Quentin Tarantino is closing out his directorial career with a story about the film industry, which shows how his interest in storytelling has waned.
It somehow seems fitting that Quentin Tarantino is wrapping up his career as one of the most significant film directors in history with a film titled The Movie Critic. Even before he broke through to audiences and critics as one of the most celebrated filmmakers of the 1990s, the man behind Reservoir Dogs was known for his obsessive love of film history, famously working at the iconic Video Archives movie rental store in Southern California. But it is telling that at the self-imposed end of his career, Quentin Tarantino is now more interested in telling a story about the movie industry than working in it.
Details on The Movie Critic are still scarce, but it has been reported that Quentin Tarantino is looking to team up once again with Margot Robbie for the tale of a female film reviewer in the 1970s who is definitely not Pauline Kael. It also says something that the only story that the guy who once envisioned telling an epic, absurd revisionist history of World War II has left in him is about the people he’s been surrounded by for decades: other movie nerds.
At the beginning of Quentin Tarantino’s career as a filmmaker, he approached stories as a devoted fan of Hollywood, but one on the outside of the glitz and glamor. Rather than going to film school (notably saying that he went “to films,” instead), QT simply hung out in Hollywood and tried to get in anywhere he could. His feature-length debut film, Reservoir Dogs, was written in less than a month, completely unformatted, and given to a guy he met at a barbecue, which is not the mark of someone with lived-in Hollywood experience at the time.
But in 2023, Quentin Tarantino’s worldview is now that of an insider, a filmmaker who has been one of the most discussed directors in the world for years. It is very obvious that Tarantino is more concerned now with telling stories about people in Hollywood (like Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, obviously) than anything else.
In that, Quentin Tarantino is not alone. Hollywood has always been convinced that stories about show business are the most fascinating thing in the world, making new versions of A Star is Born until the sun itself burns out in the sky and producing bizarre fever dreams like Babylon regardless of how hard they flop. It is a little sad that the man who spent years of his life fusing every known genre of action movie into Kill Bill can’t think of anything more interesting than basically saying “Hollywood… pretty wild, right?”
Maybe this is unfair to the director, who has made his love affair with cinema a huge part of his image for years. Maybe The Movie Critic will prove us wrong and that Quentin Tarantino’s tenth film shows he still has something to say. But it feels like he might have just succumbed to Hollywood’s own love of looking at itself in the mirror.