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Quentin Tarantino: “It’s a corrupted cinema”

October 28, 2013

Mr. Tarantino, judging from your movies I have to ask: are you obsessed with women’s feet?

I’m not shying away from that. If you think about the directors that have been accused of being foot-crazy, it would have been Alfred Hitchcock, it would have been Buñuel, Samuel Fuller – it’s pretty good company. And it suggests they were pretty good filmmakers because they knew where to put their camera. But I think legs and ass get pretty much equal time in my movies.

As does violence.

I’m just telling my stories and doing my thing. I like dealing inside of genres and getting inside of subgenres. The genres that I have been dealing with have sensationalistic, violent material – be it crime movies, Kung fu movies, samurai movies, slasher movies, car chase movies – so they naturally lend themselves to it. When it comes to thrilling cinema those genres lend themselves to heart-stopping, violent cinema. I like that. But in the case of Jackie Brown, it’s not violent, it’s all about character.

What is your recipe for writing such vivid characters?

This is not in any way a facetious answer to this, but: I am a writer. That’s what I do. It’s a writer’s job not just to write about himself but to look at the rest of humanity and explore it – other people’s way of talking, the phrases they use. And my head is a sponge. I listen to what everyone says, I watch little idiosyncratic behavior, people tell me a joke and I remember it. People tell me an interesting story in their life and I remember it.

And if you don’t remember it?

Then it was probably not worth remembering. The thing is, it’s in there – whether it’s six months or fifteen years later, when I go and write my new characters, my pen is like an antenna, it gets that information, and all of a sudden these characters come out more or less fully-formed. I don’t write their dialogue, I get them talking to each other.

Going back to violence, what are you personally afraid of?

My number one fear hands down – it’s probably the only super-fear that I have, one of those irrational things – I am afraid of rats.

Really?

It’s the only thing I would call debilitating. If a rat were on this table, I would be in some girl’s lap. I would probably be standing on her shoulders and screaming like a bitch.

Do you ever have nightmares?

I haven’t had nightmares in a long, long time. When you’re a little kid and you have a nightmare, you go and climb into your parents’ bed, but my mother was strict with me. After at a certain age they sent me back to my own bed and I realized I didn’t have the luxury to have nightmares anymore because I couldn’t go running to mommy. So I stopped having them after that for the most part.

Do you want to have children of your own one day or would they only take away from your energy for filmmaking?

We will see what happens, but I don’t intend to make movies forever. I want to stop around 60.

Are you sure about that?

No, but that’s kind of the plan. I don’t want to be an old-man filmmaker, making old-man movies who doesn’t know when to leave the party. And I don’t want to fuck up my filmography with a bunch of old-man stuff. I could change my mind. If I want to make a movie and I can at 62, I will. But I want to leave the ring triumphant. I want this guy, this guy you see right now, I want him to be the guy who makes the movies, not the autumn dude. At that time I’d rather just write and be a man of letters. Write cinema books, write novels, have children.

How many movies would you estimate you’ve seen in your life?

I have no clue, I couldn’t venture to guess. But from 17 to 22 I used to make a list of every movie I saw in a given year in the theaters, including revival theaters. If it was a new release I circled the number. And I would pick my favorite movies and give out my little awards. It was always the same amount back then, it was 197 or 202. And that’s when I was broke and I was paying for these movies myself. Back at my most voracious moviegoing, 200 was the average.

I think it is safe to say that the number is high. What are your 3 favorites?

You ask me today, in this specific situation, I’ll tell you three. You ask me tomorrow, or six hours from now, and it will be different.

So what are they right now?

I would say Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein because I saw that when I was a little boy and it was my favorite movie at that time. Part of the reason was the combination of genres – The Abbott and Costello stuff is pretty funny and when Frankenstein’s monster shows up it’s pretty scary. I didn’t know I was making genre distinctions when I was five, but I was. But that’s what’s I have been doing my whole career, mixing genres together. I would also put Taxi Driver as one of those films. Why is a little harder to say. You can’t quite boil Taxi Driver’s power down to one or two sentences. I will say it is probably the most novelistic, complex character study for my money in the history of cinema. It’s only in novels where you find a character treated like that. But at the same time, it’s a very entertaining movie. There are laughs all through Taxi Driver. And the last movie, as I always say, is The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Are there any genres that you don’t like?

I don’t like everything. I like historical movies, but I am not a fan of the costume drama. Another genre I have no respect for is the biopic. They are just big excuses for actors to win Oscars. It’s a corrupted cinema.

Why?

Even the most interesting person – if you are telling their life from beginning to end, it’s going to be a fucking boring movie. If you do this, you have to do a comic book version of their whole life. For instance, when you make a movie about Elvis Presley, you don’t make a movie about his whole life. Make a movie about one day. Make a movie about the day Elvis Presley walked into Sun Records. Make a movie about the whole day before he walked into Sun Records, and the movie ends when we walks through that door. That’s a movie.

If they made a movie about your life – would that be boring, too?

I might be flattered, but I wouldn’t watch it.

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Short Profile

Name: Quentin Tarantino
DOB: 27 March 1963
Place of Birth: Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
Occupation: Director

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8 Responses to this Interview

  1. Reading/watching a Tarantino interview is just as interesting as watching a film itself.

  2. I just hope that he dont stop at 60!
    The best!

  3. Hmmm, I wonder if I told Quentin a story that I consider great would he remember it ! I’d love to have the honour even if he didn’t !! Hah !

  4. a true master, he always seems to rent space in my head with everyone of his works.

  5. Respectful bow to this cinematic kleptomaniac-genius. The more I read about him, the more I respect him and love for cinema shoots to infinite level.

  6. “Back at my most voracious moviegoing, 200 was the average.”
    Mother of GOD!

  7. It’s just that I can relate to this opinion about the biopic movies. We all have that moment where we have watched a blockbuster biopic and just before it ends, we are already bored.
    And lastly, a perfect imagery about that Elvis Presley example.

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