A filmmaker, reviewing his own film, compares his technique to that of one of his own filmmaking idols. Behind the endearing braggadocio — hey Ma, I’m doing it just like Brian! — lies an observation that also happens to be completely accurate. Any film critic would give her left arm to have made that connection ... As much a filmgoing memoir as a work of criticism ... Tarantino is an unabashed celebrant of cinema’s dirtier pleasures, writing about the 'liquid ballet' of Sam Peckinpah, or the 'consequences-be-damned moxie' of Cybill Shepherd in Bogdanovich’s Daisy Miller, with a precision and gusto that cannot help recalling the mixture of violence and tenderness in his own films ... That Tarantino’s film reviews should turn out to be every bit as punchy, smart and surprising as his films should come as no surprise: In a sense he’s been writing both for years. His screenplays are also muscular acts of film criticism and revisionist history ... Occasionally, he cannot quite get outside himself ... Tarantino’s critical intelligence both refracts and reflects: He reveals himself in his opinion of others, just as surely as he illuminates their influence in his own work. What unites the various threads and themes of this book is the broad autobiographical truth that he was a filmgoer before he was a filmmaker, and will remain so for far longer.
As he heads into the self-imposed end of his consistently successful directorial career, the 59-year-old is positioning himself in his planned retirement from filmmaking to occupy a role he was born for: as a critical institution of movies as a whole ... Expect many blowhard declarations, illuminating digressions, and insightful interviews peppered throughout the enthusiastic-to-the-point-of-horniness text ... It all adds up to something akin to a one-of-a-kind and compulsively readable volume of film criticism as self-portrait. After all, what better way for Tarantino, who has lived and breathed 35-mm. his whole life, to tell his personal story than via moviegoing? And who knows—Cinema Speculation might decades from now be referenced by a future director as a revelatory sandwich read for a germinating cinephile today, the way Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was for a young Q.T.
... an unprecedented collection of film criticism in that it’s written by an actual filmmaker, at a career peak no less ... Tarantino takes Pauline Kael’s great strengths—liveliness, recklessness, humanity, her sheer readability—and weds them with his understanding of Hollywood as a business and his rat-a-tat verbosity as a former video clerk and fashions a singular style ... It’s the sense of freedom that’s most narcotic in Cinema Speculation, especially for those of us who’ve tried to get our personalities across in writing without losing gigs or getting lost in the weeds or having drafts returned awash in colored comments. Tarantino curses up a red storm, speaks in slang, and refuses to hyphen-out forbidden epithets ... Astonishingly few of these indulgences feel crass. And what if they did? Would any readers melt upon encountering them? ... Like the structural shagginess, the language and the unguarded grammar arise as the devices of someone saying what they fucking mean, regardless of trends or potential slaps on the wrists. Such freedom is the benefit of power, and of being grandfathered into pop culture before a potential insensitivity became a possible source of hysteria. Here, this freedom suggests white-guy entitlement, yes, but also a refusal to separate people via the borders of cautious euphemisms and manners that change with the winds anyway ... Tarantino’s willingness to do whatever he wants leads to revelatory places ... becomes a wrenching memoir, elucidating events that were already haunting many of the reviews in between the lines.
Are we really going to need the audiobook version? From the very first page, the author’s unmistakable voice ricochets between the reader’s ears: giggling, provoking, digressing, seducing and dropping deadpan little hints about his own life ... superb, boisterous pieces ... Tarantino unleashes a trivia torrent, forcing you to stand fully clothed under his personal Niagara of cinephile references ... It’s exasperating at first. But as so often in the past, I fell under Tarantino’s eerie spell. His passionate knowledge of movies and TV is amazing and slightly terrifying. This kind of engagement is on a level that few ever reach. Among Brit film-makers, only Edgar Wright can match Tarantino’s superhuman encyclopedism ... Despite the title, there’s not much that’s speculative about it. The keynote is cheerful, resounding certainty. Having said which, he does indulge in some expert what-if fantasising about how films could have been made another way ... Yet Tarantino’s insights, brazen and brilliant as they always are, are weirdly upstaged by the tiny, unfollowed-up hints he drops about his own psyche – which comprise the ostensible 'memoir' part of the book ... There is no self-analysis, no serious discussion of anything outside the movie theatre. Is he leaving the analysis – the speculation – up to the reader? Either way, this is an addictively readable piece of movie evangelism.
There’s nothing subtle about Tarantino’s riffs and ripostes about films, directors and actors, which are often laced with profanity and italicized words to really drive home his point. If the author’s name wasn’t an immediate tip-off, it soon becomes apparent that this isn’t your standard tome of film scholarship ... Tarantino occasionally dons the beret of the film professor, albeit a profane one...more of a list of films and directors he admires — almost all of them male — than it is a persuasive argument. You sense he’s included it out of a sense he has to say something that might impress cinema snobs ... He’s at his best and most amusing when he’s simply unpacking a mind stuffed with memories and opinions of favourite films, almost of all them from the 1970s, explaining in detail what he liked or disliked about them ... I would love to have read some elaboration of this philosophy, especially in regards to some of the actors he’s worked with. But Tarantino doesn’t expand on that thought and barely mentions most of his own nine feature films to date (he’s vowed he’ll stop at 10) ... Naming writers for the Los Angeles Times whom he despises — Tarantino really should have bottled this bile, which is unworthy of him — he unloads on movie critics in general...Ka-zing! It’s a strange beef given that most critics I know, present company included, adore Quentin Tarantino movies and can’t wait for his next one ... He remains reliably contrary, quotably obdurate and eternally passionate, qualities that make Cinema Speculation an entertaining trawl through the man’s mind.
