Tag Archives: Quentin Tarantino

“THE HATEFUL EIGHT” Review (✫✫✫)

Quentin Tarantino sticking up his bloodied middle finger. 

You could not have picked a better title for The Hateful Eight if you had a team of eight Quentin Tarantinos working on the script. It’s simple, straightforward, and to the point: you take away everything you need to know about it, just like Tarantino’s writing. There’s eight killers, they’re all hateful, and they blow each other up in bloody, gory Tarantino-esque fashion. Whether you’d like that sort of thing depends on if you like Tarantino. I do, and I had just as much a blast watching this movie as Tarantino did writing it.

As already mentioned, The Hateful Eight pits eight character’s wits and murderous instincts against each other, all with unique names that accurately reflect their histories and personalities. They include The Bounty Hunter (Samuel L. Jackson), the Hangman (Kurt Russell), the Sheriff (Walton Goggins), the Mexican (Demian Bichir), the Little Man (Tim Roth), the Cow Puncher (Michael Madsen), the Confederate (Bruce Dern), and the Prisoner (Jennifer Jason Leigh), the last of which the plot more or less focuses around. Trapped in a cabin during a harsh winter storm, these eight killers need to keep their wits intact so that they don’t start murdering each other.

This being a Tarantino movie, however, that obviously doesn’t work out very well.

For a lack of a better word, Quentin Tarantino went through hell to get this movie made. First, his script got leaked a few months before he was supposed to start production. Then, he decided to turn his screenplay into a book. When he finally resolved to make it a feature film, he received threats from police officers for participating in a Black Lives Matter protest in New York. Oh, and he had to battle being released in the same month as Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It has not been an easy year for Quentin Tarantino.

With that in mind, I appreciate that Tarantino is still able to make a quality film up to his standards, despite everything he’s been through this year. What is it you love most about Tarantino’s movies? The performances? The dialogue? The characters? The dark humor? The grit? The violence? The shock value? The Hateful Eight has all of that just as much as Inglorious Basterds, Django Unchained, and Pulp Fiction does. To classify it as a western or a comedy or a mystery doesn’t do it justice. Tarantino movies are almost a genre all their own.

That much is how The Hateful Eight is similar to its counterparts. The differences lie in its mystery element, in the characters trying to find the one person slowly, yet violently, killing off everyone else in the cabin. That being confined to eight people makes it difficult to keep this a mystery, as we already know more or less who the “good” guys are, if such a thing can exist in this movie. Regardless, it’s fun to hypothesize and figure the plot out, as there is the added element of mystery that gives The Hateful Eight a sense of intrigue over Tarantino’s other pictures.

As always, the make-it or break-it element comes down to Tarantino’s almost insane obsession with on-screen violence. At times, it gives it that extra shock value that is so ridiculous, you can’t help but laugh about it. At other times, it’s just sick, and it makes you want to throw up the more you think about it. That’s what happened with me and Django Unchained after watching too many nut shots for my own comfort. The Hateful Eight is just as guilty for being violent as Tarantino’s other motion pictures, and while it doesn’t get away with all of its violence (such as the uncomfortable nut shots), it’s still smart enough to survive beyond its onslaught of blood, guts, beatings, bruisings, stabbings, and gore that’s enough to fill up The Shining’s elevator lobby.

Do you like Quentin Tarantino? If the answer is yes, then you will want to see The Hateful Eight. If no, then you definitely don’t want to find yourself alone in this cabin with these eight murderous psychopaths.

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Oscar Nominations Turn To The Dark Side

Another year, another time to gripe about the Academy Awards.

Nominations came out today, and while most of them are well-earned, there are obviously a few movies, actors, and filmmakers who were clearly snubbed for reasons we’ll never know. In previous years where I’ve written about the Oscars, I would build up to an infuriating rage about the Academy for not recognizing deserving filmmakers in either one category or another. Perhaps the biggest snub as far as nominations I’ve ever experienced is when The Dark Knight wasn’t nominated for best picture in 2009. Or when Ben Affleck wasn’t nominated for best director for Argo in 2013. Or when The Lego Movie wasn’t nominated for best animated feature just last year. I don’t know. Roll the dice and tell me which is the worst. There’s lots to pick from.

This year, I’m a little more relaxed in my frustration. No, I don’t care less. The anger has just exhausted me, and in venting my emotions towards the Academy and their repeated negligence year after year, I’ve become so tired about it that it took away from my energy towards appreciating the year’s best films. So this year, I’m going to calmly state my perceptions towards this year’s Academy Award nominations. I will keep my cool for most of these, but there are a few nominees where it will be just impossible to keep my self-control in check.

