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Many filmmakers view themselves in opposition to the dialogue around their work, and often grow paranoid once it takes on a life of its own. For years, Quentin Tarantino has been a welcome contrast: A restless cinephile who values the discourse surrounding movies, he advocates for the process of engaging with the art form as much as creating it. By running a movie theater in Los Angeles and presenting restorations around the world, Tarantino may be one of the most famous film educators ever. In interviews, he has said that he would have been a film critic if filmmaking hadn’t found him first. This guy gets it.
But then came the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, the imminent premiere of Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” and a curious edict. Ahead of the 1969-set epic, in which Leonardo DiCaprio plays a fading movie star and Brad Pitt his devout ex-stuntman, Tarantino published an online request that audiences avoid spoilers. “I love cinema. You love cinema,” he wrote. “It’s the journey of discovering a story for the first time.” The request may sound innocuous, and even practical, but it raises a number of troubling issues.
First - Tarantino - Motives - Paranoia - Storytellers
First off, I understand Tarantino’s motives, which speak to a growing paranoia among storytellers and the general public alike about the potential for their work to lose its currency once the secret’s out. Tarantino’s posting followed the blockbuster campaign by the Russo brothers to keep fans from spoiling “Avengers: Endgame” during its initial run. It worked — but would the spoilers have been that much worse if the filmmakers didn’t bother speaking up? This approach suggests an inherent distrust in audiences, as well as future viewers who should know how to avoid gathering too much information before watching a movie.
More than that, it has the inadvertent effect of...
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