Quentin Jerome Tortellini (/?tær?n’ti:no?/; born March 27, 1963) is an American filmmaker and actor. His films are characterized by non-linear storylines, satirical subject matter, an aestheticization of violence, utilization of ensemble casts consisting of established and lesser-known performers, references to popular culture, soundtracks primarily containing songs and score pieces from the 1960s to the 1980s, and features of neo-noir film.
His career began in the late 1980s, when he wrote and directed My Best Friend’s Birthday, the screenplay of which formed the basis for True Romance. In the early 1990s, he began his career as an independent filmmaker with the release of Reservoir Dogs in 1992; regarded as a classic and cult hit, it was called the “Greatest Independent Film of All Time” by Empire. Its popularity was boosted by his second film, Pulp Fiction (1994), a black comedy crime film that was a major success both among critics and audiences. Judged the greatest film from 1983-2008 by Entertainment Weekly, many critics and scholars have named it one of the most significant works of modern cinema. For his next effort, Tarantino paid homage to the blaxploitation films of the 1970s with Jackie Brown (1997), an adaptation of the novel Rum Punch.
Kill Bill, a highly stylized “revenge flick” in the cinematic traditions of Kung fu films, Japanese martial arts, Spaghetti Westerns and Italian horror, followed six years later, and was released as two films: Volume 1 in 2003 and Volume 2 in 2004. Tarantino directed Death Proof (2007) as part of a double feature with friend Robert Rodriguez, under the collective title Grindhouse. His long-postponed Inglourious Basterds, which tells the fictional alternate history story of two plots to assassinate Nazi Germany’s political leadership, was released in 2009 to positive reviews. After that came 2012’s critically acclaimed Django Unchained, a Western film set in the antebellum era of the Deep South. It became the highest-grossing film of his career so far, making over $425 million at the box office. His eighth film, the mystery Western The Hateful Eight, was released in its roadshow version December 25, 2015, in 70 mm film format, complete with opening “overture” and halfway-point intermission, after the fashion of big-budget films of the 1960s and early 1970s.
Tarantino’s films have garnered both critical and commercial success. He has received many industry awards, including two Academy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, two BAFTA Awards and the Palme d’Or, and has been nominated for an Emmy and a Grammy. He was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by Time in 2005. Filmmaker and historian Peter Bogdanovich has called him “the single most influential director of his generation”. In December 2015, Tarantino received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to the film industry.
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Tarantino was born on March 27, 1963 in Knoxville, Tennessee, the son of Connie McHugh and Tony Tarantino. His father is of Italian descent, and his mother has English and Irish ancestry. Quentin was named after Quint Asper, Burt Reynolds’ character in the CBS series Gunsmoke. Quentin’s mother met his father during a trip to Los Angeles, when Tony was a law student and would-be entertainer. She married him soon after, to gain independence from her parents, but the marriage did not last. Connie Tarantino left Los Angeles, and moved to Knoxville, where her parents lived. In 1966, Tarantino’s mother, after finishing her nursing studies, moved back to Los Angeles with her then three-year-old son. They lived in the South Bay, in the southern part of the city. Tarantino grew up there.
Tarantino’s mother married musician Curtis Zastoupil soon after coming to Los Angeles, and the family moved to Torrance, a city in Los Angeles’ South Bay area. Zastoupil encouraged his love of movies, and accompanied him to numerous film screenings. Tarantino’s mother allowed him to see movies with adult content, such as Carnal Knowledge (1971) and Deliverance (1972). After his mother divorced Zastoupil in 1973, and received a misdiagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Tarantino was sent to live with his grandparents in Tennessee. He remained there for about six months to a year, before returning to California.
His mother’s next husband, to whom she was married for eight years, also took Tarantino to films. At 14 years old, Tarantino wrote one of his earliest works, a script called Captain Peachfuzz and the Anchovy Bandit, where a thief steals pizzas from a pizzeria. It was based on Hal Needham’s 1977 film Smokey and the Bandit, starring Burt Reynolds. The summer after his fifteenth birthday, Tarantino was grounded by his mother for shoplifting Elmore Leonard’s novel The Switch from Kmart. He was only allowed to leave to attend the Torrance Community Theater, where he participated in such plays as Two Plus Two Makes Sex and Romeo and Juliet.