For best picture, we have the hot-blooded true-story/comedy The Big Short, the British period-drama Brooklyn, the Steven Spielberg-directed Bridge of Spies, the ridiculously overblown Mad Max: Fury Road, the intelligent and funny sci-fi survival film The Martian, the brilliant and ambitious The Revenant, the indie dark horse Room, and the journalism drama Spotlight. Most of these pics are among the year’s best and deserve to be up here, though I haven’t met many people who have seen Room or Brooklyn. The biggest snub here is not one individual picture, but rather, the Academy’s capacity for potential.

Ever since the Academy announced its proposal for a max of 10 best picture nominations in 2010, they’ve never fulfilled that maximum capacity, minus the year where The King’s Speech won best picture. Every year since then has strayed slightly shy of nine best picture nominees, up until last year when they dropped it down to eight. It is unfair to do this to the movies. There are plenty of other films that are more worthy of a nomination than some of the other nominees on this list, especially including Sicario, Straight Outta Compton, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. No, I didn’t expect to see these movies on the list, but that’s not the point. These were movies that had a clear and visible reaction from the public. To not notice them by snubbing them of a nomination is absurd and unnecessary.

For best director, we have Lenny Abrahamson for Room, Alejando Gonzalez-Inarritu for The Revenant, Tom McCarthy for Spotlight, Adam McKay for The Big Short, and George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road. Again, these are well-deserved nominees, although I’m surprised to see that Ridley Scott was skipped over for directing The Martian. Then again, however, so was Dennis Villanueve and J.J. Abrams skipped over for Sicario and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, so maybe it’s not so surprising to see great directors get snubbed at the Oscars.

For best actor, we have Bryan Cranston for Trumbo, Matt Damon for The Martian, Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant, Michael Fassbender for Steve Jobs, and Eddie Redmayne for The Danish Girl. This is the category that by far pisses me off the most. Great actors get snubbed for great performances every year, but there is absolutely no reason why Johnny Depp should be forgotten for his mesmerizingly evil performance in Black Mass. His performance was not just the best of the year: it’s a competitor for best of the decade, with every ounce of his appearance erasing into this sick and wicked man who doesn’t have a shred of decency in him. With all of the other nominees, you can at least see the actors’ resemblances behind the characters they portray (Yes, DiCaprio purists: that includes good ol’ Leo too). With Black Mass, there was absolutely no indication that Johnny Depp and Whitey Bulger were the same person. The only way this category could be even more ransacked is if DiCaprio doesn’t win the Oscar come awards night. Cross your fingers that doesn’t happen.

For best actress, we have Cate Blanchett for Carol, Brie Larson for Room, Jennifer Lawrence for Joy, Charlotte Rampling for 45 Years, and Saoirse Ronan for Brooklyn. Okay, call me out here for lack of gender equality guys: I have not seen any of the films in this category. Yes, I know, I’m a horrible person, critic, writer, throw anything at me what you will. However, it certainly doesn’t help that three out of the five nominees were limited releases, so cut me some slack. I will say that with her recent Golden Globe win, Larson is currently the leading contender for this category. We’ll have to see how the rest of awards season plays out first, though.

For best supporting actor, we have Christian Bale for The Big Short, Tom Hardy for The Revenant (which is very well deserved), Mark Ruffalo for Spotlight, Mark Rylance for Bridge of Spies, and Sylvester Stallone for Creed. One complaint people have had with this category is the lack of diversity, with all of the nominees being tall, handsome white guys. However, I have to ask the dissenters: have you seen all of these performances? The biggest misses are the inclusions of Jason Mitchell from Straight Outta Compton, Will Smith from Concussion, or Idris Elba from Beasts of No Nation, and you could probably have switched one of those out for Rylance considering he was pretty one-note throughout Bridge of Spies. The rest of the nominees, however, are rock solid. No complaints from me as far as this selection goes.

For best supporting actress, we have Jennifer Jason Leigh for The Hateful Eight, Rooney Mara for Carol, Rachel McAdams for Spotlight, Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl, and Kate Winslet for Steve Jobs. Again, there’s a lack of diversity here from tall white women, but what other actresses would you put in their place? Can you name another ethnic actresses from this year that put on performances as unique and memorable as the ones here? If you can, please reply with those performances below, because I honestly can’t remember any.

