QT8: The First Eight

As any remotely knowledgeable movie buff could guess, the “QT” in QT8: The First Eight refers to Quentin Tarantino. It would be impossible to overestimate the influence he has had on cinema. Every film he's made has been rapturously reviewed by critics and enthusiastically embraced by audiences. Pulp Fiction literally changed the way crime pictures are made, inspiring dozens of other filmmakers in the process (many of whom failed spectacularly trying to mimic his inimitable style). Tarantino's work and impact are examined in this documentary.

Director Tara Wood goes through each film one at a time. Important behind-the-scenes details are revealed: how the first-time filmmaker wrangled a name cast for Reservoir Dogs; how Michael Madsen turned down Pulp Fiction, paving the way for John Travolta's comeback role; Leonardo DiCaprio injuring himself during a take on Django Unchained, leading to one of the film's most powerful moments; facing the risk of rewriting history in Inglourious Basterds, etc.

Many of Tarantino's collaborators appear on-camera to celebrate him, including Samuel L. Jackson, Tim Roth, Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kurt Russell, and Diane Kruger. The interviewees have compelling stories to tell. Stuntwoman/actress Zoe Bell reveals that Tarantino improbably loves the old sitcom Moesha, while actor/director Eli Roth explains how he was intentionally irritated prior to filming his Basterds entrance as the “Bear Jew,” so he'd emerge from a cave looking sufficiently pissed off. Hearing these stories is enormously entertaining for any fan of Tarantino's work.

QT8 doesn't shy away from the controversies that have dogged Tarantino throughout the years. It touches on the frequent use of the N-word in his screenplays, the way Uma Thurman was badly injured on the set of Kill Bill after he pressured her to drive an unsafe stunt car, and his friendship with studio chief/sexual predator Harvey Weinstein. (Tarantino has acknowledged knowing about many of Weinstein's abhorrent behaviors and doing nothing about them.) While it's good that these issues are raised, each is skimmed through quickly, with little in-depth exploration.

That's a slight flaw, and the fact that Thurman, Travolta, and Tarantino himself are nowhere to be found here is odd. Otherwise, QT8: The First Eight is enjoyable for fans of Tarantino. The backstage stories are fun, the interview subjects offer valuable insight into working with him, and Wood does a fine job of showing how certain ideas/themes run throughout his filmography. The movie is a good primer on one of our most important, innovative cinematic storytellers.

Fathom Events will bring QT8: The First Eight to cinemas nationwide on Monday, Oct. 21. To find a theater near you, please visit the official website.

out of four

QT8: The First Eight is unrated, but contains film clips with for bloody violence and strong language. The running time is 1 hour and 40 minutes.