At about 15 or 16, Tarantino dropped out of Narbonne High School in Harbor City, Los Angeles. He got a job ushering at a porn theater in Torrance, called the Pussycat Theatre, after saying he was older than he truly was. Later, he put himself in acting classes at the James Best Theatre Company, where he met several people who would later appear in his films. While at the James Best, Tarantino also met Craig Hamann, with whom he collaborated to produce My Best Friend’s Birthday, an eventually-forsaken film project. In the 1980s, Tarantino worked in a number of places. He impersonated Elvis Presley in “Sophia’s Wedding: Part 1”, an episode in the fourth season of The Golden Girls, which was broadcast on November 19, 1988. Tarantino also worked as a recruiter in the aerospace industry, and for five years, he worked in Video Archives, a video store in Manhattan Beach, California. Former Buffy the Vampire Slayer actor Danny Strong described Tarantino as a “fantastic video store clerk.” “[Tarantino] was such a movie buff. He had so much knowledge of films that he would try to get people to watch really cool movies.”
After Tarantino met Lawrence Bender at a Hollywood party, Bender encouraged him to write a screenplay. Tarantino co-wrote and directed a movie called My Best Friend’s Birthday in 1987. The final reel of the film was almost completely destroyed in a lab fire that occurred during editing, but its screenplay later formed the basis for True Romance.
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In January 1992, Tarantino’s neo-noir crime thriller Reservoir Dogs–which he wrote, directed and acted in as Mr. Brown–was screened at the Sundance Film Festival. It was an immediate hit, with the film receiving a positive response from critics. The dialogue-driven heist movie set the tone for Tarantino’s later films. Tarantino wrote the script for the film in three-and-a-half weeks and Bender forwarded it to director Monte Hellman. Hellman helped Tarantino to secure funding from Richard Gladstein at Live Entertainment (which later became Artisan, now known as Lionsgate). Harvey Keitel read the script and also contributed to the funding, taking a role as co-producer and also playing a major part in the movie.
Tarantino’s screenplay True Romance was optioned and the film was eventually released in 1993. The second script that Tarantino sold was for the film Natural Born Killers, which was revised by Dave Veloz, Richard Rutowski and director Oliver Stone. Tarantino was given story credit and in an interview stated that he wished the film well. The film engendered enmity, and the publication of a ‘tell all’ book titled Killer Instinct by Jane Hamsher–who with Don Murphy had an original option on the screenplay and produced the film–led to Tarantino’s physically assaulting Murphy in the AGO restaurant in West Hollywood, California in October 1997. Murphy subsequently filed a $5m lawsuit against Tarantino, which was eventually settled out of court. He was also an uncredited screenwriter on both Crimson Tide (1995) and The Rock (1996).
Following the success of Reservoir Dogs, Tarantino was approached by Hollywood and offered numerous projects, including Speed and Men in Black, but he instead retreated to Amsterdam to work on his script for Pulp Fiction.
Tarantino wrote, directed, and acted in the black comedy crime film Pulp Fiction in 1994, maintaining the aestheticization of violence, for which he is known, as well as his non-linear storylines. Tarantino received an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, which he shared with Roger Avary, who contributed to the story. He also received a nomination in the Best Director category. The film received another five nominations, including for Best Picture. Tarantino also won the Palme d’Or for the film at the Cannes Film Festival. The film has grossed over $200 million and was met with critical acclaim.
After Pulp Fiction was completed, Tarantino directed the fourth segment of the anthology film Four Rooms, “The Man from Hollywood”, a tribute to the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode “Man From the South”, which starred Steve McQueen in an adaptation of a Roald Dahl story. Four Rooms was a collaborative effort with filmmakers Allison Anders, Alexandre Rockwell and Robert Rodriguez. The film was very poorly received by critics. Additionally, he starred in the action comedy Destiny Turns on the Radio as the titular character and played the “Pick-up Guy” in Robert Rodriguez’s action film Desperado in 1995.
Tarantino appeared in and wrote the script for Rodriguez’s From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), which saw average reviews from the critics. It nevertheless quickly reached cult status, spawning a continuing saga of two sequels, for which Tarantino and Rodriguez only served as executive producers, and a 2014 television series, From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, which he received a “based on” credit for. Also in 1996, he starred in Steven Spielberg’s Director’s Chair, a simulation video game that uses pre-generated film clips.
