What Should Quentin Tarantino Do Next?

With The Hateful Eight in theaters, Quentin Tarantino claims he has only two movies left to make. What should they be?

If you haven’t seen The Hateful Eight in glorious 70mm yet, do yourself a favor and attend it in that preferred format. Complete with an intermission, a program, and a wonderfully eerie overture by composer Ennio Morricone, the film is an intentional throwback to yesteryear and marks director Quentin Tarantino’s first full-throated Western after tiptoeing around the genre for at least over a decade.

However, it also is the eighth directorial effort by Quentin Tarantino too—assuming of course you count the Kill Bill volumes as one entry like Tarantino does. For QT fans and cinephiles alike, this is somewhat of a forlorn thought, because according to the eclectic filmmaker himself, he is going to retire after completing 10 feature length motion pictures.

While we tend to share frequent Tarantino collaborator Samuel L. Jackson’s skepticism about what Tarantino could possibly do to fill the void of departing the world of cinema, the director has mostly remained adamant that he will withdraw to a career as a playwright or as a television/miniseries creator. And if he sticks to that ideal, it means that we only have two more new moviegoing experiences from the auteur.

So, what should he possibly do next when faced with his potentially penultimate film? We consider the possibilities…

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The Forty Lashes Less One Miniseries

I was at a press conference for The Hateful Eight last month when Quentin Tarantino confirmed that he wants his next Western to be a television miniseries event.

The idea of Tarantino returning to the West is not only unsurprising but quite welcome in the wake of The Hateful Eight, which was Stagecoach meets Italian Giallo horror, and Agatha Christie meets Reservoir Dogs.  And for months, the genre mixologist has been hinting that he wants to one day be seen (amongst other things) as a great Western director like John Ford or Sergio Leone. In order to achieve that, he contends he needs to do at least three Westerns, thus he is only two-thirds there (assuming you count the Antebellum-set Django Unchained as a Western, despite its Dixie roots).

But thankfully he appears to have found a loophole into doing another oater without using up one of his arbitrary “final two” film slots. By confirming the plan to adapt Elmore Leonard’s Forty Lashes Less One to the small screen, Tarantino is allowing himself to continue mining the rich themes of America’s past sins that he’s delved deeply into with the grandiose Django and Hateful. Further, if Forty Lashes is his next project, he can immediately satisfy that creative impulse before hopefully stepping away toward newer, greener pastures for his final two theatrical efforts.

And rest assured, Forty Lashes will still contain much of Tarantino’s DNA since he would shoot it (even for TV) on 35mm film. “I’ll never shoot digital.” Additionally, the Leonard novel’s plot certainly looks like a spiritual follow-up for the director, because it focuses on an African-American prisoner’s relationship with an incarcerated Native American while stuck in the Yuma, AZ prison. They even form a reluctant friendship when a different kind of “white hell” in the form of a bloodthirsty gang rides into town.

Tarantino has also become so grandiloquent with his plotting in recent years (four of his last five movies were over two and a half hours) that a five or six-hour miniseries might allow him to finally express all of his thoughts on this uniquely American genre.

Kill Bill Vol. 3

At least a certain subsection of Tarantino fans still eagerly await the day we’ll return to the universe of Beatrix Kiddo, aka “the Bride.” For while Beatrix most surely did kill Bill—and got bloody good satisfaction while doing it—the story is not necessarily over. In fact, Tarantino confirmed as much to Entertainment Weekly in 2004 when he said:

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“Oh yeah, initially I was thinking this would be my ‘Dollars Trilogy.’ I was going to do a new one every 10 years. But I need at least 15 years before I do this again. I’ve already got the whole mythology: Sofie Fatale will get all of Bill’s money. She’ll raise Nikki, who’ll take on The Bride. Nikki deserves her revenge every bit as much as The Bride deserved hers.”

For those who don’t remember the finer details, Tarantino is referring to Nikki Bell (Ambrosia Kelley), the six-year-old daughter of Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox). Vernita, aka “Copperhead,” was one of Bill’s gang that slaughtered the Bride’s wedding party and left her in a coma for five years, and it was Copperhead who we first see the Bride (Uma Thurman) get revenge on. And Beatrix killed Copperhead right in front of her young daughter.

In the aftermath, Thurman’s heroine told the kid that her mother had it coming, but if Nikki still feels raw about it, she’ll be waiting until Nikki is old enough to seek revenge. Similarly, Sofie Fatale (Julie Dreyfus) would still feel raw too about losing both of her arms to the Bride. So narratively, a revenge film about the cycle continuing against our first avenger has a certain kind of elegant logic to it.

Plus we’re coming up on close to 15 years since Kill Bill Vol. 1, right?

We sure are… but in all honesty, we hope Tarantino continues to push this project off. Whether counted as one film or two, Kill Bill has never been our favorite work from the director. I would even venture to say that along with Grindhouse, Kill Bill suggests that the early/mid 2000s was the filmmaker’s most indulgent period. And after four hours with the Bride, we suspect Tarantino has said his fill about the Kung Fu/martial arts genre.

Tarantino also (and thankfully) seems to now agree that Kill Bill Vol. 3 should stay on the permanent backburner.

