At once film criticism, film theory, reporting, and personal history, it is all written in the singular voice recognizable immediately as QT's and with the perspective about cinema possible only from one of the greatest practitioners of the artform.
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.