If you are an avid movie lover, Quentin Tarantino appears on the screen as a familiar name. When you go to a Tarantino movie, you expect witty dialogue, graphic satirical violence and tons of pop culture references. Most people go to Tarantino movies looking forward to these things. I certainly do. However, each time I walk into a Tarantino movie, I also absolutely dread the inevitable scene where Tarantino blatantly tells the audience that he has a foot fetish. Why Tarantino feels the need to make it clear in every movie that women’s feet turn him on is unclear. No other director seems to insert their fetishes into their work and if they do they clearly do it in a way that the general movie-going audience can’t catch on to. And then we have Quentin.
Tarantino has risen over the past decade to stand alone as a director. If you were to watch a Tarantino movie without prior knowledge of who directed it, you would likely be able to tell within the first ten minutes that Quentin was behind the camera. No other current director in Hollywood has such a unique take on the medium of film to stand out in such a way.
Furthering the Tarantino brand is his long career span. In nearly thirty years he has produced multiple movies that have gone on to be recognized as classics. His debut Reservoir Dogs was the most talked-about film of the Sundance Film Festival when it premiered in 1992. Despite a meager box office opening, the work has since come to be seen as a turning point for independent filmmaking. Two years later he won the prestigious Palm D’or at the Cannes Film Festival for Pulp Fiction. Both of these films have become staples of pop culture with references being made to them even by those who likely have no idea they are alluding to these films. Tarantino’s seven other films have each become events in-themselves. Lines stretched around the block this summer for the release of his ninth film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood at my hometown theater. The New York Times wrote nearly a dozen articles about the film in the weeks that followed its release. Even massive blockbusters such as The Avengers series did not captivate both critics and moviegoers to such an extent.
Tarantino captivates his audiences with every single film and is clearly one of the most important filmmakers of our generation. I am a massive Quentin Tarantino fan; I have been since seeing Reservoir Dogs for the first time when I was fourteen. However, as much as I love Tarantino, the on-screen foot fetish scenes have always been weird to me. It doesn’t play a central part in any of his films yet it’s always there. The near full minute that Pulp Fiction spends on Uma Thurman’s feet, the fact that the same movie spends five minutes talking about foot massages, the just tad-to-long shot of Margot Robbie’s feet as she sleeps in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood or the way that Salma Hayek dances her feet into Quentin Tarantino’s mouth in the Tarantino-penned From Dusk till Dawn. All of these are gratuitous in the most obvious ways and can take you out of the movie.
Despite the knowledge that I will see a ton of feet on screen, I am never dissuaded from watching or rewatching a Tarantino movie. There is a genius to Tarantino’s work. Although his movies are filled with violence, he always manages to show it in a satirical way that never grosses you out. The witty dialogue has worked its way into mainstream culture (“You know what they call a quarter-pounder in Amsterdam?”) along with the characters that are absolute enigmas such as Jules Vernon, King Schultz and Oswaldo Mobray. All of these aspects make Tarantino movies incredible pieces of art. The ugliness of his foot fetish and his need to announce it to the world is part of that art and everyone should embrace its weirdness. Feet are an essential part of Tarantino’s cinematic vision and if you ignore the fact that he purposely includes them in each of his films, then you are losing an aspect of his cinematic work; an aspect that makes Tarantino, Tarantino.