3 min read

Highlights from Cinema Speculation (Quentin Tarantino)

On Film as Entertainment

Speaking of the Rudy storyline—I’m not a fan. I really don’t like Lettieri in the role. It’s not that he’s a bad actor or gives a bad performance. It’s more I find his performance physically repellent.

Now for a character like Rudy, that should be a good thing, no?

No. It’s still a movie. I still should want to watch the movie and enjoy it. Certain actors can play grotesque bad guys, yet they still have a connection to the audience. We still enjoy them as performers. They do cruel deeds, they’re monsters, but we enjoy their monsters because when they’re on screen we know something exciting will happen.

On Fearlessness in Filmmaking

Now I wasn’t a professional filmmaker back then. I was a brash know-it-all film geek. Yet, once I graduated to professional filmmaker, I never did let “they” stop me. Viewers can accept my work or reject it. Deem it good, bad, or with indifference. But I’ve always approached my cinema with a fearlessness of the eventual outcome. A fearlessness that comes to me naturally—I mean, who cares, really? It’s only a movie. But at the right age (mid-twenties), and at the right time (the fucking eighties), the fearlessness demonstrated by Pedro Almodóvar led by example. As I watched my heroes, the American film mavericks of the seventies, knuckle under to a new way of doing business just to stay employed, Pedro’s fearlessness made a mockery of their calculated compromises. My dreams of movies always included a comic reaction to unpleasantness. Similar to the connection that Almodóvar’s films made between the unpleasant and the sensual. Sitting in a Beverly Hills art house cinema, watching Pedro’s vividly colorful, thrillingly provocative, 35mm images flickering on a giant wall—demonstrating that there could be something sexy about violence—I was convinced there was a place for me and my violent reveries in the modern cinematheque.

On Film Critics

It would appear most critics writing for newspapers and magazines set themselves up as superior to the films they were paid to review. Which I could never understand, because judging from their writing, that was clearly not the case.

On Sylvester Stallone

Well, maybe it isn’t “one of the greatest directorial debuts of all time!” But it is a very good debut of a filmmaker with both obvious talent and vision (dare I say Stallone is the best director Sylvester has ever worked with).”

On the snuff film plot in Paul Schrader's Hardcore (1979)

Despite his self-righteous moralizing, without a shred of conscience, Schrader squeezed in a snuff film subplot. Snuff films weren’t a reality, they were an urban myth (like the mythological white pimp) that the squares used to marginalize the legitimate adult film industry. And at the end of the day Paul Schrader and Columbia Pictures were no different than the Moral Majority when it came to lying to make their negative case.

On Improvising

Busey had a gift for a highly theatrical version of naturalism that was unlike any of his peers. Naturally, it was unlike anybody else, because it sprang from his soul. Gary Busey had such a deeply felt way of saying lines, you couldn’t believe anyone wrote his dialogue. It just always sounded like it sprang fully formed out of him. The only other actor of his era that shared the same combination of naturalism and dynamic intensity was Robert Blake. What most actors pass off as naturalism is just aw-shucks mumbling. It reminds me what Uma Thurman once said about actors improvising: “What most actors call improvising is just stammering and swearing. But another word for improvising is writing. And that’s not what you pay actors to do."

On Floyd (an adult he knew while growing up)

You see, a guy like Floyd could like you, and simultaneously not give a fuck whether you lived or died.

One doesn’t contradict the other... if you’re a guy like Floyd.

Not to say Floyd didn’t have affection for me, but he was always looking out for number one. And that wasn't me.

And it wasn't the worst thing in the world to hang around an adult who didn't treat you with kid gloves. Who told it to you like it is, without too much concern for your feelings.

For one thing Floyd never lied to me. Yeah, maybe about some of the shit he said he did in his past (like that Joey Heatherton shit).

But he never lied to me about me. He didn't care enough about me to lie to me.

Obviously, sometimes that hurt my feelings. But through Floyd I received an authentic glimpse of the impression I was making on others.

Once, Floyd and I went to the Del Amo Mall with a young girl I was dating, and while there we caught a movie. Later, Floyd told me, "When you take a woman to the movies, don't buy all that candy shit. It makes you look childish."

Well, on the one hand, I was childish. On the other, I wanted to grow up. And Floyd gave me some unvarnished masculine advice.

Not all of it was correct.

On account of Floyd it took me a few years before I broke down and ate pussy ("No man has to do that shit!")

But that was for me to work out for myself.