With great vengeance, furious anger and babbling torrents of obscure cult movie trivia, Quentin Tarantino has been motormouth-ing his way around America’s TV chat show and live Q&A circuit for the past few weeks to promote his book Cinema Speculation. A catalogue of notes and thoughts on films that Tarantino saw in his most formative period, the book brims with his enthused cinephile character. But it’s the talks and interviews around it that have grabbed headlines, throwing up all manner of surprises, insights and controversies, from Kanye kiss-offs to superhero slam-downs. Here are the royale cuts.
Dissing the Avengers
And all steel-panted superhuman screen-cloggers in general. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Tarantino claimed that, in much the same way that ‘60s directors celebrated the decline of the film musical, modern filmmakers, “can’t wait for the day they can say that about superhero movies.”
“The analogy works because it’s a similar chokehold,” he said. “The writing’s not quite on the wall yet, the way it was in 1969 when it was, ‘Oh, my God, we just put a bunch of money into things that nobody gives a damn about anymore.’”
Asked why he’s never directed a superhero flick, Tarantino remained withering. “You have to be a hired hand to do those things,” he said. “I’m not a hired hand. I’m not looking for a job.” That hissing sound is Ryan Coogler feeling the burn.
On Jimmy Kimmel Live, Tarantino reiterated his recent claim that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre from 1974 is one of Hollywood’s very few “perfect” movies. “There’s not many of them,” he said, “that just bemoans that the film art form is hard.” But he did come up with a handful more, including Jaws, Annie Hall, The Exorcist, Young Frankenstein, Back To The Future and The Wild Bunch. What, no Alien?
Wes Craven vs Bambi
Also in the LA Times, Tarantino revealed the only two films he’s ever walked out of, both over their traumatising effect. The first, as a child, had him asking his mother if they could leave the theatre after Bambi’s mother was killed. And the second, at a Tennessee drive-in, saw him finding Wes Craven’s The Last House On The Left too horrific to handle. Best of luck with Terrifier 2, QT.
Shutting Kanye’s butt down
Tarantino has been adamant that “There’s no truth” to Kanye West’s recent claims that he came up with the story for Django Unchained. As Tarantino explained to Jimmy Kimmel, he and Kanye had met to discuss a film version of his ‘College Dropout’ album, and got talking about Kanye’s idea for him to play a slave in the video for ‘Gold Digger’. Django star Jamie Foxx eventually appeared in the ‘Gold Digger’ video, but Tarantino insisted his meeting with Kanye was several years after he had first come up with the idea for the film.
Mama Tarantino’s sporting favourites
On Jimmy Kimmel, Quentin Tarantino also dished some dirt on his own mother, claiming that she regularly dated pro athletes including LA Lakers basketball stars Wilt Chamberlain and Happy Hairston. Indeed, aged eight or nine, it was his mother’s then-boyfriend – an unnamed Los Angeles Rams football player – who took him to a formative double bill movie screening in 1972 where the audience took vehemently against the long-forgotten drama The Bus Is Coming. “They just proceeded to yell insults at the characters on-screen,” he told Bill Maher, “so I yell out something at the screen… ’suck my dick!’”
Going cold on Iceman
On the ReelBlend podcast, Quentin Tarantino jabbered lyrical about the Mach 9 majesty of Top Gun: Maverick. “I thought it was fantastic,” he said. “I saw it at the theatres. That and Spielberg’s West Side Story provided a true cinematic spectacle, the kind that I’d almost thought that I wasn’t going to see anymore.” When it came to Val Kilmer’s wordless comeback as Iceman, however (Kilmer has lost his voice to throat cancer), he edged towards a somewhat heartless dig. “[It was] almost too cheap,” he said, but happily concluded “totally works… it fucking works. You’re waiting for it and the fucking scene delivers.”