... rollicking, ramshackle ... Tarantino likes looking under the bonnet and pulling at the fabric, showing how a film was put together and explaining how it could have gone other ways. Or rather, he does until he doesn’t: until his focus shifts and his attention pivots and he promptly starts chasing a fresh train of thought. His book embodies its sliding-doors concept, almost to a fault ... Some film-makers prefer to conceal their influences...Tarantino, endearingly, wears his on the outside, like a one-man Pompidou Centre with all the piping exposed. True to form, Cinema Speculation conducts a personal joyride through his film education, veering from the recognised heavyweights of 1970s Hollywood to a menagerie of scrappy unsung outsiders ... As a critic, it transpires, Tarantino writes exactly as he speaks, in a torrent of information and opinions; fuelled by breathless enthusiasm and unexplained grudges, rhetorical questions and full-throttle digressions ... I’m tempted to file Cinema Speculation as a paraphrased remake itself – an extended extrapolation of its author’s film-making day job. As with his pictures, it’s garrulous, indulgent and in desperate need of an edit. But it’s also bracing and heartfelt, positively ringing with life. Tarantino is happiest going deep on the pictures; he largely leaves himself unexamined. Nonetheless, this whiplashing tour sheds light on his apprenticeship, revealing the rackety upbringing of the boy who would one day be king. Like Proust with his madeleine, he remembers being dragged by his mum and her dates to see blaxploitation pictures at the Tower theatre in Compton, California. Tarantino recalls the wonder, the danger, the sense of tasting forbidden fruit. It’s an experience, he says, he’s been trying to replicate ever since. He’s come close with his films. He comes close, too, with this book.
... an opinionated, compulsively readable appreciation of the grimy, generally lurid movies of his ’70s youth ... To his credit, Tarantino, whose own movies skew toward the gleefully sordid, doesn’t just gush over these films. He offers his own highly subjective criticisms – he’s not the biggest Paul Newman fan – and, in the better chapters, he even does some reporting ... Tarantino can also be wickedly funny ... Tarantino knows what he likes, and he engages the reader with ease. Cinema Speculation is, at minimum, a whole lot of fun.
For better or worse, this is pure unfiltered Tarantinalia: a motormouthed mash-up of cinema history, conjecture and memoir that, like his screenplays, doesn’t so much flow as pepper you with a mishmash of fact and opinion ... The result is, for the most part, insanely readable for anyone interested in film trivia, less so for everyone else. Occasionally the author romps off on benders about subjects that might be glorious nostalgia-fests for his American readers, though probably of limited interest for British ones ... Reading Cinema Speculation is like being trapped in a bar with a passionate cinephile pelting you with a barrage of astute observation, informed conjecture, random listicles and utter nonsense ... Tarantino has seen more films than me, and probably more than you, so I think we can agree he is (to paraphrase Mel Brooks) truly the Lord of the Film Buffs. Curiously, though, he makes some rookie errors.
Tarantino brings the heat and exuberance of his movie expertise, storytelling artistry, and sharp humor to a dynamic mix of eyebrow-raising personal stories, zesty film history, and kickass film criticism. With chapters devoted to 1970s films he has seen many times over...Tarantino offers sizzling behind-the-production tales and exacting, speculative critiques. In some of the most intriguing passages, he remembers the responses of movie-theater audiences when he was young, especially in Black neighborhoods, where he accompanied Floyd Ray Wilson, a thirtysomething cinephile who showed him the screenplays he was writing ... Tarantino illuminates formative moments during a lifetime of watching, researching, evaluating, and creating in this rollicking cinematic celebration.
This is not objective film criticism; these are Tarantino’s personal, very passionate opinions on every aspect of the films and topics he covers. His genre and exploitation film roots are never far from view, but his holistic appreciation of cinema as an art form is front and center. Hopefully, he’ll have further volumes ... Dynamic film commentary from a contemporary legend that is essential reading for cinephiles.
Tarantino’s collection of essays about the important movies of his formative years is packed with everything needed for a powerful review: facts about the work, context about the creative decisions, and whether or not it was successful ... Whether you agree with his assessments or not, he provides the original reporting and insights only a veteran director would notice, and his engaging style makes it impossible to leave an essay without learning something ... Like any good critic, Tarantino reveals bits of himself as he discusses the films that are important to him, recalling where he was when he first saw them and what the crowd was like ... With this collection, Tarantino offers well-researched love letters to his favorite movies of one of Hollywood’s most ambitious eras .. .A top-flight nonfiction debut from a unique artist.
... a brilliant and passionate take on the 1960s and ’70s films that shaped him ... Tarantino’s joy, generosity, and singular point of view bolster his arguments, and even when he’s taking down his heroes, it’s out of love ... Whip-smart and obsessive, Tarantino is great fun and tough to beat.