Tag Archives: Samuel L. Jackson

The Hateful Eight

So I finally got around to watching Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, The Hateful Eight.

painting

This is a film that has really split opinions. It seems to be one of those either love it or hate it pictures.
Now I’m a self-confessed Quentin Tarantino fan, so it has to be a winner right? Well I read a few spoiler free reviews before I went to see this and there are some big fans of Quentin that really, really hate this one.
So what camp do I find myself in with this film, love or hate?

This is going to be relatively spoiler free, but the odd little one will slip in. So if you don’t want anything spoiled, stop reading now.

My old mate Paul saw this before me and really enjoyed it. He likened it to a stage play, and I can certainly see that. It is a fairly ‘simple’ production with a small cast and mostly all taking place in one location. This could easily be adapted into a stage play.

In fact, the whole film reminded me of something else from Quentin Tarantino. His first feature film; Reservoir Dogs. Really, The Hateful Eight is Reservoir Dogs wearing a cowboy costume.
Now I’m not saying that The Hateful Eight is a copy of Reservoir Dogs or that it is some kind of a remake either. Just that the two films have that same vibe. That claustrophobic, small cast and (pretty much) single location feel.
Anyway the whole feel of this film will be very familiar if you have seen Reservoir Dogs…and that is not bad thing at all.

But then it also reminded me of something else too. The John Carpenter classic; The Thing. Again, the whole claustrophobic atmosphere, the paranoia, distrust among the characters and small cast. But then you have the snow setting that film had also showing up here.
Adding on to The Thing connections, film score legend Ennio Morricone provided the music for The Thing and he also did the music for The Hateful Eight too. Oh yeah, Kurt Russell. Coincidence? I think not. I think its quite clear Quentin was inspired by The Thing with this film.

While structure wise The Hateful Eight is similar to Reservoir Dogs with a touch of The Thing thrown in too, the stories and characters are worlds apart.

Anyway, first up, my views on the cast.

characters

Quentin has done it yet again. The perfect cast for the film.
The main eight.
We have Tarantino favourites Samuel L. Jackson, Tim Roth and Michael Madsen.
With Walton Goggins and Demián Bichir.
Then there is the legend that is Bruce Dern.

Everyone here does a sterling job, with Jackson being his usual shouty but awesome self and Madsen that cool, low key performance he does so well.
Roth (for me) was the best of Tarantino’s usuals doing a sublime job. With Dern who’s part is fairly small, but what little screen time he has is not wasted at all.
Goggins is almost scene stealing and Bichir is equally impressive in the film too.

Now there are two names missing from the cast there and I left them out for a reason. That reason being, in think they deserve their own separate mention.

R&L

Jennifer Jason Leigh and Kurt Russell.
Why do they deserve their own separate mention? Because I feel they stole the entire film. Best performances by far and the two have a great chemistry throughout the whole film.
Tarantino has done with Leigh what he has achieved with other forgotten actors in his previous films. John Travolta with Pulp Fiction, Pam Grier and Michael Keaton with Jackie Brown, David Carradine and Daryl Hannah with Kill Bill. By taking an actor(ess) long forgotten about and making them relevant and memorable.
Leigh is amazing, her performance only beaten by the make up effects to make her look so grimy and repulsive, when normally she is really attractive and pretty.
While Russell is both bad ass and utterly charming too and I’m sure he is channelling a little MacReady from The Thing here, probably at Tarantino’s request.
These two actors really make this film worth watching alone.

So onto the plot/story.
Well to get it down to basics and trying to avoid spoilers.
Major Marquis Warren (Jackson) is a famed bounty hunter who is left out in a blizzard after his horse dies. Luckily For him, a stagecoach is passing by and he asks for help.
However, getting help is not going to be easy as riding in the stagecoach is John Ruth (Russell) and his prisoner Daisy Domergue (Leigh) with a $10,000 bounty on her head is wanted for murder and John Ruth is their man that tracked her down and is taking her to be hanged in the town of Red Rock, this is where he gets his nickname of ‘The Hangman’ from as he always brings his bounties in alive for them to be hanged.
Eventually John Ruth agrees to give Major Marquis Warren a ride in the stagecoach, but not without keeping the new passenger at a gun barrels length. It also seems this is not the first time they have met either. Along their journey, they eventually come across another man wondering around in the snow. Chris Mannix (Goggins) who reveals himself as to being the new Sheriff of the town Red Rock, which is where the stagecoach is heading and he too asks for a lift. This is where the first stitches of distrust start to be sewn as John Ruth thinks it rather suspicious that he just so happens to come across two random people out in a blizzard. Are they working together to claim that $10,000 bounty for themselves?

