Quentin Tarantino stores his stockpile of 35mm movies in a vault he's never seen.
“I've never gone through the Citizen Kane-like labyrinth,” he says. “It's kind of daunting. I'd rather just look at titles on a page and go, 'I've got all of this shit?!'”
He does. All kinds of shit. And now that Tarantino is programming the New Beverly, he's sharing his stash.
“Most of the calendar is made up of my own collection,” he says. “There are double features I've always thought would be good, and now I'm getting a chance to do them.”
Checking out his first month of flicks is like plugging directly into his brain. Tarantino has seen—and loved—everything. There's kung fu (Lightning Swords of Death) and camp (The 7 Brothers Meet Dracula), classics (His Girl Friday) and comedies (Moscow on the Hudson). There's films that haven't played Los Angeles in ages, like the 1961 Jules Verne hot air balloon thriller Master of the World, starring Vincent Price, and films that never played Los Angeles at all, like Steve McQueen's buried Henrik Ibsen drama An Enemy of the People.
And then there's the curious 1970 documentary The Racing Scene, which tracks actor James Garner's year as a professional race car driver. “It has this car crash in it that you can not believe,” beams Tarantino. “One of the most amazing pile-ups—it's really wild.”
“There was a time when revival house culture was more specific,” says Tarantino. “It was a big deal that they had a print, and you showed up and it was exciting because it was the thing.” That's the vibe he wants to resurrect at the New Beverly: when movies—now streaming continually into our homes—were an event. “I want people to go out and get that calendar and put it on their refrigerator and circle that one or that two that sound interesting.”
“I'm going for an aesthetic here,” says Tarantino. “It's about making some cool discoveries. These movies deserve a commercial venue, they deserve a night being projected, they deserve time on the silver screen.” He sees himself as a matchmaker pairing an audience to an awesome double bill, just as he did in his five years as a clerk at Video Archives. For November, he's already stoked about a double feature of Fortune and Men's Eyes and Short Eyes, two controversial '70s jail dramas about violence and rape. “They really opened up the movies,” says Tarantino. “After them, movies could never deal with prisons the way they'd dealt with them ever again.”
The New Beverly is his passion project, and he's passionate. He's even making mixtapes from his favorite movie soundtracks to play during intermission. But Tarantino has one rule: no ironic snickering.
“Look, there's some wild, funny weird and silly shit that happens in some of these movies, and it's okay to laugh. But laugh because it's funny—don't laugh because you're just trying to show how superior you are to the movie,” Tarantino cautions. “You get no points for laughing at an old movie just because it's old. You look like an idiot.”
Is there anything from his vault he wouldn't screen in Los Angeles? “You should be able to show anything in this town!” he insists. And he intends to.
“If you're not worried about packing the house because you can't make your rent, then you can have a lot of fun,” says Tarantino. “If people come, fine. If they don't, fuck them.”
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