Quentin Tarantino: The Inglourious Basterds Interview

Two decades after the severed ear of Reservoir Dogs, Quentin Tarantino serves up Hitler's head on a plate

Your movies are pretty chaste, too.


Moving right along, I know that, unlike many directors, you read a lot of film criticism.

Kevin Scanlon
Kevin Scanlon


Film criticism is in a strange place. Talk about 17 years later! I could never have imagined that print film reviewing would be dying. It's unfathomable to me. I don't like reading film criticism on a laptop. I like holding it in my hand.

You're a geezer, Quentin.

Exactly. It seems to me from reading a lot of the film criticism that came out of Cannes this year that the few print critics that are left writing are so busy combating these Internet bozos that there's a new formalism, a new self-seriousness among remaining critics, to prove they're professionals. Even some of the younger critics who are still writing in print—well, they're not that young—are coming across like young fogies. There are some good online critics, but then there's these fanboy types: "Ooh, this sucks balls." It's a little bit like '78, '79, '80, where exuberance in filmmaking is not getting its due anymore. For example, The Blues Brothers never got any respect. Now, it truly is beloved, as it goddamn well should be. I mean, it's sad to think of what happened to John Landis after An American Werewolf in London, but in those two movies, he was the first fanboy director making movies out of his head.

I feel very lucky to live the life of an artist in this town, in this industry. I have no intention of ever being a director for hire. I just started guiding myself as things have gone on. One of the huge lessons I learned is that these writer-directors come out, and their films are idiosyncratic—they have a special voice and those first two movies are like that. But it's hard work to go back to a blank page, to start from scratch every single, solitary time and make a great movie every time. There are exceptions. Woody Allen is one of them.

Not necessarily for the better.

I think he's in a renaissance, except for Melinda and Melinda. I loved Anything Else. But it's much easier [for a director] to say, "What scripts are out there?" Either they buy it and rewrite it, or they work with a writer. And they get more movies made. That's all well and good, but cut to 10 years down the pike, and all of a sudden, they don't have that voice anymore. They're sucking dick for the Man. I'm not interested in just doing a job or working with this actor just to work with them. I learned something after I did Jackie Brown—and don't get me wrong, I love Jackie Brown. But when it was all over—even when I was making it—the fact that it was just a little bit once removed made me a little bit disconnected from it. That's why I haven't done another adaptation since then. I want to naturally fall into the next thing that's going to turn me on.

Is there pressure on you to work more often?

No. I mean I don't want another six-year gap like what happened between Jackie Brown and Kill Bill. I make a movie every year and a half, two years. When I finish, I take six months of doing nothing, and that's great. But you can live life while you're writing. It's a fun life, actually, 'cause I'm working and committed and passionate, but I go out and see friends. When I'm making a movie, the world goes away and I'm on Mt. Everest. Obama is President? Who cares? I'm making my movie.

Is it hard to maintain friendships when you work this way?

They understand. But I'm still a younger guy. I haven't settled down, and these will not necessarily be the friends I have for the next 20 years. I don't have a family. I'm still allowed to run away with the circus. The way I live my life, I like the yin and yang. Even though I quit school when I was in junior high, I'm an academic at heart, and my study is cinema. I've been writing a movie review book over the years, and I'm not in any hurry to finish it. I started writing the book because it wasn't enough that I was just seeing movies—they were being lost to the atmosphere. It's like my whole life I'm studying for a professorship in cinema, and the day I die is the day I graduate.

If we meet again in 17 years' time, will you have settled down?

We'll see. There was a time in the early part of this decade that I kind of had baby fever. And it just didn't work out with a couple of women. And now I don't have baby fever. Not that I don't want a baby, but, like a writer, I want it to be . . . let's set this up a little bit more.

How do you look back on that 1992 Sundance Film Festival where Reservoir Dogs was first screened, and you were part of that group of young Turks?

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