Poetics and Politics of Cinematic Metafiction
The first in-depth study of metafiction in Tarantino’s films
Quentin Tarantino’s films beg to be considered metafiction: metacommentaries that engage with the history of cultural representations and exalt the aesthetic, ethical, and political potential of creation as re-re-creation and resignification.
Covering all eight of Quentin Tarantino’s films according to certain themes, David Roche combines cultural studies and neoformalist approaches to highlight how closely the films’ poetics and politics are intertwined. Each in-depth chapter focuses on a salient feature, some which have drawn much attention (history, race, gender, violence), others less so (narrative structure, style, music, theatricality).
Roche sets Tarantino’s films firmly in the legacy of Howard Hawks, Jean-Luc Godard, Sergio Leone, and the New Hollywood, revising the image of a cool pop-culture purveyor that the American director cultivated at the beginning of his career. Roche emphasizes the breadth and depth of his films’ engagement with culture, highbrow and lowbrow, screen and print, American, East Asian, and European.
Well-written and well-documented, David Roche’s contribution to the study of Quentin Tarantino’s work may be the best book to date on the iconic director. Roche’s obvious passion for his material does not preclude rigorous analysis, but rather serves it, driving his desire to critically engage with the films while drawing the reader in in the process. The quality and precision of formal analyses are exemplary, while the demonstrations are led with clarity and taken to astute conclusions.- InMedia: The French Journal of Media Studies
Roche’s combination of theoretical sophistication, intellectual rigor, and magisterial analyses of sequences, down to the smallest details of individual shots, provides a quite riveting presentation of Tarantino’s cinema. The author articulates questions of race and class, gender and power, and politics and history in ways that are both convincing and revealing. They enable him, for instance, to show the complex and often critically neglected relationship between history and cultural history. This aspect of Roche’s study is further reinforced thanks to his unfailing attention to details such as color and dress, framing, camera movements, and the off-screen. His discussion of Tarantino’s cinema as metafiction is most subtle and opens up new vistas for future studies of the director.- Reynold Humphries, author of Hollywood’s Blacklists: A Political and Cultural History
This book is a long-overdue scholarly exploration and appreciation of Tarantino’s oeuvre. Often misunderstood as postmodernist exercises in style, the films of Quentin Tarantino are complex in the best sense of the word. The quotes, allusions, and pastiches of prior images, films, and genres—some explicit, some quite subtle—unmask and undermine the rules of representation that govern these filmic texts. Taking the comparative approach, David Roche explores the various sources of Tarantino’s feature films and points out that Tarantino’s movies aim at the repressed libidinous desires that propel most filmic genres, thus effectively criticizing the racism and sexism that drive American popular cinema.- Oliver C. Speck, editor of Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained”: The Continuation of Metacinema
David Roche’s comprehensive analysis of the metafictional and metafilmic aspects of Tarantino’s oeuvre is the study we have been waiting for. Integrating previous readings and theoretical examinations, he creates a new command of the how and most importantly the why of the ‘meta’ in the director’s philosophy, style, and as a platform for political engagement. Meticulously detailed and exceptionally readable, it will surely take Tarantino studies to a new level, as it renews interest in his cosmopolitan cinematic models and persuasively deals with aspects of the director’s maturation.- Robert Dassanowsky, editor of Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds”: A Manipulation of Metacinema
David Roche's cultural and formal analysis of the films of Quentin Tarantino breaks new ground in evaluating Tarantino's significance as a commentator on identity politics and a proponent of postmodern strategies within contemporary cinema. Meticulously researched, exhaustively (in a good way) detailed, and carefully reasoned, this book is must reading. It also makes me want to re-watch all of Tarantino's movies!- Janet Staiger, William P. Hobby Centennial Professor Emeritus, University of Texas at Austin