Getting The Drop On Tarantino


Quentin Tarantino: Cinema Speculation (Harper)

ON THE Q.T.: If you're a Film Lover, this book is definitely for You. The most engaging window into Quentin Tarantino's cranium you'll ever encounter. I read the whole thing, all 390 pages, in two days -- I couldn't put it down, literally (the last time I experienced THAT was inhaling Bob Dylan's Chronicles: Volume One over two days some years ago). Chock full of autobiographical tidbits and boldly assertive assessments of many, many films and filmmakers, not all favorable (spoiler alert: Q's pretty scathing about titans du cinema Scorsese, Schrader and DePalma, although not entirely -- he essentially gives them their fair due and only calls bullshit on them when appropriate), backed up with a staggering knowledge of cinematic backstory / how the actual sausage got made detail-ia, this book will leave you, well... Breathless, as the song goes. Some of Tarantino's opinions are so jaw-dropping as to provoke bar-room brawls among various professional cineastes -- a pretty picky brood forever defending their various turfs in the groves of academe. (Jim McBride's remake of Breathless is better than Godard's original?? Puh-leeze!!) If you care one iota about cinema history, you won't want to / can't afford not to read this book. (Although, hey, I've only seen about 70% of the films he rhapsodizes on -- the book is heavy on 70's exploitation films, which seem to predominantly inform Tarantino's overall aesthetic -- and the chance of me ever "catching up" and viewing them all are just about nil--tant pis). There's also a lot of ground I wish he'd covered here that doesn't get an honest look-see 'except for a passing glance (spaghetti westerns, for instance). Also, after tearing apart Paul Schrader for buckling under studio demands (didja know that Schrader's original Taxi Driver script called for a Black pimp -- definitely NOT Harvey Keitel's "Sport" character -- and a general mow-down of exclusively Black pimps and lowlifes in the penultimate bloodbath sequence, which Columbia Pictures feared would result in demonstrations if not riots against the film in 1976?), I was hoping for the full Tarantella on Blue Collar -- perhaps Schrader's best and most radical film. No such luck. There is no mention here either of his pal and collaborator Robert Rodriguez, who can really hold his own with T in the genre sweepstakes. But maybe they'll be addressed in Vol. 2 of Cinema Speculations, one can only hope another book is forthcoming sooner than later. (Also, Quentin will someday revive his superb Korean restaurant on Carmine Street, Do Hwa, where Caroline and I ate our way through many superb meals). 5 STARS

Add new comment