Quentin Tarantino has always found irony between the sacred and the profane.
The Oscar-winning writer/director revealed in his new book “Cinema Speculation” that the downfall of American auteur filmmaking in the 1980s in part led him to look for new sources of inspiration, namely connecting with Pedro Almodóvar’s 1986 film, “Matador.”
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The controversial NC-17-rated erotic thriller follows a student matador, played by Antonio Banderas, who confesses to a murder he did not commit, while finding pleasure in the pain of others. Almodóvar confirmed that the graphic opening sequence featured an unsimulated sex scene as well as a character masturbating to Mario Bava’s 1964 giallo slasher “Blood & Black Lace”; Almodóvar later admitted in his own book “Almodóvar on Almodóvar” that “Matador” was one of his weakest films. Yet it unlocked something in Tarantino.
“I remember when I worked at my Manhattan Beach video store, Video Archives, and talked to the other employees about the types of movies I wanted to make, and the things I wanted to do inside of those movies. And I would use the example of the opening of Almodovar’s ‘Matador,'” Tarantino wrote in “Cinema Speculation,” out now.
“And their response would be, ‘Quentin, they won’t let you do that,'” the “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” director continued. “To which I replied back, ‘Who the fuck are “they” to stop me? “They” can go fuck themselves.'”
The “Pulp Fiction” writer/director further described the impact of “Matador” given the era.
“At the right age (mid-twenties), and at the right time (the fucking eighties), the fearlessness demonstrated by Pedro Almodóvar led by example,” Tarantino wrote. “As I watched my heroes, the American film mavericks of the seventies, knuckle under to a new way of doing business just to stay employed, Pedro’s fearlessness made a mockery of their calculated compromises. My dreams of movies always included a comic reaction to unpleasantness, similar to the connection that Almodovar’s films made between the unpleasant and the sensual.”
He added, “Sitting in a Beverly Hills art house cinema, watching Pedro’s vividly colorful, thrillingly provocative, 35mm images flickering on a giant wall — demonstrating that there could be something sexy about violence — I was convinced there was a place for me and my violent reveries in the modern cinematheque.”
Tarantino concluded, “Now I wasn’t a professional filmmaker back then. I was a brash know-it-all film geek. Yet, once I graduated to professional filmmaker, I never did let ‘they’ stop me. Viewers can accept my work or reject it. Deem it good, bad, or with indifference. But I’ve always approached my cinema with a fearlessness of the eventual outcome. A fearlessness that comes to me naturally — I mean, who cares, really? It’s only a movie.”
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