Why video shop worker turned Hollywood film director Quentin Tarantino is making his last film
Hollywood filmmaker, Oscar winner and “cinematic mastermind” Quentin Tarantino has been living in Israel with his young family for three years … and now we know what he has been up to – writing his 10th and final film.
Known for such nuanced masterpieces as Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, the guy who started his career selling VHS movies in beachside Los Angeles has long maintained he had a finite number of movies in him.
He wanted to direct 10 films or retire by 60 … he’s made nine and turns 60 on March 27.
What’s the 10th film?
Back in 2014, Tarantino told Deadline he liked the idea “of an umbilical cord connection from my first to my last movie”.
“I’m not trying to ridicule anyone who thinks differently, but I want to go out while I’m still hard … I like that I will leave a 10-film filmography,” he said.
“It’s not etched in stone, but that is the plan. If I get to the 10th, do a good job and don’t screw it up, well that sounds like a good way to end the old career.”
So after the 2019 success of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – which was nominated for 10 Oscars, winning two – he set about penning his final script.
Known for strong female lead characters in all his movies, sources told The Hollywood Reporter the last hurrah is about the influential 1970s New Yorker movie critic Pauline Kael.
He’ll do justice to Kael as an old-school director, a talent who loves shooting on film – ‘‘glorious 70mm’’ – and is weary of digital in cinema, describing it as TV in public, where “we’re all just getting together and watching TV without pointing the remote control at the screen”.
Who plays Kael is one thing. But we know he loves recycling old buddies including Samuel L Jackson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Christoph Waltz, not to mention his three-time Oscar-winning cinematographer Robert Richardson, who worked with him on Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained and later, The Hateful Eight.
Who was Pauline Kael?
Details are being kept “in a suitcase” somewhere, but THR says The Movie Critic is the name of the script that Tarantino wrote pegged to Kael, which he’s now shopping around to the big Hollywood studios.
Kael was born in California to Polish emigrants on a Petaluma chicken farm in 1919 and died aged 82 in 2001, leaving a legacy as one of the most influential film critics of the 20th century.
She was also an essayist and novelist, would regularly have “pugnacious fights with editors as well as filmmakers” and was at one stage a creative consultant for Paramount in the 1970s at the behest of actor Warren Beatty.
Tarantino was known to have a deep respect for Kael, telling Time in 1994 while promoting Pulp Fiction that Kael changed his life when he was 15 years old.
He watched the “nutty professor” movie critic being grilled by a TV host about her review for Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and she refused to back down.
“I thought, ‘Who is this wild old woman?’ … and soon I was going to the library to find her books. She was as influential as any director was in helping me develop my aesthetic.
“I never went to film school, but she was the professor in the film school of my mind.”
Pauline Kael is rumoured to be the subject of Tarantino’s last film. Photo: AAP
Who would play Pauline Kael?
Let’s look at his list of female actors he has cast in lead roles to see if they could also be recycled.
Uma Thurman played Mia Wallace in Pulp Fiction alongside John Travolta and Jackson and in the two-part ultra-violent kung fu masterpiece Kill Bill: Volume 1 and 2, where Tarantino nailed the drawn-out monologue and sweet revenge via the sword.
Thurman was asked in 2018 whether she had enough left in the tank to collaborate with Tarantino again, knowing his desire to wrap it up after 10 films.
She told Entertainment Weekly that she would work with the director again “if he wrote a great part”.
“I understand him … if he wrote a great part and we were both in the right place about it, that would be something else.”
It’s a great part.
Diane Kruger in Paris on March 7. Photo: Getty
Diane Kruger played Bridget von Hammersmark, a German film star turned spy for Britain in Inglourious Basterds.
They didn’t initially hit it off as Tarantino didn’t want to audition her, but she proved him wrong, receiving a Screen Actors Guild nomination for her role.
She said, despite a controversy about Tarantino actually choking her during one scene to make it look real, that working with him was “pure joy”.
Mélanie Laurent during the Red Sea International Film Festival in December in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Photo: Getty
Who could forget French actor Melanie Laurent playing the vengeful Jewish theatre owner Shosanna and her star moment burning down a cinema full of Nazis in Inglourious Basterds?
She says Tarantino inspired her career after that film, becoming a writer and director in her own right.
Margot Robbie has had a lot of leading lady screen time over the past two years, and her busy schedule isn’t slowing down with neo-feminist Barbie movie on the horizon after blazing away in the three-hour epic Babylon.
However, Tarantino loves Robbie, telling EW in 2019 that there was no second choice when he cast her as one of the main characters in Once Upon A Time in Hollywood as Sharon Tate, the actress murdered in August 1969 by members of the Manson family.
“One of the luckiest things that happened to me in the course of making the movie was to make it right now and have Margot out there,” he said.
“I mean, she was such perfect casting that I didn’t have a second choice.”
Either way, if this is his final film, his email inbox will be full of “pick me” audition requests to play Kael.
And while Tarantino (Oscar winner for best writing for Pulp Fiction and Django Unchained) says he doesn’t want to be an “out-of-date” director, he’s left the door slightly ajar.
“If, later on, I come across a good movie, I won’t not do it just because I said I wouldn’t,” he said.
“But 10 and done, leaving them wanting more – that sounds right.”
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