Quentin Tarantino is bummed he lost an Oscar, is not into TV
There is a new interview with Quentin Tarantino in the New York Times magazine, and by far the most annoying thing about it is that the interview is conducted by Bret Easton Ellis. QT actually manages to come off as the reasonable one here, mostly because the majority of the profile is Ellis humping QT’s leg. But, Quentin Tarantino being Quentin Tarantino, there are a few things to talk about, chiefly that he is bummed he lost that Best Picture Oscar to The Hurt Locker, and he is not feeling the golden age of television at all.
First, the Oscar—OF COURSE HE’S BUMMED. Tarantino does not lack for ego, and it’s possible to read his comment as self-aggrandizing, but I think this is just honesty. He says, “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.” QT is still stung that Inglorious Basterds lost to The Hurt Locker because—surprise—he thinks he made the better movie.
They’re both very good movies, and either one winning Best Picture would have made total sense. Tarantino’s comment about Kathryn Bigelow is a little gross, but honestly, a big part of The Hurt Locker’s awards push was the semi-incredulous reaction of the industry that a woman—A WOMAN! they gasped—made a war movie, let alone a compelling one. Quentin Tarantino is fifty-two. The average Oscar voter is around sixty—these are his people. I’m not defending him on this, but I also don’t think his attitude re: Kathryn Bigelow is particularly outrageous—it’s the way ALL of them feel. He’s just one more brick in that wall. (Which is probably the worst insult you can lob at Tarantino: You are part of a passé crowd.)
He also addresses his critics, saying, “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.” Must we, though? At this point, we know who Tarantino is as a filmmaker, we know what buttons he’s going to push. I agree with him when he says, “If people don’t like my movies, they don’t like my movies, and if they don’t get it, it doesn’t matter.” What Tarantino does requires context and the ability to read nuance, things sorely lacking in the current pop cultural climate.
Ellis goes on about political correctness, but Tarantino came up in the early 1990s, which was also a very PC-friendly time. And the complaints back then are the same as they are now—hyper-violence for violence’s sake, and cultural appropriation. But if you can’t see the difference between Taylor Swift jacking imagery of colonial Africa because it’s “pretty” and Tarantino recreating the brutality and inhumanity of a Mandigo fight, I can’t talk to you. At that point, you’re not interested in having a real conversation, you just want to be mad. So I agree with QT basically saying haters to the left.
On Selma, though I flat disagree. “[Ava DuVernay] did a really good job on Selma but Selma deserved an Emmy,” he says. We can debate taste till the end of time, but what’s really interesting about QT’s comments about Selma is how he reinforces the film/TV divide. That chasm has narrowed considerably over the last fifteen years, with television becoming more cinematic than it’s ever been before (although it is still chasing the standard set by film for visual storytelling), but Tarantino does not have time for TV, or at least, he doesn’t have any interest in pretending that TV and film function in the same way—they don’t—or in you watching movies like you watch TV, i.e. on small, digital screens.
He’s a fanatic cinephile, one of the few directors who still shoots on actual film stock, and he’s one of the very, very few who goes out of his way to make film-projected screenings of his movies available. For The Hateful Eight, QT is enacting an old-fashioned roadshow, touring a 70mm Ultra Panavision extended cut of the film from city to city, personally ensuring people can see the movie as he intended. Whatever else you may think of him, at least Tarantino puts his money where his mouth is.
Click here to read the full interview.