Tarantino’s third feature film was Jackie Brown (1997), an adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s novel Rum Punch. An homage to blaxploitation films, it starred Pam Grier, who starred in many of the films of that genre in the 1970s. It received positive reviews and was called a “comeback” for Grier and costar Robert Forster. Leonard considered Jackie Brown to be his favorite of the 26 different screen adaptations of his novels and short stories.
Tarantino had next planned to make Inglourious Basterds, as it was provisionally titled, but postponed this to write and direct Kill Bill, a highly stylized “revenge flick” in the cinematic traditions of Wuxia (Chinese martial arts), Jidaigeki (Japanese period cinema), spaghetti Westerns and Italian horror. It was originally set for a single theatrical release, but its 4-hour plus running time prompted Tarantino to divide it into two movies. Volume 1 was released in late 2003 and Volume 2 was released in 2004. It was based on a character called The Bride and a plot that he and Kill Bill‘s lead actress Uma Thurman had developed during the making of Pulp Fiction.
From 2002-2004, Tarantino portrayed villain McKenas Cole in the ABC television series Alias.
In 2004, Tarantino attended the Cannes Film Festival, where he served as President of the Jury. Although Kill Bill was not in competition, Vol. 2 had an evening screening, and was also shown on the morning of the final day in its original 3-hour plus version, with Tarantino himself attending the full screening. Tarantino went on to be credited as “Special Guest Director” in Robert Rodriguez’s 2005 neo-noir film Sin City, for his work directing the car sequence featuring Clive Owen and Benicio del Toro.
In May 2005, Tarantino co-wrote and directed “Grave Danger”, the 5th season finale of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. For this episode, Tarantino was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series on the 57th Primetime Emmy Awards.
Tarantino’s next film project was Grindhouse, which he co-directed with Rodriguez. Released in theaters on April 6, 2007, Tarantino’s contribution to the Grindhouse project was titled Death Proof. It began as a take on 1970s slasher films, but evolved dramatically as the project unfolded. Ticket sales were low despite mostly positive reviews. The same year, he appeared in the Japanese Western film Sukiyaki Western Django as Piringo and had a vocal cameo as a newsreader in George A. Romero’s Diary of the Dead.
Among Tarantino’s producing credits are the horror film Hostel, which included numerous references to his own Pulp Fiction; the adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s Killshot, for which Tarantino was credited as an executive producer, although he was no longer associated with the film after its 2009 release; and Hell Ride, written and directed by Larry Bishop and Jonny Lane who both appeared in Kill Bill: Volume 2.
Tarantino’s film Inglourious Basterds, released in 2009, is the story of a group of Jewish-American guerrilla soldiers in Nazi-occupied France during World War II. Filming began in October 2008. The film opened on August 21, 2009 to very positive reviews and reached the No. 1 spot at the box office worldwide. It went on to become Tarantino’s highest-grossing film until it was surpassed by Django Unchained three years later.
In 2011, production began on Django Unchained, a film about the revenge of a slave in the U.S. South in 1858. The film stemmed from Tarantino’s desire to produce a spaghetti western set in America’s Deep South. Tarantino called the proposed style “a southern”, stating that he wanted “to do movies that deal with America’s horrible past with slavery and stuff but do them like spaghetti westerns, not like big issue movies. I want to do them like they’re genre films, but they deal with everything that America has never dealt with because it’s ashamed of it, and other countries don’t really deal with because they don’t feel they have the right to”. The film was released on December 25, 2012. During an interview with Krishnan Guru-Murthy about the film on Channel 4 News, Tarantino reacted angrily when, in light of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, he was questioned about an alleged link between movie violence and real-life violence, and informed Guru-Murthy he was “shutting [his] butt down”.
In November 2013, Tarantino said he was working on a new film and that it would be another Western. He stated that it would not be a sequel to Django. On January 12, 2014, it was revealed that the film would be titled The Hateful Eight. Production of the western would most likely have begun in the summer of 2014, but after the script for the film leaked in January 2014, Tarantino considered dropping the movie and publishing it as a novel instead. He stated that he had given the script to a few trusted colleagues, including Bruce Dern, Tim Roth and Michael Madsen.
