clear from all the ‘Madonna sexiness’ we had come to expect, anyway. And it hasn’t dated in the slightest. If someone ever claims to hate Madonna, this is the record you use to prove them wrong. Honestly, it was the main inspiration for this very article.

Selected Accolades:
Won four Grammy Awards from six nominations
Peaked at #1 in 18 countries
The biggest first week sales by a female artist at the time
Sold more than 16 million copies worldwide
#367 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time
#241 on NME’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time
#17 on Q magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Albums Ever
#10 on VH1’s poll of the 100 Best Albums of All Time

My Favourite Albums That I've Never Reviewed (Part 1): 06. Elliott Smith - Either / Or

06. Elliott Smith - Either/Or (1997)

Indie Folk

If there ever was a poster child for tortured artistic depression that managed to hang onto some level of obscure integrity, you don’t get a story as sad and as beautiful as that of Elliott Smith. And while any one of his six studio albums are worthy of developing an obsession over, it’s Either/Or that is often lauded as his masterpiece, as well as the offering which thrust Smith much deeper into the popular spotlight (owed massively in part to these songs playing a predominant role in the film Good Will Hunting). Such praise makes even more sense when you’re dying, as this is the album equivalent of heartbreak, the sound of a beaten drug addict, absent in the introspection of his own self loathing, yet breezed over in such a fragile typical indie fashion that you end up listening to it very cautiously as to not crack it down any further. Ignore the position, as this is probably my overall favourite record on this list, and while his last days are still up for debate, the idea that Elliott ultimately stabbed his own heart to death only makes these words all the more poignant.

Selected Accolades:
#20 in the Pazz & Jop poll of the Best Albums of 1997
#36 on Blender’s list of the 100 Greatest Indie Rock Albums Ever
#59 on Pitchfork Media’s list of the 100 Greatest Albums of the 1990s
#149 on NME’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time

My Favourite Albums That I've Never Reviewed (Part 1): 05. Converge - Jane Doe

05. Converge - Jane Doe (2001)

Math Metalcore

Y’know, sometimes I sit in the morning, just eating my cereal, and I wonder: what would it take to create an absolute landmark of the mathy metalcore genre? And then I remember, Converge did that! Probably accidentally, but still, they totally did it! How they achieved this, however, is a little less obvious, but I have a theory. It goes that they stuck to the proposed definition by charging full fucking force forward (it would be difficult to go any harder, really), armed with the tried-and-tested aggressively technical time structures blasting all over the show, an onslaught which guaranteed satisfaction from even the fussiest veterans of the fashion. But anyone can do that! No, what rather set Jane Doe miles higher, was the emotional depth to its themes, a rare album which focuses on the anger one feels after a breakup, and how these reflections of love abruptly spoil and sharply shatter into tormented screams of passionate hatred towards that one single individual. Such a timeless story, one we we all relate to, and the perfect soundtrack to smash your ex's possessions up with, while permanently scarring the whole genre’s storyline, simply in the right place at the right time. Oh my gosh, I do know those feelings well though. We all do.

Selected Accolades:
#1 on Terrorizer’s list of the Best Albums of 2001
#21 on Kerrang!’s list of the 50 Albums You Need to Hear Before You Die
#10 on Loudwire’s list of the Top 11 Metal Albums of the 2000s
#1 on Decibel’s list of the Top 100 Greatest Metal Albums of the Decade
#15 on Rock Sound’s list of the 101 Modern Classics: The Final Instalment!
#5 on LA Weekly’s list of the Top 20 Hardcore Albums in History
#5 on MetalSucks’ list of the Best Metal Albums of the 21st Century... So Far
#1 on Noisecreep’s list of the Best Albums of the 2000s
#1 on Sputnikmusic’s list of the Top 100 Albums of the Decade

My Favourite Albums That I've Never Reviewed (Part 1): 04. Curtis Mayfield - Superfly