In the meantime, the blizzard is slowly getting worse and worse, becoming more of a danger.
They will never make it to Red Rock before the blizzard caches them, so they stop off at a well known place out in the mountains called; Minnie’s Haberdashery with the intent to wait for the blizzard to pass.
It is in Minnie’s Haberdashery where we meet Bob (Bichir), Oswaldo Mobray (Roth), Joe Gage (Madsen) and General Sandy Smithers (Dern) who have also sought out shelter from the incoming blizzard.
This is where most of the film takes place and where the distrust and paranoia gets turned up to 11 as John Ruth starts to suspect everyone is out to steal his prisoner and that $10,000 bounty.

This is where I’ll leave the plot as I’m heading into some major spoilers here.

Trio

A few thoughts on the movie.
The cinematography is simply gorgeous. The whole film is beautifully shot, from establishing shots of the mountains and scenery to the main set piece of the haberdashery itself. It all looks beautiful and authentic.

The dialogue is top notch too as you would expect from Quentin Tarantino. Often long speeches being delivered, some full of really intricate plot details, some just people talking.

The acting (as I touched upon) is also sublime. I already mentioned how great Roth is as well as how good both Russell and Leigh are. But I really have to mention Jackson too as he is memorising and thoroughly enjoyable throughout the film. Bichir playing Bob is funny and provides some great and needed comic relief. With Goggins really surprising me as he almost steals the whole film.

The plot is really well constructed, as the paranoia of the characters unfolds, you’ll notice little details in meaningless dialogue that end up actually meaning a hell of a lot.

Tarantino also uses misdirection really well here and will always have you trying to second guess where the film is heading…and you’ll mostly be wrong too. By the time the film ends, you’ll be thinking back on some of the smaller details and trying to piece all the little bits together.

It is a long film and it is slow paced too. The standard “digital” version comes in at 2 hours 47 minuets (including credits). But there was also a special limited 70mm print made available…very limited as there is only one of these prints in this country and it is only being shown in the West End of London. This cut is slightly longer at 3 hours 7 minutes (with an intermission) as there are a few additions. Yet despite how long the film is, I was surprised at how fast it all went by, it didn’t seem like I had sat there in the cinema for close to 3 hours by the time the credits rolled.

As I said before, this is getting very split reviews and opinions. Love it or hate it?
I thought it was good and thoroughly entertaining…I didn’t think it was amazing though as an overall film. Still, I didn’t really think Jackie Brown was all that good when I first saw it and now I think it is (probably) the best thing Quentin Tarantino has written so far. I can see this film growing on me and I’ll definitely be watching it again.

For me, the tension just was not there. Tarantino can write tension brilliantly, see the Dennis Hopper/Christopher Walken ‘eggplant’ scene from True Romance or that toe curling, teeth grinding scene from Inglourious Basterds during the LaLouisiane underground tavern.
Here, there is tension…but it never really feels that tense when it should be with so much distrust and paranoia.

While I didn’t mind the long running time, I don’t think the film needed to be almost 3 hours long at all either. There is nothing wrong with a long run time of the film has the legs for it. As much as I’ll praise the plot, it didn’t need almost 3 hours for it to be told.

It is a good film, most definitely. It was just not the genius that I know Quentin Tarantino can do.
I’d have loved to have seen the 70mm print version, but I’m not travelling to London just to watch a film. I hope that cut gets released for the home market though.

Anyway, those are my feelings on the film. Yeah I liked it…but it just was not a ‘masterpiece’.

8

Now to finish up, a few fun things I spotted and some of these do contain spoilers…

Roth’s character’s (Oswaldo Mobray) real name is later revealed to be ‘English’ Pete Hicox. In Inglourious Basterds, Michael Fassbender played Lt. Archie Hicox…some kind of relative? If Vic Vega from Reservoir Dogs and Vincent Vega from Pulp Fiction can be brothers (according to Tarantino, they are), I suppose the two Hicox could be related some way?

