Documentary – QT8: The First Eight

Released on DVD and Blu-ray next month thanks to Signature Entertainment, Steve Taylor-Bryant watched the documentary QT8: The First Eight...

The world is in quite a horrible place at the moment and world events can have an impact on daily lives, but rarely do they have such an impact on my review work as they have today. You see, I now have to do something I have never done before and review QT8: The First Eight, a documentary from Tara Wood (21 Years: Richard Linklater), from two different angles and it's because of the heinous acts allegedly carried out by super producer Harvey Weinstein. You cannot make a film about Quentin Tarantino’s work without talking about Weinstein because of the financial support and industry muscle used by Weinstein, his brother, and their Miramax company. Without them you may not be getting a documentary about Tarantino at all, and this is where the problem lies.

Tara Wood has obviously put a lot of time and effort into crafting her film and, for the most part, which I promise to get to soon, it is very good indeed, but the Weinstein allegations broke after much of Wood’s work had been done. There are small mentions throughout the interviews about how weird and bullying Harvey Weinstein could be, but these were anecdotes told as part of a larger story. However, because the Weinstein issue has come to light relatively recently, Wood has had no choice but to confront it head on and the last part of the film is given over to Harvey, his reported acts, and the cast and crews reactions to the scenario, ably narrated and guided by Michael Madsen but it feels tacked on, because it is. It feels short and lacking in depth because it is, and that isn’t the fault of Wood. Only so much can be handled legally and publicly because there is an ongoing case, the whole horrific Weinstein situation demands a feature length documentary of its own, so twenty odd minutes was never going to do anybody justice, and, because this is a film celebrating Tarantino and not a film containing Tarantino himself, you only can include hearsay and press statements, there is no interview with the filmmaker where he can discuss his relationship with Miramax and whether or not he knew about the atrocious acts. Poor Tara Wood finds herself in an impossible situation and I have started my review with this massive negative. That said, this film deserves an audience, Tara Wood’s work deserves an audience, and I think you should watch QT8 knowing that the tacked on bit at the end is the best that could be done in the situation, applaud the filmmaker for trying her best, and remember that the rest of the film is a stonking good journey through modern cinema history.

Horrid bit over, let's now concentrate on what QT8: The First Eight actually is, which is a celebration of Quentin Tarantino the filmmaker and his first eight films. With nice coverage and reference to the scripts he wrote that were made by other filmmakers, if you are a Tarantino fan then there is a heck of a lot to like in this film. From Reservoir Dogs, and the fact Tarantino financed it with his residual payments from appearing on The Golden Girls as an Elvis Presley impersonator (and yes that scene is included) to the cast having to supply their own wardrobe which led to iconic moments, through all things Pulp Fiction, to some great coverage of the underrated gem that is Jackie Brown, to some astonishing behind the scenes clips and stories of Kill Bill vol 1 & 2, to one of my favourite Tarantino films Death Proof (more on this in a minute), to casting choices for Inglorious Basterds and a great interview with Eli Roth about the baseball bat scene, to the race sensitive stories in Django Unchained and to the epic western inspired The Hateful Eight, you are covered with all the information you need. There's some great input from the likes of Lucy Lui, Tim Roth, Jamie Foxx, Samuel L. Jackson and Christoph Waltz and, no matter what movie of Tarantino’s is your personal favourite from those extraordinary first eight, you will find something to delight in.

It’s the coverage of Death Proof that I liked the most though. Normally when you have coverage or a conversation about Quentin Tarantino it is only really six of the first eight that get mentioned. Jackie Brown and Death Proof very often drop from the conversation and I get it, they aren’t typical Tarantino films if there is such a thing. Maybe the timings of each didn’t resonate with an audience, or maybe it was casting, but I can understand why perhaps these two films don’t get the recognition I personally think they deserve, so to get a great big portion of time devoted to Death Proof, and especially to get so much fantastic insight from one of my heroes, stunt performer and actor extraordinaire Zoe Bell, was worth whatever admission price I would have been charged to watch this film. I am in awe of stunt workers anyway but Zoe Bell was at the forefront of getting female stunt performers recognised and she is such a talent so to get her insights and memories whilst watching her perform whilst strapped the front of a car going 90 miles an hour was quite a thrill for me.

There is much to admire in QT8: The First Eight, there is something for everyone and, in any other era it would be a five-star triumph, the Harvey Weinstein affair (and a massively noticeable absence of Uma Thurman) do, however, hang heavy. If we can all agree that Weinstein is allegedly a terrible person who deserves what’s coming to him, and not let that ruin your viewing experience, then QT8 is a must watch.

Follow Steve on Twitter @STBwrites

Image - Signature Entertainment

Signature Entertainment presents QT8 in Cinemas, on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital HD from 13th December, 2019

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