Posts Tagged ‘tarentino’

hateful eight cross

In post-Civil War Wyoming, a bounty hunter named John Ruth (Kurt Russell) is transporting a prisoner named Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to Red Rock Wyoming to be hanged.  Ruth is joined by another bounty hunter and black Union soldier named Major Marquis Warren. (Samuel L. Jackson) The stagecoach travels a bit when they encounter a third man, Sheriff Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins) who is soon to be sheriff of Red Rock.  The four passengers soon realize that they cannot make it all the way to Red Rock, because a blizzard is coming, so they stop at Minnie’s Haberdashery, a small trading post near Red Rock. At Minnie’s, Ruth, Warren, Domergue, and Mannix meet Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth)  the hangman of Red Rock, Confederate General Sandy Smithers (Bruce Dern) and cowboy Joe Gage (Michael Madsen) but Minnie (Dana Gourrier) is nowhere to be seen which raises Major Warren’s suspicions. Ruth has suspicions of his own, he suspects that somebody is going to team up with Major Warren, shoot him and split the bounty with Warren.  Where is Minnie?  Are Major Warren’s suspicious unfounded?  Are John Ruth’s suspicions unfounded?

For the first hour and a half, I thought this movie was destined to be another Tarantino classic, but then the movie was marred by projectile vomiting,  Major Warren’s frat-boy style revenge vignette, nonsensical alliances, and out-of -the-blue narration from none other than Tarantino himself, I thought I had turned on the director’s commentary by mistake.  All that, and the film was about an hour too long, Tarantino overindulged in his own dialogue, and no producer had the guts to tell him it was too long.  About 2 hours into the film, Tarantino feels the need to add some exposition, as to how certain characters came to Minnie’s Haberdashery, which was totally unnecessary. I don’t mind the violence, that’s a Tarantino trademark of sorts, but what I do mind is a badly written screenplay with easily correctable errors.

The acting was great Samuel L. Jackson did a great job making a non-likeable character almost likeable, Kurt Russell does the same thing, as does Walton Goggins.  Jennifer Jason Leigh does an adequate job with a badly written character, she had no depth whatsoever.  Not sure why Zoe Bell is in the film albeit for a cameo, her New Zealand accent belongs in this film like boxer shorts belong on the statue of David.  Thankfully, Channing Tatum has a relatively small role, and still convinces me that he cannot act.

Director Quentin Tarantino had a visual masterpiece going the mountainous background, the snowy foreground, the marvelous cinematography, but then writer Tarantino cut director Tarantino off at the knees, he forgets about the beautiful outdoor locations, and traps the characters indoors in a dark, dank cabin. I don’t know why Tarantino kept showing a cross in the wilderness, if he was trying to infer that one of these characters was Christ-like, he’s sadly mistaken. And actor Tarantino doesn’t help director Tarantino’s vision, with a robotic reading of the narrator’s role.  The scenes run too long, but Tarantino thinks that every scene is the perfect length as is. He gets good performances from the actors, but he has worked with Jackson many times, and Madsen at least once, so he’s not breaking any ground with them.

Hateful Eight: Eight Ain’t  Great.

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man with the iron fists

In China, in the Jungle Village, a blacksmith named Thaddeus (RZA) is working hard to save money to move to another town with his girlfriend, Lady Silk, (Jamie Chung)   a prostitute in a local brothel. The head of the Lion clan, Gold Lion (Kuan Tai Chen) is entrusted to guard the emperor’s gold.  Gold Lion is betrayed by his trusted assistants, Silver Lion (Byron Mann) and Bronze Lion (Cung Le) who kill Gold Lion.  Gold Lion’s favorite so, Zen Yi (Rick Yune) vows to avenge his father’s death.

