Podcast Picks



The Quentin Tarantino mythos, video store wizkid turned beloved indie director turned, I suppose, event filmmaker, is one I was obsessed with in high school. Sitting in our third period psychology class as sophomores, passing notes back and forth with script ideas that would never get made but linger in our minds, my friend Steve and I would wax poetic that we, eventually, would be in a similar position—regardless of training or film school or background, there was room in the world to be the next Tarantino.

Amy Nicholoson is arguably one of, if not the, best film critics releasing podcasts right now. While her conversational retrospective and analysis with comedian Paul Scheer on UNSPOOLED is refreshing and current, a fresh feel to a now classic film podcast formula,  Nicholson’s work with the Ringer to deliver limited series retrospectives on filmmakers or franchises is some of the most inspired and polished use of the podcasting medium in a while. She first dipped her toe in this world back in October with HALLOWEEN UNMASKED, an excellent eight-part retrospective that covered everything in the world of HALLOWEEN, from the sequels and the franchise at large to John Carpenter’s past and the lingering cultural effects of the final girl, and featured interviews with Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis.

Now Nicholson’s back with QUENTIN TARANTINO’S FEATURE PRESENTATION, a three-part sit-down with Tarantino to discuss five of the films he’s personally programmed at his Los Angeles movie theater the New Beverly, specifically POINT BLANK (1967), ENTER THE DRAGON (1973), VALLEY GIRL (1983), HOLLYWOOD SHUFFLE (1987), and BOOGIE NIGHTS (1997). And don’t worry, if you haven’t seen any of those films, not only is context amply given, but discussion of the films isn’t really the point (this isn’t, say, FILMSPOTTING). Nicholson is, like my friend Steve and I, fascinated by not just his latest film ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD, but how he got here and the facts that precede that famous mythos we were so fascinated by. Smarly, rather than simply interviewing him, Nicholson guides the conversation around the one thing both of them have in common: A love for the movies.

While the ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD discourse over the weeks since the movie has come out has been, shall we say, messy, I think collectively Tarantino’s passion for films and filmmaking is something that makes him not just a quintessentially fascinating interview, but also makes him someone that is perfect for this kind of longer form interview format, and Nicholson knows that. Not only does she bring beautiful insight and tremendous critical analysis of her own reading of his various texts, but she and the producers are able to give it a narrative throughline that’s tough for people who are as scatterbrained as Tarantino. Hearing him talk about his singular issue with Paul Thomas Anderson’s BOOGIE NIGHTS, or his experience watching THE MATRIX opening night, or even just what it was like working in a porno theater as a kid, is what this medium was invented for—if we’re not going to get the WTF interview, an Amy Nicholson/Ringer co-production seems like the next best thing; after all, where else would you hear Tarantino talk about his relationship to GAME OF THRONES or THE AVENGERS? This is a special, directors commentary-esque level of insight that’s not just a ton of fun to listen to, but educational even if you’re only a passive film fan. Give all three episodes a listen over at The Ringer, and read our own Film Editor Sergio Zaciu’s take ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD here.

CJ Simonson
CJ Simonson is Merry-Go-Round's Editor-in-Chief and representative for all things Arizona. The only thing he knows for certain is that "I Can Feel The Fire" by Ronnie Wood is the greatest closing credits song never used in a Wes Anderson movie. Get on that, Wes.

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