Quentin Tarantino visited Jay Leno on Tuesday night and had a subtle announcement to share: He's not making a Django Unchained sequel, but he is doing another Western next. "The thing is, I had so much fun doing Django and I love Westerns so much that after I taught myself how to make one, it's like, 'Well, OK, now let me make another one now I know what I'm doing.'" He also called Leno "mate" a couple times, though, so maybe this is all cover for QT's big Australia movie.
With 2010’s action mega-star team-up The Expendables, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger officially deaded a long-dormant rivalry. Sly wrote Arnold a cameo; Arnold, then still the Governator, graciously appeared for free. Last year, they went for Round 2, with Schwarzenegger playing a bigger role in the sequel, The Expendables 2. And today comes Escape Plan, the first-ever proper tag team from the '80s action gods. So how come it took so long?
Well, back in the prime days, as Stallone explained to David Letterman, he had a "violent hatred" for Schwarzenegger. "Have you ever had that ever? Competition where you really had an archenemy that kind of brings out the best in you. As Arnold would say, it really pushed you to accelerate." Stallone hated "that [Schwarzenegger] was on the planet, basically." Then, "After a while, I started to like this competition, this one-upmanship. He'd get a bigger gun. I'd shoot more people. He'd shoot more people. But then, he went into science fiction, which kind of left me behind."
The thaw in the relationship came when Arnold began his political career. "He started inviting me to events," Stallone has said. "I said no, then my wife says, 'Come on, he’s extending the olive branch,' and next thing I know is I’m on the campaign trail, then we just hit it off."
It's a shame that Robert Rodriguez is trapped in the shadow of Quentin Tarantino. After Grindhouse it felt like together they were Wham! and apart one was George Michael and the other was the guy who put up with George Michael's fame. Comparing Rodriguez to Andrew Ridgeley might actually be unfair. I can name all of Rodriguez's films. But Grindhouse confirmed their divergent handle on junk. Tarantino's half, Death Proof, gave you the '70s road thriller as feminist revenge comedy. At 76 or so minutes, it was miniskirt moviemaking: short, tight, and wow. Rodriguez's half, Planet Terror, was an extra-large caftan scribbled on by feral kindergarteners and ripped up by wolves: fun, ragged, ugly, in need of a timeout.
When Rodriguez's bad taste can bite into politics or a flavorless genre, he comes alive. You see something like 2010's Machete, and you feel like Rodriguez finally found his calling as a shlock editorialist. The movie came during the height of our country's immigration debates and opted for guerrilla lunacy to attack racism and oppression and U.S.-Mexico relations. Most of his throw-it-all-at-the-wall filmmaking actually stuck. You could tell the ideas meant something to him. And the exuberance in Machete turned out to be a perfect twin for the shock radicalism fueling Tarantino's Django Unchained. The Tarantino is disciplined where the Rodriguez is wild. But both are grisly, dangerous, and violent. Machete you could dismiss as a cartoon. It didn't seem to disturb the peace the way Django did. That's too bad. It has the same gonzo force.
The Spoils of Babylon isn't coming to IFC for another three months, so we've got a while to ponder this brazenly mysterious trailer. Is it There Will Be Blood meets The Royal Tenenbaums? Casino meets Walk Hard? The family saga about amorous siblings (Kristen Wiig and Tobey Maguire) comes from Will Ferrell and Casa de Mi Padre director Matt Piedmont; Ferrell will introduce each episode as a fictional author who wrote the work being "adapted." A grandiose piano score may or may not be part of the final product. And still, knowing so little, we'd like to hibernate until January 9, please, if we may.
Whether it was to kick off the year-end list-making game earlier than ever or just to get a fan site off his back, Quentin Tarantino has named his favorite films of 2013 so far. The new QT honorees are alphabetized by title rather than ranked, and they mostly fall into neat little quadrants of sensibilities Tarantino has been known to admire and/or utilize. They are...
The life and times of Quentin Tarantino have gotta be great, right? Sure, making ambitious, super long movies must be taxing. But QT in the offseason? Just listening to albums both obscure and classic, watching all the best old films and all the worst old films, and eating good food. That’s probably basically it. The music and film connoisseurship has been sufficiently noted in the 21 years since Reservoir Dogs. But what about Tarantino's love for grub, his propensity to set scenes in that heart of domesticity and good times, the kitchen? My DVD of Pulp Fiction included a fake menu to a fake restaurant, for chrissakes. (Were you aware JackRabbit Slim's serves three flavors of pie?) The amount of impeccable dialogue exchanged over some form of meat product is a marvel. This side of Tarantino is something of an underdocumented phenomenon, so on this day of Django Unchained’s DVD and Blu-ray release, we’re looking back at the 20 best Tarantino scenes where kitchens and foods factor in. Spoilers for Django and many other films herein.
The Chinese government keeps a pretty tight hold on the number of Hollywood movies that infiltrate the country's borders ever year. Officially, only 20 American flicks per annum are let in (although pirated DVDs means that access to many more titles is readily available), so if you're trying to expand the ol' revenue stream, you really can't go wrong with cracking that 20. Congrats, then, to Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained. According to Zhang Miao, director of Sony Pictures' Chinese branch, Django will be the first Tarantino movie to open in China. And all Quentin had to do was lower the height of his blood splatter.
