When Quentin Met Adam
Last night marked Quentin Tarantino's return to American Idol, his first time back since serving in the capacity of visiting karaoke-appraising dignitary in the show's third season. It was a responsibility he did not take lightly, casting at times brutally honest judgment upon the quickly winnowing herd of prized musical heifers. Any one of his pullquote-ready verdicts could literally make or break a career. (On Jennifer Hudson: "Hudson takes on Houston ... and wins!" The rest was history.)
The Tarantino who appeared on last night's show was a little older, a little heavier, a little less cross-eyed with girlish Idol fever. Gone was the stylish Caesar haircut and youthful puka shell necklace. Yes, his discomfiting enthusiasm for the world's uncoolest TV show was still very much on display, but it's unlikely that the Quentin of 2009 -- the one who forces his actors to drone, "Because we love making movies," before calling action on that morning's Gestapo-disemboweling sequence -- really thinks the problems of a half-dozen adult-sized child stars really amounts to a hill of beans in this crazy world.
Any magic came from his session with foundation-hording shriek-maestro Adam Lambert, whose mutant, 14-octave vocal range produces sounds rarely heard outside of nuclear fission turbines. For one thing, the two at least seemed physically compatible -- almost like brothers, really. (By contrast, the arrival of Kris Allen transformed the director into some kind of Kelly Clarkson-obsessed bridge ogre, capable of swallowing the miniature heartthrob at any moment should he develop a hankering for a light, Christian Rock snack.)
But it went deeper than that. In Lambert, Tarantino found a star in his own image: one who could both appreciate Madonna references shared around a diner table by a crew of color-coded gangsters, while at the same time looking perfectly at home behind the wheel of skull-hooded 1970 Chevy Nova that just happened to be running down Danny Gokey for bloodsport. Adam is Quentin's kind of Idol.