One day, Jack Knife (Russell Crowe) an emissary to the ambassador drops by the brothel, and pays for three women and settles accounts with Madam Blossom. (Lucy Liu)  The gold is being guarded by Gemini Male (Andrew Lin) and Gemini Female, (Grace Huang)  who come to Jungle Village to have a bite to eat.  Silver Lion, and Gold Lion are lying in wait, and kill Gemini Male and Female.  Zen Yi is hurt in the fight and saved by Thaddeus, and taken back to the brothel.  Silver and Bronze Lion attack Thaddeus for guarding Zen Yi, cut off his arms, and leave him for dead.  Does Thaddeus survive?  Do Silver and Bronze Lion find the gold?  Does Zen Yi avenge the death of his father?

RZA, the writer of this incomprehensible piece of celluloid, should stick to writing rap songs, there is a beginning, middle, and an end to any songs, and songs make people happy.  If only that was true for this movie The story is long, meandering, with major lapses.  The gold moves from place to place, and nobody seems to know where it is.  There is voice over narration from beginning to end from RZA, that explains everything, and the story still makes no sense.  The romance between RZA and Jamie Chung is ludicrous, (and I don’t mean the rapper) the fight scenes look so staged it’s laughable.  There is a backstory about how Thaddeus got to China that is so long and torturous, let’s just say the backstory would not make you forget Django or  12 Years A Slave, and leave it at that.  While RZA’s backstory goes on forever there is no explanation of who Jack Knife is, until almost the end of the film.

I heard the first treatment of this film was 4 hours long, the pacing was slow as it was, it would have been mind -numbingly slow at four hours, there were already too many characters, sub-plots and unnecessary idiocy in this movie.  I haven’t even gotten to the violence, buckets of blood, splashing out like so much Kool Aid, not cool.  Have I talked about my pet peeve about women characters being prostitutes?  Well this film is shameless in that regard, all the women are prostitutes.  There is one female warrior, but she dies in the same scene that she’s introduced in, so that takes care of any strong female characters.

Now for the acting, if you can call it that.  RZA, wasn’t it bad enough that you wrote this, did you have to act in this swill too?  The genteel answer is no.  Lucy Liu is a long way from Kill Bill, Russell Crowe, just when I thought he was becoming a respectable actor again, after Les Miserables, he does this movie looking paunchy as all hell, and just slogging through a bad role with minimal effort.  The saddest part of the whole movie is seeing Pam Greer in a cameo, as RZA’s mother. Sad.  The actors all spoke in an American accents, they are all living in China, all of them sound like they’re from L.A, and New York, there’s very little Chinese spoken at all, that makes it seem inauthentic.

I grew up on martial arts movies, Enter The Dragon was a seminal movie for me as a child.  Bruce Lee took nonsense from no one and took on all comers.   Bruce Lee was a hero of mine,   Jackie Chan put humor in martial arts movies, in movies like Drunken Master. Jackie Chan is a hero of mine.  Stephen Chow took the comedy martial arts film a step further with Shaolin Soccer. I looked forward to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hero, and House of Flying Daggers, I loved the wuxia style of martial arts, this movie makes a mockery of that style, and every other martial arts movie that came before it.  Why is Quentin Tarantino’s name on this film?  It’s an embarrassment, and it definitely diminishes him in my eyes.

Man With The Iron Fists.  Has many flaws to iron out.

django-unchained

In 1858, Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) part-time dentist, part-time bounty hunter is riding through Daughtry Texas looking for the Brittle brothers.  Trouble is, Schultz has no idea what the Brittle brothers look like.  To find out who the Brittle brothers are, Shultz enlists the help of a slave named Django (Jamie Foxx) who Shultz frees from bondage.  Django not only finds the Brittle brothers, but kills two of them.  Schultz wants to make as much money as possible as a bounty hunter.  Django has a mission of his own, to rescue his wife, Hildy (Kerry Washington) from a sadistic slave owner, Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio)

Shultz assures Django that if Django helps him over the winter as a bounty hunter in Texas, he will go to Mississippi, and try to rescue Hildy from Candie.  The two bounty hunters make a lot of money over the winter and hatch a plan.  Shultz is going to feign interest in buying a slave from Candie for Mandingo fighting purposes, and Django pretends to be a free man who also owns slaves. The two unlikely friends head to Mississippi.

