Pedro Almodovar and Quentin Tarantino were very important directors of my teenage years. Later, during my film studies, I was heavily influenced by their aesthetics and dramaturgy. Each of them in a very different way but I would say equally strong.
Tarantino, with his Pulp Fiction (1994) was the hero of us, young wannabe movie writers, all too keen to deconstruct the storyline and plot even before we learn how to construct one. Almodovar, on the other hand was the strongest European author of that period, proving that one can have commercial success and recognition of critics with a very peculiar style. I still consider his move Todo sobre mi madre (All about my mother, 1999) to be one of the most impactful cinematic experiences that I ever had.
Ten plus years after the peaks of their careers, both directors are still active. But I’m not sure if I would write about them if my posts were focused only on movies. Not because I think they are not respected directors even now, but simply because in today’s film industry there are some other significant figures.
But Almodovar and Tarantino inspired my thoughts on another topic – how can one person make sure they work just for his/her own pure pleasure. What is the road that we should pick in order to achieve this? I was thinking about this last year after watching Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight (2015), but the same thoughts came back few days ago after Almodovar’s latest movie – Julieta (2016).
It was obvious after watching those two movies, that both directors had fantastic time making it, and it was also quite clear that they did everything precisely in the way that made them happy or emotionally fulfilled. For Tarantino, this was mostly obvious in references and highly aestheticized sequences, extremely long shots (that no one has been using in Hollywood for almost 100 years) and disillusion effects which have only one purpose – to bring fun to the author. It might bring fun to the audience as well but it doesn’t look like Tarantino cares too much about that. Almodovar works in his typical frame of highly artistic and a bit weird melodrama, but this time he doesn’t put too much effort into delivering any big thoughts to the audience. He doesn’t push to the very end. He does everything at the pace and with a style that makes him happy. After watching this movie, I read an article that the initial idea was to shoot this movie as his first English movie with Meryl Streep in the title role. But I guess he realized that he will not enjoy it in that case.
And you can now ask the logical question: what is so special here? Two big names are now in the position to do whatever they want to due to the fact that they have long successful careers and a lot of money. And this is true to a certain extent. But what I find more important is the fact that those two authors haven’t reached this position by compromising through the early stages of their careers in order to earn money and then to be able to shoot movies that would make them satisfied. They were from the very beginning original and unique, with distinctive style that was not always welcomed by the audience and critics.
Often during our careers, we are pushed, directly or indirectly, to act per certain standards, to fit to mainstream and to fulfill expectations. Most of us tend to act in a way that we presume other people will like and support. After some time, we start to believe that this is the only way for us to reach career goals and maybe, after some time acquire independency and freedom of choice. But what may happen in the meantime is that we start losing ourselves. Our unique style and all the things that were different and interesting start to fade out. Slowly but surely we become just one of the many and even if we come to a position to do things in a different way, at that point, we have forgotten what that “other way” is. Not to mention all the fun and enjoyment that we are missing during those years of “waiting” and pushing back our real spirit.
What we see as a faster way and a shortcut to our key goals very often becomes a very long and exhausting journey – if not in reality, then in our perception. And perception is everything.
Being Almodovar or Tarantino of business is not easy. If you choose that path get ready to face many challenges, push backs and open wars. But for sure, that kind of path will secure more personal satisfaction and sooner than others you will be able to enjoy the work you do to the highest extent.
I’m done waiting. While I was waiting for things to change and for me to be ready for a change I have lost many years. Today I understand that you can make business success by being yourself and not trying to fit into a system. I’m far away from being Almodovar or Tarantino, neither in business nor arts, but you would be surprised how even small victories can make you satisfied when they matter and when you stay true to yourself. It’s not about Oscars and millions, it’s about the possibility not to give a damn about Oscars and millions and still manage to get them.
Cheers to all the authors who stayed true to themselves! And of course, movie recommendations for this weekend are all movies that I have mentioned in this post. Believe me, spend your Sunday watching those 4 movies and you will have an amazing and inspired week in front of you.