Quentin Tarantino: Life at the Extremes explores the uses of violence in the films Tarantino has written, directed, and produced. Arguing that extreme violence is central to Tarantino's art, the book helps readers understand its purpose in his films—as metaphor, as movement, and as motivation. For Tarantino, the book explains, violence serves the purposes of film. In each of his movies, he explores the boundaries of taste and audience reaction, using violence and shock to bring questions of responsibility and expectation to the forefront of discussions on cinema.
After introductory chapters placing Tarantino and his films within the broader context of American cinema, author Aaron Barlow focuses on Tarantino's six major directorial efforts. Each film is discussed from its genre starting point and the differing directions the films take are explored, as are the structural elements. In the end, readers will see how Tarantino deliberately pushes film in new directions through old techniques, styles, and even actors, crafting original art from what others have discarded.