Kyle Smith reminded us yesterday that director Quentin Tarantino, 58, intends to retire after his tenth film, which means he’s going to make only one more. Of course, my hope is that our greatest director — whose violent, funny, and absurdist work caters to my Generation X sensibilities — changes his mind. Ten, after all, is but an arbitrary number.
Tarantino says he’ll quit because he “knows film history and from here on in, directors do not get better.” To do my (very) small part, I set about debunking this claim, tracking down a list of his favorite films, hoping to present a masterpiece — judged by his own standards — that was directed by someone over the age of 60. Well, I couldn’t really do it. Only a single film on his list, Battle Royale, was directed by a filmmaker over 60 (Kinji Fukasaku, who was 70). Sergio Leone, who directed only seven movies in all, made Tarantino’s favorite film The Good, the Bad and the Ugly at the age of 37. Almost all the other works — Black Sabbath, Apocalypse Now, Boogie Nights, and so on — were made by directors in their 30s as well.
Next, I went about trying to ferret out a prominent director who didn’t make the list, whose best work came after the age of 60. This didn’t look promising at first, either. The only movie Stanley Kubrick made after 60 was Eyes Wide Shut. Francis Ford Coppola directed the horrid Jack at the same age Tarantino is now. Woody Allen’s first two films after the age of 60 were the musical Everyone Says I Love You and the Philip Roth knock-off Deconstructing Harry, which were adequate, I suppose. But 60 marked the beginning of a decline in quality — even if his filmography had a few gems left. The best I could come up with was Martin Scorsese, who made Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed, The Wolf of Wall Street, and Silence after 60. More importantly, Goodfellas, perhaps Scorsese’s best work, was his twelfth proper movie. Tarantino may be only three movies away from his true masterpiece. How can he quit at ten?