Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds, 2009, stills from a color film in 35 mm, 148 minutes.


“I’M FRENCH. WE RESPECT DIRECTORS IN OUR COUNTRY,” says a character in Quentin Tarantino’s World War II Jewish-revenge-fantasy epic Inglourious Basterds, the most anticipated film at Cannes—and the one that’s proven to be the most meta about the festival itself, a twelve-day orgy of le cinéma d’auteur. As in all QT productions, Inglourious Basterds is stuffed with cinephilic references: A British officer (played by Michael Fassbender) was a film critic in his civilian life and the author of a book on G. W. Pabst; the heroine (Mélanie Laurent) runs a movie theater; a digression is included on the flammability of nitrate film, which becomes a tool to bring down the Third Reich.

Though Inglourious Basterds was met with more applause at the beginning than the end, scores of journalists rushed from the morning’s press screening at the enormous Lumière theater to form a sweaty scrum outside the press-conference room, hoping the butch security guards with earpieces would let them in. “Ah, one must wait for the hero of Cannes,” noted an Austrian reporter, who left before things got a little uncivilized. “Du calme, monsieur!,” insisted one woman to an aggro gent, determined to get to the front of the line.

Cannes may love Tarantino, who won the Palme d’Or in 1994 for Pulp Fiction, but the motor-mouthed director may have an even bigger crush on the festival. “During this time on the Riviera, cinema matters. It’s important,” Tarantino said, before declaring himself an artist without borders: “I am not an American filmmaker. I make movies for the planet Earth.” Earlier, his self-description was a bit grander: When a German reporter asked whether Tarantino, who has said he loves all the characters in his movies, is fond of even the Nazis in Inglourious Basterds, the director replied, “I love them from this God perspective. Because I am God, according to them.” Two actors who play SS officers, Daniel Brühl and Christoph Waltz, were fittingly supplicant to their lord, both getting up from their seats to plant big wet ones on Tarantino’s left cheek, the latter actor mystically remarking, “I let go and sent my character back to its maker.”

Film-festival programmers and German actors may worship Tarantino, but the director might need to start thinking about how to sweep someone else off her feet. When asked whether he was worried that jury president Isabelle Huppert, apparently once attached to Inglourious Basterds, which she may have either pulled out of or been fired from, would be disinclined to award him a second Palme d’Or, Tarantino established his bona fides as the actress’s number-one fan: “Nobody adores Isabelle Huppert more than myself. I’ve always loved Heaven’s Gate.” Explaining that the collaboration “just didn’t work because of scheduling, timing, and deal stuff,” Tarantino quickly added that the appreciation isn’t just one way: “I adore her, and she likes me.” As they say in France, on verra.

Melissa Anderson