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On this week’s Culturefest, our critics are joined by Slate Brow Beat assistant Aisha Harris to discuss Quentin Tarantino’s new blaxploitation western Django Unchained, whether the director successfully takes on the slavery revenge fantasy, and all the ways the movie both dazzles and disgusts. The Gabfesters then dive into Les Misérables, discussing the show’s timeless appeal and whether Tom Hooper’s new movie version, with its emotionally soaring show stoppers and uneven performances, adds up to a movie worth seeing. Finally, they discuss the website Quora, its unique contribution of voice to the online Q-and-A format and its experientially rich but informationally questionable content.
Here are some links to the things we discussed this week:
- The Quentin Tarantino movies Pulp Fiction and Inglorious Basterds.
- Dana’s review of Django Unchained for Slate and her Spoiler Special with Tanner Colby on the movie.
- Aisha Harris’ pieces for Slate on Django Unchained, including “When Blaxploitation Went West,” “Conservatives Freak Out About Django Unchained,” and “Was There Really 'Mandingo Fighting,' Like in Django Unchained? ”
- Jeffrey T. Kuhner’s Washington Times piece about “the rise of black bigotry.”
- Spike Lee’s reaction to Django Unchained.
- Fred Williamson, star of the blaxploitation western movies The Legend of Nigger Charlie, The Soul of Nigger Charley, and Boss Nigger.
- The movie From Dusk till Dawn directed by Robert Rodriguez and co-written by Quentin Tarantino (who also acted in the film).
- Dana’s review of Les Misérables for Slate.
- The Victor Hugo novel Les Misérables.
- “I Dreamed a Tween": Rachel Maddux for Slate on why kids’ will never stop loving Les Misérables.
- David Haglund’s Brow Beat post about why teenage boys love Jean Valjean.
- Susan Boyle rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” on Britain’s Got Talent.
- Tom Hooper’s Oscar winning film The King’s Speech.
- The composer Claude-Michel Schönberg, who wrote the music for Les Misérables and Herbert Kretzmer, the lyricist for its English-language musical adaptation.
- The celebrated Broadway composer Andrew Lloyd Webber.
- Slate’s partnership with Quora which highlights some of Quora’s notable content.
- The New York Times’ David Pogue on Quora.
- A few selected Quora threads, including: “Why is U2 so popular?,” “What are the top ten most culturally significant films?,” “Is the movie Groundhog Day based on a book?,” “What does it feel like to have schizophrenia?,” and “Is Wikipedia collecting more money than required?”
- Christie Barakat for SocialTimes on “Why Quora Won’t Scale.”
- Gary Rivlin’s 2011 piece for Wired.com, “Does Quora Really Have All the Answers?”
Julia’s pick: The strangely mesmerizing novel Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, the story of an Iraq war veteran with the structure of a “one-crazy-night” movie.
Stephen’s pick: The movie Night at the Museum and its sequel Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, particularly Hank Azaria’s performance in the latter.
Outro: “Unchained (The Payback/ Untouchable)” by James Brown and 2Pac
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This podcast was produced by Dan Pashman. Our intern is Sally Tamarkin.