Quentin Tarantino presents Cinema Speculation: “Do what you believe and care about others”

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When Quentin Tarantino enters the stage of the Teatro Grande in Brescia, the audience, which until a moment before had loudly expressed its disapproval of the limitations on the use of telephones and other recording devices desired by the director himself, bursts into a sensational applause. The star thanks with a couple of bows, winks in the direction of the stalls and galleries, lets himself go with a surprising “Buonasera” which will be one of the three words in Italian he will say during an evening entirely in English without any simultaneous translation.

Charisma and pace

For the entire duration of the presentation show of his book Cinema Speculation (The Ship of Theseus, 464 pages, 20 euros), Tarantino oozes charisma. Listening to him is like watching a film by him, it’s impossible not to be overwhelmed by the rhythm and genius of his thoughts, by the unconventionality of his ideas. He turned 60 ten days ago, he is heading towards the tenth and last of his films, consistent with the idea that one should never scrape the bottom of the barrel (after showing a clip of Escape from Alcatraz, talks about Don Siegel and says: “It would have been an amazing last film, if only it had stopped there. Unfortunately, like many others, he did a couple more after…”), and now he looks back and recounts how it all started.


With Antonio Monda, writer and professor at the Film and Television Department of New York University, he talks about the contents of his first film criticism essay, a collection of American films that have marked his passion and his taste for cinema. He recounts how it all began at the Tiffany Theater, one of the few theaters outside the good Hollywood circuit, on Sunset Boulevard, when his mother and stepfather took him at the age of six or seven to see decidedly adult films. The first time was with Citizen Joe’s War“the most unpleasant film I had seen at the time”, but if there is one that has traumatized him to the core, that he has not been able to bear, that is Bambi: “I wasn’t at all ready for what was going to happen in the film, the fire, the hunter who kills Bambi’s mother. The trailer and the plot didn’t warn you. And I think I’m in good company, I think a lot of us have been traumatized by Bambi”.


The roundup proceeds quickly. Monda decides to let her go with a clip of American Graffiti by George Lucas, chosen as the manifesto of the New Hollywood sung by Tarantino, then the sequences of the director’s favorite films begin. On the screen, which during the conversation shows the cover image of the English edition of the book, an iconic photo of Sam Peckinpah and Steve McQueen on the set of Getaway!drawn sequences scroll from Inspector Callaghan: The Scorpio case is yours! (and Tarantino laughs out loud when Monda translates the film’s Italian title for him), Organizing crimes, Rolling Thunder, Escape from AlcatrazScorsese’s cameo in Taxi Driver. Stimulated by Monda, Tarantino has his say on why Andrew Robinson didn’t make a career (“he was too good a Scorpio to be able to repeat himself later”) or on why John Flynn, who pays homage with two films in his book, didn’t enjoy the consideration it deserved (“there has always been a certain prejudice against genre cinema”).


Tarantino has never digested this prejudice, in fact it is as if he had dedicated a good part of his life and all of his artistic production to dismantling it one piece at a time, elevating the genre to the purest and highest expression of the seventh art. A man on a mission for exploitation and grindhouse, for that world made up of double shows, second and third visions, capable of re-reading and raising noir and hard-boiled by virtue of the immense love he has felt for it since he was a child . In the book, Tarantino takes it hard on film critics: “They looked down on films that gave emotions and directors who, unlike them, understood what the public wanted (…) As a boy who loved cinema and paid ticket to see anything, I thought they were despicable assholes. Today, older and wiser, I realize how sad they must have been. They wrote like someone who hates his life, or at least his job.”


He confirms that his next film will be centered on the story of a film critic, but denies that it could be inspired by the real life of Pauline Kael: “Absolutely not, it is a fantasy reconstruction of varietyI’m happy to be able to answer the question.” And when Monda invites him to reflect on the turn taken by Hollywood, on political correctness, asking him if today it would ever be possible to make films like Straw dog or The Wild Bunch, in which a man kills a woman shouting “bitch” to her, he replies without hesitation: “I could do it!”. And then: “You can do it. You just have to do two things: the first is to do it, the second is to not care what other people say and think”.


Before starting to read and recite some excerpts from his book, Tarantino confirms that for him the greatest film of all time is the good, the bad and the ugly, but his devotion to Sergio Leone cracks slightly if he remembers the famous joke about Clint Eastwood’s two expressions, the one with the hat and the one without the hat: “I never liked that joke by Leone, I find it unfair. Clint Eastwood is a great actor, sure, he had the personality of him as John Wayne, but within that range of characters he was able to broaden his playing field ”. Confirm that you loved Daisy Miller especially for that heartbreaking ending and he confesses that he doesn’t appreciate it Chinatown because it’s too slow (“and not because there should be more action scenes”). And perhaps it is precisely for this reason, for this unconventional ability of his, that he has been able to rewrite the history of cinema over the two decades that followed what for him were the horrible eighties. Were it not so, he simply wouldn’t be Quentin Tarantino.