Let’s get something out of the way before we dive into this article: I love Quentin Tarantino. There’s not much he does that I don’t love. So when he was honored with an homage at the Jerusalem Cinematheque last week, and presented his film Pulp Fiction, I was pretty excited. I was even more excited by the conversation he had with critics about his own career.
There’s a lot to glean from his many comments, starting first and foremost with him once more reaffirming he’s planning to make only 10 movies in his career, which means he only has two left. However, he does make acknowledge he could make another movie at 75, but that one “is never put in the same shelf next to the other 10,” and so it wouldn’t “contaminate” his original 10 films.
It’s worth noting that if he does stick with his 10 film plan, it doesn’t mean we’ll never see him again (perish the thought). He’s mentioned moving to other mediums, like books or theater. In fact, when The Hateful Eight came out, he mentioned in interview after interview that he’d love to adapt it to the stage with a new cast.
I’ll read anything Tarantino writes, or anything he directs, but it will be a hard pill to swallow if there really aren’t any Tarantino films to look forward to after the next two.
Speaking of The Hateful Eight, he also addressed his decision to shoot the film in 70mm, which many people criticized given most of it takes place inside:
“For a whole lot of people on the Internet and on podcasts who say, ‘Why do you shoot it in 70mm? It takes place indoors most of the time,’ I say that it’s a very shallow view of what you can do with 70mm. It’s not just about shooting the Arabian desert. It’s not about just shooting 10,000 steers in a Western or shooting mountaintops, although I did do my fair share of shooting mountaintops. But 70mm is maybe the best format for shooting close-ups, and the close-ups for that movie were very important and the way it shows actors’ faces is amazing. Sam Jackson never looked as evocative as he did in those close-ups, Sergio Leone-style. But then also, I thought it was important because I think it put you in the place. You are in it with them.”
I saw the film twice in 70mm and loved it. (See? I told you, I’m a little biased.) The film is gorgeous, and other than all the reasons Tarantino gives here, it’s also worth pointing out that the film, as a murder mystery, requires an attention to detail that 70mm really lends itself to.
He’s really an actor’s director, as he talks about when discussing his relationship with his performers:
“When it comes to getting the best out of them in any given scene or performance, I’m at their disposal. Because it’s not about getting my way, it’s about making them comfortable and getting the best out of them. I’m just very sensitive to them, we have a lot of private talks and, when I have to direct, I’m not just sitting in video village, which is usually in another room, watching a f—ing television. As they’re acting, I’m sitting right next to the camera. There’s no monitors on my set; I’m sitting right by the camera. And I’m looking right at them. And when it’s done, they look at me…’What do I think?’ When I have direction, I walk over to them and I talk about it. I don’t scream at them from across the set. Or scream from another room, ‘Do this… do that!’ I’m talking directly to them and, boom, we go in and do it. It’s very intimate.”
However, there are some people he loves more than his actors: his characters, as well as the dialogue he gives them. He says the one rule on his set that performers must know his dialogue backwards and forwards, because: “I like my actors, but I love my characters, and it’s the actors’ job to say my lines.”
So which of his characters is his favorite? Well, he told the critics in Jerusalem. It’s Christoph Waltz’s Colonel Hans Landa from Inglourious Basterds. This definitely delighted me especially, because that was the first Tarantino film I ever saw in theaters, and the film to really change and inspire my relationship with cinema. Something clicked in me after I saw that film, and it was undoubtedly Waltz’s performance that stuck with me the longest. Tarantino goes on to talk about Landa being a linguistic genius and that “he’s probably one of the only Nazis in cinema history who could speak Yiddish perfectly.”
But where would Landa be without Christoph Waltz? Probably on a floor, discarded somewhere, because that’s what Tarantino was about to do with the film if they couldn’t find the perfect Landa. Tarantino describes the moment Waltz auditioned: “We were ecstatic when he finished. We were just vomiting all over him: ‘Oh my God, you were amazing, you were fantastic. Oh my God, thank you, thank you, thank you.’”
What can I say? Thank goodness for Christoph Waltz, or else my journey with cinema could have turned out very differently.
You can read the full interview at Variety and it really is worth the full look, because the man is chock-full of great quips, insights, and stories.
Tarantino is repped by WME.
Anya Crittenton | Associate Editor