04. Curtis Mayfield - Superfly (1972)

Chicago Soul Funk

Initially conceived as a soundtrack to the 1972 blaxploitation crime drama film Super Fly, Curtis Mayfield’s third studio album has since outgrown its movie counterpart substantially, not only in terms of reputation, but also unbelievably in terms of financial gross, functioning as probably the only reason someone would even watch the film in the first place anymore. Personally, I’ve never seen said movie, but the depth of funky soul on offer within the music itself is so vivid that I definitely saw something back there. The songs tell stories about drugs and poverty in the smoothest of suave and the sexiest of badass tones that I’ve got my own visual interpretation going on, and from what I’ve read, my version is better. Needless to say, the album was an immediate hit, tearing open the access point to the whole genre and authorising even the most soulless of homeboys easy entry, free funk for all. I mean, it was such a defining 70s record with so much mass appeal that you’ll probably feel like you’ve heard these tunes before, even if you haven’t, because it’s pretty much agreed upon as the most important and influential funk album ever made. And everything was different afterwards.

Selected Accolades:
#69 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time
#63 on VH1’s list of the Greatest Albums of All Time

My Favourite Albums That I've Never Reviewed (Part 1): 03. Lou Reed - Transformer

03. Lou Reed - Transformer (1972)

Glam Pop Rock

It isn’t really fair to do this, but fukkit: Transformer could very well be a Bowie record—and one of his better records at that. David's fingers behind the production desk shine through so strongly that one could almost confuse these compositions as the Starman’s own children, if only it wasn’t for Lou Reed's subpar (but perfectly suited) vocal delivery and much more daring themes suggested here. The homosexuality, the drug (ab)use, and the bitter humour were far more outright when you handed Lou the mic, apathetically imperfect and unafraid of danger, gueing together the man’s most purposefully accessible work, as well as some of the most memorable and relevant songs written in the whole of the 70s. As a result, Lou went from that freaky Velvet Underground cult hero to a proper superstar, finally catching up to the ranks of his friends, and that’s actually what makes this album so intensely special. It’s imagining the scene at the time: Reed and Bowie and Iggy and Nico and Warhol all taking drugs together and talking about art as if they were in the middle of something so important and significant—because they were. And I wanna be there. More than here. More than anywhere else in the world.

Selected Accolades:
#194 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time
#55 on NME’s list of the Greatest Albums of All Time
#44 on HMV/Channel 4/The Guardian/Classic FM’s poll of the Music of the Millennium

My Favourite Albums That I've Never Reviewed (Part 1): 02. Patti Smith - Horses

02. Patti Smith - Horses (1975)

Art Punk

Somewhat embarrassed by this, but it admittedly took me a few years to properly understand the power of Horses. The vocals were a bit too coarse for my virgin ears, not appreciating that Patti knew exactly how to work with everything she had. Her lyrics appeared too proudly overly-poetic to me, misunderstanding that she was a preacher, not trying to be clever but taking a stand, never in anger, but in a liberated defiance that answered to no one. Even the music seemed too cluttered yet uncomplicated back then, as I somehow missed the live quality behind it, as if Patti was inventing art punk in my own bedroom. Thankfully, I had enough insight to persevere based on its reputation alone, and one day BANG its importance gushed in, and never stopped gushing in, each listen exhibiting something new and perpetually growing all over me like a talking moss. Needless to say, I understand now. It’s a genuine legendary classic. A punk game changer which predates the Ramones, Sex Pistols and The Clash’s debuts. And it's potentially the single greatest influence on female fronted rock bands in history. So please don’t tell anyone I didn’t get it at first, I’d be so ashamed.

Selected Accolades:
Peaking at #47 on the Billboard 200 despite very little airplay
#3 in NME’s list of the Best Albums of 1975
#2 in Pazz & Jop's poll of the Best Albums of 1975
#10 in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 100 Best Debut Albums of All Time
#44 in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time
Preserved by the Library of Congress into the National Recording Registry in 2009
Both REM’s Michael Stipe and Courtney Love stated that this album was the reason they became musicians

My Favourite Albums That I've Never Reviewed (Part 1): 01. Wu-Tang Clan - Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)

01. Wu-Tang Clan - Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) (1993)

East Coast Hardcore Hip Hop

Nobody likes the Wu-Tang Clan more than the Wu-Tang Clan, and I can’t say I really blame them. The trick was that they came across like a gang made up from individuals who balanced each other out, independent personalities with their own identifiable deliveries, but lifting one another up by meeting dangerous freestyle chemistries in the middle of their geeky obsessions. And 36 Chambers was the almighty seed, the basic source which grew into the Wu-Trunk, sprouting off countless solo album branches, each infested with bees, yet none holding a sword to this debut. The dirty piano loops and trademark kung fu samples were loosely tied together with all the humourous gangster interludes and violent druggy themes we now expect from the genre, but never doing so excessively, just an arrogant mess, purely urban and abandoned with slop around the edges. And even they had no idea what they’d done. They had created a phenomenon, a main contender for the most timelessly influential hip hop record ever made, scribbling all over history and leading the way for some of the biggest names in the game today. Rappers are still desperately trying to make albums like this but they just can’t do it, you know.

