The long and fruitful friendship between Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez probably began with 1994’s “Four Rooms” (remember that one?). That film, an anthology comedy set in a Los Angeles hotel on New Year’s eve, could be described in a word as “unfortunate,” but it cemented what would become a strong working alliance between two very talented and different artists (for the record, Tarantino’s segment, “The Man from Hollywood” can at least be said to be an interesting failure while Rodriguez’s “The Misbehavers” just isn’t very good). The two young maverick movie geeks linked up next on Rodriguez’s hellacious vampire western “From Dusk ‘Till Dawn,” with Tarantino writing the script and playing the creepy second banana to then rising star leading man George Clooney (the reviews at the time weren’t kind to him, nor the movie itself). The friendship reached a fever pitch with 2007’s “Grindhouse” and it’s not hard to see why: both Rodriguez and Tarantino share an unabiding and, it must be said, sincere love for junk cinema.
Tarantino, as always, seems compelled to imbue his drive-in vision with meaty, often mesmerizing chunks of hard-boiled dialogue while Rodriguez seems more drawn to the possibility of live-action cartoon imagery and making things explode real cool. Still, it makes sense that the two are friends. Mr. Rodriguez – who, in addition to directing, also writes, produces, “cuts,” cooks and composes scores for his own flicks – now hosts a show called “The Director’s Chair” and in the first season he sat down with his old pal QT to talk about the director’s process, the man’s favorite movies, and what the future may have in store.
The two-volume chat runs just a little over ninety minutes and mixes a retrospective of Tarantino’s work – everything from “Reservoir Dogs” to “Django Unchained” – with new and never-before-seen footage (including a killer head shot of a mulleted Tarantino around the four-and-a-half minute mark) to illuminate the man’s iconic body of work. The one thing that’s apparent right off the bat is that these two are a couple of old pals: they even bust out a bottle of Rodriguez’s homemade tequila at one point. Rodriguez proceeds to take us through QT’s filmography, film by film, and discuss a number of topics with his old friend, ranging from Tarantino’s majestic use of pop music, his problems with pre-“Jackie Brown” film adaptations of Elmore Leonard and his championing of forgotten cult favorites like “Rolling Thunder,” Jack Hill’s “Switchblade Sisters” and Wong Kar-Wai’s “Chungking Express.”
Throughout the talk, Tarantino is his typically chatty and hyperactive self: he’s a little taken with himself, sure, but doesn’t the director of “Pulp Fiction” kind of have the right to be? Also, don’t we all know that about him by now? In any case, Tarantino seems not only genuinely in love with his own movies, but with movies themselves as an art form: making them, watching them, and finally, living them. Say what you will about the man, but he’s not short on passion and when he and Rodriguez talk about the movies that inspire them, it’s hard not to get caught up in the fervor.
Check out the two-volume cut below. “The Director’s Chair” can currently be seen on Rodriguez’s own El Rey network.