Tarantino makes it Official — “The Tenth Film By QT” will be his last. At least he’s making it about a Movie Critic

You’re never happy when a great booster of the cinema, a genuine film enthusiast, hangs it up.

But if we’re to take Quentin Tarantino at his word, the just-turned-60 Oscar-winning director of “Pulp Fiction,” “Jackie Brown” and “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood” is keeping to a promise he made to finish up his film career at 60.

Yes, Hitchcock, Lean and Ford made fine films right up to the edge of their dotage. Scorsese has added a few exclamation points to his career post Social Security age. Scorsese made “The Wolf of Wall Street,” “Gangs of New York,””The Aviator” and won the Oscar for “The Departed,” all after his 60th birthday.

But QT wants OUT.

He confirmed this, calling today’s cinema “a creative wasteland,” on a French radio program transcribed by a helpful blogger at World of Reel. Is cinema dead? Tarantino’s kind of leaning that way. And we all know what he’s talking about without the word “Marvel” or the letters “DC” ever crossing his lips.

“I think that’s how it is in cinema, it’s cyclical in Hollywood, it comes and goes. In my opinion, things will change, for the better. I’m not saying throw everything away. You could say that in a decade that’s considered a creative wasteland, there are still a few films that break through the glass ceiling, that don’t conform to the norm. That makes them even more valuable.”

And he’s going out by taking another trip back into the Tarantino past, back to a sort of Golden Age of film criticism, something he rightly sees as vanished in the Tomatometer/post “thumbs up” era.

In days of yore, critics had names and practiced their craft with carefully considered and typed words polished by editors, reviews with sweep and scope, swooning in fulsome praise or burning in sulfuric take-downs scripted in lashing, acrid truth bombs.

It’s worth noting that some of us are still trying to do that.

In the ’70s, Tarantino’s most formative decade, critics weren’t cheerful, performative podcasters and under-scripted Youtubers. He’s paying homage to those great wordsmiths by making a period piece set in the ’70s, supposedly titled “The Movie Critic,” supposedly starring Cate Blanchett and reportedly NOT about the most famous critic of that era, Pauline Kael.

And he’d never lie, right? About this being his last film, about not using Kael — an iconoclast and curdmudgeon who held grudges, made personal attacks and got her proteges — “Paulettes” — appointed to film reviewing positions? Kael even sold out and went to work in Hollywood, briefly, after letting Warren Beatty turn her delusional head. I mean, she’s still the likeliest and most colorful candidate from that era, if QT is looking for inspiration.

But is it time for QT to bail? Is the cinema “dead?” Marvel and Disney own EVERYTHING and the audience’s appetite for men in tights doesn’t seem to be fading. Yet.

Tarantino’s last film was certainly his greatest box office and critical triumph. And what was it about? “Once Upon a Time” was set in a Hollywood at the end of the pre-blockbuster era, Hollywood at the end of the long, well-past-its-expiration-date heyday of TV Westerns.

Maybe Tarantino’s said what he has to say. Hard to see how he’ll make something violent and edgy out of film criticism and film critics, but hey, we’re a pretty dangerous lot when we’re cornered. And that departure from his “style” is the point. Will he cast aside some of his crutches for this one? Will he give up on the idea that anybody wants to see a movie about a movie critic, even if it is “The Tenth Film of Quentin Tarantino,” and thus an event? Because he says so?

“Jackie Brown” was my favorite Tarantino Exercise in Nostalgia. Great to see Pam Grier and Robert Forster relevant again.

I got a charge out of “Death Proof,” liked “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood” and abhored “Inglorious” and “Django” and that half-assed “Hateful Eight.”

I wasn’t overwhelmed with “Pulp Fiction,” the movie that put his name in capital letters. Seeing it at a Manhattan critics’ preview way back in the day, I had my first serious exposure to “group think.” A jumbled, indulgent, kind of childish genre romp on speed, the breathless hype my peers were burbling as we exited the screening room sealed his fate.

This guy was going to be a star director in an age that wasn’t producing very many of them. They were all talking themselves into that as they headed out to type out their fealty to The New King.

Interviewing him a couple of times over the years, you could be impressed with his encyclopedic knowledge of genre films, ’70s cinema, ’60s and ’70s TV and pop music, and yet walk away wondering if any of that translated to “good taste.” He has an aesthetic, but like a lot of fanboys of his demographic, it celebrates the obscure, too often the deservedly obscure. A lot of my critic/contemporaries got the same vibe, that we were talking to an enthusiastic peer trying to persuade us to see the cinema the same way he did.

This fondness of the “cool,” the verbose and juvenalia did Tarantino no harm as we entered an era of arrested development in film fandom, adults who never let go of childhood obsessions — comics, Saturday AM TV and the Great Reruns of ’60s and ’70s television, nerd lit and genre nerd cinema. He was the successful version of Kevin Smith, taken seriously, foot fetish be damned.

Tarantino’s now talking about doing TV in this new Golden Age of Streaming, maybe some theater (I’ve seen Fringe festival versions of “Reservoir Dogs”), certainly a book or three. He’ll be a natural at the TV stuff, if nothing else.

Whatever he puts on the screen, we’ll almost surely see more “comeback” ’70s actors trotted out in cameos, hear more ’70s TV theme music and hear manic OCD pages of pop-culture-aware fanboy-friendly monologues.

I don’t know why he’d bother with another film, with the state of streaming today. Take every idea you loved but never finished and filed away and trek over to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO or whoever. Take that blank check and burn through as much footage as you’d like. It’s not like they’ll make you cut it.

But it’ll be interesting to see a critics’ darling’s take on the people who made him their darling before he rides off into the Netlix sunset. And as she proved in “Tar,” Cate Blanchett can play cultured, snobby and ominipotent with her eyes closed. She’d make a helluva movie critic.

Tarantino? He wouldn’t have been bad at it either, a champion of “acquired taste” cinema.


About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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2 Responses to Tarantino makes it Official — “The Tenth Film By QT” will be his last. At least he’s making it about a Movie Critic

  1. Dr. Andrew Baer says:

    I never listen to film critics most of whom are self righteous blowhards spinning their critical diatribes. This is especially true if they come from or are based in Manhattan. Why? I grew up there. These particular critics are the most bombastic. Besides, it can be interesting to see a film, determine it is not so hot but learn something in comparison to the director’s other film. Tenet was one of those films. In the end analysis, it was almost a spoof of itself and not one of Nolan’s best to be sure. Yet, I don’t regret seeing it, especially since there were just two couples in the theater at the time due to the pandemic. (Perhaps any film might have been a diversion at that time.)

    • Roger Moore says:

      “Self righteous blowhards spinning their critical diatribes” is your comment about Christopher Nolan and “Tenet” on a piece about TARANTINO is RETIRING from MAKING MOVIES? Kind of a look in the mirror moment for you there, chief. Or was it a stroke? Stay on topic, “Dr. Blowhard.”

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