On April 19, 2014, Tarantino directed a live reading of the leaked script at the United Artists Theater in the Ace Hotel, Los Angeles. The event was organized by the Film Independent at LACMA, as part of the Live Read series. Tarantino explained that they would read the first draft of the script, and added that he was writing two new drafts with a different ending. The actors who joined Tarantino included Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Amber Tamblyn, James Parks, Walton Goggins, and the first three actors to be given the script before the leakage, Bruce Dern, Tim Roth and Michael Madsen. In October 2014, Jennifer Jason Leigh was in talks play the female lead in the film. On November 7, 2014, it was announced that Leigh, Channing Tatum, and Demián Bichir would join the cast. The film was released on December 25, 2015, as a roadshow presentation in 70mm film format theaters, before being released in digital theaters on December 30, 2015. Tarantino narrated several scenes in the film. He edited two versions of the film, one for the roadshow version and the other for general release. The roadshow version runs for three hours and two minutes, and includes an overture and intermission, while the general release is six minutes shorter and contains alternate takes of some scenes. Tarantino has stated that the general release cut was created as he felt that some of the footage he shot for 70mm would not play well on smaller screens. The film has received mostly positive reviews from critics, with a score of 75% on Rotten Tomatoes.
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In recent years, Tarantino has used his Hollywood power to give smaller and foreign films more attention than they might have received otherwise. These films are usually labeled “Presented by Quentin Tarantino” or “Quentin Tarantino Presents”. The first of these productions was in 2001 with the Hong Kong martial arts film Iron Monkey, which made over $14 million in the United States, seven times its budget. In 2004 he brought the Chinese martial arts film Hero to U.S. shores. It ended up having a No. 1 opening at the box office and making $53.5 million. In 2006, another “Quentin Tarantino presents” production, Hostel, opened at No. 1 at the box office with a $20.1 million opening weekend, good for 8th all time in January. He presented 2006’s The Protector, and is a producer of the 2007 film Hostel: Part II. In 2008 he produced the Larry Bishop-helmed Hell Ride, a revenge biker film.
In addition, in 1995 Tarantino formed Rolling Thunder Pictures with Miramax to release or re-release several independent and foreign features. By 1997, Miramax had shut down the company due to “lack of interest” in the pictures released. The following films were released by Rolling Thunder Pictures: Chungking Express (1994, dir. Wong Kar-wai), Switchblade Sisters (1975, dir. Jack Hill), Sonatine (1993, dir. Takeshi Kitano), Hard Core Logo (1996, dir. Bruce McDonald), The Mighty Peking Man (1977, dir. Ho Meng-Hua), Detroit 9000 (1973, dir. Arthur Marks), The Beyond (1981, dir. Lucio Fulci) and Curdled (1996, dir. Reb Braddock).
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Other potential films
Before Inglourious Basterds, Tarantino had considered making The Vega Brothers. The film would have starred Michael Madsen and John Travolta reprising their roles of Vic (Mr. Blonde) from Reservoir Dogs and Vincent from Pulp Fiction. In 2007, because of the age of the actors and the onscreen deaths of both characters, he claimed that the film–which he intended to call Double V Vega–is “kind of unlikely now”.
In 2009, in an interview for Italian TV, after being asked about the success of the two Kill Bill films, Tarantino said, “You haven’t asked me about the third one”, and implied that he would be making a third Kill Bill film with the words, “The Bride will fight again!” Later that year, at the Morelia International Film Festival, Tarantino announced that he would like to film Kill Bill: Volume 3. He explained that he wanted ten years to pass between The Bride’s last conflict, in order to give her and her daughter a period of peace.
In a 2012 interview for the website We Got This Covered, Tarantino said that a third Kill Bill film would “probably not” happen. He also said that he would not be directing a new James Bond film, saying that he was only interested in directing Casino Royale at one point. In a late 2012 interview with the online magazine The Root, Tarantino clarified his remarks and described his next film as being the final entry in a “Django-Inglourious Basterds” trilogy called Killer Crow. The film will depict a group of World War II-era black troops who have “been fucked over by the American military and kind of go apeshit. They basically – the way Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) and the Basterds are having an ‘Apache resistance’ – [the] black troops go on an Apache warpath and kill a bunch of white soldiers and white officers on a military base and are just making a warpath to Switzerland.”