Selected Accolades:
Peaking at #41 on the US Billboard 200 chart
Sold over 2 million copies in the United States
#36 on Pitchfork Media’s list of the Top 100 Favorite Records of the 1990s
#29 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 Best Albums of the 90s
#82 on NME’s list of the Top 100 Albums of All Time

Read This Next Maybe

The Top 10 Albums Of The 60s
The Top 10 Albums Of The 60s

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Worst to Best: Quentin Tarantino

Worst to Best: Quentin Tarantino

Tarantino has always felt like the most tasteless of all directors to label as your favourite. It seemed like the moment he simultaneously fell upon everyone’s radar in my high school at the exact same time, there was not a youth with enough education to dare call anyone better, and still to this day, he seems like the laziest go-to choice for the casual movie viewers' title of 'greatest director in the world'. I lose respect for anyone who says this, even in our old age.

However, I must stay true to my tastebuds, and sheepishly surrender that, yes, indeed, Mr Tarantino may very well be the greatest director to appear in the scene in the last two decades. And I know why this is. It’s because he cheats! Everything Tarantino has ever done was shamelessly stolen without even trying to hide it, his entire filmography working like a mashed amalgamation of pop culture goodness, rebranded as his own with the original label still visible beneath; a copy cat without any reservations, essentially flexing his film knowledge out in the sun, like a rapid succession of pretentious winks for anyone else who had been paying as close attention as he has—which isn’t anyone. And it is exactly this theft that makes him so captivating. It’s his absolute adoration for the film medium itself, a love which runs deeper and more obvious than any other director that could possibly come to mind, no matter how far back you look. His very glee inside of the artform glows with each and every piece he’s presented us with, which may just be the most exciting and beautiful movie thing I’ve ever witnessed.

Ok, so now that I’ve exposed his exclusive technique of plagiarising for his own gain, let’s step back and admit that this is not a completely fair assessment in the bigger picture. All forgery aside, the true magic of Tarantino’s massacre is that he has got to be the most fearless director the mainstream has ever accepted into their circle of trust. He runs knives-first into the most needless depths of violence whilst shouting the n-word like it was an offhand conjunction; such a loud display that even he can’t hear the queues of offended people left behind, begging him to stop. How he’s managed to maintain this level of momentum without the masses boycotting his career is no secret: it is achieved by haphazardly balancing the most politically incorrect of scenes with the fairest portrayal of those who need a fair portrayal. Yes, he’ll write about a black man getting torn apart by dogs for racial motives all the while being called a 'nigger' by everyone in proximity. Yes, we’ll see various examples of a woman getting the blood beaten out of her eyeballs by multiple fists from larger men. But no one can deny that his lead characters are proud representatives of the people he appears to unjustly discriminate against on the surface level, and whether of an African descent or of the female genetics, these are often the heroes of his stories without shying away from treating them like shit and tackling these historic issues without any dread of a backlash, regardless of what Spike Lee may tell you. And that takes balls. Big fat hairy balls, that's what Quentin's got.

But none of this would matter in the context of the medium if he didn't make damn good movies. And he makes damn good movies. They are thorough, with their peculiar storylines delivered in a snazzy punchy style, with a careful focus on the backing soundtrack and loads of close-ups of feet, whilst refusing to shed the ambience of humour no matter how dire the circumstance. Oh, and his dialogue? It’s better than anybody’s, truly. All of which conspires together to make any attempt at a 'Worst to Best' list of Tarantino's work so insulting (albeit a rather easy and predictable effort to order) because, no matter whether discussing his greatest work or his most disappointing, every single one of his films reek of genius. All of them, it’s always genius. And I’ve seen each of them, many, many times.

