Review by Sean Boelman
QT8: The First Eight, directed by Tara Wood (21 Years: Richard Linklater), is a new documentary exploring the career of the fan-favorite filmmaker Quentin Tarantino. Though the film doesn’t offer much particularly new insight, Wood’s admiration of Tarantino is obvious, making this a solid movie by a fan for fans of the subject.
In the film, Wood examines Tarantino’s life and career from his beginnings as a humble video store clerk to his status as one of the most iconic filmmakers working in Hollywood. As the title suggests, the film only details the first eight films in Tarantino’s filmography, with only fleeting references to this year’s Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood.
Wood tells Tarantino’s story in a way that presents him as the underdog, and for the most part, this is relatively successful. Seeing Tarantino’s rags-to-riches story is ultimately very compelling, and potentially even inspiring, although Wood and many of the interviewees make clear that Tarantino is the exception and not the rule for ambitious movers and shakers within the industry.
Perhaps this film’s biggest strength is that it is thoroughly entertaining. By seamlessly merging together clips from Tarantino’s films with interesting and well-conducted interviews, Wood is able to keep the audience invested in the film even though they have already seen this material before and likely will have already heard many of the stories.
On a technical level, Wood’s film is very strong. In many ways, the film is aesthetically pleasing, the interviews being extremely well-framed and there being a few animated sequences that catch the eye. Also of note is the documentary’s soundtrack, which pulls from some of the iconic soundtracks of Tarantino’s films, giving it a very authentic rhythm.
Of course, with a biographical documentary like this, the point of the film is to praise the subject, and at times, the film does begin to feel like simple adulation at times. Even though Tarantino’s talent is obvious, he was involved in some very public behind-the-scenes drama, and Wood chooses not to explore that. This seems like an interesting source of untapped potential.
Another shortcoming of the film is that Tarantino himself was not interviewed by Wood. This may have been a conscious decision by Wood, but the result is that the film is lacking the personal touch that could have made Tarantino’s story even more resonant. Interviews with actors and crew members who have worked with Tarantino are interesting, but they fail to offer that in-depth insight that is expected from filmmaking documentaries like this.
Though it may not be a particularly deep documentary, QT8: The First Eight is well-crafted and very entertaining. It is unlikely to win any new fans for the filmmakers, but those who already admire his work are sure to love this trip down memory lane.
QT8: The First Eight is now available on VOD.