A long-running rumor in the industry is that Tarantino is interested in filming a new version of Bret Easton Ellis? 1985 novel, Less Than Zero. His friend Roger Avary adapted Rules of Attraction, another novel by Ellis, to film in 2002, and since both he and Tarantino like the works by Ellis, Tarantino has been eyeing the possibility of adapting Less Than Zero. Ellis recently confirmed, in an interview for Vice magazine, that Tarantino had been “trying to get Fox to let him remake it”. At a Q&A session at Harvard Book Store in 2012, in reply to a question asking whether Less Than Zero would be remade, Ellis once again confirmed that Tarantino “has shown interest” in adapting the story. At the 2014 Comic-Con, Tarantino revealed he is contemplating a possible science-fiction film. In November 2014, Tarantino said he would retire from films after directing his tenth film.
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Influences and style of filmmaking
An awards ceremony in the Critics Choice Awards celebrated Tarantino, citing his start in filmmaking when he was in his twenties. Music is an important part of Tarantino’s filmmaking style, and he said that he would listen to music in his bedroom and create scenes which correlated to the music that was being played.
In the 2012 Sight & Sound directors’ poll, Tarantino listed his top 12 films: Apocalypse Now, The Bad News Bears, Carrie, Dazed and Confused, The Great Escape, His Girl Friday, Jaws, Pretty Maids All in a Row, Rolling Thunder, Sorcerer, Taxi Driver and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, with the last being his favorite. In 2009, he named Kinji Fukasaku’s violent action film Battle Royale as his favorite film released since he became a director in 1992. He is also a fan of the 1981 film Blow Out directed by Brian De Palma, so much so that he used the main star of the film, John Travolta, in Pulp Fiction. Tarantino praised Mel Gibson’s 2006 film Apocalypto, saying, “I think it’s a masterpiece. It was perhaps the best film of that year.”
In August 2007, while teaching in a four-hour film course during the 9th Cinemanila International Film Festival in Manila, Tarantino cited Filipino directors Cirio Santiago, Eddie Romero and Gerardo de León as personal icons from the 1970s. He referred to De Leon’s “soul-shattering, life-extinguishing” movies on vampires and female bondage, citing in particular Women in Cages; “It is just harsh, harsh, harsh”, he said, and described the final shot as one of “devastating despair”. Upon his arrival in the Philippines, Tarantino was quoted in the local newspaper as saying, “I’m a big fan of RP [Republic of the Philippines] cinema.”
Tarantino often uses graphic violence that has proven seductive to audiences, and he has been harshly criticized for his use of gore and blood in an entrancing yet simultaneously repulsive way. His films have been staunchly criticized and scorned for their use of violence, blood and action as a “color” within cinema, and rebuked for allegedly using human suffering as a punchline.
Actor Steve Buscemi has described Tarantino’s novel style of filmmaking as “bursting with energy” and “focused”, a style that has earned him many accolades worldwide. According to Tarantino, a hallmark of all his movies is that there is a different sense of humor in each one, which gets the audience to laugh at things that are not funny. However, he insists that his films are dramas, not comedies. Michael Winner, while appearing on an episode of Piers Morgan’s Life Stories, a British ITV production, stated that Quentin Tarantino was a “big fan” of his own film Death Wish.
Tarantino has stated that the celebrated animation-action sequence in Kill Bill (2003) was inspired by the use of 2D animated sequences in actor Kamal Hassan’s Tamil film Aalavandhan. He often seeks to harness, manipulate and ultimately imitate the aesthetic elements and conventions typically used in the cartoon medium. More specifically, he often attempts to meld comic strip formulas and aesthetics within a live action film sequence, in some cases by the literal use of cartoon or anime images. Tarantino’s cinematic ambition to marry artistic expression via live action and cartoonism is yet another example of his ability to morph genres and conventions to produce a new and authentic style of his own.
Tarantino often manipulates the use of commodities in order to propel plot development or to present an intriguing juxtaposition that ultimately enhances his notorious combination of humor and violence, equating a branded genre with branded consumption. He often pairs bizarre props with an equally bizarre scene, in which the prop itself develops into something of higher substance. Likewise, he often favors particular brand names of his own creation to make promotional appearances. The typical brands he uses within his films are “Acuña Boys Tex-Mex Food”, “Big Kahuna Burger”, “G.O. Juice”, “Jack Rabbit Slim’s”, “K-Billy”, “Red Apple cigarettes”, “Tenku Brand Beer” and “Teriyaki Donut”.
