“Quentin Tarantino’s Cinema Speculation”

What if instead of Oscar winner, Martin Scorsese (The Irishman),  Brian De Palma (Carrie) had directed “Taxi Driver?” Did you know that prior to that, Oscar nominee and Emmy winner, Robert Mulligan (To Kill a Mockingbird), was considered to direct the film? The role of Travis Bickle, that two time Oscar winner, Robert De Niro (Godfather II), made iconic, was originally intended for Oscar winner, Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart). Those are merely a few pieces of cinematic trivia, contained on the first few pages of one of the chapters, in Quentin Tarantino’s book “Cinema Speculation.” 

Tarantino’s exemplary work in film has reached the zenith level of his profession. Over the course of his career he has garnered two Oscars for Best Writing, Screenplay written directly for the screen, and Best Writing, Original Screenplay. According to Tarantino himself, his next film, “The Movie Critic,” the tenth that he will have written and directed, will be his last. Of course, only time will tell. In the interim, he has written two books: The novelization to his film “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood;” and “Cinema Speculation,” which was published by Harper on November 1, 2022.  

“Cinema Speculation” is not a biography, which begins with Tarantino’s birth on March 27, 1963, in Knoxville, Tennessee, and leads up to the present day. Instead, it is Tarantino writing about how he developed a passion for cinema. Furthermore, he delves into the specific filmmakers that motivated him to want to enter the profession. He starts with the 1968 film “Bullet,” where he informs the reader that Neile Adams, Steve McQueen’s first wife, deserves the credit for McQueen choosing to do “Bullet,” as well as other films, the actor appeared in. As it turns out, McQueen didn’t like to read. He trusted Neile to read the scripts for the films he was offered, and use her best judgment. In addition, Tarantino provides insight into ten films from the 1970’s that had an impact on him. For example, “Dirty Harry.” In particular, he details how director Don Siegel, and four time Oscar winner, Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby), revitalized each other’s careers. He ends his critiques with Tobe Hooper’s 1981 film, “The Fun House.”       

Further included in the book is the original article “The True Facts Behind Lugosi’s Tragic Drug Addiction” by Barry Brown. Tarantino writes about his appreciation for film critics such as Kevin Thomas, who was one of the few critics that took the time to write serious reviews of exploitation films. Thomas was also an advocate for the early work of Oscar winning director, Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs). The final chapter deals with Floyd Ray Wilson. Who is that you might be asking? He’s someone who Tarantino’s mother rented a room to. The two would go to films, and talk about everything to do with movies. Most importantly, in regard to Tarantino’s life, he credits Wilson with being the first person who taught him how to write screenplays. 

Throughout the book Tarantino doesn’t merely write in-depth critiques of the movies, although that is part of it. He provides anecdotal stories, personal recollections, pieces of interviews, quotes, and information such as when, where, and how old he was when he saw a movie, in order to provide context, as to what he thinking at a given age. He loved film so much, that he took to keeping index cards with information on them, that pertained to each film he saw.


What helps Tarantino’s book stand out from other work that pertains to the same subject, is that it is not written in an academic style. His writing is accessible, informative, and entertaining. The downside for certain readers will be, that Tarantino devotes very little time writing about his own films. In conclusion, “Cinema Speculation” is a must read for Tarantino fans.  



About robbinsrealm

I was born in Smithtown, New York, and grew up, worked, and lived in various areas of Long Island before moving to Boca Raton, Florida where I now make my home. In addition to being an aspiring writer, I am also an English teacher. I have a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master’s Degree in Education, both from Adelphi University in Garden City, New York. In my spare time you will find me engrossed in books, watching movies, socializing with friends, or just staying active.
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4 Responses to “Quentin Tarantino’s Cinema Speculation”

  1. One thing I def appreciate about Tarantino is his savant-level knowledge of the craft, it’s history. His films are chalk-full of cinema Easter eggs. Subtle tributes to the filmmakers who went before.

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