Also I noticed that Jackson and Goggins are the last two people to die in this film, they were also the last two to die in Django Unchained. Adding on, in Django, Jackson is shot in the leg and Goggins is shot in the balls while in the film Jackson is shot in the balls while Goggins is shot in the leg.

There’s some nice foreshadowing with some of the dialogue too. At the start, Daisy Domergue falls out of the stagecoach with John Ruth being pulled out as he is cuffed to her. After the fall John Ruth says “Nearly ripped my god damn arm off!” That line is quite clever for something that happens later.
During the stagecoach ride in the opening, John Ruth asks Major Marquis Warren: “You never stick around to see ’em hang?” Which ties into the ending.
Also John Ruth asks Daisy Domergue “You want a little snakebite in your coffee?” Again, that is quite important in relation to what happens later.
There are probably more little bits I missed too.

John

John Ruth:Yeah, Warren, that’s the problem with old men. You can kick ’em down the stairs, and say it’s an accident, but you can’t just shoot ’em.

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Quentin Tarantino Part III

Well lets just dive right into it and take a look at his new film.

TH8

The Hateful Eight: Not too much is known about the film right now, it is still being filmed as I write this.
But the basic synopsis is: In post-Civil War Wyoming, bounty hunters try to find shelter during a blizzard but get involved in a plot of betrayal and deception.

With an impressive cast of: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, James Parks and others.

The film is said to be set in the same universe as Django Unchained, but not connected plot wise.
Could we see the return of Django even if only for a cameo?

The film already has me excited and I can not wait to go and see it.

While the official relased date is Christmas 2015, it’ll only be initially released in select cinemas with a full release set for early 2016.
Some have suggested this is due to the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which will definitely be the big Christmas hit this year. But as I said in part I, I couldn’t care less about Star Wars.
So due to some “creative marketing”, I’ll have to wait until 2016 to see the film.

Still, seeing as not too long back, Quentin decided to not make this film thanks to a leaked script on the internet. I think I can wait until early 2016 to catch this flick…but it’s going to be a long wait indeed.

QT 2

So what is my favourite Quentin Tarantino film?
Though one to answer as I don’t have one favourite. So I’ll just offer my own opinion on his films so far instead.

Reservoir Dogs: This film is to Ringo Lam’s City on Fire (1987) what Sergio Leone’s Per un pugno di dollari (1964) was to Akira Kurosawa’s Yôjinbô (1961). With it being an unofficial remake. What a movie Reservoir Dogs really is, especially for a first time director…of a full theatrical feature. A heist film without a heist with 90% of the film just being dialogue with most of the film set in an empty warehouse. But it really showcased how great Tarantino is at writing his characters. This one set the bar high with many copycats trying to make similar films for years after, yet only Quentin himself could nail and even beat the high standards set by Reservoir Dogs.

Pulp Fiction: For quite a while, this was my favourite Tarantino film…but that was during the mid-late 90s when he only had 2-3 films to his name. Pulp Fiction is still one of the very best films made to date from anyone and again had other writers and directors tying to “out Tarantino” Tarantino with other similar films attempting to cash in on the character led, crime genre were the bad guys were the focus. Pulp Fiction is a simply awesome film, I’m even close to saying the best film made in the 90s.

Four Rooms: I can not stress enough how overlooked this film is. While not all four stories are great, the film as a whole is a fun watch. But Quentin Tarantino’s segment is really worth watching, full of that snappy dialogue, with interesting characters. Tarantino’s, The Man From Hollywood story is the final tale of the four, and I can safely say…they saved the best till last.

From Dusk Till Dawn: I still remember the first time I saw this flick and was lucky enough to not have it spoiled for me pre-viewing. Talk about yer great film twists eh? I really do not want to talk too much of this one in case some of you readers have not yet seen it. As I said previously, this is a film you need to know nothing about before seeing it. Just go watch it, don’t research it, don’t look at a cast-list or even read a synopsis…just go watch it.

Jackie Brown: I never did like this one when I first saw it…and I can’t remember why. However, the film has definitely grown on me over the years and now think it’s great. Not one of Quentin’s best films I admit, but it’s still pretty damn amazing and I find myself enjoying the film much more now than I did previously. Jackie Brown is a wonderful homage to crime “blaxploitation” cinema of the 70s, starring the queen of “blaxploitation” herself the amazing, “whole lot of woman” and sexy Pam Grier.

