Up close, not so personal with Quentin Tarantino on red carpet

Caroline Frost
August 07, 2009 12:00am

YOU can make new friends in strange places, I know.

Galleries, gigs, sit-ins and staff kitchens can all provide the forum for strangers to become acquaintances, nodding colleagues to become drinking buddies.

Before you know it, you're swapping numbers, comparing notes on men and mankind and making your way to the pub.

The red carpet would appear to present the chance to make such connections, just in a far more glittery form. Isn't it the ultimate Willy Wonka ticket to luxury freebies, sparkling champagne and the chance to press your manuscript into the hand of an Oscar-winning director?

The place everybody wants to be, right? Wrong, so wrong. For all the bright lights and bushy tails telling us we're at the epicentre of all that is glamorous, the red carpet can be the coldest place in town.

For at least an hour before, a pack of cheerless, unruly press hounds use knees, elbows and other available instruments to secure the best spot along the rope.

This charmless routine becomes redundant when the film's publicists, uniformly pretty, appear with their positioning chart and make it abundantly clear whom they hold dear. Woe betide you if you shift from position, even if it does happen to be behind a pillar.

Finally, and without fail at least half an hour late, the "talent" appears. Last Sunday it was the impossibly beautiful Diane Kruger and famously moody Quentin Tarantino.

He was at least grinning on this occasion, but visibly bored by proceedings. Suddenly the stormtrooper publicists capable of making grown cameramen cry turn into butter, hesitant to turn the star anywhere he doesn't want to go.

Never has a pecking order been so apparent. We are comically insignificant.

Kruger beams on cue and answers the questions we put to her, but it's a charade of intimacy. Do I really think she's going to wait until she's in a foreign land, standing in the cold with some stranger slapping a microphone in her face, to reveal a life-long secret, a golden nugget of confession?

I think not. It's beyond bland.

Compare this pantomime with the stage-managed productions of yesteryear, when studios militarily controlled access to their major stars, when all we really had were publicity stills of a glowing Grace Kelly, a gloomy Garbo.

We didn't think we knew them, their magic and our fantasies both remained intact, and somehow the process contained more authenticity than this faux intimacy we're now handed.

Of course, the press could turn away from the table and boycott the event, but everyone would have to act en masse.

No doubt someone would sneak out and, who knows, garner an exclusive unrehearsed conversation with the A-lister that we all covet. This kind of casual chat acts like a thermostat, switching itself off as soon as there are too many people around.

The whole enterprise is thus entirely self-defeating. Yes, there are many places in the world to make new friends, but the red carpet isn't one of them.

Trust me, you're missing nothing. You'll make more friends staying in the pub.

Quentin Tarantino at the Melbourne premiere of Inglourious Basterds. Picture: Reuters