As soon as Django and Schultz get to Candieland, Candie’s plantation, Candie’s house slave, Stephen (Samuel L Jackson) is immediately suspicious of Django and Schultz and convinced that Django and Hildy know each other.  Will Django and Schultz execute their plan?  Does Stephen share his suspicions with Candie?

Let me preface this section of the review by stating that I am a big Quentin Tarantino  fan, I can find something good to say about most of his movies, except perhaps  From Dusk to Dawn, which was generally a waste of celluloid.  I thought that my Favorite Tarantino movie was Inglorious Basterds, but now it is Django Unchained.  It’s a big, bold western, which is a conglomeration of a lot of movies, it’s a western, it’s a buddy movie, it’s a revenge fantasy, and it’s all very well made.  Django is reminiscent of Ethan Edwards, John Wayne’s character in John Ford’s classic western, The Searchers.  Neither Django or Ethan are very nice,  they both are on a very personal mission, Django to find his wife, Ethan to find his daughter, and neither really cares who gets in their way, they will go around over, and through anyone who stands in their way.

Sure it’s violent, but much of that violence is illustrative of the inhumanity associated with slavery, and for that, this movie deserves to be lauded.  Slavery was a violent business and the brutality of the trading of human beings should never be sanitized.  Django  Unchained is also a very funny movie, but people never remember the humor in a Tarantino film, choosing to emphasize the violence.

The acting is superb.  Before I saw this movie, I wondered if Christoph Waltz was really deserving of another Oscar, he absolutely was.  He gives a joyous performance, a lot of the fun, the personality, the chemistry in the movie came as a result of Waltz’s performance.  Leonardo DeCaprio’s performance is remarkable, smiling one moment and snarling the next, he really should have been nominated for an Oscar, this was his best performance ever, and it is coming off a clunker as Hoover in J Edgar.  Samuel L. Jackson was also superb, in heavy makeup to make him look older, his character is seething, at the idea of being a slave, he is incredibly jealous of Django, and the fact that he has to bow and scrape to a free black man. This is truly Jackson’s best performance since Pulp Fiction.  I wish I could be as enthusiastic about Jamie Foxx, but I can’t, he just didn’t fit this movie.  There were other actors who could have done this role better, Don Cheadle, Terrence Howard, even Will Smith, who was offered this role, could have done better.  I liked Foxx in Ray, but not any role since then.

Tarantino is at the height of his writing and directorial powers with this movie, it is literally an epic. The characters are on a quest, a journey, and Tarantino knows how to write and direct an epic adventure movie, something as simple as the interplay between action and music makes this movie so much more enjoyable than the average movie. And the choice of music is spectacular, everything from classical to Richie Havens to rap music, just an outstanding soundtrack. There is an earlier version of Django, but I don’t think it had the scope or vision of Django  Unchained.  Unchained took on issues such as slavery and racism, head on.  The earlier Django was a spaghetti western with Franco Nero.  It might have been the inspiration for Django Unchained, but that’s all.

Django Unchained.  Liberate yourself from ordinary filmmaking.

inglorious

In 1941, a dairy farmer is hiding Jews under his floorboards.  The dairy farmer is visited by Nazi colonel Hanz Landa. (Christoph Waltz) Landa lets a Jewish girl escape from the dairy farm, and live.  In 1945, in Nazi occupied France, the little girl named Shoshana (Melanie Laurent) has grown up to be the owner of a successful movie theater.