So let’s get to it then, but before we do, please note that this list only considered full-length works which the man has written and directed himself. This means I did not even look at such films as My Best Friend's Birthday (it’s a short), Four Rooms (he was only responsible for one of four segments), Sin City (guest director), True Romance, Natural Born Killers, From Dusk till Dawn (he wrote those, but did not direct them) etc etc. If that’s ok, light me up a Red Apple, and let’s get rambling. Or even if this is not ok, Jesus Christ, Joe, fucking forget about it. It's beneath me. I'm Mr Pink. Let's move on.

Worst to Best: Quentin Tarantino: 09. Grindhouse: Death Proof

09. Grindhouse: Death Proof (2007)

Watch the Trailer
“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.”

Death Proof may be everyone's local ‘worst Tarantino ever made omg’, but whatever this flick lacks in execution, it weighs out with the man's inescapable love of film, more or less. Teaming up with Robert Rodriguez, the idea was to recreate a double grindhouse exploitation feature just like they did in the old days: two films back-to-back, one being Rodriguez’s waaay over the top Planet Terror, and the other, this: a tale of a stuntman who uses his death proof car to murder young ladies by crashing into shit, which is just lovely. Inspired by slasher films and muscle car movies from the 70s, the low-budget damaged tape vibe was stylistically impressive, but not even close to as impressive as the energetic high speed motor chases which employed absolutely no CGI whatsoever, meaning that (the Kill Bill stuntwoman) Zoë Bell's first on-screen role was an incredibly dangerous one, and verifying that even at his lowest, Quentin still knew no half measures. That said, all the overloaded fun value in the world could not escape the reality that this was pure junk food, a mindless formula consisting of fast cars, hot girls, and violent action thrown together to support one relatively flimsy plot, wholly lacking the depth that convinced Tarantino's followers to give up their pocket money in the first place. Fans of the genre may love it, but even the biggest fans of the director (me!) will more than likely be left with a craving. It's still awesome though!

Recurring contributors: Michael Bacall; Zoë Bell; Omar Doom; Helen Kim; Jonathan Loughran; James Parks; Michael Parks; Tina Rodriguez; Eli Roth; Kurt Russell

Worst to Best: Quentin Tarantino: 08. Jackie Brown

08. Jackie Brown (1997)

Watch the Trailer
“Jackie Brown is better the second time. And I think it’s even better the third. And the fourth time… maybe even the first time we see it we go, ‘Why are we doing all this hanging out? Why can’t we get to more of the plot?’ But now the second time you see it, and the third time you see it, you’re not thinking about the plot anymore. You’re waiting for the hangout scenes”

A crime thriller homage to 1970’s blaxploitation films, Jackie Brown was adapted from Elmore Leonard's 1992 novel Rum Punch, meaning this was the only film Tarantino has adapted from a previous work, which could be where the problem started. Telling the story of (you guessed it) Jackie Brown, here we have a middle aged air hostess who finds herself in the middle of a large money smuggling conflict, performed elegantly by 1970’s action film heroin Pam Grier, whose Golden Globe nominated role reportedly revitalised her career—a fact which does not surprise me whatsoever. But while Grier may have been the glue between the already impressively well chosen cast, general consensus is that this Tarantino contribution was lacking a certain something. Perhaps it was that, as his third film, the relaxed pacing, lengthy running time, and moderate storyline couldn’t compete with his previous two masterpieces' flashy fashion and rabid violence; a simpler submission far too grown-up for his standard bloodthirsty fans, who struggled to murder their neighbours to its down-to-earth narrative and lack of any comic book teenage appeal. But what you need to know before passing judgement is that these factors were all very calculated and intentional, which places Brown as still one fully commendable project, criminally underrated even as one of his worst, and requiring multiple views to fully appreciate, no matter what this low position tells you. Don't listen to me.

Recurring contributors: Michael Bowen; Sid Haig; Samuel L. Jackson; Venessia Valentino

Worst to Best: Quentin Tarantino: 07. Kill Bill: Volume 1

07. Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003)

Watch the Trailer
"Let's pretend we're little kids and we're making a Super 8 movie in our back yard, and you don't have all this shit. How would you achieve this effect? Ingenuity is important here!"

