After terrifying prospective study abroad students with his torture-porn Hostel series, pummeling Nazis to the delight of Tarantino fans and involving himself with a variety of projects from Snoop Dogg’s first video as Snoop Lion to a haunted house in Vegas called the Goretorium, Eli Roth is now executive-producing for television. His upcoming series, Hemlock Grove, joins the buzzy House of Cards and the upcoming season of Arrested Development in the burgeoning realm of Netflix-only shows, but has a much darker, angstier tone than either.
As seen in the trailer, mystery and family drama abound in the series, based on Brian McGreevy’s novel of the same name, with a good sprinkling of shouting and brooding, along with a werewolf or something. What’s a good mystery without a hairy, bloodthirsty beast in the middle, anyhow? The show’s events revolve around the murder of a teenage girl, and the prime suspects are Peter (Landon Liboiron), a young Gypsy from the rough part of town rumored to be said werewolf and Roman Godfrey (Bill Skarsgard, brother of Alexander), heir to Hemlock Grove’s powerful Godfrey estate. The two team up to track down the real killer. Also of importance is Bill’s mother, Olivia, the Grand Dame of the Godfrey estate, played by former Bond villain Famke Janssen. Watch the drama unfold in the gloomily-lit trailer below.
Quentin Tarantino’s slavery spaghetti western Django Unchained delivers all of the usual Tarantino goodness: brilliant dialogue, over-the-top cartoonish violence, fantastic performances from Tarantino regulars Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson, and a whole lot of controversy. More impressively, the film’s soundtrack is the usual combination of familiar tunes from Tarantino’s cinematic inspirations, as well as a few original tracks from John Legend, Rick Ross, and RZA. While we’ll have to patiently wait for another year or two before those musical sequences to end up on YouTube (only to be likely taken down because of copyright infringement), let’s take a look back at Tarantino’s catalog and take a listen at the songs we’ve come to associate with the modern-day auteur.
Stealers Wheel – "Stuck In The Middle With You" (from Reservoir Dogs)
What’s the best way to get the kids interested in Gerry Rafferty? Why, scoring an ear slicing with one of his catchiest tunes, naturally. It’s really a shame that this scene didn’t do for Michael Madsen what Pulp Fiction did for John Travolta. Who know the man had such moves?
Chuck Berry – "You Never Can Tell" (from Pulp Fiction)
This is arguably Tarantino’s most recognizable scene from arguably his most popular movie. It not only made him a household name, but it reinvigorated the career of John Travolta, who had been struggling in years prior in talking baby movies. And don’t get me wrong, I love a talking baby movie. But I’d much rather see Travolta cutting a rug with weird hair.
Bobby Womack – "Across 110th Street" (from Jackie Brown)
Jackie Brown is Tarantino’s biggest stand-out. It lacks the gritty or cartoon violence of his other films (it contains, total, just four measly, relatively bloodless murders), and the focus is entirely on plot, dialogue, and the acting. And while there’s no big dance sequence, the opening credits are fantastic. All it takes is a few tracking shots and Pam Grier to set the tone of the film, and Bobby Womack’s soulful voice ties it all together.
The 5,6,7,8’s – "Woo Hoo" (from Kill Bill Vol. 1)
It’s refreshing when Tarantino pulls out a new song from his jukebox. In the first half of his samari epic, Tarantino brings the old school into the picture with fresh treatment. It seems only natural for the big musical number in Kill Bill Vol. 1 to involve a band that mashes up a wide selection of sounds and elements. It’s the musical equivalent of a Tarantino film, really.
Bernard Herrmann – "Twisted Nerve" (from Kill Bill Vol. 2)
Kill Bill marked the first time Tarantino picked up classic scores from old films, and Bernard Herrmann’s "Twisted Nerve," the theme from the 1968 psychological thriller of the same name, became, in turn, a Tarantino classic. (It even makes a cameo in Death Proof as Rosario Dawson’s ring tone.)
