“It’s rare to see a filmmaker who doesn’t have a movie here in Cannes do a press conference,” said Cannes Film Festival chief Thierry Frémaux as he introduced Quentin Tarantino to journalists this afternoon. But Cannes loves Tarantino and the feeling is clearly mutual. His Pulp Fiction Palme d’Or is “my single, absolutely, positively greatest achievement,” the director said. Besides, even if he doesn’t have a new movie here, Pulp Fiction is screening tonight in celebration of the 20th anniversary of winning that Palme. Tarantino is also hosting the Closing Night screening of Sergio Leone’s A Fistful Of Dollars. That film, he said, marked “the birth of genre action cinema as it’s become to be known ever since.” Otherwise, there was plenty to discuss. In a wide-ranging chat with the press, Tarantino waxed on the rise of digital projection as the “death of cinema”; the status of The Hateful Eight; and possibly revisiting Django Unchained as a miniseries, among other topics.
Tonight’s Pulp Fiction showing will be the only time during this two-week event that a movie will be screened in 35mm, Frémaux noted. Later queried about that, Tarantino said, “The fact that now most films are not shown in 35mm means the war is lost. The death of 35mm is the death of cinema.” He allowed that the “good side of digital is the fact that a young filmmaker can now just buy a cell phone, and if they have the tenacity… can actually make a movie” to help start them on their way. But, he thundered, “Why would an established filmmaker shoot on digital? I just don’t get it.” He likened seeing movies digitally projected in a theater to watching “television in public.” Perhaps as we’re in the waning days of May, he did allow for some optimism to spring. “I’m hopeful that we’re going through a woozy, romantic period with the ease of digital, and I’m hoping that while this generation is completely hopeless, the next generation will come out and demand the real thing.”
An inevitable question was posed about The Hateful Eight, and the director said he wasn’t sure what was going to happen with it next. “I have calmed down a bit from the knife in the back. The wound is starting to scab.” The recent staged reading he held was “a blast. I might do that on every script” but perhaps not publicly. “It was great to have three days of rehearsal and hear it out loud.” For now, he’s finishing the second draft, and intends to do a third. “I’m in no hurry. Maybe I’ll shoot it. Maybe I’ll publish it. Maybe I’ll do it on the stage. Maybe I’ll do all three.”
Speaking of his next projects in general, a journo asked Tarantino if he ever felt pressure because his fans so rabidly await them. “That’s not a pressure I ever feel. That should always be there. I want people to expect a lot from me, I want people waiting with great anticipation for my next movie. Growing up I felt that way,” he said and recounted how he would do a countdown to the next Brian De Palma film, for example. “The week before Scarface came out was Scarface week… That kind of excitement is what helps keep a filmmaker alive and vital.” Asked about revisiting his own oeuvre, he said he enjoys watching his movies and recently caught Kill Bill Vol 1 on TV. “When I hear directors say they don’t watch their own movies… I feel so sorry for those people. How can you get up in the morning if you think your stuff is so shitty? If it was too painful to watch my movies, I would just give up.”
Would he ever do a director’s cut or add material to one of his existing films? Considering each of his movies released are “the director’s cut” he was not so bullish. But, he added that he “might revisit” Django Unchained – as a miniseries. “I have about 90 minutes of Django that hasn’t been seen so the idea is to cut together a four-hour version, but not show it like a four-hour movie.” Instead, he’d “cut it up into one-hour chapters like a four-part miniseries and show it on cable television. People love those!” A four-hour movie is a difficult proposition, but with binge watching all the rage, he laughed, “they’d be dying to watch all four episodes in one go.”
In response to a query about the state of film, Tarantino said he had recently sent around an email to some friends asking who they thought the 10 most exciting filmmakers are today. The emails went around and became a chain with much dissention in the ranks. “Exciting” for Tarantino means, “their best work is still in front of them.” The two names that were on everyone’s lists? David Fincher and Richard Linklater. For the record, QT also had another Cannes habitué, Pedro Almodovar, on his.