Quentin Tarantino’s Last Movie Might Have Been About Quentin Tarantino Movies

Tarantinos, assemble.

US director Quentin Tarantino waves as he arrives for the Closing Ceremony and the screening of the ...

Quentin Tarantino was a literal poster boy for ’90s movies, as Pulp Fiction posters were plastered on the walls of countless dorm rooms. Despite that, Tarantino has kept his filmography relatively small after declaring a decade ago that he plans to retire after his 10th movie. With Once Upon a Time... In Hollywood being his ninth film, fans were waiting with bated breath to learn what his last film would be.

In March 2023, The Hollywood Reporter revealed Tarantino’s next and presumedly final movie would be called The Movie Critic, “set in late 1970s Los Angeles with a female lead at its center.” Rumors swirled around who could star in the filmmaker’s swan song, but it was all for naught. Last week, THR revealed Tarantino is scrapping the movie and going back to the drawing board.

After a brush with the Mansons, Cliff Booth could have appeared in the final Tarantino movie.

Columbia Pictures

With The Movie Critic apparently canceled, speculation switched to what it could have been about. The only reported casting was Brad Pitt, which led to theories that he would reprise his role as Cliff Booth, the stuntman at the center of Once Upon a Time... In Hollywood. According to THR, one idea for the film would have seen Tarantino “bring back some of the stars of his earlier work to reprise their iconic characters in ‘movie within a movie’ moments, or to play fictional versions of themselves as the actors who played those characters.”

That’s a wild idea, but one that actually confirms a lot of the speculation surrounding the film. Tarantino’s filmography has always had a rough throughline suggesting a shared universe, usually through Easter eggs like Red Apple cigarettes being smoked by all his characters.

According to Tarantino himself, his movies exist on two different levels: the world of his more realistic stories, and the movies that exist within that world. “When the characters of Reservoir Dogs or Pulp Fiction, when they go to the movies ... Kill Bill is what they go see,” he said in a 2016 TV interview. “From Dusk Til Dawn is what they go see.”

The Movie Critic could have combined these worlds by bringing back existing characters like Cliff Booth, while also inventing in-universe actors who played characters in movies within that world. Make sense? Yes, we’ve only seen Cliff Booth in the late ’60s and Kill Bill came out decades later (in our world, at least), but an actress who looks like a young Uma Thurman — Maya Hawke perhaps — could have appeared as an ingenue destined to star as The Bride within Cliff Booth’s universe. Regardless of his approach, Tarantino could have finally brought some clarity to his universe.

Tarantino’s final feature could have been a tribute to his love of movies, including his own.

Jim Steinfeldt/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Maybe such a saga would have been just what fans wanted, or maybe it would have been a self-indulgent mess. Now it sounds like we’ll never know. But if the perfect last movie idea isn’t materializing, maybe Tarantino should abandon his 10-movie rule. If every director stopped at 10 movies, we wouldn’t have Jurassic Park, Goodfellas, Psycho, or The Shining. If Tarantino is dead set on calling it a career after one more outing, maybe all this speculation has proved that fans want something typically goofy, provocative, and a little experimental, too.

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