The fact that Uma Thurman helped Quentin Tarantino conceive the martial arts film Kill Bill during Pulp Fiction’s production becomes acutely obvious very quickly, as this film is undeniably The Uma Show. Her character, a nameless bride, wakes up to find her unborn baby is gone, and she seeks vengeance on the team of assassins she was once a part of. And you better believe she does just that, with so much bloody cartoon violence and such an immensely excessive death toll left in her footsteps, that there was no real need for any backstory here in the first place. Rather, this silly bit of cinema hyperspeeds along the surface, supported solely by flaunting fight scenes and sharp eye-candy, featuring characters void of any depth, who cling onto so many cultural nods that Quentin’s love for film is worn more proudly on his semen-encrusted director’s cap here, than probably anywhere else. However, any soul or intelligence deficiencies are expertly distracted by its overpowering entertainment value, swords swinging and guts spraying so abundantly that you can almost hear Tarantino laughing joyfully behind the camera, like the sick sadistic fuck we know he is. Granted, this film may only be half of the whole story, but once it reaches the credits, it doesn't feel like an incomplete piece of work whatsoever, and while it wasn’t every fan’s favourite cup of revenge, $180 million box office (his highest up to that point) doesn't lie really.

Recurring contributors: Zoë Bell; Michael Bowen; Laura Cayouette; Julie Dreyfus; Sid Haig; Samuel L. Jackson; Helen Kim; Jonathan Loughran; Michael Madsen; James Parks; Michael Parks; Stevo Polyi; Shana Stein; Bo Svenson; Uma Thurman; Venessia Valentino

Worst to Best: Quentin Tarantino: 06. Kill Bill: Volume 2

06. Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004)

Watch the Trailer
"What if a kid goes to school after seeing Kill Bill and starts slicing up other kids? You know, I'll take that chance!"

The Bride may have continued on her sweet little vengeful mission here, but the two Kill Bill parts were almost incomparable. Gone was the gore and the rushed action of the original, now replaced by personal developments, lengthy dialogue, and a carefully relaxed pacing which lay down with a significantly decreased body count (92 less, to be exact). Such an encouragement of heart over heart attacks was not as immediately appealing as the previous slaughter commotion, and initial fans struggled to stomach the anticlimax, failing to appreciate how the additional substance justified the first part’s absurd assault, ultimately leaving the second volume as the far more important of the two. It gave the first bloody mess a purpose and a better context, which I guess is what happens when you split one film in half, but whatever, that doesn't matter. What does matter, however, is that many used the Kill Bill chapters as landmark examples of where Tarantino was supposedly spiralling, the public doubting whether he had any good films left in him whatsoever. Thankfully, hindsight has proved them all deadly wrong. Instead, time has passed and other great (great!) films were produced, and now we can all appreciate this affair as yet another fantastic and worthy Tarantino work, because he always had the talent to make any movie he wanted. He just wanted to make these movies.

Recurring contributors: Zoë Bell; Michael Bowen; Laura Cayouette; Julie Dreyfus; Sid Haig; Samuel L. Jackson; Helen Kim; Jonathan Loughran; Michael Madsen; James Parks; Michael Parks; Stevo Polyi; Shana Stein; Bo Svenson; Uma Thurman; Venessia Valentino

Worst to Best: Quentin Tarantino: 05. The Hateful Eight

05. The Hateful Eight (2015)

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“Twice per season, those shows [Bonanza, The Virginian and The High Chaparral] would have an episode where a bunch of outlaws would take the lead characters hostage [...] I don't like that storyline in a modern context, but I love it in a Western, where you would pass halfway through the show to find out if they were good or bad guys, and they all had a past that was revealed. I thought, 'What if I did a movie starring nothing but those characters? No heroes, no Michael Landons. Just a bunch of nefarious guys in a room, all telling backstories that may or may not be true. Trap those guys together in a room with a blizzard outside, give them guns, and see what happens.”

