The megalomaniac director thinks Cate Blanchett and other women-led films don’t have much of a ‘shelf life’
There is a certain sort of bravery required to own a motormouth – you have to be able to back up your claims. Someone who’s never been afraid to say what’s on his mind? Django Unchained director Quentin Tarantino. In a new interview, Tarantino waxes lyrical on everything from racial tensions to Hollywood’s tiresome obsession with blockbusters. So far, so refreshing. Then he gets round to musing on the staying power of independent films, taking pot shots on female-directed films like The Kids Are All Right and An Education and films with a female lead like Notes on a Scandal. According to him, those flicks don’t have much of a “shelf life”.
“The movies that used to be treated as independent movies, like the Sundance movies of the 90s – those are the movies that are up for Oscars now,” he says. “Stuff like The Kids Are All Right and The Fighter [...] They’re good, but I don’t know if they have the staying power that some of the movies of the 90s and the 70s did. I don’t know if we’re going to be talking about The Town or The Kids Are All Right or An Education 20 or 30 years from now. Notes on a Scandal is another one. Philomena. Half of these Cate Blanchett movies – they’re all just like these arty things. I’m not saying they’re bad movies, but I don’t think most of them have a shelf life. But The Fighter or American Hustle – those will be watched in 30 years.”
For someone who has made some of the best female-fronted entries of the past two decades – Death Proof, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill Vol. I & II – it’s baffling that he’d take a crack at these very successful portrayals of women on screen.
Why did he single out those particular films? We can only hazard a guess, but none of them are very bloody, excessively violent or morally bankrupt. In fact, they’re the opposite: intimate, potent and easy to watch. Later in the interview, he briefly mentions the hardships women have getting cast, singling out Pam Grier, who pinballed from Jackie Brown to Escape from L.A. to TV’s The L Word. “It would have been nice if Pam Grier had gotten other lead roles in major movies, but the truth is it’s hard for any woman to get lead roles in movies, especially a black woman in her early 50s.”
He got one thing right: Hollywood does need to get behind more female talent and ask the question, “What if the lead was female?” For now, however well-meaning his intentions, these comments are not much help.