In a classic case of Arthouse vs. Grindhouse, Academy Award-winning Spanish director Pedro Almodovar has taken Academy Award-winning American director Quentin Tarantino to task for criticizing Italian films. You might have heard that Tarantino made disparaging remarks about the current state of Italian cinema last month ("Just depressing ... recent films I've seen are all the same") and that the film industry hit back (typical response: "Tarantino is a brute"). Even the classy Sophia Loren was quoted as saying: "How dare he talk about Italian cinema when he doesn't know anything about American cinema?"
In a delayed reaction, Almodovar has also stuck up for the Italians, reportedly saying: "Quentin is a good director, a passionate cinema enthusiast and great expert on all the world's trash. But you shouldn't take his comments too seriously because he suffers from a form of verbal incontinence and he is nostalgic for the Italian cinema of [Umberto] Lenzi,[Mario] Bava and [Lucio] Fulci. I don't think he was comparing the best auteur cinema of yesterday and today. I doubt he had the cinema of Luchino Visconti,Pietro Germi and Pier Paolo Pasolini in mind. And I don't think he knows Italy's auteur filmmakers of today."
The occasion was a ceremony in which Almodovar was awarded the title of Commendatore, a high honor in Italy, so maybe he felt it was incumbent upon him to defend the industry. It's all well and good that Almodovar is defending the Italians -- who doesn't like a little verbal scuffle between world-class film directors? But his argument appears to be more about sensibility than nationality. To take just one example, Almodovar appears to call Mario Bava a director of "trash," while respected critics like Tim Lucas have fought for many years to establish Bava's artistry. No doubt Tarantino will have more to say when he serves as "patron and presenter" of a retrospective of spaghetti Westerns at the Venice Film Festival in a couple of months.