Of all the entries from the Tarantino cannon, The Hateful Eight had unquestionably the most turbulent history. Personally, I was somewhat disappointed that this mystery film was yet another Western, initially envisioned as a Django Unchained sequel, indicating that our special Quentin had found his passion and it didn’t coincide with mine. Even more damaging, was when the script leaked almost two years before the release date, enraging the man so passionately that he nearly shelved the whole idea—imagine! It’s a goddamn blessing, then, that neither of these concerns were warranted, as this movie turned out to be the man’s most thought out piece of work since Pulp Fiction, as well as furthering the impressive continuation of his second wind. Telling the backstories of various heinous characters who are trapped in a cabin due to a snowstorm, it reveals its intent at a heavy pacing by using all the signature Tarantino carnage and dialogue you demanded, really forcing the viewer into the claustrophobic room whilst achieving so much stress with so little accessories, communicating like a stage play over any usual film techniques. Which is to summarise, that there wasn’t all that much to work with here, and in that way, demonstrated that Tarantino was still challenging himself above challenging any of us, which is invaluable. And then... there’s Jennifer Jason Leigh. My God.

Recurring contributors: Zoë Bell; Bruce Dern; Walton Goggins; Dana Gourrier; Lee Horsley; Samuel L. Jackson; Keith Jefferson; Michael Madsen; Belinda Owino; James Parks; Tim Roth; Kurt Russell; Craig Stark

Worst to Best: Quentin Tarantino: 04. Django Unchained

04. Django Unchained (2012)

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"What happened during slavery times is a thousand times worse than [what] I show. So if I were to show it a thousand times worse, to me, that wouldn't be exploitative, that would just be how it is. If you can't take it, you can't take it.”

Surprisingly, for such a latter day film, none came with the same potent controversy as Django Unchained did. Telling the tale of a freed slave attempting to rescue his wife, this extravagant Spaghetti Western tackled the dark side of black history without giving a fuck in the way only Tarantino would dare. It was called an exploitative, politically incorrect, inaccurate and tasteless portrayal of slavery, crudely balancing the revolting shock of the era with a cheesy playfulness, without approaching the harsh topic with caution or to even turn around and apologise for what he has done. However, it was this lack of restraint that made Django Unchained potentially his most entertaining (and funniest!) flick, delivering on everything his past talents had promised (the cartoon violence, the chatty narrative, the rich development, etc) with the most immaculate of immaculate casting to back him up, as long as you ignore the director’s worst cameo yet. Take Jamie Foxx’s main character, for example, as the greatest hero in Quentin’s factory (in my opinion), whilst Leonardo DiCaprio gives a career defining performance, and round it off with Samuel L. Jackson's uniquely treacherous character, a risky individual for an actor who usually just plays himself. That said, none of these outstanding acts managed to out-stand Christoph Waltz, who stole the whole fucking film as his own, which I guess is just what he does. Sadly, these pretty faces may not have been enough to carry such a tiring length to the very end, and most agree that the picture did beg for a small edit, but as a whole, this ride was so fresh and wild that it was here and only here that Tarantino’s genius was solidified as something beyond any reasonable fluke. Because, by this point, he's made far too many treasures for his skills to be anything but God-given. Bang!

Recurring contributors: Michael Bacall; Zoë Bell; Michael Bowen; Laura Cayouette; Bruce Dern; Walton Goggins; Dana Gourrier; Lee Horsley; Samuel L. Jackson; Keith Jefferson; Belinda Owino; James Parks; Michael Parks; Craig Stark; David Steen; Shana Stein; Christoph Waltz

Worst to Best: Quentin Tarantino: 03. Inglourious Basterds

03. Inglourious Basterds (2009)

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"I'm going to find a place that actually resembles, in one way or another, the Spanish locales they had in Spaghetti Westerns – a no man's land. With U.S. soldiers and French peasants and the French resistance and German occupation troops, it was kind of a no man's land. That will really be my Spaghetti Western but with World War II iconography. But the thing is, I won't be period specific about the movie. I'm not just gonna play a lot of Édith Piaf and Andrews Sisters. I can have rap, and I can do whatever I want. It's about filling in the viscera."