And finally, we end on the screenplay categories. For best original screenplay, we have Bridge of Spies, Ex Machina, Inside Out, Spotlight, and Straight Outta Compton. For best adapted screenplay, we have The Big Short, Brooklyn, Carol, The Martian, and Room. Both categories are guilty of snubbing not one, but two great screenplays. Those scripts are The Hateful Eight and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, albeit for very different reasons. For the horrible year that Quentin Tarantino had to go through to bring The Hateful Eight into film, he delivered a very funny, witty, and memorably grotesque experience that can only be brought to life through his writing. Do I even need to explain why Star Wars belongs here? J.J. Abrams succeeded doing in one movie what series creator George Lucas couldn’t do in three: he breathed new life and energy into the science-fiction epic, providing noteworthy original content while at the same time paying homage to the classic characters and mythology that we came to love from Star Wars. Abrams continued Lucas’ epic story with seamlessness and creativity, and to not reward him and writers Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Ardnt is disrespectful to them and their vast accomplishment.

You can click here to see the full list of nominees. In the meantime, I’m going to be staring blankly at the nominations sheet until I can decide who the Academy is going to snub next on awards night.

– David Dunn

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“SIN CITY” Review (✫✫)

“There ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone.”

You’re either going to love or hate Sin City. There’s no getting around that fact. Like the movies directed by Quentin Tarantino or Eli Roth, Sin City is a movie specific to its own tastes, and doesn’t care much about the opinions opposite of it. It’s a violent, gross, disgusting and putrid film full of the stuff that would make a Catholic priest faint. If that sounds like something you would like, by all means, be my guest and have at it. If you are repulsed by my description of the film, I certainly don’t blame you.

Based off of the comic book series by Frank Miller, Sin City is a film that follows four separate stories that (mostly) intertwine together. John Hartigan (Bruce Willis) is an aged police officer who is viciously pursuing child rapist Roark Jr. (Nick Stahl). Marv (Mickey Rourke) is a rough-around-the-edges thug who is framed for the murder of a prostitute he slept with named Goldie (Jamie King). And Dwight (Clive Owen) is a private investigator who gets pulled into a turf war, risking the lives of cops and prostitutes alike.

What do all of these stories have in common? They all started because of a woman, and these men go out to kill because they love their woman. Or, at least, whatever constitutes as love in this universe, in which case it’s a one-night stand.

It’s so difficult to review a movie like Sin City. Why? Because it’s not for people like me, that’s why. I don’t like watching movies like Sin City. I don’t like watching blood and violence for the sake of blood and violence, or watching sex and nudity for the sake of sex and nudity. It’s hard to be non-biased with movies like these because I watch moments where a naked woman walks out with bare breasts and all, and I can’t help but imagine the director thinking “Hey, let’s have this actress naked in this scene, because boobs.”

Sin City is aggressively, unnecessarily violent. How violent? So violent that the least bloody scene in the movie came from Quentin Tarantino. That’s how bad it gets. Red, white, black and yellow blood splatter across the screen like Jackson Pollock was making a painting. Severed heads and body parts are frequently cut off and thrown around in the film like missing pieces to a G.I. Joe. Those body parts include testicles, by the way, on multiple occasions. And don’t even get me started on the absurdity of its kills. In one scene, Marv gets beaten, stabbed, shot, and crashed his car into a lake and still gets up to pursue Goldie’s killer. Good God, are these guys made of kevlar or something?

Remind you, I have no problem with violence in movies, but here it’s just far too absurd and disgusting to be able to fully stomach. When it’s used to illustrate an emotion or a point in movies like Pulp Fiction or Taxi Driver, I praise its purpose and its usage. Here, it illustrates no emotion or urgency. It’s a glorified selling point for a really long, disgusting, stupid movie.

I did like the visualization of Sin City. That, and its opening scene. I liked it’s black-and-white style, it’s sense of contrast and expert use of shadow and lighting. It gave it a strong reminiscent feeling of the classic neo-noir films that inspired the original Sin City comic books, the ones that have the snazzy saxophone playing in the background as two lovers stand on a balcony, telling each other that they love each other and that they never want to leave each other. The film itself, in fact, functions as a parody of the neo-noir genre: characters stand on balconies, docks, outrun police cars, smoke cigarettes and talk in thickly exaggerated accents to the point where it can’t be taken seriously.

Realize, however, that this wasn’t on accident; director Robert Rodriguez wanted you to see how he exaggerated details so you would understand that him and Frank Miller were lightly poking fun at the genre, all while at the same time suggesting delicate homages to it as well. I like that they tried to reach for a deeper effort with the film, even though their intentions were smarter than the film itself was.

So what’s my end consensus? Is it a movie that you should see or skip? I’ll leave that decision in your hands. For now, I have done my job in telling you what the movie is like, and I will wash my hands clean from it. I have church in the morning.

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