For years, director/writer Quentin Tarantino has talked about how he would retire from directing after his 10th film. A big part of the reason was Tarantino has long wanted to evade the “last movie is horrible” curse. He once said the following:
"Most directors have horrible last movies. Usually their worst movies are their last movies. That’s the case for most of the Golden Age directors that ended up making their last movies in the late ’60s and the ’70s, then that ended up being the case for most of the New Hollywood directors who made their last movies in the late ’80s and the ’90s.”
This topic came up again this week during his appearance on the “Pure Cinema Podcast" where he joined the show to discuss five great final movies from his favorite directors (one example he gave was Tony Scott's 2010 film Unstoppable). It was during this podcast that he shocked people when attention was turned to his own career and in discussing the idea of the "last movie is horrible" curse says he may consider retiring BEFORE doing a 10th film.
Tarantino's last film, 2019's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, went on to be a major box office and critical success and, like most of his films, was a major awards contender, nominated for ten Oscars including Best Picture. Ultimately, the film went on to win Best Supporting Actor for Brad Pitt and Best Production Design for Barbara Ling and Nancy Haigh. Later this month, on June 29th, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood will release a novel adaptation (with pre-orders for the book now available). During the podcast, Tarantino wasn't afraid to say "“I mean, most directors’ last films are fucking lousy" and pointed out he'd be happy ending with his 9th film:
“Maybe I should not make another movie because I could be really happy with dropping the mic. That’s the frustrating part… a lot of the really terrific directors, it’s like their third-to-the-last movie would have been an amazing, amazing one to end on, which goes back to what I was saying about myself. Or you know, if Don Siegel had stopped with Escape from Alcatraz, oh my fucking god. What a career…he really said it all. The other two were just jobs.”
Tarantino also pointed to director Arthur Penn (Bonnie & Clyde) as an example of why he might hang up his hat:
"I’m not a super huge fan of this director, but the fact that Arthur Penn’s last movie is Penn & Teller Get Killed is a metaphor for how crummy most of the New Hollywood directors’ last, last films were. So to actually end your career on a decent movie is rare. To end it with, like, a good movie is kind of phenomenal.”
There have been indications for awhile that Tarantino was losing interest in filmmaking, made most clear by also discussing last January about his recent 2018 marriage to Israeli singer Daniella Pick and the coming birth of his child (who was born the next month after the interview). Particularly, how all that all made him want to focus on being a good father and husband:
“I kind of feel this is the time for the third act [of my life] to just lean a little bit more into the literary, which would be good as a new father, as a new husband. I wouldn’t be grabbing my family and yanking them to Germany or Sri Lanka or wherever the next story takes place. I can be a little bit more of a homebody, and become a little bit more of a man of letters.”
Whether Tarantino truly decides to follow-up this talk with retirement remains to be seen. Tarantino roughly has a 3-4 year gap between his movies. Which means, if he doesn't release a film by 2023, it's a strong bet he's sticking to it. But either way, he's carved a niche for himself in the history of cinema. One that will, like his own movies, be elements of pop culture referenced by newer filmmakers for decades to come. Stay tuned!