Kill Bill: Remember when I said Pulp Fiction was my favourite Quentin Tarantino film for a while? Well this is the film that made me change my mind. An expertly observed and executed love letter to classic Kung-Fu flicks. While the plot is as basic as it gets, with its all too simple revenge driving force. Kill Bill ends up being so much more thanks to Tarantino’s love for the genre and his (again) amazing writing/directing. You can always tell when the director loves and respects a genre, and this film displays that love and respect in every scene. I also feel this film was a turning point for Tarantino as his writing seems more “dynamic” and this is a trait that follows on from this point on.

Sin City: If you are reading this Paul, remember how long it got you to get me to watch this film? Seriously, it was a good 3-4 years. In all honesty, I never did like the look of this film back then, which was party why I never got round to watching it. Then one summer day (after getting tattoos) I relinquished and picked up a copy of Sin City on DVD and watched it that very day…and it hit me like a sledgehammer to the head. A truly stunning film is so many regards and while Quentin only directed one scene, it’s a great scene in a great film.

Death Proof: This one was a nice surprise, I never really knew what to expect with this one. Tarantino’s slice of 70s style exploitation cinema in this Grindhouse double bill was really good fun and with the underused Kurt Russell in the lead role, makes this one a must watch even if you are not a Quentin fan. That crash mid way through and car chase at the end are some of the best stunt work I’ve seen in recent years…and it was all practical, no CGI. It is a “stupid” film I admit, but it is “stupidity” done with panache.

Inglourious Basterds: Is this really a “masterpiece” as Brad Pitt’s Lt. Aldo Raine says? Well you remember when I said Pulp Fiction was my favourite Quentin Tarantino film for a while, and then replaced that with Kill Bill later? You can see what’s coming here can’t you? See, this is why its so damn difficult for me to chose a favourite Quentin Tarantino film…cos for most part they are all my favourites. Inglourious Basterds is one of the best films I have seen in the last 10 years from any writer/director. This is what The Dirty Dozen (1967) would have been like if Quentin Tarantino had directed it. It’s violent, it’s tense, it’s full of memorable characters and dialogue. Yes, it is a masterpiece.

Django Unchained: Remember when I said Pulp Fiction was my favourite Quentin Tarantino film for a while…and so on…? Yup, this is one of “those” Quentin Tarantino films, one that changes my opinion…again. I grew up watching the Spaghetti Western genre, ever since my older brother, Robert introduced me to Clint Eastwood and the “Dollars Trilogy”. I love this genre, and so does Quentin…and you can tell when watching this picture. A great modern Western is a tough film to get right, I can only think of two truly great modern Westerns. Clint Eastwood’s, Unforgiven and this film right here.

So there you go, I can’t chose a favourite Tarantino film, its just impossible for me to do so. All of his directing efforts have been great, whether they be full feature films, a short story or even just one scene. Everything he does has so much polish and style to it.

QT 4

Why do I enjoy Quentin Tarantino films so damn much?
So many reasons…

1) His characters, they always seem so “real”, multi dimensional with depth and a purpose. Those characters always seem to stay with me over the years and are fondly remembered. They are never over or underused and they always seem integral to the plot even if it’s a small character with little screen-time.

2) His writing, from the stories he creates…and “borrows” to the dialogue he comes up with. How great is that “Royale with cheese” chat in Pulp Fiction? But why is it so great and memorable? really, it bears no relation to the plot of the film. It’s just two friends chatting shit, and I feel that is why his dialogue works, as it’s not “movie speak”. It really sounds and feels like how people genuinely talk to each other. All of his films have an instance of a “Royale with cheese” chat. His stories are always interesting and far deeper than they first appear too.

3) His music, how is it that Quentin Tarantino always selects the best and most apt music for his films? Have you ever watched one of his films, heard the music and felt that it does not work…even when the music is anachronistic like the use of Cat People (Putting Out The Fire) by David Bowie (1982) in Inglourious Basterds which is set in during World War II. Yes, completely the wrong decade…but that song was so damn apt, it would have been an offence not to have used it. Every tune he selects seems to be just as important as getting the right actor to play a part.

