You can group Tarantino's films into easily digestible brackets. There' the contemporary L.A. crime trilogy (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown), the Kill Bill Movies (vol.1 and 2) and the lets-rewrite-history trilogy (Inglorious Basterds, Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight). And there's also Death Proof, but did you even remember that one?
Having said that he plans to retire after his tenth movie, and let's say that for arguments sake the Kill Bills count as one film and Death Proof doesn't count, then maybe we can conclude that there is another trilogy of somewhat thematically linked films in him. But the key question is: what will the theme be?
Take It Back To The 70s
Perhaps the latest clue lies in a series of answers he gave regarding his next project. Whilst curating films such as Five Easy Pieces and Le Boucher from 1970 for the Lumière Festival in Lyon, he answered that he had spent the previous four years researching the era. As he says:
"New Hollywood was the Hollywood and anything that even smacked of Old Hollywood was dead on arrival. The more I started going to the library and looking up newspaper articles of what it was like, I realized New Hollywood had won the revolution but whether it would survive wasn’t clear. Cinema had changed so drastically that Hollywood had alienated the family audience. … Society demanded (the Hollywood new wave) but that doesn’t mean that they supported it as a business model and it made me realize that New Hollywood cinema from 1970-76 at the very least was actually more fragile than I thought it was. That experiment could have died in 1970."
Interesting stuff, but:
Will It Even Be A Film?
Tarantino says he will retire from filmmaking fairly soon so his work doesn't get too sloppy. Given the notoriously long lengths between his films, he may be working on something else, something much nerdier. As he says:
“Am I going to write a book? Maybe. Is it going to be a six-part podcast? Maybe. A feature documentary? Maybe. I’m figuring it out.”
Whatever the result, I am sure it will be intriguing, but let's all hope together its a fiction film, as when Tarantino goes in full-guns blazing, his genre-subverting genius is arguably second to none. Additionally, he can command as large a budget as the best of them, so you know he can also provide an unfettered blockbuster spectacle. So for arguments sake, lets say he's making fiction films based on his research of 70s New Hollywood films. What would he tackle? Let's go through the decade one film at a time and see if Tarantino will take on anything similar.
1970 - Five Easy Pieces
Having screened it at the Lumiére Festival, its safe to say that Tarantino likes this movie. Starring Jack Nicholson as a drifter with wasted talents, it probably appeals to Tarantino's propensity for off-beat narrative techniques, starting one way before ending in a completely unexpected yet totally satisfying way. An immense character drama that generates relentlessly deep pathos, as well as lots of conversations in cars and diners, Tarantino's own spin on this type of drama could yield surprisingly satisfying results.
1971 - McCabe And Mrs Miller
McCabe and Mrs Miller is a prime example of how to take a classic genre and imbue it with personal spirit. This landmark film by Robert Altman starred Warren Beatty and Julie Christie as tragic lovers who run a brothel together. It was also one of the first films, after The Graduate, to use popular music in the soundtrack, deploying the tragic stylings of Leonard Cohen to accompany their fates. Tarantino has already made two oddball Westerns. Why not an anti-Western?
1972 - The Godfather
OK, maybe this choice is a little ambitious, given that this is a little too much of a pinnacle even by Tarantino's standards, yet the man does know his way around a gangster or two. Seeing as Tarantino likes to bring back an old face to resurrect their career, maybe we can see Robert Duvall or James Caan roped back into an epic gangster saga done on Tarantino's terms. Not something like The Godfather exactly, but a gangster drama on that scale must be something Tarantino would be interested in.
1973 - The Long Goodbye
Another Robert Altman film, yet another classic, adapting the eponymous hardboiled novel by Raymond Chandler and turning it into an inquisition of the film noir genre itself. The Long Goodbye, starring a chain-smoking Elliott Gould in a world that no longer needs his attention, works as both a criticism and a lament for that world. Tarantino putting his spin on that material would be highly interesting. Seeming as Christoph Waltz feels like a man from a different era, stick him in the lead.
1974 - The Parallax View
A creepy murder of a politician. A newspaperman tasked with finding out why. A weird cult-like group known as the Parallax Corporation. Sounds right up Quentin's street. Tarantino has been known for genre-hopping with each film he makes. Why not a conspiracy thriller? As a man known for building up dramatic irony and tension, seeing him take on a film where danger could be lurking around every corner would be truly thrilling indeed.
1975 - Jaws
Listed by the man himself as one of his favourite films, the idea of Tarantino taking on a monster movie in the don't-show-your-hand-too-early style of Jaws would be a sheer delight. With the murderous monster as a springboard, he could shoehorn in his usual enjoyment of long pop-culture filled conversations, all the while us lot knowing that a potential death awaits them very soon. Prolonging the inevitable could provide the audience with immense joy.
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1976 - Network
The Sidney Lumet masterpiece is a seething drama that marked a turning point in popular culture, predicting everything from reality TV to the rise of globalisation. It is also a fast-paced and compelling (featuring no extra-diegetic music) ensemble thriller with little equal, as interested in the plights of the characters as in nailing the bigger picture. With his last three films we saw Tarantino move towards a more moral cinema, violently subverting our understanding of history in order to criticise racist attitudes. Could he make a contemporary film with the same amount of venom?
1977 - Annie Hall
Could you imagine? Yet a good-old rom-com would not be beneath Tarantino. After all, this is the man who wrote True Romance and Natural Born Killers. The question is, could he make a romantic comedy with no killing whatsoever? Just two people getting to know each other? A master with words, you'd be watching the whole thing waiting for the other shoe to drop. Yet given Tarantino's obsession with non-linear timelines, he could make something truly unique with the themes of love and loss.
1978 - The Driver
In this hard-as-nails crime picture from Walter Hill, characters are only known as archetypes: The Driver, The Detective, The Player, The Connection. Everything else follows in such a fashion, but somehow it manages to stay away from cliché and instead move into the real of ultimate cool. A clear inspiration on Winding Refn's Drive, one wonders Tarantino — a man extremely fond of his vintage cars — could do with such a genre.
1979 - Apocalypse Now
More ambitious than my Godfather choice? Probably. Even Tarantino doesn't have the ability to make a war picture as outlandish, unhinged and as incredible as Apocalypse Now. But it would be extremely amusing to see him try. Given the effect the Vietnam War would have on this generation of filmmakers, who channeled that rage at the war into some of their greatest art, to see how Tarantino — who has hitherto put his own spin on WW2 — would tackle this kind of material could be extremely fascinating to see. Maybe he'll make the Vietnamese the heroes?
Which Film Would You Like Tarantino To Get Inspired From?