Quentin Tarantino: I'm a legit poet who's leading the pack
Quentin Tarantino always makes for an exciting interviewee. He is brash, arrogant, and doesn't give a hoot what anyone thinks (something he never misses an opportunity to remind us of). And in a recent interview published by New York Magazine (via Vulture), the acclaimed Oscar-winning director is at his most abrasive, which is exactly how we like our Tarantino.
For those who may remember his epic takedown of the pompous Krishnan Guru-Murthy ("I'm shutting your butt down," were his words), this interview will be a reminder of some of that same bravado. The only difference: A much more engaging conversation.
Not one to keep his opinions hidden, Tarantino unleashes the flamboyant raconteur inside of him, tackling issues like race in America, the future of the movies, and for some reason, How I Met Your Mother.
What comes across is reaffirmation of his encyclopedic knowledge on all things film, his supreme belief in his own endearing greatness, and his hatred of True Detective.
He is sticking to his favourite genre with his latest film
. While all his films are influenced by the two Sergios (Leone and Corbucci), only two have actually been full-fledged, gun-toting Westerns. Here, he speaks about the future of the genre and what his movie means in the current political climate.
A still from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
"There are a few coming out. Antoine Fuqua is doing Magnificent Seven, starring Denzel Washington, so that's one. Django did so well I'm surprised that there's not even more.
I'm not trying to make Hateful Eight contemporary in any way, shape, or form. I'm just trying to tell my story. It gets to be a little too much when you try to do that, when you try to make a hippie Western or try to make a counterculture Western."
But he is very 'excited' about the conversation his films have started about race.
"Finally, the issue of white supremacy is being talked about and dealt with. And it's what the movie's about."
A accusation that has never seemed to leave him alone is that he relies too much on violence and cursing, especially his rather controversial use of the N-word. And as always, he doesn't seem to have any patience for it.
"Social critics don't mean a thing to me. It's really easy to ignore them, because I believe in what I'm doing 100 percent. So any naysayers for the public good can just f*** off. They might be a drag for a moment, but after that moment is over, it always ends up being gasoline to my fire."
It would come as little surprise then, that Tarantino is a supporter of President Obama. Somehow the idea of him as a red-blooded Republican is somehow even more absurd than a bad Christoph Waltz performance.
"I think he's fantastic. He's my favourite president, hands down, of my lifetime. He's been awesome this past year. Especially the rapid, one-after-another-after-another-after-another aspect of it. It's almost like take no prisoners. His he-doesn't-give-a-s*** attitude has just been so cool."
The conversation then turns to his favourite subject: Movies.
"I didn't see anything this year. I've been making this movie (The Hateful Eight) for so long. I loved Kingsman. I really liked It Follows. It was the best premise I've seen in a horror film in a long, long, long time. It's one of those movies that's so good you get mad at it for not being great."
The poster for cult horror film It Follows.
He does however, have a serious dislike for 'these Cate Blanchett movies'. And then, he goes into an oddly specific defense of David O Russell's The Fighter.
"The Fighter had impeccable casting. As an example, I really liked The Town, which also came out in 2010. It was a good crime film. However, next to The Fighter, it just couldn't hold up, because everybody in The Town is beyond gorgeous. Ben Affleck is the one who gets away with it, because his Boston accent is so good. But the crook is absolutely gorgeous. The bank teller is absolutely gorgeous. The FBI guy is absolutely gorgeous. The town whore, Blake Lively, is absolutely gorgeous. Jeremy Renner is the least gorgeous guy, and he's pretty fucking good-looking. Then, if you look at The Fighter, and you look at those sisters, they're just so magnificent. When you see David O. Russell cast those sisters, and you see Ben Affleck cast Blake Lively, you can't compare the two movies. One just shows how phony the other is."
David O Russell's The Fighter.
What does he think of the recent resurgence of the superhero genre?
"I've been reading comic books since I was a kid, and I've had my own Marvel Universe obsessions for years. So I don't really have a problem with the whole superhero thing right now, except I wish I didn't have to wait until my 50s for this to be the dominant genre. Back in the '80s, when movies sucked - I saw more movies then than I'd ever seen in my life, and the Hollywood bottom-line product was the worst it had been since the '50s - that would have been a great time."
His choice in television is also completely unexpected.
"The last two shows that I watched all the way were Justified and How I Met Your Mother. Now, the HBO show I loved was Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom. That was the only show that I literally watched three times. I would watch it at seven o'clock on Sunday, when the new one would come on. Then after it was over, I'd watch it all over again. Then I would usually end up watching it once during the week, just so I could listen to the dialogue one more time."
So what does he think of True Detective?
"I tried to watch the first episode of season one, and I didn't get into it at all. I thought it was really boring. And season two looks awful. Just the trailer - all these handsome actors trying to not be handsome and walking around looking like the weight of the world is on their shoulders. It's so serious, and they're so tortured, trying to look miserable with their mustaches and grungy clothes."
Now, Tarantino isn't the most modest man in the world. And going by some of the gems, you kind of get an idea why. When he was asked if he wrote his scripts by hand, he had this combative response:
"Let me ask you a question: If you were going to try to write a poem, would you do it on a computer? You don't need technology for poetry."
He understands that he is "a legit filmmaker of my generation who's leading the pack."
"I would have liked to have won Best Director for Inglourious Basterds, but I've got time. And I'm very, very happy with my writing Oscars. I will brag about this: I'm one of five people who have won two Original Screenplay Oscars. The other four are Woody Allen, Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, and Paddy Chayefsky."
"Say 'what' one more time." A still from Pulp Fiction.