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Quentin Tarantino's Film Generates Buzz At Cannes Film Festival


Time now to check in with film critic Kenneth Turan, doing the hard work in the south of France at this year's Cannes Film Festival. He is taking a break from all the screenings to talk with us.

Hi, Ken.

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: Hey, Rachel. How you doing?

MARTIN: I am doing well. How's France treating you?

TURAN: It's doing OK. It's doing its best.

MARTIN: And there is a lot of buzz this year around a particular Quentin Tarantino film, right? This is set in Los Angeles, 1969; stars Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie. Tell me more about it.

TURAN: Yeah. It's called that - "Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood," and it has been the film everyone has been pointing to at the festival because it's Quentin Tarantino. He's had a lot of success here. You know, some things are very Tarantino about it. It's got a plot twist that's going to be very controversial. It's got a scene of extreme violence.

But a lot of the film is different. It's kind of warm and affectionate. It sounds odd even associating those words with Tarantino's name, but this is about Tarantino's love for the pop culture of that period, for the movies, for the TV, for the music. He just is so in love with it. He brings it alive again with such warmth. It's really kind of something I never thought I'd ever see.

MARTIN: Well, that's interesting because I know that you are not necessarily a fan of all Tarantino's films. And I'm hearing in your voice that you kind of dig this one.

TURAN: (Laughter) I like this one. I mean, I am as surprised as anyone hearing that I liked it - that I did like it. But Tarantino's in his 50s now. There's a kind of maturation there. It's really - it's something different. Again, there are parts of it that are the old Quentin Tarantino. I don't want to mislead people.

MARTIN: Right.

TURAN: But there are parts of it that are very new.

MARTIN: OK. Let's talk about other discoveries. Any smaller films that you discovered at this year's festival?

TURAN: Well, there was. You know, there's - that's a great part for me about Cannes - is coming across films you had no idea existed that you fall in love with. There's an Italian animated film made from a celebrated children's book called "The Bears' Famous Invasion Of Sicily," and it's just what it sounds like. It's about bears invading Sicily. And it's just...

MARTIN: I love a title that just says what it is.

TURAN: Yes. This is not a trick title, you know? This is just right there. And it's just - it's very vivid colors. It's beautiful animation. The story is just fun and amusing. It's got some serious edges to it. I mean, it just swept me away. I'm just - and you know - and it's always possible there are companies that do pick these kind of films up for American distribution. If we're lucky, we'll get to see this one.

MARTIN: There are always such good documentaries that come out of Cannes. Have you seen any of those?

TURAN: Yeah. I mean, there's one - actually, I've seen several, but there's one that really stood out for me. It's called "Diego Maradona." It's by a director named Asif Kapadia, who people might remember - he won the Oscar for "Amy," his film on Amy Winehouse.

MARTIN: Right.

TURAN: He makes very intense documentaries. He goes very deeply into the subject matter. And Diego Maradona was, in his prime, you know, the best, most controversial player in the most popular sport in the world - soccer. And he had a very kind of controversial life. All kinds of things happened to him.

The film focuses on one particular part of his life - when he played for Sicily. He was called the most expensive player in the world in the poorest city in Italy. It was quite a story. It's never been told in this depth before. It's a fascinating human story. You don't have to care that much about soccer to really be involved in this guy, what he went through and what went on behind the scenes.

MARTIN: Well, Ken, thank you for doing the hard work for us. Make sure to keep applying your sunscreen. And...

TURAN: I'm doing my best.

MARTIN: ...I'm looking forward to checking out all those movies.

Thank you so much.

TURAN: Thank you, Rachel.

MARTIN: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and the Los Angeles Times. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.