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Kill Bill... Or Else! 

Quentin Tarantino on opening night fever, postpartum depression and the descent from Mt. Everest

Thursday, Apr 15 2004
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Photo by Andrew Cooper

Ten years ago, I was scheduled to interview Quentin Tarantino in Cannes, a couple of days before the premiere of Pulp Fiction. I arrived at his hotel at noon and called him, only to be greeted with a bleary hello. He invited me to his room, which was a shambles. He’d clearly had a wild night. An hour later, he was ready to talk — and he couldn’t have been friendlier or more garrulous. As we walked through the city, we would be stopped every few yards by beautiful young French women who would almost elbow me aside to get to Tarantino, asking for his autograph with a coquettery that suggested the possibility of a quid pro quo. He smiled and signed his name, innocently unaware that, just one week later, his film would win the festival and he would leave France vastly more famous than he already was at that moment.

Cut to April 13, 2004. Tarantino’s scheduled to call me at 8 a.m. 8:15. 8:30. 8:45. Shortly after 9, I get a call from his publicist, who’s driven over to his house to wake him. “I’m giving him coffee. He’ll call in five minutes.” At 9:30 he calls and apologizes profusely, saying that the night before he’d been at a party for the Kill Bill: Vol. 1 DVD at the Playboy Mansion. We start to talk and — plus ça change — he couldn’t be friendlier or more garrulous as we ponder the master plan behind Kill Bill, the mysteries of Mel Gibson and, of course, the pleasure of moviegoing.

 

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L.A. WEEKLY: If somebody else had made Kill Bill: Vol. 2, where and when would you want to see it?

QUENTIN TARANTINO: One, I would be seeing it on opening day, right? It just so happens that it’s going to be showing at the Dome, and any movie showing at the Dome — that’s where I’d be to see it. I’ve loved the Dome since I was a little kid. It was funny, we had the premiere there, and the editor, Sally Menke, she comes up to me and says, “There’s a problem, the curved screen. The light’s going to be wrong on the two sides.” And I just said, “That’s the Dome.” I love that curved screen.

You’re really lucky when there’s something you’re excited to see. That’s why you’ve got see it on the first day. Back when people stood in line, I used to stand in line. If it was, like, a [Brian] De Palma movie I would see the first show the first day and the midnight show that night. I haven’t seen Vol. 2 that much with an actual audience. I’m looking forward to seeing it with a bunch of people on that Saturday night when they could have gone anywhere but they’re there. I look forward to their reaction to that buried-alive scene.

 

Is there any movie around you wish you’d made?

If I had done the opening 10 minutes and opening credits of the Dawn of the Dead remake, I’d be very proud. And believe me, I was against remaking George Romero — that was sacrilege. I don’t think I would have the mania to make The Passion of the Christ, but I’d be proud of the results. Those are the only things playing around right now that are terrific.

 

So you saw The Passion of the Christ?

I loved it. I’ll tell you why. I think it actually is one of the most brilliant visual storytelling movies I’ve seen since the talkies — as far as telling a story via pictures. So much so that when I was watching this movie, I turned to a friend and said, “This is such a Herculean leap of Mel Gibson’s talent. I think divine intervention might be part of it.” I cannot believe that Mel Gibson directed it. Not personally Mel Gibson — I mean, Braveheart was great. I mean, I can’t believe any actor made that movie. This is like the most visual movie by an actor since Charles Laughton made The Night of the Hunter. No, this is 15 times more visual than that. It has the power of a silent movie. And I was amazed by the fact that it was able to mix all these different tones. At first, this is going to be the most realistic version of the Jesus story — you have to decipher the Latin and Aramaic. Then it throws that away at a certain point and gives you this grandiose religious image. Goddamn, that’s good direction! It is pretty violent, I must say. At a certain point, it was like a Takashi Miike film. It got so fucked up it was funny. At one point, my friend and I, we just started laughing. I was into the seriousness of the story, of course, but in the crucifixion scene, when they turned the cross over, you had to laugh.

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