4) His comedy, yes you read that right…comedy. Not too many think of Quentin as being a funny writer/director…but he really is. All of his films have comedy in them, even if you don’t realise it at first. Often his comedy is very subtle and will pass you by, but it is there. He’ll also use dark comedy that many people miss. Sometimes his use of comedy is so obvious, you don’t even think about it. I watched all of the films mentioned here before writing this up (yes, even My Best Friend’s Birthday) and all of them had some form of comedy in them that made me smile or even outright laugh.

5) His actors, remember when everyone forgot about John Travolta? Who was Samuel L. Jackson before Pulp Fiction? Tim Roth, Kurt Russell, Christoph Waltz, Michael Madsen, Steve Buscemi, Ving Rhames, Pam Grier, Michael Keaton, and so on. Now of course not everyone in his films were a nobody or forgotten about pre-Tarantino. He’s attracted some big name stars too, Brad Pitt, Robert De Niro, Jamie Fox, Michael Fassbender and others. But even so, he still always manages to bring back a forgotten actor or a new name and give them the spotlight…and make it work too.

6) He’s a genre man, he makes the kind of films he grew up and enjoyed watching. He is a fanboy and his films prove as much too. From his “homages”, in jokes, references and even some of the actors he chooses. Everything is selected and pandered to perfectly fit into the genre he is trying to capture. While he does have his own unique style, his films are also very different from each other. Heist film, Kung-Fu/Samurai revenge flick, Spaghetti Western epic, Gangster/thriller picture…he’ll have a go at anything as long as it’s a genre he loves.

7) His violence, probably the biggest thing Quentin is (in)famous for. But he does not just throw in violence for the sake of having violence. Often, he makes us, the viewer, “earn” that violence. Anyone remember the “ear cutting scene” in Reservoir Dogs, remember the controversy, remember how graphic it was? The great thing about that scene is the simple fact that is was not graphic at all, in fact the camera pans away to look at a blank wall…yet people always “remember” how violent that scene was. This is the mark of a truly great film-maker, one that can make you see something that is not there.
But my favourite part of the whole “ear cutting scene” is actually something more jovial and deeply dark at the same time. I’m talking of Mr. Blonde putting the radio on and dancing around to Stuck In The Middle With You by Stealers Wheel. It’s a great, light and “bouncy” song and Michael Madsen as Mr. Blonde dancing around is a joy to watch…but somewhere in the back of your head, you know things are going to get really bad, really quickly and the whole dancing thing just makes what is to come next even more disturbing…even though you do not see “it” happen.
Of course he’s not always as “subtle” with his violence, the Crazy 88 fight from Kill Bill for example. But even here, you are teased before the big showdown. From when The Bride first enters The House of Blue Leaves, the whole scene is dragged out (in a great way) to make you wait for the vengeance fuelled blood rage that is about to come.
But I think my personal favourite piece of foreplay to the violence comes from Inglourious Basterds. That one particular scene in the German basement bar. The way Quentin slowly unfolds this undercover plot that we, the audience all know is going to go wrong, we all know its gonna end in (lots of) bloodshed…yet we are teased for what seems like hours. It’s like Quentin is saying to us, he knows you want violence, he knows you want to see some dead Nazis…and possibly some dead good guys too. But, you have to wait, and wait and wait. He makes it almost unbearable to the point you can not take your eyes of the screen so much so you do not want to blink. It’s “magical” movie making at it’s finest.
But I can not end this point without mentioning the slow-motion gun fight near the end of Django Unchained. Its so beautifully shot (and again pre-teased to us the audience), its like watching a ballet of violence.

So, what is next for Tarantino after the release of The Hateful Eight?

Well Quentin has hinted he plans to retire. I think this is terrible if true, but on the other hand. If Quentin Tarantino honestly thinks he had nothing left to offer, then maybe retirement is the best thing for him?
I’d rather Tarantino going out on top then keep making films he no longer enjoys making. But either way, it’ll be a sad day in film-making if/when Quentin Tarantino decides to end his amazing career.

But come on QT, you have more to come after The Hateful Eight…right?

QT 3

Quentin Tarantino:As far as I’m concerned, digital projection is the end of cinema. The fact that most films aren’t presented in 35 mm means that the world is lost. Digital projection is just television in cinema. I’m very hopeful that future generations will be much smarter than this generation and realize what they lost.”

Thank you for joining me on my Birthday (dependent on when you read this) and for reading my fanboyism of one of the worlds biggest film fanboys, Mr. Quentin Tarantino.
Now…”let’s go to work”.

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