Tag Archives: Quentin Tarantino

“Les Miz” filled with singing and singing and singing. Tarantino’s Mom and Wilt Chamberlain? And Apollo Robbins, the world’s bet pickpocket

Les Miserables

Even though I’ve never seen the Broadway show, I always loved the music of “Les Miserables,” especially the haunting song “I Dreamed a Dream.”

So when my beloved asked if I’d see the new movie with her last weekend, I said “sure, what could be better than nearly three hours of Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe, hanging out in 19th century France, singing their hearts out on the big screen?”

OK, so that’s not exactly what I said. But I went, with the hopes that I’d like the movie and get swept up in its grandeur.

And for about the first 45 minutes, I did. I loved Anne Hathaway’s performance, and I was getting interested in the mano-a-mano battle between ex-criminal Jean Valjean (Jackman) and the nefarious policeman, Inspector Javert (Crowe).

But then the singing, and the movie, just went in wildly different directions and I had trouble keeping up, and the more I tried to keep up, the more confused I got. The movie felt like five different stories all at once; there was the Fantine and her daughter stuff, then the Javert-Valjean stuff, then there was a whole new set of characters fighting in another battle against the French government, and then (spoiler alert) we get a dramatic death scene from Valjean, and it just had me dizzy.

I thought the performances were really good, especially Hathaway and Crowe, and the music was terrific, but I got really lost in the story, and that killed the enjoyment for me.

But if you saw the musical, I’m sure you’ll love the movie, and as I looked around the theater at the end, many people were dabbing at their eyes with tissues.

I was the only one shaking his head going, “What the heck just happened?”

And now, a few minutes with the world’s greatest pickpocket, Apollo Robbins. I was just reading about him on Andrew Sullivan’s blog, and found this video of him. Pretty terrifying and pretty awesome, watching him work.

I’d hate to be sitting next to him on a train though, you know?

**Finally, from the category of “headlines I never thought I’d see,” comes this from one of the great movie directors of our time: Apparently Quentin Tarantino was giving an interview on NPR last week, talking about his new movie “Django Unchained” (which sounds amazing; I can’t wait to see it) and he got to talking about how he was influenced by African-American culture as a kid.

And then he told NPR that his mom dated Wilt Chamberlain in the ’70s, and that she probably was one of the 20,000 women Wilt claimed to have had, in the words of Sheldon Cooper, “coitus” with.

I mean, wow. Tarantino, as a kid, seeing Wilt with his Mom? No wonder he’s got such a vivid imagination. Reality must’ve freaked him out quite a bit.

The beginning of the end for DADT. And Oscar nominees are out. Yay!

“I can not escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy that forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens” — Admiral Mike Mullen

It’s a rare day when I can look at Congress and say “Well OK then, today they made a difference, and today they matter.”

But as I watched and read about the brave and honest testimony of the highest-ranking member of the U.S. military command, talk about the foolishness and just plain wrongness of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, I realized that today was such a huge day in our country.

Here we have a man who’s spent his whole career with soldiers, saying that is indefensible for America to keep hard-working gay and lesbian men and women out of the military.

All those Republican bigots and homophobes, all these years, have been saying that we should leave such a matter “to the generals,” because they know what’s best.

Well today, we had the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Defense Secretary, unveil a plan to finally repeal the hideous “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.

It may not happen overnight (and I think it’s crap that it’ll take a year-long “study” before the law is killed), but pretty soon, and not a moment too soon, gay Americans, who love this country as much as anyone else, will be allowed to help defend it.

That, my friends, is progress.

**Big Academy Awards fan here. Huge. Unlike the Grammys, where I have no interest and hardly have heard of most of the nominees, I love movies and try to see a lot of them ever year.

So I was excited the Oscar nominees came out today, and it seems like the voters did a pretty good job. I was very excited to see four movies I saw this year and loved (“Up,” “Inglorious Basterds,” “Avatar,” and “Up in the Air, my pick for best picture) nominated for the top award. I’d love it for “Basterds” to win, just to hear Tarantino make a crazy speech. I love that guy.

I think if Christoph Waltz, the SS military officer in “Basterds” doesn’t win supporting actor, there should be a criminal investigation. I’m stunned that an actress as limited as Sandra Bullock was nominated for best actress, but I hear she’s great in “The Blind Side.” (And hey, the other Michael Lewis wrote the book it was based on).

