REVIEWS

THE HATEFUL EIGHT

05/01/2016

Quentin Tarantino’s 8th movie as director is named ‘The Hateful Eight’ or, if you prefer ‘The H8ful Eight’. Good that, innit? My expectations were somewhat low for this offering from the master of uber-cool violence. Early reviews used such words as ‘formulaic’, ‘overlong’ and ‘derivative’. I feared the worst. I was happy then that these fears were unfounded. The movie seized me from the off, and it held my undivided attention till the very end of its three hour plus run time.

The Hateful Eight

I remember watching Reservoir Dogs all those years ago and being held in awe by its majesty. I was young, and believed all movies should be this way. It felt like a homage to the classic films of the 70s. Taxi Driver and The Godfather movies etc. Dialogue that palpably crackled, relentless pace and ambiguous anti-heroes that you could neither cheer or wish a grisly outcome for. Pulp Fiction for me left me even more gob-struck and impressed, but even back then I knew this represented Tarantino’s nadir. I was afraid he would never turn his hand to such greatness ever again. Unfortunately, I believe this still to be the case.

Samuel L Jackson

However, although many might disagree, The Hateful Eight is a better movie than Inglorious Basterds, Django and Kill Bill. It’s so well acted. Jason Leigh is excellent. Samuel Jackson is excellent – as are all the other players. Special mention must go to Walter Goggins who plays a Yankee hating confederate would-be sheriff who, let’s just say, is not very tolerant of minorities. Tarantino said the movie is influenced by The Thing, and I can see that, but I can also see echoes from Evil Dead 2. There are only two real settings in the film, and much like Raimi’s horror-comedy, characters come and go throughout. The pace and tension is just perfect. If you like your movies heavy with fantastic acting, true mystery and snappy dialogue (albeit very Tarantino-esque – but what did you expect), then you are going to love The H8ful Eight. Even without the Tarantino brand – this is a superb western worthy of joining the canon of that particular genre. Oh yeah, it has a Morricone soundtrack too. What’s not to like?


BOYHOOD

15/04/2015

Boyhood Movie

The movies of Richard Linklater have always had a kind of hit and miss effect on me. I loved the high originality of ‘Slacker’ all those years ago, Austin was the star of the show, with the kooky inhabitants the bit players.

The life journey of two individuals combined with the beautiful European settings of the ‘Before’ trilogy is wonderfully crafted. It took time for me to like ‘Dazed and Confuzed’. The American mores and cultural institutions of its teenage cast did not really reflect my experiences growing up in Ireland. However, it’s got charm, heroes and villains, and a really fun 70’s rock soundtrack.

Other movies like ‘A Scanner Darkly’ and ‘Waking Life’ never did anything for me.  Wordy nonsense for a subset of people calling themselves slackers, generation X-ers, hipsters, or whatever.

‘Boyhood’ is a fantastic movie. I did worry it might be a self-indulgent vanity project, a kind of American 7-UP documentary-style record of US life, seen through the eyes of one individual, at various points in a life cycle.

Well, it is kinda like that. But brilliantly done. On all levels it works. It looks great. The soundtrack is great (and quirky), the protagonists are worth caring about, and the storyline, much like Dazed and Confused, has great characters of both low and high virtue.

I’ll not reveal the plot, but just say that the experiences felt by the characters throughout will no doubt resonate with us all. As a fan of movies, (I don’t get to see as many as I once did unfortunately), this is by far the best film I’ve seen in a long time.

Take a bow Mr. Linklater. This might be your magnum opus.


WHIPLASH

09/02/2015

Whiplash
If you’d like your ‘Dead Poet’s Society’ with a touch less saccharine, and your ‘Full Metal Jacket’ with a slight reduction in cynicism and darkness – Whiplash may be just the tonic for you.

The movie concerns an ambitious young musician, Andrew (Miles Teller) whose enrolment in a prestigious school of music sees his character journey full-circle from bashful ne’er do well, to highly driven drum machine, then to arrogant ingrate and finally back to something that resembles a fully rounded individual – humbled, but retaining his incredible drum talent. His drill-sergeant mentor, played by the brilliant J.K. Simmons, is Teller’s one part nemesis, one part inspiration . His teaching style generally involves much shouting, berating, and belittling through various means. As is his want, this involves casual racism, homophobia and physical violence. In his classes the pupil either sinks into humiliating obscurity, or swims to the pinnacle of success. It’s an old time strength through adversity tale –Andrew is vulnerable and impressionable, whilst J.K. Simmons’ role as Fletcher is menacing and unforgiving, an almighty prick to be honest. The movie is receiving plaudits from all corners. I won’t sing its praises so much. It’s got great pace, or should I say tempo. The performance from the two main protagonists are really good, and the music is truly excellent throughout.

In fact the score may be the true shining star, it pulsates, much like the disgusting squiggly vein that appears on the side of Fletcher’s head. It should be mentioned that the director Damien Chazelle is only the tender age of 29. Kudos to him, but I can’t help feel the back-slapping accumulated was aided in part by having such a young impresario’s name attached to the movie. Bah humbug and all that. 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4 out of 5.


WILD

26/01/2015

Wild

Something of an odd film, consistently receiving plaudits, I expected something more than I was eventually served up. Based on Cheryl Strayed’s 2012 memoir, ‘Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail’ and written by Nick Hornby, the film concerns the various low points of Cheryl’s life.

Hit by crisis after crisis, she decides upon a thousand mile plus trek alone across the Pacific North West, hoping her mammoth hike through the wilderness will somehow ameliorate her suffering. Through flashbacks we witness an acrimonious divorce, multiple empty sexual-only relationships and a serious drug addiction. Although it seems that much of the chaos portrayed is pure embellishment, written into the script in a crude attempt to ‘sex-up’ the movie. Also, it’s hard to believe that Recce Witherspoon (who plays Cheryl) could walk any more than 1 KM with those matchstick legs of hers.

Overall, the film left me underwhelmed. It contains none of the human spirit against adversity, or Man versus nature you might find in other movies such as, ‘Into the Wild’ or ‘127 Hours’, and yet also fails to distance itself (due to unoriginality) from such movies so a viewer would not instinctively make comparisons. It was very hard to warm to the Cheryl in this movie. I suspect the book is much more rewarding. 2 bunions outta five.


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