Academy award winner Quentin Tarantino talks about his long love affair with Australian cinema, his top 3 Aussie films and dubs Mad Max: Fury Road “the most amazing movie I’ve seen this year”. By Caris Bizzaca.
It’s just been nominated for 10 Academy Awards, but when Mad Max: Fury Road hit cinemas, initially Quentin Tarantino didn’t want to watch it.
A fan of 70s Ozploitation cinema, he lists the original Mad Max by Dr George Miller as one of his top three Australian movies. And despite his friends urging him to get to the cinema, Tarantino refused, “for one reason and one reason only”.
“In a world where Mel Gibson exists, how is he not playing Mad Max,” Tarantino told Screen Australia. “Mel Gibson – that’s the kind of guy I can imagine has lived in this effed up wasteland for the last 30 years…
“So I didn’t want to see the movie. I rejected the film.”
Eventually, Tarantino got his hands on a print and watched it at home.
Then he watched it again. And again.
“I ended up watching it three times in the course of the weekend because I thought it was so terrific,” he says.
“I think Fury Road is the most amazing movie I’ve seen this year.”
And despite his initial concerns, he ended up enjoying Tom Hardy’s performance in the film.
“However,” he says, “and this is my opinion, I’m going to throw this out there for the world and fans can argue about it or not: I would have liked it much, much better if he was not Max Rockatansky. I would have liked it better if he was the feral child having grown up. All my problems would be solved if he was the feral child grown up.”
That aside, Tarantino, whose eighth film The Hateful Eight hits cinemas across Australia on January 21, has long been a vocal supporter of the Australian film industry.
Kill Bill: Volume 1 has direct connections to films including 1978 horror movie Patrick and at its premiere in Sydney, Tarantino actually dedicated the film to Aussie director Brian Trenchard-Smith.
Tarantino says part of his love of Australian film boils down to the kind of films they were making when he was growing up.
“A lot of people have said, and I guess I’ve said it too, that from my influences in films growing up I kind of have two parents – foreign art cinema and exploitation movies. I’ve always been trying to meld the two together for the majority of my career,” he says.
And he says the thing about Australian cinema, is it seems to come from those same two parents.
In the late 70s and early 80s, you had the Ozploitation films playing across America, but at the same time “the big explosion” of Australian cinema, with My Brilliant Career, The Last Wave, The Getting of Wisdom and Breaker Morant was happening.
“There was just something really evocative about those movies and even the video store that I worked at, Video Archives, we had a big giant foreign section that was broken down into different countries and the Australian section was one of the most populated in the 80s, because people really, really liked Australian movies.”
But Australians in kind are just as supportive of Tarantino.
The director says he recently watched an online documentary about a group of guys in Melbourne who put together a 70mm projector, just so they could screen The Hateful Eight and it brought tears to his eyes.
“The fact that they would do that for my movie – you see them digging in the garage for parts and stuff – it actually made me weep that they were getting so on board with what I was trying to do,” he says.
The Hateful Eight stars the likes of Samuel L Jackson and Kurt Russell as some of the eight travellers who take refuge from a blizzard in a stagecoach stopover in post-Civil War America. Part whodunit, part western, allegiances are tested and truths revealed over the tense and unsurprisingly violent film.
Two versions have been cut for audiences. One is your standard cinema release, while the other harks back to the old roadshow epics that Tarantino loves – filmed in 70mm, it includes a musical overture, an intermission and a colour programme to take home.
“I love that kind of stuff and I was kind of curious to see if people would be taken with it as much as I am,” Tarantino says. “I do like the idea in the case of this movie in making it an event, especially if you go see the 70mm version.”
The Hateful Eight screens in 70mm for a limited time from January 14, and opens with a wide digital release from January 21.
Quentin Tarantino’s top three Australian films
ROAD GAMES (1981) – directed by Richard Franklin, starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Stacy Keach
“Even though he was (born in) America, I think Everett De Roach (Patrick, Razorback) is the best of the Australian film screenwriters…. He wrote some brilliantly terrific scripts and I actually think Road Games is hands down his best script. I think you could remake it tomorrow… that script is so good, so don’t change the script, don’t have somebody rewrite it, just use that script and put Russell Crowe in the Quid role… Also I’m a huge fan of Richard Franklin and I think that’s him at his Hitchcockian best. It’s a truly magnificent film.”
MAD MAX (1978) – directed by Dr George Miller, starring Mel Gibson and Hugh Keays-Byrne
“Mad Max I don’t really need to talk about because we all know about Mad Max.”
NEXT OF KIN (1982) – directed by Tony Williams, starring John Jarratt
“It literally is a horror film quite unlike any other… It has a very, very unique tone and the closest equivalent to this tone is The Shining… they share no other similarities, but there is this mesmerising tone of dread that’s in the film that I think is truly unique to it and it’s very, very evocative.”