When it came to the intentionally misspelled Inglourious Basterds, even Tarantino knew he was onto a winner. The American-German war film (unlike any other war film) took it upon itself to rewrite the past however it saw fit, guaranteed to piss historians right off with its inaccurate tale of vengeful Jews and their violent plans against Nazi leaders—which was just the type of irresponsible idea that Quentin would be very precious about. So much so, that he spent over a decade writing it, a feat that alone verified his adoration for cinema, especially when ‘love of cinema’ was an essential part of the whole plot. And his dedication paid off, as this was the director’s undeniable comeback film, finally a real movie after such a strew of self indulgent wobbles, setting the stage for the greats that followed soon after (even if none of them were quite as good as this). It may have been a silly plot if you stepped back and thought about it, but he never gave you the chance to step back or think, rather cutting into your forehead with a devilishly devious story which did not rely on artiness or excessive violence to express itself, ultimately standing up there with the very best of his best, and a complete masterpiece in my respectful opinion. Hell, Christoph Waltz even won an Oscar for his part, because, goddamn, he made this film what it was, as much as this film made him who he is right now today.

Recurring contributors: Michael Bacall; Zoë Bell; Omar Doom; Julie Dreyfus; Samuel L. Jackson; Harvey Keitel; Tina Rodriguez; Eli Roth; Bo Svenson; Christoph Waltz

Worst to Best: Quentin Tarantino: 02. Reservoir Dogs

02. Reservoir Dogs (1992)

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“Reservoir Dogs is a small film, and part of its charm was that it was a small film. I'd probably make it for $3 million now so I'd have more breathing room.“

I was far too young when I watched Reservoir Dogs for the first time. I can still remember it all too well: little Jared, witnessing the aftermath of a jewellery heist gone wrong, criminals speculating that they had a cop in their crew, stitching together the nonlinear plot with pop culture references and extravagant profanity, the story exclusively herded by the criminal’s individual personalities, entirely dependent on their natural dialogue and quick wit to make this show work, because there wasn’t enough money for anything else. And this fucked me up. The reason for my youthful troubles wasn't so much the grisly violence, as Dogs' bloodshed was quite tame in comparison to the exaggerated disturbances that came later in the man's career, but rather, it was the delivery and consequence of said violence that made everything all that more unnerving. So ruthless. So ugly. So sadistically sick that even horror film pioneer Wes Craven walked out of its initial screening due the savage nastiness, and that’s about as complimentary as you can get. Meanwhile, the rest of us called it a cult classic, the greatest independent film of all time, and even the greatest debut of all time, none of which I can disagree with. Fuck me if I can think of anything more worthy of those crowns, can you?

Recurring contributors: Steve Buscemi; Linda Kaye; Harvey Keitel; Michael Madsen; Stevo Polyi; Tim Roth; David Steen; Rich Turner

Worst to Best: Quentin Tarantino: 01. Pulp Fiction

01. Pulp Fiction (1994)

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"I got the idea of doing something that novelists get a chance to do but filmmakers don't: telling three separate stories, having characters float in and out with different weights depending on the story [... the idea] was basically to take like the oldest chestnuts that you've ever seen when it comes to crime stories—the oldest stories in the book.... You know, 'Vincent Vega and Marsellus Wallace's Wife'—the oldest story about ‘the guy's gotta go out with the big man's wife and don't touch her.’ You know, you've seen the story a zillion times [...] I'm using old forms of storytelling and then purposely having them run awry [...] Part of the trick is to take these movie characters, these genre characters and these genre situations and actually apply them to some of real life's rules and see how they unravel."

Ok, so here we go. With several disjointed violent crime tales interconnecting everything all out of order, Pulp Fiction is at least four films rather than one. It was reportedly 'too demented' for Columbia TriStar, and instead became the first fully-funded film Miramax ever put out. It demanded the attention and concentration of multiple viewings to fully appreciate the dark wit and sharp sleaziness of this director, one who had gained full confidence without losing his B-movie edge inside of an overindulgent-prostate, like pretty much everything else that came out of him afterwards. You can actually watch this movie as many times as you like, I’ve seen it a million times and want to watch it right now. Its pop culture references and countless homages were twisted so far from their original mothers that they became unrecognisable, whilst every (every!) scene from the film became easily parodied cinema classics themselves. It single-handedly revitalised Travolta’s career. It was the first 'indie' film to surpass $100 million. It was nominated for seven Oscars. It was an influential masterpiece, essentially a phenomenon, and the best film Tarantino ever made. One of the best films ever made? Perhaps the best film ever made.

Recurring contributors: Steve Buscemi; Samuel L. Jackson; Linda Kaye; Harvey Keitel; Tim Roth; Uma Thurman; Rich Turner; Venessia Valentino

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