Quentin Tarantino has enjoyed an illustrious career over the course of which he has produced seminal masterpieces like Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill, among many others. Although he has declared that he will retire after his tenth and final film, Tarantino’s enduring legacy will ensure that his indelible mark on the world of cinema will survive. Not just that, Tarantino will always be remembered as a vocal advocate for independent cinema and neglected masterpieces as well.
The origins of the latter designation developed way before Tarantino became a global icon. In a conversation with Jimmy Fallon, Tarantino revealed that he was a neighbourhood star because people flocked to the video store where he worked to get recommendations from him. A significant part of that appeal was Tarantino’s ability to find out what the customer would enjoy instead of imposing his own preferences on them.
Later on in his career, Tarantino still retained that interest in foreign films and drew a lot of inspiration from them in return. From there, he routinely conducted presentations of his favourite films from around the world – including Korean thrillers, Hong Kong actions flicks and Japanese neo-noir masterpieces, to name a few. This led many Americans and western audiences in general to embrace the unfamiliar beauty of global cinema.
When Jimmy Fallon asked whether there was a “go-to” film that Tarantino would recommend to everyone, the filmmaker quickly denounced the existence of such a film. Claiming that each individual has a different definition for a “go-to” masterpiece, Tarantino insisted that such a movie was completely mythological in nature. However, he finally relented and recommended: “the greatest documentary ever made”.
Titled Hands on a Hardbody, this 1997 documentary by S. R. Bindler is set in Longview, Texas, and documents the true absurdity of modernity and capitalism. It chronicles an annual event where 24 contestants battle it out in a bizarre endurance context where they try to see who can resist sleeping and keep their hands on the body of a pickup truck for the longest period of time.
The filmmaker commented: “I think I realised there was going to be human drama, conflict, comedy, and the whole dramatic element when I saw it the first time. Because you see it, and if you’re a storyteller you go ‘wow,’ this has got a lot of stuff going on. So I sort of hoped that would show up when we went down there, but you just don’t know.”
Adding, “I structured it before I went down there, because I wasn’t confident that we were going to get enough out of the contest, so I was going to do a documentary on Longview and what a beautiful and strange place that town is — and it is beautiful, and it is very strange — and then I was going to do a short doc on trucks in Texas, sort of a study on that phenomenon, and then a documentary on the contest, and intercut these three short documentaries.”