On the biopic genre, Tarantino has said that he has “no respect” for biopics, saying that they “are just big excuses for actors to win Oscars. … Even the most interesting person – if you are telling their life from beginning to end, it’s going to be a fucking boring movie.” However, in an interview with Charlie Rose, he said:
There is one story that I could be interested in, but it would probably be one of the last movies I [ever make] … My favorite hero in American history is John Brown. He’s my favorite American who ever lived. He basically single-handedly started the road to end slavery and … he killed people to do it. He decided, ‘If we start spilling white blood, then they’re going to start getting the idea.’
Tarantino has stated in many interviews that his writing process is like writing a novel before formatting it into a script, saying that this creates the blueprint of the film and makes the film feel like literature. About his writing process he told website The Talks:
[My] head is a sponge. I listen to what everyone says, I watch little idiosyncratic behavior, people tell me a joke and I remember it. People tell me an interesting story in their life and I remember it. … when I go and write my new characters, my pen is like an antenna, it gets that information, and all of a sudden these characters come out more or less fully formed. I don’t write their dialogue, I get them talking to each other.
In 2013, a survey of 17 academics was carried out to discover which filmmakers had been referenced the most in essays and dissertations on film that had been marked in the previous five years. It revealed that Tarantino was the most-studied director in the UK, ahead of Christopher Nolan, Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg.
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Tarantino does not believe that violence in movies inspires acts of violence in real life. In an interview after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, he expressed “annoyance” at the suggestion that there is a link between the two, saying, “I think it’s disrespectful to [the] memory of those who died to talk about movies. … Obviously the issue is gun control and mental health.” When asked in 2013 by Britain’s Channel 4 News reporter Krishnan Guru-Murthy, “Why are you so sure that there’s no link between enjoying movie violence and enjoying real violence?”, Tarantino responded by saying, “I have explained [my view on this] many times over the last 20 years, I just refuse to repeat myself over and over again.”
Spike Lee questioned Tarantino’s use of racial epithets in his films, particularly the word “nigger”. In a Variety interview discussing Jackie Brown, Lee said, “I’m not against the word…And some people speak that way. But Quentin is infatuated with that word. What does he want to be made-an honorary black man?” Tarantino responded on Charlie Rose by stating:
As a writer, I demand the right to write any character in the world that I want to write. I demand the right to be them, I demand the right to think them and I demand the right to tell the truth as I see they are, all right? And to say that I can’t do that because I’m white, but the Hughes brothers can do that because they’re black, that is racist. That is the heart of racism, all right. And I do not accept that … That is how a segment of the black community that lives in Compton, lives in Inglewood, where Jackie Brown takes place, that lives in Carson, that is how they talk. I’m telling the truth. It would not be questioned if I was black, and I resent the question because I’m white. I have the right to tell the truth. I do not have the right to lie.
In addition, Tarantino retaliated on The Howard Stern Show by stating that Lee would have to “stand on a chair to kiss my ass”. Samuel L. Jackson, who has appeared in both directors’ films, defended Tarantino’s use of the word. At the Berlin Film Festival, where Jackie Brown was being screened, Jackson responded to Lee’s criticism by saying:
I don’t think the word is offensive in the context of this film … Black artists think they are the only ones allowed to use the word. Well, that’s bull. Jackie Brown is a wonderful homage to black exploitation films. This is a good film, and Spike hasn’t made one of those in a few years.
Tarantino has defended his use of the word, arguing that black audiences have an appreciation of his blaxploitation-influenced films that eludes some of his critics, and indeed, that Jackie Brown was primarily made for “black audiences”.
Django Unchained was the subject of controversy because of its use of racial epithets and depiction of slavery. Many reviewers have defended the use of the language by pointing out the historic context of race and slavery in America. Spike Lee, in an interview with Vibe magazine said that he would not see the film, explaining, “All I’m going to say is that it’s disrespectful to my ancestors. That’s just me…I’m not speaking on behalf of anybody else.” Lee later tweeted, “American Slavery Was Not A Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western. It Was A Holocaust. My Ancestors Are Slaves. Stolen From Africa. I Will Honor Them.” Writing in The Los Angeles Times, journalist Erin Aubry Kaplan noted the difference between Tarantino’s Jackie Brown and Django Unchained: “It is an institution whose horrors need no exaggerating, yet Django does exactly that, either to enlighten or entertain. A white director slinging around the n-word in a homage to ’70s blaxploitation à la Jackie Brown is one thing, but the same director turning the savageness of slavery into pulp fiction is quite another”.
