Today marks the 50th birthday of one of the most famous and followed film directors working today. He's a man who, a little over twenty years ago, gave a shot of adrenaline to the American independent film scene, and today is an awards favorite and reliable box-office name, with his most recent film having won two Oscars, earning Best Picture nomination as well, taking in over $400 million at the box office worldwide, making it by some distance his most successful film to date. And if you're his age or younger, he's probably had a significant an affect on your cinematic education. Yes, Quentin Tarantino is a half-century old today, having been born on March 27th, 1963.
It's a significant birthday for many reasons, but not least because in the last few years Tarantino has started to suggest that he's planning on retiring from filmmaking by his 60th birthday (or by the time he's made his 10th film), saying "I'm really well versed on a lot of directors' careers, you know, and when you look at those last five films when they were past it, when they were too old, and they're really out of touch with the times... To me, it's all about my filmography, and I want to go out with a terrific filmography. [2007's] 'Death Proof' has got to be the worst movie I ever make... I do think one of those out-of-touch, old, limp, flaccid-dick movies costs you three good movies as far as your rating is concerned. It's a grade-point average. I think I risk failure every single time with the movies I do, and I haven't fallen into failure. Risking failure is not what I'm afraid of. Failing is what I'm afraid of."
So, with that in mind, we thought we'd celebrate QT's happy day by taking a look not at the eight films that you probably know by heart, but at the ones that got away, and the ones that could still come. Given his tendency towards loquaciousness, Tarantino's never been shy about talking about projects he'd like to make, be they passing ideas or something more concrete, and so below, you'll find a complete history of the what-ifs, the what-might-bes and the long-gones of Tarantino's directing career. Whether any of them turn out to surface down the line remains to be seen (the director hinted recently that his next picture might be "A 'smaller' film than 'Django Unchained,' in the vein of 'Jackie Brown,'" which doesn't gel with most of the films below). But it's certainly fun to look over some of the possibilities. So check them out, and let us know what you'd like to see Tarantino tackle next in the comments section.
Oh, and many happy returns, Mr. Tarantino.
Even before "Inglourious Basterds" had hit theaters, talk had already started that the material that Tarantino had scrubbed from various drafts of the film over the years, could lead to several new movies. Indeed, according to Eli Roth, the director "has an entire universe planned out for 'Inglourious Basterds,'... He even has two sequels planned. He's not necessarily going to make these movies. But he has at least four or five stories centering on these characters that span through the fifties and sixties. He knows exactly where these characters are going." The most preeminent of these possible sequel/spin-offs seemed to be a prequel that involved "Aldo and Danny in Italy with a troop of black soldiers." A little later, Tarantino suggested that Brad Pitt was more keen on the idea than he was saying, "If Brad will have his way, then it'll happen."
But Tarantino has been talking
up the project more recently too, giving the prequel the name, and
suggesting it would close off the trilogy started by 'Basterds' and
'Django.' "There's something about this that would suggest a trilogy. My
original idea for 'Inglourious Basterds' way back when was that this
[would be] a huge story that included the [smaller] story that you saw
in the film, but also followed a bunch of black troops, and they had
been f--ked over by the American military and kind of go apes--t. They
basically -- the way Lt. Aldo Raines and the Basterds are having an Apache resistance -- [the] black troops go on an Apache warpath and
kill a bunch of white soldiers and white officers on a military base and
are just making a warpath to Switzerland... I was going to do it as a
miniseries, and that was going to be one of the big storylines. When I
decided to try to turn it into a movie, that was a section I had to take
out to help tame my material. I have most of that written. It's ready
to go; I just have to write the second half of it... That would be the
third of the trilogy. It would be [connected to] 'Inglourious Basterds,'
too, because Inglourious Basterds are in it, but it is about the
soldiers. It would be called 'Killer Crow' or something like that."
That said, Tarantino may want to stay in the west before he goes back to WWII. For as long as five years before "Django Unchained" was released, Tarantino was talking about the idea of a slavery movie, and on "The Charlie Rose Show" in 2009, he mentioned the possibility of a biopic about abolitionist John Brown. "There is one [biopic] that I could be interested in, but it would probably be one of the last movies I [ever make]. My favorite hero in American history is John Brown. He's my favorite American who ever lived. He basically single-handedly started the road to end slavery and the fact that he killed people to do it. He decided 'If we start spilling white blood, then they're going to start getting the idea.'"
You'd think that "Django" might have scratched that itch, but the
director recently said that he's not quite done with it, telling a BAFTA
Q&A that, "I'd like to do a couple more, dealing with the same
issue: but different story, different characters... I could think of
doing another western, actually." So a Brown biopic, or another film
along the lines of "Django," could still be on the table, though as he
says, it might not be until closer to his retirement target. It's also
worth noting that Tarantino has mentioned the idea of making a film in
Australia; 'Django' actor John Jarratt said last year "he wants to make
this Australian film, and I'll keep kicking him until he does."
A 1930s Gangster Movie
Tarantino's last two movies have seen him tackle two genres he'd been talking about virtually since the start of his career -- the WWII picture and the western. So could we see him scratching a new itch next? Maybe, and perhaps it might arrive in the form of a 1930s Warner Bros-type gangster picture. Tarantino first raised the possibility at the Morelia Film Festival in Mexico in 2009, saying that he was thinking of "re-imagining" a crime movie of that period. And he repeated that at BAFTA recently saying, "I could conceive maybe someday doing a '30s gangster picture, or something like that." It could just be another idea floating around, but it's a much more enticing one than a sequel, prequel or spin-off to something he's done before. And it could only be better than "Gangster Squad."
Tarantino has flirted with the spy movie more than once across his career, and it's certainly a genre that feels most ripe for him to tackle. And Tarantino has raised the possibility of a British take on the genre based on a series of novels by Len Deighton, the author of "The Ipcress File." He told the UK press just around the release of 'Basterds,' "I love England. It would be a wonderful life experience to have an excuse to work here for six or nine months. One of the things I am musing about doing is the trilogy of Len Deighton books, 'Berlin Game,' 'Mexico Set' and 'London Match.' The story takes place in the Cold War and follows a spy name Bernard Samson. What is attractive is the really great characters and the wonderful opportunities of British and German casting." (It's worth noting that the novel has already appeared in a Tarantino film -- Robert Forster's character is reading it in "Jackie Brown.") Previously played by Ian Holm in a TV adaptation called "Game, Set & Match," some have speculated that Tarantino could be thinking about casting Simon Pegg as Samson, who he said in the same interview he wanted to work with after scheduling didn't work out on 'Basterds' (he was originally meant to play Michael Fassbender's role). But Tarantino hasn't mentioned it once since, and given his feelings on adaptations, this was probably just a passing fancy. Still, he recently met with Tim Roth. Wishful thinking?
A Documentary On Harvey Weinstein
Tarantino has suggested of late that, when his retirement comes, he may spend much of his time writing books on film history. But a few years ago, he was flirting with a documentary, and one that lands closer to home than most; a film about his long time patron and distributor Harvey Weinstein. In the run up to the release of "Unauthorized: The Harvey Weinstein Project,' a doc by Barry Avrich about the Miramax founder, the New York Times said that Tarantino was considering making a non-fiction film about his friend, confirmed by his publicist, who said the filmmaker was "unofficially kicking around the idea." Given that Weinstein was probably wanting to try and play down attention on Avrich's film, and that the idea has never been mentioned since, and while it may have been a distraction technique, but we'd still be fascinated to see Tarantino take on documentary filmmaking at some stage.