14. Max Meets Jackie (Jackie Brown, 1997)
Tarantino films are not known for their sweet, romantic moments, but this is one of them. Bail bondsman Max Cherry (Robert Forster) has been around the block more times than he cares to remember, and he knows the game. He goes to pick up a prisoner released on bail, thinking it is just another routine day on the job.
However, once he lays eyes on the beautiful Jackie Brown (Pam Grier), he is immediately smitten with her. All these unexpected feelings are conveyed through the camera first showing a lone female figure walking and slowly revealing a beautiful woman, as well as Forster’s obvious but not blatant facial expressions, and tune of the old love song “Natural High” by Bloodstone really captures this sudden affection.
13. Shootout in Tavern (Inglourious Basterds, 2009)
Deception is an ongoing theme in Tarantino films, and this scene highlights how this can go very wrong. The British Lieutenant Archie Hicox (Michael Fassbender) dresses as a Nazi soldier in order to rendezvous with the actress Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger) who has critical information about an upcoming movie premiere that high ranking Nazis will be attending.
The following conversation between the Allies and the Nazis is suspenseful and the audience has no idea how the Allies are going to get out of this. After Hicox inadvertently gives away his true identity through a simple hand gesture, a shootout occurs, and the Basterds have to intervene. The tension in this scene is high throughout, and a scene that started out with a group of friends celebrating a newborn baby ended in death, life’s inevitable conclusion.
12. Mia Overdoses (Pulp Fiction, 1994)
After a night out at Jack Rabbit Slim’s, Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) grabs a little bag of heroin out of Vincent’s coat pocket, thinking it is cocaine. She helps herself to his stash, but immediately starts frothing at the mouth and bleeding from her nose. Vincent realises what has happened when he sees her unconscious, so he races to his drug dealer Lance’s (Eric Stoltz) house to revive her.
Both Vincent and Lance are talking at a frantic pace throughout the rest of this scene, scared of having Mia die because of them. Vincent crashes his car into Lance’s house before everyone yells at one another about what to do. It is a fast-paced and memorable scene that ends with Mia getting an adrenaline shot in her heart.
11. Showdown at House of Blue Leaves (Kill Bill: Volume I, 2003)
Concluding the first Kill Bill movie is the gloriously bloody showdown at the Japanese nightclub, the House of Blue Leaves. The Bride is there to kill O-Ren (Lucy Liu), one of the Deadly Vipers who tried to kill her at her wedding.
The nightclub is dressed up in very vivid colours and has a truly Japanese look to it, something that makes this film stand out from other Hollywood action movies. The violence and the Japanese imagery makes this scene like an over-the-top anime. The Bride then goes upstairs to fight O-Ren in a snowy garden, which is very picturesque scenery for their showdown.
10. Jackie Says Goodbye to Max (Jackie Brown, 1997)
After scamming both the police and a dangerous arms dealer, Jackie Brown visits the ever-faithful Max Cherry to say goodbye. Having witnessed the sexual tension between them throughout the film, the camera slowly zooms in on them as their faces get closer and closer before finally kissing, capturing the intimacy of the situation, almost as if the audience is receiving a kiss. Jackie asks Max to come with her, but he declines.
As soon as she drives away, Max immediately regrets his decision, but he knows he does not belong in her world and he knows his place is at the bail bonds office. This scene, like the rest of the film, is about the hardships of getting old and being set in your ways.
9. Shosanna and Landa Have Lunch (Inglourious Basterds, 2009)
Shosanna (Melanie Laurent) has become the apple of a Nazi hero’s eye, and he convinces high-ranking Nazis to have the premiere of the film based on his exploits be held at her cinema. To Shosanna’s terror, Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) joins the group.
The pounding drums that start playing when Landa appears convey the complete sense of dread Shosanna feels after recognising the man who murdered her family. This technique has become common in Tarantino films: starting a scene with a quiet, civilised conversation taking on a whole new meaning when an element of danger suddenly appears.
8. Stephen Informs Candie of Django’s Scheme (Django Unchained, 2012)
House slave Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson) politely asks Candie (Leonardo Di Caprio) to go into the library with him to speak privately. It is then revealed that Stephen is not the simple and frail old man he pretends to be; he is a calculating man, which is a testament to Samuel L. Jackson’s acting ability that has been shown in most of Tarantino’s other films.
Stephen says to Candie about Django (Jamie Foxx) and Schultz’s (Christoph Waltz) scheme, “Them motherfuckers ain’t here to buy no mandingos!” and “They’re playing yo ass” – things a slave would never say to their master. Usually Stephen is standing up when Candie is sitting down at the dinner table, but now they are both sitting down, showing their equality.
This scene shows the true nature of Candie and Stephen’s relationship; they are master and servant in public, but equal partners in private. This scene also adds to the tension of the following scenes as the audience now knows the film’s villains are aware of what is going on.