The Drifters – "Down in Mexico" (from Death Proof)
Death Proof, one half of Tarantino’s Grindhouse collaboration with Robert Rodriguez, stands on its own feet as a perfect action thriller as well as a quintessential Tarantino flick. In one of the film’s best (and sexiest) scenes, Vanessa Ferlito delivers perhaps the best lapcdance in cinematic history to a terrifying (and weirdly sexy) Kurt Russell. It should come as no surprise that the jukebox playing this jam is Tarantino’s own.
David Bowie – "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)" (from Inglourious Basterds)
Here’s another case of a song written for a movie being appropriated for one in Tarantino’s own oeuvre. Wisely using the long, slow-building version of the Giorgio Moroder / David Bowie collaboration from Paul Schrader’s 1982 erotic thriller (as opposed from the shorter, radio-friendly version from Let’s Dance), Tarantino builds the tension and nearly gives away the film’s ending. (Hint: it involves a lot of flames.)
It’s been nearly three years since Quentin Tarantino’s bloody World War II epic Inglourious Basterds, but luckily the violence connoisseur returns with another piece of revisionist history. In Django Unchained, Tarantino takes a stab at pre-Civil War America. Django, played by Jaime Foxx, is rescued by a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz, who played Inglourious Basterds‘ terrifying Nazi) who offers him his freedom and the chance to save his wife from slavery. Her captor is a brutal plantation owner played by Leonardo DiCaprio, making a surprise villainous turn. Will there be blood? Surely. Will be there be vengeance? Certainly? Will there be sweet soul music? It appears so!
Excepting maybe jodhpurs or a bullhorn, there’s no more representative object associated with movie sets than the clapboard, or “slate,” as it’s sometimes called. Used either at the beginning or the end of every take, its purpose is to assist in syncing up sound and picture, as well as to identify each shot and take for editing purposes. There’s nothing especially artful in this; it’s simply a functional tool in the larger film-making apparatus—or so I thought until I stumbled upon a clip reel of the slates from Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. In it, the clapboard operator calls out the shot and take, but in each case uses the letter code as an opportunity for a shout-out, gag, or a sly comment (for example, “10 AN” becomes “10 Achtung Nazis.”) Although I could see how it might throw off some of the talent trying to get into character, the bits are pretty damn funny, and give just a little bit of an idea as to what kind of atmosphere Tarantino cultivates on his sets. Video after the jump.
I can’t get over the fact that she even name-checks seminal punk filmmaker Amos Poe!
Today in Oscar news, we find out why Inglourious Basterds wont be taking home a statue this weekend and it’s all thanks to Melanie Laurent and her damn Nikes. Hollywood Elsewhere’s Jeffrey Wells felt “nearly betrayed” when his eyes beheld a production still of Tarantino’s Shosanna running through a rocky field sporting black sneakers, in a scene in which filmgoers were made to believe she was b-lining barefoot from her Nazi close-call. Wells “heart sank” to find Laurent, an actress, was only pretending her feet were bare! What deception! What’s next? Pitt merely pretending to carve a swastika into Christoph Waltz’s forehead? Hear that Mr. Weinstein? Your complete an utter regard for the safety of your cast has made that little luck prediction null and void. “Well, there goes any hopes of Best Picture,” Eloi Manning comments.
First of all, movie purists, that picture is effing awesome. Almost as awesome as the ironic spelling of the movie title, as Tarantino’s rewriting history and apparent foot fetishist nature. Wells bases his “Nikegate” argument on the logic of Von Stroheim, the director who insisted that actresses in his films had to wear authentic underwear from the period so they always felt in character. Wells says that if he were Tarantino he would have told Laurent the following: “Closeups, inserts, master shots…you’re supposed to be running barefoot across a field and that’s the reality of the scene.” I base my “how this movie got made” argument on comment #5, as one “TL” reminds Wells; “Then your completion insurance company representative would walk over, politely tap you on the shoulder, and say, “Um, Jeff Von Stroheim? Sorry, you can’t risk one of your leads slicing her bare foot open on a rock or a root for no good reason. Melanie, go get your Nikes!”
