• Quentin Tarantino FAQ: Everything Left To Know About The Original Reservoir Dog

    Quentin Tarantino FAQ: Everything Left To Know About The Original Reservoir Dog
    Written by: Dale Sherman
    Published by: Applause Books
    Released on: March 10th, 2015.
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    Dale Sherman, an author who is probably better known for being an authority on all things KISS (he wrote the KISS FAQ and Black Diamond Volume One and Two) and other rock n roll tomes, is also a movie geek. He wrote the enjoyably detailed Armageddon Films FAQ book a few years back and now tackles a subject that tends to be very much a ‘love it or hate it’ affair – the films of Quentin Tarantino.

    Sherman doesn’t deliver the typical biographical time line here though. While the book does follow a certain chronological order Sherman’s more interested in exposing the odds facts and figures that make up a big part of Tarantino’s work and story than in simply saying when he did what and why. We don’t need another book that tells the guy’s backstory nor do we need another volume of critical analysis of his work – and we don’t get one. This is a book for movie geeks, those of us who really like to get into the minutia of a subject and who wallow in the obscurities of a specific subject’s story. And wallow Sherman does – it’s a fun read and even if you know Tarantino’s work like the back of your hand you’re probably going to learn a thing or two.

    Meticulously researched, the book starts off with an introduction before then listing off some of the more existential moments from the man’s filmography. This sets things up in interesting ways as we know right then and there that this is going to offer a different approach to its subject. After that we spend a good few pages discussing the man’s early work, a lot of which revolved his job at the video store that’s been talked about ad nausea by this point. The focus though is not that Tarantino worked at a video store and met a lot of people that way but on the work that was produced during this period and what made it successful or not successful. Some speculation is involved here to an extent but Sherman eliminates a lot of the need for guess work by sticking to the facts. Did you know that one of Tarantino’s first professional jobs was cleaning up dog shit on the set of Dolph Lundgren’s amazingly terrible exercise video Maximum Potential? Now you do. And you have Sherman to thank for it.

    Of course, there’s a lot to read here about Reservoir Dogs and that makes sense as it was a huge turning point in the man’s career. But there’s just as much here to read about Natural Born Killers and True Romance, even if Tarantino wrote them and didn’t direct them. They remain important milestones in his filmography and in the case of True Romance, there are those of us who still believe that film to be the finest project the man has ever been involved with. Pulp Fiction is, understandably, next but we don’t just jump into the typical plot synopsis/critical analysis stuff you’d expect but instead get an interesting mini-essay or sorts on product placement and how it’s used in that particular film. From there we learn about the early days of Tarantino’s relationship with Rodriguez, the making of Jackie Brown and the importance of that particular film in his filmography (given that it wasn’t the smash that Pulp Fiction was or the indie darling that Reservoir Dogs turned out to be) and then go on to explore the frequent use of specific visual concepts in the man’s work (you could call this the foot fetish chapter if you want but there’s a lot more to it than that).

    And so it goes. As the man’s body of work continues to grow Sherman traces its evolution and documents, with facts and evidence, what went into making it happen. There’s a lot of info here in regards to what inspired the Kill Bill movies (that would have been a book in and of itself) and the pros and cons of Grindhouse. These leads into a discussion on the ‘touring company’ that Tarantino tends to use in his films and why they’re there, some interesting facts and figures about Inglourious Basterds and then an interesting discussion about the making of Django Unchained.

    As the book comes to a close we get some interesting chapters on the man’s acting career, his relationship with television, who his own work has been parodied and paid homage to over the years and projects that never made it to fruition before closing with some writing on Rolling Thunder Pictures and then some input on other books about the man that might be of interest to readers of this 385 page behemoth.

    Sherman’s writing style is plenty accessible and easy to read but never once do you get the impression that the guy is talking down to you. It’s a nice combination of an obviously very informed opinion with some scholarly overtones and a ‘having a chat over a drink’ style. By that I mean it’s conversational in tone and never pretentious but at the same time it’s smart and literate. There’s a serious labor of love thing going on here, you get the impression that Sherman really does enjoy Tarantino’s movies, but he’s never hesitant to call a misstep a misstep. This ‘warts and all’ approach is an honest one that again helps to make the book immensely readable.

    You don’t have to be a Tarantino junkie to appreciate what’s been done here. Sure, it’ll probably help to have an affection for the subject, but anyone with an interest in film-making in general will probably get a kick out of what’s been assembled for the project. As Tarantino mixes up so many different influences from so many different genres of film, music and pop culture in general his stuff is able to find an audience that other filmmakers cannot. This books goes a long way towards exploring how that happened and explaining what makes it interesting.

    Oh, and for all you e-reader users out there, one thing worth mentioning is that in the Kindle and B&N Nook versions of the book, the color photos are published in color (as opposed to everything being in black and white in the print version).