The Veronica Mars effect: Pushing Daisies's Bryan Fuller and Zachary Levi of Chuck are hmmm-ing about Kickstarting movie projects based on VM's recent success. Joss Whedon, on the other hand, is kinda bizzay: "I'm booked up by Marvel for the next three years, and [...] I haven't even been able to get Dr. Horrible 2 off the ground because of that. So I don't even entertain the notion of entertaining the notion of doing this, and won't. Couple years from now, when Nathan [Fillion]'s no longer [on] Castle and I'm no longer the Tom Hagen of the Marvel Universe and making a giant movie, we might look and see where the market is then. But right now, it's a complete non-Kickstarter for me."
There's always an element of fatalism with making Oscar predictions. You actually hope you're wrong. You want to be right because people conflate educated awards-guessing with expertise. But when you have to sit and watch more than 190 minutes of the Academy Awards, you really don't want a predicted outcome. You want to be wrong about who the majority of 6,000 or so people will say was the best supporting actor of 2013. You want to go in with a little conventional wisdom and know that Tommy Lee Jones will win so that when Octavia Spencer opens her envelope and says Christoph Waltz's name, you can stare at the television and just say, "Wow."
Waltz was a surprise in a season of surprises. This was the year voters decided to pee into millions of Oscar pools. It was the year that everything started to seem refreshingly upside down: no Tarantino or Paul Thomas Anderson or Kathryn Bigelow or Wes Anderson up for Best Director, but Benh Zeitlin?
The new issue of Vanity Fair has an oral history of Pulp Fiction, but if you hate physical media and also paying money for things, don't worry: There are some juicy excerpts available on the magazine's website right now. As for why Vanity Fair decided to do the oral history at this present time, 19 years after the movie, I figure it was either to coincide with Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained’s Oscar run, to beat the the rush on the 20th anniversary, or to free us from the tyranny of the "only years ending in ‘5’ or ‘0’ are worth commemoration" fallacy. And I choose to believe it's the latter one, and I applaud VF for their courageous pioneerism on this very important issue. On to the anecdotes!
Justin Bieber Cheated on Selena Gomez a Lot: "HIGH ON DRUGS, TEEN STAR JUSTIN BIEBER CHEATED ON SELENA GOMEZ WITH A SEXY STRANGER." Just before the holidays, Bieb had a "drug-fueled hookup with another girl." The drug was mostly weed, and the girl was voluptuous 22-year-old L.A. nursing student Mimi Jenson. They were introduced by Lil' Twist, and went to a weed store in Hollywood, a McDonald's, and then back to the hotel. There they "did a lot more than eat." I bet they got a hundred-piece McNuggets. They also "smoked pot and used a baby bottle to measure out the ingredients for sizzurp, the street cocktail made famous by Three 6 Mafia and Ke$ha." Mull that sentence, please.
With this year's Oscar nominees snubs, an atypically cohesive consensus has already formed, at least within the Best Director category: no Quentin Tarantino? No Ben Affleck?! No Kathryn Bigelow?!!
Yesterday, attempting to make sense of the peculiarity of the field, our own Wesley Morris wrote, "[the nominated directors'] movies contain no unresolved moral messes for an audience to wrestle with, unlike, say, Zero Dark Thirty, which has been dogged by the torture question ... There are even greater terrors in Django Unchained, but I think the older white men of the directors branch didn't find Tarantino's slaughter of slave owners palatable enough to commend him for it ... Plus, if Django would have waited six or seven years, he could have just been freed by Lincoln. As for Ben Affleck, I think he's made directing look too easy for himself."
But knowing a nation of critics is scratching its heads is small solace for not getting a shot at cuddling up in bed with a shiny new Oscar. So how are our snubbed directors taking it?
Of the characteristics that would appear on a list of Things We Like in a Great Director, "looking nice" would rank very low. But sometimes the threshold is violated in a way that's compelling enough that you have to stop and ask how someone of such excellent vision could travel the world looking very much the opposite of visually excellent. Yet for about the last month, this is where we've been with Quentin Tarantino, who's been everywhere but the Children's Television Workshop talking, in his coked-up-sounding way, about filmmaking and American slavery and his movies. The occasion is Django Unchained, which is a hit in all the ways a director hopes his movie is a hit — with movie critics, moviegoers, and the people who nominate movies for awards.
To promote the film, however, Tarantino has been dressing down. Way down. Like pusher-in-the-alley down.
Justin Bieber tweeted a vague apology after TMZ published photos of him with a "smoldering blunt." While some fans cast the eye of shade on Bieber’s “BFF” Lil Twist, others are taking this opportunity to air their beliebs that “weed is not the devil” and that Justin has as much right to a Funyun party of one as anyone else.
I believe my esteemed colleague Mark Lisanti was the first person I heard refer to Pitch Perfect as Sing It On, which is at once an apt endorsement and an apt dismissal. Pitch Perfect is a well-executed, likable, and entertaining (unofficial) reboot of the 2000 film Bring It On, with a cappella choral performances in place of cheerleading. And I get it: If you're going to steal, you might as well steal from the best. The problem is that Bring It On is actually perfect, so as a ripoff, Pitch Perfect is merely a very good facsimile that will probably just make you want to watch Bring It On again.
30 Rock and New Girl writer Kay Cannon wrote the screenplay for Pitch Perfect, so there are lots of goofy jokes along the way that may remind you of either of those shows. Annas Kendrick and Camp star, and since we've already seen them playing real grown-ups — the former as a hot shot HR executive in Up in the Air, and the latter as a stay-at-home mom in her 30s on The Mindy Project — it's not quite believable to see them playing college students here (particularly Kendrick, who's supposed to be a freshman). But despite its deficits, Pitch Perfect is still worth seeing, if for no other reason than for its many a cappella renditions of recent pop hits to knock "I Dreamed a Dream" out of your head, where it's been since you saw Les Misérables last week.