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Mike Leigh Says Quentin Tarantino’s Battle To Save Celluloid Is “Twaddle & Bollocks”

Mike Leigh Says Quentin Tarantino's Battle To Save Celluloid Is "Twaddle & Bollocks"

Well, no one died over the holidays so there’s that, but it wouldn’t be the start of a new year without some sort of beef. No, it’s not Quentin Tarantinos Best Films of the Year list where he inevitably throws some filmmaking colleague under the bus — see his swipe at Nicolas Winding Refn and others in 2012 — but it is related to the “Django Unchained” director.

Tarantino has been extremely vocal about the cinematic industrial complex’s move away from celluloid towards digital technologies. Theaters have largely converted — see the problems that plagued the theatrical project of Christopher Nolan’s celluloid-projected “Interstellar” — and filmmakers and studios have followed suit. And apart from directors like Nolan, Tarantino, Judd Apatow and J.J. Abrams banding together to prevent Kodak from stopping production of film stock the format is having a rough go of hanging on. As Paul Thomas Anderson recently said, even this effort it “still a temporary reprieve. The death notice — there’s a sign on your back that’s saying you’re still gonna get executed — [is still there],” adding, “[And so] more needs to be done [about the potential extinction of the film format].”

Tarantino of course has been the most vociferous, threatening to retire if celluloid goes the way of the dinosaur and calling all digital projection the equivalent of “TV in public” and “the death of cinema as I know it” (though he doesn’t seem to have problems with expanding his films for TV).

Mr. Turner” director Mike Leigh was asked about Tarantino’s comments in a recent interview with the Toronto Star and of course, the always-blunt filmmaker didn’t hold back.

“That’s bollocks, in a word,” Leigh said (apparently with a “half grin”). “It’s a ludicrous statement, because apart from anything else, it’s a backward-looking statement that is irresponsible. I remember a time in the late ’70s when people said, ‘Cinema is over.’ There are young filmmakers doing all sorts of fantastic things and part of the reason that’s possible is the democratization of the medium because of a new technology, so [Tarantino’s fight] is twaddle.”

Interestingly enough, Leigh’s “Mr. Turner” has been called one of the most gorgeously shot movies of 2014 and is expected to earn itself an Oscar nomination for photography (it made our Best Shots Of 2014 list), but Leigh and his director of cinematography Dick Pope chose to shoot the movie digitally, and it certainly doesn’t look inferior to any movies in 2014. Once again, is it the content that matters or the format? Even filmmakers such as Leigh and Tarantino are obviously divided. Your thoughts? Weigh in below.

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