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Tarantino to lord over Cannes film festival

Published on 16/02/2004

PARIS, Feb 15 (AFP) - Quentin Tarantino's career arc, it seems, is now complete.

From his start as a movie-obsessed video store clerk to a rebellious novice director who shook up Hollywood with “Reservoir Dogs” and “Pulp Fiction”, the 40-year-old has become something of an establishment figure – as his invitation to head this year’s Cannes Film Festival attests.

His latest two-part opus, “Kill Bill”, shows his sense of homage, innovation and, above all, stylised violence, have not changed, but rather that the film world has caught up and elevated his brand of movie-making to the equivalent of cinematographic aristocracy.

It was only 10 years ago that he walked off with Cannes’ top prize, the Palme d’Or, for “Pulp Fiction”.

The fact that this time he will be back at the red-carpet event on the French Riviera as jury president – an honour announced Friday – underscores his transformation and the one he has wrought on filmmakers who followed him.

“For a filmmaker and film lover theres no greater honour than to be on the jury of the Cannes Film Festival,” Tarantino said after his appointment was made public.

“To be president is both a magnificent honour and a magnificent responsibility.”

For Cannes, which is to open its 12-day run on May 12, it also represents a badly needed shot in the arm.

Last year’s shindig was widely held to be a lacklustre affair, with reviewers and industry types sitting through a sub-par selection of competition movies before the Palme was finally given to US director Gus Van Sant’s “Elephant”, a non-mainstream auteur feature that recalled the United States’ problem of school shootings.

It remains to be seen, however, whether Tarantino will be able to maintain the relative decorum set by previous jury presidents. His liberal use of crude language in interviews is famous, and he’s not shy of courting the spotlight.

Perhaps more interesting will be the guesswork surrounding Tarantino’s own evaluation of the films in competition at the festival, the titles of which have yet to be released.

The US director is known as an avid film buff, who is apt to make references to anything from French new-wave director Jean-Luc Godard to Hollywood classics, from B-grade horror flicks to Spaghetti Westerns. His palette is large, but leans towards action and spicy dialogue.

Much of that background can be seen in his own films, where characters spout on about hamburgers in Europe, or perform samurai-style acrobatics, or engage in ultra-gory bloodletting. Generally to a rocking soundtrack.

The Tarantino recipe has proven a salvation for actors sliding into oblivion, such as John Travolta, who starred in “Pulp Fiction”, as well as for A-list stars such as Robert De Niro (“Jackie Brown”) or Bruce Willis (also “Pulp Fiction”).

It’s a testament to the dual originality and derivation of his work that he has achieved greatness with such a small body of work as director, just four feature-length films (if you count the two parts of “Kill Bill” together).

For the millions who tune in to the awards ceremony at the end of this year’s Cannes festival, though, the reward will be in knowing that the choices made were done so by one of the world’s biggest movie fans.


                                                              Subject: France news