I think best actor has to be George Clooney or Jeff Bridges; best actress is wide-open; Helen Mirren or Meryl Streep are always worthy picks, but maybe Bullock or Gabby Sidibe (the woman from “Precious”) has a chance.

Finally, was thrilled to see Anna Kendrick get picked for best supporting actress; she was outstanding in “Up in the Air.”

Overall, I don’t see any major screwups with the nominees, but what do I know? I’m a guy who still loves “Side Out.”

That “inglorious basterd” Tarantino made a great flick

 inglourious-basterds1

OK, first things first. The U.S. Open has started; I’m blogging it daily for my newspaper; here’s the link for my thoughts on Day 1: Pretty routine day, Venus Williams nearly went down, and Andre Agassi gave a great speech.

Also very psyched for the “Rescue Me” season finale Tuesday night; I have no idea what will happen except that I’m sure some characters will almost die, Tommy will survive, and there’ll be lots of sex and violence. How could anyone not love this show?

And could someone please explain to me what the hell is going on with the Kansas City Chiefs? New coach Todd Haley fires the offensive coordinator in the preseason.  He can’t be that stupid as to panic over a team’s preseason results, can he?

Well, it is the Chiefs. Boy it stinks to be a Kansas City sports fan these days.

And oh yeah, last month you may remember I was bellyaching that there were no creative basebell nicknames left. “The Splendid Splinter,” “Joltin’ Joe,” “The Human Rain Delay,” all those were fabulous.

Well, thanks to my sportswriting god Joe Posnanski, I have found a new great one. Royals soft-tossing minor leaguer pitcher Chris Hayes has acquired the nickname “Disco.”

Why? Because he throws in the 70s.

Perfect. I so hope he makes The Show.

OK, now on to the “Siskel and Ebert” portion of our blog; saw two really good movies over the weekend; will save the other one for tomorrow because quite frankly, I’m not sure you all have time to read 1,500 word blog posts.

Quentin Tarantino, to me, has been like that long-lost friend you see every once in a while, have an awesome time with, and then when they leave you’re like “Why don’t we spend more time together?” Only time goes by and you forget about the friend for a while.

When I actually take the time to watch a Tarantino movie, I’m wildly entertained. “True Romance?” Brilliant. “Pulp Fiction,” well, if you don’t think it was great, than we’re probably not going to get along. “Jackie Brown” was also solid.

But I don’t know why, but I tend to miss a lot of Tarantino’s movies. Still haven’t seen “Kill Bill” in either of his volumes, and I’ve missed some of Tarantino’s other flicks, too.

But I am extraordinarily pleased I wandered to the cinema (I always loved that word, “cinema,” sounds so old-fashioned) Saturday to see “Inglorious Basterds.”

You know how there are some movies where at the end you’re like “I spent 9 bucks for that?” Well, let me tell you, you get your money’s worth here. The story, which I’m sure you know by now, is about a group of ass-kicking Jews in World War II, led by, of course, Brad Pitt, who try to kill as many Nazis as they can.

(Let’s pause for a moment. You know, you just don’t get to write the phrase “ass-kicking Jews” very often. Reminds me of that great scene in “The West Wing” where after Toby and Sam are in a bar fight, Toby calls back to Washington and talks to Will Bailey, who already knows about the brawl.

“It’s big news in Washington?” Toby asks.

“Are you kidding?” Will replies. “A Jew won a bar fight. It’s big news everywhere.”

(God, I love Aaron Sorkin. But I digress.)

 Along the way in Tarantino’s film, we meet some superbly drawn characters; Tarantino is fabulous at giving his characters dimension. There’s Pitt, who I only love in his comedic performances, as the non-Jew leader looking to scalp Nazis. There’s a beautiful Jewish woman, Shoshanna,  who escaped and now plots revenge.

Every actor is fabulous in this movie, but the absolute standout is the German SS Colonel Landa, who mesmerizes you every time he’s on screen. If this guy (Christoph Waltz) doesn’t get an Oscar nomination out of this, I’ll be pissed.

Now of course the movie is totally fiction, and the ending is truly mind-bending in its improbability. But that’s the point of movies, isn’t it, to show us a world we can’t imagine?

Four stars for this movie from me. It’s not as good as “Pulp Fiction,” but to me this is Quentin’s second-best film.

Again, it’s a movie with Jews kicking ass for two hours. When do you ever get to see that?

Certainly not at my high school when I was growing up, that I can assure you.