Not since Martin Scorsese with Mean Streets in the mid-1970s has a young American filmmaker made such an instant impact on international cinema as Quentin Tarantino. In many ways, Tarantino is the paradigmatic 1990s success story: from high school dropout, toiling anonymously in a California video store, taking acting lessons, to world acclaim, with Pulp Fiction as the Grand Prix winner at Cannes.
With his first film, Reservoir Dogs, the then 29-year-old became an inspiration for filmmakers even younger than himself on how to produce stylish, subterranean cinema. (Not that his extra-violent imitators, labeled "Tarantino school," could match the wit of his scripts, his talent with actors, and the vivacity, energy, and originality of his shooting style.)
Tarantino, turning famous, remains the same manic talker who is obsessed with American pop culture and is endlessly enthusiastic about his favorite movies and moviemakers. Informal, gregarious, accessible, he has been a journalist's dream, for his wonderfully expressive, almost stream-of-consciousness chatter.
This collection is the first book of Tarantino interviews to be published. The selections are his most uninhibited, far reaching, and revealing. They demonstrate conclusively that the source of his world-renowned pop-culture dialogue is his own brash, vivid, virtuosic conversation.
"I realized I didn't want to be an actor," he says. "I wanted to be a director. My favorite actors were character actors and I realized they still had to read for parts. I didn't want to be fifty years old and still reading for parts. I wanted some control over my destiny, and it seemed to me that directors did."
Gerald Peary is a film critic and columnist for the Boston Phoenix, a professor of journalism and communications at Suffolk University, and a lecturer at Boston University. He is also Acting Curator of the
Harvard University Film Archive.