She is stalked by Fredrick Zoeller, (Daniel Bruhl) a hero to Nazis, who is besotted with Shoshanna. Zoeller is so famous for his role in one battle where he killed hundreds of Allied soldiers that German propagandist Joseph Goebbels wants to make a movie about Zoeller and his exploits And Goebbels wants to show the film in Shoshanna’s theater. Shoshana can’t stand Fredrick and has hatched a plan to blow up the theater with her boyfriend and kill as many Nazis as they can pack into the theater.  Lt Aldo Raine (Pitt) heads a group of Jewish American solders, called the Inglorious Basterds, who not only kill Nazis, they scalp Nazis.  The Basterds know about the gathering of the top Nazi brass through German double agent and actress, Briget Von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger) who is working with three Brits pretending to be Germam trying to infiltrate the propaganda movie premiere. The operation is codenamed Keno Raine finds out through Von Hammersmark that none other than Hitler will be at the theater, so Raine sends two of his men into the theater with bombs.  But guess who starts unraveling the details of Operation Keno? None other then Colonel Landa?  Does Colonel Landa kill ll the conspirators or does operation Keno succeed?

This is a fun movie, fast paced, action packed and bloody like most Tarantino films.  The first scene does drag a little, but that’s needed as part of the plot exposition.  Brad Pitt is as funny as I’ve seen him in anything, and the two women, Laurent and Kruger do star turns as integral characters to the plot.  The viewer really wonders are the many pots going to dovetail, or is it going to all blow up n the Allied soldiers faces.  OK the history is way off, there is no way the Nazis would put Hitler, Goring, Goebbels, and  others of the top brass all in the same room, but relax it’s a movie, not a documentary.  Much of the film is in German and French with subtitles and the subtitles moved a little fast even for me, and I read a lot of subtitles, but hearing people talk in their own languages adds to the authenticity of the film.  I also like how most of the anti Nazi group has something to do with the film industry. Von Hammersmark is an actor, Shoshanna runs a movie theater, her boyfriend is a projectionist, a nice touch.  This is easily Tarantino’s best work since Kill Bill 1.

Inglorious Basterds.  Glorious fun.

Six crooks plan to knock off a jewelry store.  What four of them don’t know is that one of the robbers is a cop who’s gone undercover to infiltrate the gang and tip off the cops.  After the cops descend on the jewelry store and kill Mr. Blue (Edward Bunker), and Mr. Brown (Tarantino) and Mr. Orange (Tim Roth) gets shot by a lady who’s car they try to steal, Mr. White, (Keitel) and Mr. Orange wait for their cohorts.  The first to arrive is Mr. Blonde, (Madsen) who brings along a cop, who he promptly tortures. Mr. Pink (Buscemi) comes back to tell what’s left of the gang, that he has the diamonds, and he stashed them somewhere safe. Mr. White is frantically trying to get a doctor for Mr. Orange, but no one else seemed to care that he’s dying.  Joe (Lawrence Tierney)and his son Nice Guy Eddie (Chris Penn) the gang leaders know who infiltrated the gang, and are willing to stake their lives on it. But who’s the rat?

This is a great movie filled with action and gratuitous violence. And if you don’t like gratuitous violence, why the heck are you watching a Tarantino movie anyway?  It’s been said that Tarantino has a great ear for the way real people talk.  It’s true.  The movie starts out with a discussion about Madonna’s song “Like a Virgin” and then there’s another discussion with Buscemi where he’s complaining about his code name. Mr. Pink being too effeminate, there are all kinds of pop culture, and just downright funny moments in the film.  The central issue of who’s the snitch is resolved pretty early, but the movie holds your attention.  Michael Madsen s the center of this movie, he carries huge chunks of this movie on his back.  Tim Roth is also very good as Mr. Orange.  There is one thing that bothers me about the Keitel character, but to discuss it would ruin the movie.  Buscemi and Tarantino add laughs, but Tarantino the director knows that Tarantino the actor is lousy, so he thankfully kills his character off quickly. Another element that sets this movie apart from most is the music, it’s all 70’s classic rock music, and if you grew up with that music as I did, the characters listening to this music immediately become more likable and relatable, even though the do some nasty things. Who could forget the iconic scene with Michael Madsen dancing around to “Stuck In the Middle With You” by Stealer’s Wheel.  The music almost makes a gruesome scene seem lighthearted.  Good music can set or change the tone of a movie, and it certainly does do here.

This is just a fun, guy movie.  I have a new favorite Tarantino flick.

Resovoir Dogs.  This dog’s bite is as good as its bark.