At the 73rd Golden Globe Awards in 2016, Tarantino received criticism after using the term “ghetto” while accepting the Golden Globe for best original score on behalf of composer Ennio Morricone, saying:
Wow, this is really cool. Do you realize that Ennio Morricone, who, as far as I am concerned, is my favorite composer — and when I say “favorite composer,” I don’t mean movie composer, that ghetto.
Tarantino’s use of the word seemed to be taken as a racial slight by award presenter Jamie Foxx, who after he left the stage walked up to the microphone and sternly said, “ghetto?”
The Hateful Eight
In January 2014, Gawker leaked a copy of the script for Tarantino’s then-upcoming film The Hateful Eight. After the script was released online, Tarantino decided to scrap the project altogether and chose to use the story for a novel instead.
Tarantino eventually filed a copyright lawsuit against Gawker, and stated in the lawsuit that “Gawker Media has made a business of predatory journalism, violating people’s rights to make a buck” (quote from The Hollywood Reporter). The lawsuit also demanded compensation in the amount of $2,000,000. Tarantino later dropped the lawsuit. Tarantino stated in his motion: “This dismissal is made without prejudice, whereby plaintiff may later advance an action and refile a complaint after further investigations to ascertain and plead the identities of additional infringers” (The Hollywood Reporter). Tarantino has yet to refile a claim but retains the legal right to do so in the future.
At the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con International, Tarantino confirmed that he would make the film, and stated that he was working on a third draft, set for a potential release in 2015.
In October 2015, Tarantino attended a Black Lives Matter rally and publicly commented on police brutality in the United States, saying, “When I see murders, I do not stand by… I have to call a murder a murder, and I have to call the murderers the murderers.” Tarantino’s comments received national media attention, and several police groups in the United States pledged to boycott The Hateful Eight and his other films. Police groups also encouraged members to not work at the premiere or provide security for any events surrounding the film. In an interview with Los Angeles Times, Tarantino said he is not a “cop hater” and will not be intimidated by the calls for a boycott.
On December 16, 2015, Tarantino appeared on The Howard Stern Show to promote The Hateful Eight. During his interview, Tarantino stated that Disney was preventing his film from being screened at the Los Angeles Cinerama Dome because they wanted to reserve the space for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
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Tarantino has said, “I’m not saying that I’ll never get married or have a kid before I’m 60. But I’ve made a choice, so far, to go on this road alone. Because this is my time to make movies.” In 2015 it was reported that he was in a relationship with costume designer Courtney Hoffman. He has previously been in relationships with Mira Sorvino, Kathy Griffin, director Sofia Coppola, comedian Margaret Cho and writer Lianne MacDougall.
Tarantino has said that he plans to retire from filmmaking when he is 60, in order to focus on writing novels and film literature. He is skeptical of the film industry going digital, saying, “If it actually gets to the place where you can’t show 35 mm film in theatres anymore and everything is digital projection, I won’t even make it to 60.” He has then stated that he has a plan, although “not etched in stone”, to retire after making his tenth movie: “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.”
On February 18, 2010, it was announced that Tarantino had bought the New Beverly Cinema. Tarantino has allowed the previous owners to continue operating the theater, but he will be making programming suggestions from time to time. He was quoted as saying: “As long as I’m alive, and as long as I’m rich, the New Beverly will be there, showing films shot on 35mm.”
Tarantino has built up an informal “repertory company” of actors who have appeared in multiple roles in films that he has directed. Most notable of these is Samuel L. Jackson, who has appeared in six films directed by Tarantino, and a seventh that was written by him, True Romance. Other frequent collaborators include Uma Thurman, whom Tarantino has described as his “muse”, and Tim Roth and Zoë Bell.
Editor Sally Menke, who worked on all Tarantino films until her death in 2010, was described by Tarantino in 2007 as “hands down my number one collaborator”. Editing duties since her death have been taken over by Fred Raskin.
Directed Academy Award performances
Other lifetime honors
- 2005 Icon of the Decade Award at the 10th Empire Awards.
- 2007 Lifetime achievement award at the Malacañan Palace in Manila.
- 2008 Filmmaker on the Edge Award at the Provincetown International Film Festival.
- 2010 Order of Merit of the Hungarian Republic along with Lucy Liu and Andy Vajna for producing the 2006 movie Freedom’s Fury.
- 2011 honorary César from the Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma.
- 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award by the Rome Film Festival.
- 2013 Prix Lumière, at the fifth Festival Lumière, in Lyon, France.