For the latest issue of The New York Times Style Magazine, Bret Easton Ellis sat down for a conversation with Quentin Tarantino at his LA home during a break from editing his latest film, “The Hateful Eight.” The conversation hit on topics regarding the Oscar results for his recent films, his place among critics and some of the early influences that shaped “The Hateful Eight” and other films in his career. Here are some of the highlight.
Pauline Kael was “mean” to some of the best films of the ’70s.
Tarantino considers the 1980s one of the worst decades for film and that legendary critic Pauline Kael’s writing during that era suffered as a result. “The movies just weren’t up to snuff — she was better than the movies.” He also thinks she was too hard on some great films in the decade before. “One of the weird things looking back at the ’70s reviews is that you can’t believe how mean she was to magnificent movies. She’s so rough on Don Siegel for making ‘Charley Varrick.'”
“The Hateful Eight” was influenced by parlor room mysteries on classic TV.
“There was always, each season, at least one episode where bandits take over the Ponderosa or Shiloh Ranch, and they’d all be played by guest stars. It couldn’t help but lend itself to a situation like ‘Reservoir Dogs’: Trap them all in a room and let me get rid of all the hero characters so there’s no moral center.” A similar situation plays out in “The Hateful Eight,” where characters are trapped together in a cabin by a blizzard.
“The Hurt Locker” deserved its Best Picture win at the 2010 Oscars, but “Inglourious Basterds” should’ve won “Best Original Screenplay.”
“It bugged me that Mark Boal won Best Screenplay for that movie. The Kathryn Bigelow thing — I got it. Look, it was exciting that a woman had made such a good war film, and it was the first movie about the Iraq War that said something. And it wasn’t like I lost to something dreadful. It’s not like ‘E.T.’ losing to ‘Gandhi.’ ”
Tarantino isn’t worried about Ava Duvernay’s supposed Oscar snub.
The director was complimentary but ultimately dismissive of Ava Duvernay’s film “Selma.” “She did a really good job on ‘Selma,’ but ‘Selma’ deserved an Emmy,” he said. The film was nominated for Best Picture and Best Original song at the 2015 Academy Awards but only won in the latter category.
Criticism and think pieces about the director’s race leaves a “bad taste” in his mouth.
“When the black critics came out with savage think pieces about ‘Django,’ I couldn’t have cared less. If people don’t like my movies, they don’t like my movies, and if they don’t get it, it doesn’t matter. The bad taste that was left in my mouth had to do with this: It’s been a long time since the subject of a writer’s skin was mentioned as often as mine. You wouldn’t think the color of a writer’s skin should have any effect on the words themselves. In a lot of the more ugly pieces, my motives were really brought to bear in the most negative way. It’s like I’m some supervillain coming up with this stuff.”
“If you’ve made money being a critic in black culture in the last 20 years you have to deal with me. You must have an opinion of me. You must deal with what I’m saying and deal with the consequences.”
Tarantino is fighting against the digitization of movie theaters.
The director is a well-known supporter of film over digital, going so far as to retrofit 100 theaters nationwide with 70mm Ultra Panavision lenses for screenings of “The Hateful Eight.” The director owns a movie theater in LA that shows classic films, always on celluloid. “If Buzzy, the kid who pops the popcorn, simply hits play on the menu then we’re just there watching HBO in public. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t need to watch HBO with a bunch of strangers.”