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Killer Crow (aka Inglourious Basterds 2)

But there’s another cinematic universe Tarantino created that we’d be keener on revisiting, and it’s one so inglorious that it had to spell its titular adjective wrong!

Tarantino has been very open about the creative process for Inglourious Basterds, a film he wrote on-and-off for the better part of a decade. At one point, he even envisioned it as a film trilogy and then a miniseries, before he cut the script down to the feature length classic it became in 2009. But one of the elements that got chopped is also one he’s talked about ever since: a squad of renegade African-American soldiers cutting a bloody streak through France and onward to reach Switzerland or Hell! (Whichever comes first.)

In fact, as recently as Christmas 2012, Tarantino intended to make a movie about these fellows, who he deemed Killer Crow, and how they crossed paths with the Basterds. Speaking with Henry Louis Gates Jr. at The Root, Tarantino explained how this would combine the themes of Django and Basterds for the ultimate bit of revisionist history:

“My original idea for Inglourious Basterds way back when was that this [would be] a huge story that included the [smaller] story that you saw in the film, but also followed a bunch of black troops, and they had been f-ked over by the American military and kind of go apes-t. They basically – the way Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) and the Basterds are having an “Apache resistance” – [the] black troops go on an Apache warpath and kill a bunch of white soldiers and white officers on a military base and are just making a warpath to Switzerland.”

This idea certainly sounds brazen enough for the filmmaker that brought the words “mandingo fight” into the mainstream and is actually narratively closer to the plot of the original Inglorious Bastards B-movie from 1978 than Tarantino’s wildly different 2009 project. However, as much as we love Inglourious Basterds, like Kill Bill, it is probably best to move on. Besides, we have a hunch that Tarantino would agree since he adapted some of the elements from the Killer Crow’s origins into Major Marquis Warren’s Civil War backstory for The Hateful Eight.

A Screwball Comedy

This might seem like a screwball choice for more than one reason at first glance, but therein lies its appeal. In fact, it’s safe to say that one of the most influential films of all time on Quentin Tarantino has been His Girl Friday, which is one of the definitive screwball comedies.

Tarantino has repeatedly listed this Howard Hawks laugher with dialogue that fires faster than a Tommy gun as amongst his favorites and in 2010, he told The Guardian that it was one of the first films to inspire him to be a director and have a filmography. He even reportedly has made multiple casts sit down and watch the film for inspiration on dialogue exchanges—proving the cries for Lee Strasberg styled naturalism and authenticity should not always be heeded by serious thespians.

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If you don’t believe me, just look at the first page of Pulp Fiction’s script, which states, “It is impossible to tell where the Young Woman is from or how old she is; everything she does contradicts something she did. The boy and girl sit in a booth. Their dialogue is to be said in a rapid pace His Girl Friday fashion.”

Granted, Tarantino has included that fast-talking rapidity into all of his scripts, but instead of using it to serve other genre interests, perhaps the filmmaker would be curious to see how far he could stretch into simple hilarity? Consider that The Hateful Eight is an exercise in expanding his thriller scenes via amiable chitchat into their longest and most suspenseful form (three hours). Why not flip it and try to push his dialogue to its most acutely witty and hilarious where the aim is not to unsettle but to overjoy audiences? After all, Tarantino’s admiration for Howard Hawks is partially due to jumping from screwball comedies like His Girl Friday and Bringing Up Baby (1938) to gangster and war dramas like Scarface (1932) and To Have and Have Not (1944).

A Tarantino Musical!

Quentin Tarantino says he likes tackling projects that take him out his comfort zone, so I cannot imagine anything more enticingly out-there than doing a toe-tapper for his next feature. And again, there is a precedent….

While chatting with Elvis Mitchell on Turner Classic Movies, Tarantino said that, for a period of time, he and a friend were obsessed with rewatching Meet Me in St. Louis, a feel-good and Christmas-set Vincent Minnelli musical that starred Judy Garland. Aye, you can even thank that 1944 classic for the Yuletide staple, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.”

Now, I’d never suggest that Tarantino’s musical be that domestic, but if the filmmaker really wants to revisit familiar territory like the gangster genre (which he has stayed away from since 1997’s Jackie Brown) or the blood-and-blades world of martial arts cinema, imagine him doing so in the guise of a musical where the passionate murders and trenchant soliloquies come with accompanying strings? It would certainly be a massive undertaking for the prose-heavy wordsmith, and one we’d skip to the theaters to see.

Going Science Fiction

At the risk of suggesting “Tarantino in Space!” I would personally love to see the filmmaker tackle the science fiction genre. As is well recorded, Tarantino considers John Carpenter’s The Thing to be one of the most influential films of his career. And at various times, he’s named as among his personal favorite movies Stanley Kubrick’s dystopic, sci-fi film, A Clockwork Orange (1971), as well as… Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948).

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Admittedly, this is perhaps one genre he has displayed less interest in than others. However, I personally would love to see what he could do with its staples in the same way that his passion for The Dirty Dozen and Where Eagles Dare created something as uniquely QT as Inglourious Basterds.

In any case, those are a few suggestions of what we think Quentin Tarantino could do next. Would you like to see any of these or something completely different from the subversive auteur?