Quentin Tarantino is coming to Berlin. The master director (“Pulp Fiction”, “Jackie Brown”) comes to the Admiralspalast on Wednesday, April 12, 2023. There he not only reads from his new book “Cinema Speculation”, but also discusses the most important American films of the 1970s for him. ROLLING STONE presents.
The Tarantino Podcast:
Quentin Tarantino live – presented by ROLLING STONE
April 12, 8 p.m., Admiralspalast
Cinema Speculation ★★★★★
Tarantino’s film analyzes are so passionate that one wonders what went wrong when he praises films one doesn’t like and cheers when he praises films one might be ashamed of liking. If you don’t know the films he sold, you google them to catch up with him. It is not self-evident that the 59-year-old tries to collect merits as a critic. He is an Oscar-winning director of some of the most important cinematic works of the past 30 years. Those who can make films no longer have to write about them. Unlike Godard, Truffaut, Bogdanovich and Schrader, Tarantino takes the opposite approach.
In this autobiography, he describes his childhood through the films that made him grow up in the 1970s, mostly New Hollywood films. His conclusions are brilliant, sometimes bold – but follow a certain logic. Travis Bickle, the anti-hero from Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, despite his claims, didn’t serve in the Vietnam War, so Tarantino denies him the right to psychosis. Bickle just…bought his military jacket at the army shop. How is Tarantino doing this? Bickle is a racist for using the N-word once. And anyone who fought with – often black – comrades in Vietnam could not be a racist. That’s why Bickle is a phony. Nonsense? Perhaps. But before Tarantino, no one stumbled across this little thing in the Taxi Driver script. He is the first reviewer to shake the foundation.
He makes duly devastating judgments about some directors: “Paul Schrader is a brilliant screenwriter with a huge, glaring weakness. He can’t write genre films.” There are a few lists that, as befits lists, are thrown out on the table but never explained, and thus receive mythological appreciation: “As far as artists were concerned, whose cinematic work was characterized by uncompromisingness, there were it in the eighties David Lynch, Paul Verhoeven, Abel Ferrara, Terry Gilliam, Brian De Palma (in part) and David Cronenberg. That’s it.” And there are phrases that are just funny. Tarantino raves about Don Siegel’s Escape from Alcatraz and Clint Eastwood’s adaptation of the prison break: “The plan requires so much talent and intelligence that they should have been on probation if they hadn’t died.”
The non-fiction is Tarantino’s format – different from the novel. His novelization of “Once upon a Time in Hollywood” (2021) was strong only in those passages in which the author rants about films as an authorial narrator; Putting these statements into the mouth of his intellectually rather inconspicuous protagonist Cliff Booth seemed unbelievable, twisted. Tarantino has too much opinion to give to fictional characters.
Tarantino’s passages about his own childhood in Cinema Speculation are excellent. What does it take to become a movie addict? He does not fall into self-praise, his mother quotes. She let him see all the adult flicks. “Quentin, I’m more concerned when you’re watching the news. A movie won’t hurt you.” A little too deliberately incidentally, he weaves regular visits to a school psychologist into his coming-of-age story. With the therapist he didn’t talk about problems, but Peckinpah’s “Straw Dogs”. This should give the impression that there was no way around world fame.
But how do you become a person who is also professionally involved with cinema? There are two ways to get there. One: You watch a lot of films at a very young age. The better one: You watch a lot of films at a very young age and talk to a mentor about it (even if it’s the school psychologist). The last chapter revolves around Tarantino’s mother’s ex-partner, who talked to him about movies. Floyd Ray Wilson was a man whom young Quentin loved, a love not quite returned, the grown-up had other things on his mind. Tarantino’s portrait of this petty criminal stray who came into his life for only a short time and of whom he does not know where he is or if he is even still alive is an homage. Wilson wrote screenplays that didn’t stand a chance of publication at the time, but which fired Quentin’s imagination. Including the story of a black man who freed himself from slavery and, as a cowboy, took revenge on those who enslaved him. Tarantino concludes his narrative as he steps onto the Oscars stage, decades after that fateful encounter, to collect the award for Best Original Screenplay for Django Unchained.
He writes of remorse right up to the last sentence of the book: If only he had thanked his mentor Wilson on stage for the impulse to create “Django”.
(Kiepenheuer & Witsch)
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