Indeed. To be brief, most films receive financing from banks that come complete with a completion clause that promises financiers full repayment of the entire cost of the production if a film loses one of its “essential elements,” say the sole of a foot or in a well documented case, Nicole Kidman’s knee. Slate reminds us of the time Kidman hurt her knee while filming Moulin Rouge “which resulted in two claims for delays and a $3 million insurance loss.” Risky business, and riskier still when she had to drop out of Panic Room three weeks into shooting because of her knee, “a decision that almost resulted in the entire production being canceled and a $54 million insurance claim.” Now imagine how bad a “Nicolegate” would have been for Inglourious Basterds because Tarantino wanted to appease a few Von Stroheim mad men.
It sucks that we have to get disillusioned when we learn that the Bear Jew did not actually kill Hitler. It hurts to know that Hitler didn’t burn up inside a French cinema due to the genius of an undercover Jew, that the characters didn’t use real guns or knives and that this was in fact a movie. People don’t like to be reminded of the important details like insurance and production schedules and whether or not a field was to rough to run through unless you were truly running for your life. But these things separate “Tarantino” from an “if I was Tarantino” movie fan. Sure, you can argue that it was made for fans, but I am a fan and I still think the Nike Jew was awesome.
As for Weinstein’s psychic prediction for Oscar gold, who needs luck when you’ve got sole? And you made a movie without getting raped by an insurance company?
Every year around this time, studios are taking out ads, throwing parties, and deploying any number of other favor-currying strategies in an attempt to juice their nominees’ chances of winning Oscar gold. But sometimes certain films and/or individuals get an additional push from a third party operating outside of the studio apparatus. A case in point is what’s lately happened to Inglourious Basterds. As academy voting draws to close (ballots are due today), Tarantino’s revisionist WWII film has gotten repeated endorsements from a group one doesn’t traditionally think of as having scads of Oscar influence: LA-based rabbis.
As Oscar-blogger Scott Feinstein points out, since a November screening of the film was held for the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, a number of them have gone on to write favorable endorsements of Basterds, in most cases connecting with it with the just ended (as of yesterday) holiday of Purim. The trend began in December with a piece by Rabbi Mark S. Diamond which ran in the Jewish Journal web site:
“For me, “Inglourious Basterds” is a modern-day Midrash on the Purim story. With apologies to my traditional friends, I see the Biblical Book of Esther as an ancient Jewish fable of justice and revenge. To wit, what would happen if the tables were turned and we had power over our enemies? With all the merrymaking and child-centered focus of the Purim holiday, we tend to forget that the Jews of Shushan kill 75,000 of their foes toward the end of the narrative (Esther 9:16). Then they go out and have a big party to celebrate their success.”
Since Diamond put forth the idea, several other LA-area rabbis have penned similar articles, many of which go on to assert that Basterds deserves to be honored with a statuette come Sunday. Whether they’ll have any impact remains to be seen, but if Basterds somehow manages to upset what’s been for some time now an all-but-closed race between Avatar and Hurt Locker, I could see the Rabbi-factor suddenly becoming a much bigger story.
European actor and recreational archer Michael Fassbender, of 300 and Inglourious Basterds, has just moved to Los Angeles. Now he’s taking aim at Hollywood. “I miss all the things about London that I hated when I was there,” says 32-year-old actor Michael Fassbender, when asked to compare his old stomping grounds to his new home in the City of Angels. “I miss the Tube, my motorcycle and my friends. But I love the weather here.”
