Quentin Tarantino and Bret Easton Ellis discuss The Hateful Eight, Jean-Luc Godard, Pauline Kael and finding humor in outrageous film violence.
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Quentin Jerome Tarantino (born March 27, 1963) is an American filmmaker and actor. His films are characterized by non-linear storylines, satirical subject matter, an aestheticization of violence, utilization of ensemble casts, references to pop culture, their soundtracks, and features of neo-noir film.
Tarantino grew up as a devoted film fan and worked at Video Archives, a video rental store, while training to act. His career began in the late 1980s, when he wrote and directed My Best Friend’s Birthday, the screenplay of which formed the basis for True Romance. In the early 1990s, he began his career as an independent filmmaker with the release of Reservoir Dogs in 1992; regarded as a classic and cult hit, it was called the “Greatest Independent Film of All Time” by Empire. Its popularity was boosted by his second film, Pulp Fiction (1994), a black-comedy crime film that was a major success both among critics and audiences. Judged the greatest film from 1983–2008 by Entertainment Weekly, many critics and scholars have named it one of the most significant works of modern cinema. For his next effort, Tarantino paid homage to the blaxploitation films of the 1970s with Jackie Brown (1997), an adaptation of the novel Rum Punch.
Kill Bill, a highly stylized “revenge flick” in the cinematic traditions of Kung fu films, Japanese martial arts, spaghetti Westerns and Italian horror, followed six years later, and was released as two films: Volume 1 in 2003 and Volume 2 in 2004. Tarantino directed Death Proof (2007) as part of a double feature with friend Robert Rodriguez, under the collective title Grindhouse. His long-postponed Inglourious Basterds, which tells the fictional alternate history story of two plots to assassinate Nazi Germany’s political leadership, was released in 2009 to positive reviews. After that came 2012’s critically acclaimed Django Unchained, a Western film set in the antebellum era of the Deep South. It became the highest-grossing film of his career so far, making over $425 million at the box office. His eighth film, the mystery Western The Hateful Eight, was released in its roadshow version December 25, 2015, in 70 mm film format, complete with opening “overture” and halfway-point intermission, after the fashion of big-budget films of the 1960s and early 1970s.
Tarantino’s films have garnered both critical and commercial success. He has received many industry awards, including two Academy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, two BAFTA Awards and the Palme d’Or, and has been nominated for an Emmy and a Grammy. He was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by Time in 2005. Filmmaker and historian Peter Bogdanovich has called him “the single most influential director of his generation”. In December 2015, Tarantino received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to the film industry.
Bret Easton Ellis (born March 7, 1964) is an American novelist, screenwriter, and short story writer. His works have been translated into 27 languages. He was at first regarded as one of the so-called literary Brat Pack, which also included Tama Janowitz and Jay McInerney. He is a self-proclaimed satirist, whose trademark technique, as a writer, is the expression of extreme acts and opinions in an affectless style. Ellis employs a technique of linking novels with common, recurring characters.
Though Ellis made his debut at 21 with the controversial 1985 bestseller Less Than Zero, a zeitgeist novel about wealthy amoral young people in Los Angeles, the work he is most known for is his third novel, 1991’s American Psycho. On its release, the literary establishment widely condemned the novel as overly violent and misogynistic. Though many petitions to ban the book saw Ellis dropped by Simon & Schuster, the resounding controversy convinced Alfred A. Knopf to release it as a paperback later that year. Four of Ellis’s works have been made into films. Less Than Zero was rapidly adapted for screen, leading to the release of a starkly different Less Than Zero film in 1987. Mary Harron’s adaptation of American Psycho was released to predominantly positive reviews in 2000, and went on to achieve cult status. In later years, Ellis’ novels have become increasingly metafictional. 2005’s Lunar Park, a pseudo-memoir and ghost story, received positive reviews, and 2010’s Imperial Bedrooms, marketed as a sequel to Less Than Zero, continues in this vein.