Categories
Filmmakers

Book Review: Tarantino – A Retrospective (Revised and Expanded Edition)

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Publisher: Insight Editions

Release Date: September 07, 2021

Born in Knoxville, Tennessee, in 1963, Quentin Tarantino spent many Saturday evenings during his childhood accompanying his mother to the movies, nourishing a love of film that was, over the course of his life, to become all-consuming. It is just as well, because he would grow up to be one of American cinema’s most celebrated filmmakers. Known for his highly cinematic visual style, out-of-sequence storytelling, and grandiose violence, Tarantino’s films have provoked both praise and criticism over the course of his career. They’ve also won him a host of awards — including Oscars, Golden Globes, and BAFTA awards — usually for his original screenplays. His oeuvre includes the cult classic Pulp Fiction, bloody revenge saga Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, and historical epics Inglorious Basterds, Django Unchained, and The Hateful Eight. This stunning retrospective catalogs each of Quentin Tarantino’s movies in detail, from My Best Friend’s Birthday to The Hateful Eight. The book is a tribute to a unique directing and writing talent, celebrating an uncompromising, passionate director’s enthralling career at the heart of cult filmmaking.

Quentin Tarantino

Make no mistake about this, Tarantino: A Retrospective isn’t merely coffee-table fluff with a lot of great photographs and artwork (although, there are plenty of great photos to be found throughout the book). This is an informative examination of the director’s career. Tom Shone’s text is a seamless mixture of career biography, retrospective appreciation, and film criticism. Surprisingly, there aren’t many essential books available about the director. This makes Shone’s text all the more essential for those who love the director’s work. In our review of the original edition, we mentioned that some might feel that the text was slightly premature since Tarantino has consistently insisted that he will only make ten films before he retires from making movies. It seemed a shame that his final two films were inevitably left out of the retrospective.

Well, this new edition of the book tries to rectify this one issue slightly by adding a sixteen page chapter that covers Once Upon A Time in Hollywood and a slightly different epilogue that is slightly updated from the 2017 edition. Everything else about the book is exactly the same, so it may not be worth the money to purchase this new edition if you already own the first edition. Having said this, those who do not yet own either edition of the book will want to pick up this “Revised and Expanded Edition.”

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Categories
"Making of"

Book Review: The Secrets of Tenet – Inside Christopher Nolan’s Quantum Cold War

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Publisher: Insight Editions

Release Date: September 15, 2020

It must be said that The Secrets of Tenet – Inside Christopher Nolan’s Quantum Cold War took me by surprise. Most books of this sort tend to offer a somewhat superficial glimpse at a films production while relying on an excess of photographs to pad the sparse information provided. At best, one can call these attractive coffee table books “collector’s items,” but they are all gloss without any substance.

At first glance, James Mottram’s examination of Christopher Nolan’s Tenet seems as if it might follow this same pattern. After all, the book offers an incredibly rich assortment of photographs and is only 156 pages long. However, there is actually a rather interesting textual examination of the film’s production, and the “behind the scenes” photographs are hardly superfluous. They offer a revelatory look at the process and will certainly please Nolan’s many devotees. It’s a pleasure to scroll through the book’s pages.

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Those fortunate enough to own Mottram’s earlier examination of The Making of Dunkirk will have some idea as to what they can expect with this volume. It earns an easy recommendation for fans of the film and for anyone who admires Nolan’s work.

Categories
"Making of" Filmmakers

Book Review: The Making of Dunkirk

Book Cover

Publisher: Insight Editions

Release Date: July 18, 2017

The Making of Dunkirk” tells the incredible story of how Christopher Nolan (Memento, The Dark Knight Trilogy) brought a historical moment in World War II to life on the screen using innovative film-making techniques that give the film a gritty, exhilarating realism rarely seen in modern cinema. Those who haven’t seen the film itself should correct their oversight soon. It tells the story of the evacuation of British troops from Dunkirk, France, in a daring endeavor that saved them from certain defeat at the hands of enemy forces. Featuring a stunning ensemble cast that includes newcomers Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, and Harry Styles, as well as acclaimed actors Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance, Cillian Murphy, and Tom Hardy, Dunkirk offers a breathtaking glimpse at a turning point in the conflict determined by not only the ingenuity of the British forces but also the bravery of British civilians who sailed into war-torn waters to save them. The film has already received an incredible amount of box office and critical success—earning 3 Golden Globe Nominations (Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Score) and 8 Academy Awards Nominations (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing, and Best Sound Mixing).

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James Mottram’s coffee table account of the creation of Dunkirk gives a surprisingly comprehensive account of production. Interviews with the director and key department heads give the text a more authentic resonance and offers the reader first-hand accounts of the film’s creation. Of course, the information is richly illustrated with never-before-seen imagery from the shoot, concept art, storyboards, and other documentation. The accumulative effect is both enjoyable and informative, and the book is essential reading for fans of the film or for anyone who admires the director.

Categories
Filmmakers

Book Review: Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters

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Inside His Films, Notebooks, and Collections

Publisher: Insight Editions

Release Date: August 30, 2016

“This exhibition presents a small fraction of the things that have moved me, inspired me, and consoled me as I transit through life. It’s a devotional sampling of the enormous love that is required to create, maintain, and love monsters in our lives.” Guillermo del Toro

An unusual new exhibit on the work of Guillermo del Toro recently opened at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) before moving on to the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and the Minneapolis Museum of Art (MIA). Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters is the exhibit’s official catalogue, and claims to focus on del Toro’s creative process, including the well-defined themes that he obsessively returns to in all his films, the journals in which he logs his ideas, and the vast collection of art and pop culture ephemera that he has amassed at Bleak House (the director’s unusual “man cave”). The book is filled with imagery from the exhibition, including art selections curated by del Toro himself and pertinent pages from his own journals.

Essays by various curators and historians focus on the nature of collecting or give historical information about monsters and their importance. These essays are interesting enough, but those wishing for real insight into the director’s creative process might be disappointed. This information is confined to a short but interesting interview with del Toro. Unfortunately, the interview could hardly be considered an in-depth study of his creative process. Even the handful of pages from the director’s notebooks don’t really provide much in the way of actual information about the director’s work.

Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters will make a great souvenir for those who attend his expedition, but those who want concrete insights to the director’s work or creative process will feel short changed. This beautiful but somewhat anemic book is for the completest.

Review by: Devon Powell