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Quentin Tarantino Contemplates Retirement: ‘Most Directors Have Horrible Last Movies’

"Most directors’ last films are fucking lousy,” says Tarantino, who wants to stop directing while he's already on top.

Quentin Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino

Ik Aldama/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

It’s been over a year since Quentin Tarantino last spoke publicly about his decision to retire from feature filmmaking after his 10th movie. Is he still planning to fold up the director’s chair as of June 2021? Based on his appearance this week on the “Pure Cinema Podcast,” it sure sounds like it. Tarantino joined the show to discuss five great final movies from his favorite directors (Tony Scott’s “Unstoppable” is mentioned), and naturally the conversation turned to Tarantino’s own plan to end his directing career.

“Most directors have horrible last movies,” Tarantino said (via MovieMaker). “Usually their worst movies are their last movies. That’s the case for most of the Golden Age directors that ended up making their last movies in the late ’60s and the ’70s, then that ended up being the case for most of the New Hollywood directors who made their last movies in the late ’80s and the ’90s.”

Tarantino pointed to “Bonnie & Clyde” director Arthur Penn as an example, noting, “I’m not a super huge fan of this director, but the fact that Arthur Penn’s last movie is ‘Penn & Teller Get Killed’ is a metaphor for how crummy most of the New Hollywood directors’ last, last films were. So to actually end your career on a decent movie is rare. To end it with, like, a good movie is kind of phenomenal.”

“I mean, most directors’ last films are fucking lousy,” the director continued before turning the discussion toward his own career and joking he should maybe call it quits now following “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” which earned rave reviews and won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

“Maybe I should not make another movie because I could be really happy with dropping the mic,” Tarantino said. “That’s the frustrating part… a lot of the really terrific directors, it’s like their third-to-the-last movie would have been an amazing, amazing one to end on, which goes back to what I was saying about myself. Or you know, if Don Siegel had stopped with ‘Escape from Alcatraz,’ oh my fucking god. What a career…he really said it all. The other two were just jobs.”

Tarantino has long wanted to evade the “last movie is horrible” curse, hence his decision to leave feature filmmaking behind after 10 movies. The director is also a father now, and he revealed in January 2020 that raising a family is less appealing to him if it has to be done while globe-trotting for various productions.

“I kind of feel this is the time for the third act [of my life] to just lean a little bit more into the literary, which would be good as a new father, as a new husband,” Tarantino said at the time. “I wouldn’t be grabbing my family and yanking them to Germany or Sri Lanka or wherever the next story takes place. I can be a little bit more of a homebody, and become a little bit more of a man of letters.”

Tarantino is leaning into the literary with the release of his “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” novel. Pre-orders for the book are now available ahead of its June 29 publication date.

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