Quentin Tarantino had so much fun competing at the Cannes Film Festival two years ago that when he got home, he staged his own mini-Cannes.
Tarantino — who won the Palme d’Or, Cannes’ top prize, in 1994 for “Pulp Fiction and also headed the jury that awarded the same honor to “Fahrenheit 9/11” in 2004 — was at Cannes with his psycho-killer thriller “Death Proof” in 2007.
“I had such a good time and it brought back memories of me being on the jury that when I went home, I went into my DVD collection and I picked 14 films from all over the world that I had never seen and decided to have my own little Cannes Film Festival,” said Tarantino, who is competing again at Cannes with the World War II epic “Inglourious Basterds.”
“In the course of, like, a week and a half, I watched those 14 movies and then judged them as if I was on a jury, a jury of myself, just watching them. And then I gave out my own little awards.”
Tarantino’s imaginary Palme d’Or went to Tom Tykwer’s “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer.”
“Inglourious Basterds” has had a mixed reception from Cannes crowds, some critics finding it jumbled and overreaching, others praising its sly humor, stylish production and revisionist twist on how the war ended.
The film stars Brad Pitt as leader of a “Dirty Dozen”-style band of Jewish soldiers who spread mayhem and terror behind German lines. They’re enlisted in a bold plot to take out the Third Reich’s leaders at the premiere of a Nazi propaganda film in Paris.
Tarantino, 46, has been rushing about to see some of the other 19 films his is up against, including the hit man thriller “Vengeance” from Johnnie To and the vampire romance “Thirst” from Park Chan-wook, whose “Oldboy” was awarded second prize by Tarantino’s Cannes jury in 2004.
“The thing about it is, I don’t have to worry about any movie being like mine,” Tarantino said of “Inglourious Basterds,” which literally rewrites the history books. “So that’s not the issue.”
Along with Tarantino’s movie, the Cannes competition landed films from a dream team of three other past winners (Jane Campion’s “Bright Star,” Ken Loach’s “Looking for Eric” and Lars von Trier’s “Antichrist”), plus entries from such masters as Pedro Almodovar (“Broken Embraces”) and Ang Lee (“Taking Woodstock”).
Does Tarantino watch films differently when he knows he’s competing against them?
“The answer to that is yes and no,” Tarantino said. “I want them all to be great. I want every movie I see to be fantastic, so it’s not like I’m running out to see all of these movies hoping that they’re bad. I want them to be wonderful. I want to be invigorated by them. I want to be inspired by them. I want the competition to be terrific, and this is the year of fantastic auteurs. This is like almost an auteur smackdown going up.
“So no way I’m going to this festival without seeing as many movies as I possibly can.”