Quentin Tarantino FAQ by Dale Sherman (book review).

September 17, 2015 | By | Reply More

Continually referencing cinema history (though the less generous would say ‘continually stealing from’ cinema history), the films of Quentin Tarantino are replete with homages, inside jokes and curious allusions. In his journey from video store clerk to world famous director, Tarantino himself has also amassed a wealth of industry kudos and tabloid infamy. Dale Sherman’s ‘Quentin Tarantino FAQ’ is a comprehensive trawl through the major events and the minutiae of the director’s career.


The book alternates a chronological examination of Tarantino’s life and work with chapters that focus on an esoteric aspect of the films such as one examining the numerous fake brands that have appeared across his movies. There’s no doubt that Sherman has done his research and we get much material about Tarantino’s formative years and early experiments in filmmaking. From a boy growing up in the 70s and devouring exploitation movies to jobs in a porn theatre and video store, Tarantino’s life always seemed destined to be in the cinema. But the account manages to slightly shatter the myth of ‘film geek who got lucky’ that sometimes follows Tarantino around. Instead, it shows how much Tarantino was determined to be a director and involved in the business. He even enrolled in acting school with one eye on appearing in front of the camera.

From one of Tarantino’s earliest Hollywood jobs, cleaning up dog mess for a Dolph Lungdren workout video, to the fact that he was briefly considering directing the ‘Green Lantern’ movie, there’s lots of trivia on offer here. But with a director who is often so obsessed with trivia, it does seem rather apt.

The sections on ‘Reservoir Dogs’ and the rest of Tarantino’s oeuvre are a good blend of dry production information and intriguing anecdotes. Much of this has been culled from previous interviews, books and DVD commentaries but Sherman has done a good job of giving these production accounts a good narrative flow. Ironically, some of the more fascinating sections of the book are on projects that Tarantino did not direct. The sections on ‘True Romance’ and ‘Natural Born Killers’, both based on Tarantino scripts, provide some fascinating stories on Tony Scott’s and Oliver Stone’s take on Tarantino. Sherman also details a few of the professional disagreements that arose out of these collaborations. It ultimately creates a book that is the kind to dip in and out of and enjoy and amusing anecdote here and pertinent fact there.

Sherman is informative and comprehensive with an easy-going writing style that is enthusiastic but just avoids descending into the realms of unquestioning fanboy. There are a few times when the information provided is rather redundant, such as the film cast lists, but there’s plenty of interest to whet the appetite for mammoth Tarantino viewing session.

Laurence Boyce

September 2015

(pub: Applause Theatre Book Publishers. 400 page paperback. Price: £20 (UK only). ISBN: 978-1-48035-588-0)

check out websitehttp://www.halleonardbooks.com/index.jsp?subsiteid=166: www.halleonardbooks.com/index.jsp?subsiteid=166

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Category: Books, Culture

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About Laurence Boyce

Laurence Boyce is a film journalist who likes Bond, Batman and Doctor Who (just to prove the things he enjoys things that don't just start with a 'B'). He is also a film programmer for various film festivals in the UK and abroad.

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