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 MisÚrables last week.
2013 is going to be incredible, if for no other reason than because this will undoubtedly be the year the cultural discourse shifts from simple discussions of "race" or "racism" to the majestic land of "how we talk about and react to race in mixed settings." While ideas of a "post-racial" society are but a single cute step below thinking the world was going to end on December 21 on the "awwww, that's cute" scale, what we are in 2013 is post–"race and things typically associated with a single race existing only within that racial silo." Finally.
As 2012 came to a close, a few things in the media's racial-discourse sphere took place that hinted the cup was set to runneth over. In December, we had a black sports commentator call a black quarterback essentially "not black enough," and the result was supporters of all races coming to the defense of the Third Griffin, telling this black commentator that he had no right to define what was black. And then, to top it off, he was reprimanded by his superiors, many of whom are white. Bonkers. In the past, passing judgment on a matter like this, whether against or in favor, could really only come from other esteemed blacks, because who else had the right to comment on what was "black" and what was not? That, as was made evident, is no longer the case.
With Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino's gone back-to-back on the "messy, brilliant revenge-fantasies where the operative word is 'fantasy'" projects. Both times out, Tarantino has explained, he was reacting to a monolith of dusty historical-fiction flicks presenting only the victimization of the oppressed peoples in question. But instead of plucking anything from any number of well-documented tales of defiance and revolt, QT went ahead and made up his revenge whole-cloth. The results are way more entertaining, and way trickier to parse.
Well, things just continue to get more interesting, don't they? Days after we hear that Harrison Ford is actually considering coming back as Han Solo for Episode VII (possibly in order to murder him), we get even more real-deal, concrete news. This time, it's about the status of the next Star Wars screenplay. It turns out, as Vulture reports, that Disney/Lucasfilm had already tapped Michael Arndt — who won an Oscar for his first screenplay, Little Miss Sunshine — to write a 40- to 50-page treatment for the first flick in the new trilogy. Whoa, Michael Arndt. Envy of all of Hollywood right now. Crushing the game, bro.