Public transit and bouts of loneliness aside, Fassbender, who landed his first break in the Steven Spielberg-produced war miniseries Band of Brothers, has few regrets about his Hollywood migration.“The time was right for me to come out here. With Hunger and Inglourious Basterds, I felt like I had enough ammunition.” Fassbender stars in this month’s Fish Tank, a jury prizewinner at Cannes, about a troubled high school girl who develops an illicit relationship with her mother’s boyfriend. He will next star opposite Megan Fox in the 2010 western, Jonah Hex. “I love horses,” he says of the training required for the role. “Any opportunity I get to do a film with a horse, I jump on it—no pun intended.”
Rancho Park Archery Range2459 Motor Avenue I’ve done archery at an amateur level since I was a boy. The first bow I had was made from bamboo, and I used it at home with a straw target. My Pilates teacher reintroduced me to archery, so I’ve been coming down here. It’s like riding a bicycle—I’m not brilliant, but I’m comfortable. It’s a Zen sort of experience. All you’re thinking about is the target and the fluid motion. I go with my girlfriend, my Pilates teacher and her husband. It’s a strange double date. The joke is that we’ll soon start hunting each other.
Venice Beach Recreation Center1800 Ocean Front Walk Venice is special to me because I spent two months here by myself, in a bungalow by the ocean, losing weight for Hunger. I love the outdoor exercise area—the boxers and dancers, the basketball and handball courts, the rings and the pull-up bars. It’s accessible, has a creative vibe and it’s great for people watching.
Book Soup8818 Sunset Boulevard I love browsing here. It’s such a peaceful place to get away and just take a moment. One of my favorite writers is Hunter S. Thompson. I like his journalistic style, which takes away the sentimentality in the writing. I just started The Road so I’ll probably come back to pick up more of Cormac McCarthy’s work after I finish this one.
Jim Wayne Salon9555 Santa Monica Boulevard If I need a trim, I come here. It’s relaxed and friendly, and I end up chatting with everyone. The owner, Jim, who cuts my hair, likes to talk cars and motorcycles. A lot of guys like it here because it’s low-key. B.J. Novak [Fassbender’s co-star in Inglourious Basterds] gets his hair cut here, too.
Oh, look. Awards! Bestowed by a tight-knit coterie of L.A.-based film critics! And, lo! More awards! This time, conferred by some folks in Boston. A common thread among the breakout winners? A dastardly streak that makes Heath Ledger’s Joker seem warm and cuddly. This awards season, it pays to be a ruthless villain. A few obvious and unlikely picks after the break.
• Mo’Nique. Originally, there was some speculation about whether the comedienne was being too precious about where she chose to hawk Precious. But her searing, hairy armpit performance as mortifying matriarch Mary was enough to silence such concerns, and she’s already started racking up honors.
• Alan Rickman. Probably afflicted with the same kind of curse that plagued Lord of the Rings until its last installment scooped up a healthy lot of major awards, Harry Pottermay finally be an Oscar candidate. The latest film’s overwhelmingly positive reviews, for Rickman as the cruel Severus Snape in particular, and the fact that Oscar viewership spikes whenever blockbuster movies end up nominated, makes a nod for Rickman more likely than ever before.
• The Manhattan Media Complex. Sure, the implosion of print media means that not many New York based magazines are taking awards home, but that doesn’t mean R.J. Cutler’s The September Issue can’t. Issue, about the making of one installment of Vogue, is an excellent documentary, though its 2009 release date made it work best as a cruel anachronism, or unintentional dark comedy, reminding us of insanely flush times of a not-so-distant-era before the meltdown. Putting Anna Wintour at the heart of the film is an excellent way to win Oscar sympathies–voters are suckers for morally complex protagonists.
• Christoph Waltz. Waltz’s Colonel Landa from Inglourious Basterds was the exact opposite of Mo’Nique’s Mary. He was slow-burning to start, but when he pulled the trigger, he proved to be just as explosive. Even more dastardly, he’s a Nazi. Hollywood reverse-likes those.