FlixChatter Review: The Hateful Eight (2015)

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Continuing his obsession with the spaghetti western genre, Quentin Tarantino has made another self-indulgent film that may divide some of his hardcore fan-base. Personally I thought it’s an entertaining picture but not one of QT’s best films.

Set in a post-civil war Wyoming winter storm, Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) is deserted on the road. As a stagecoach approaches, he meets a bounty hunter named “The Hangman” John Ruth (Kurt Russell) who’s escorting a prisoner named Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to the nearest town for her hanging. Warren asked Ruth if he can catch a ride to a mountain pass safe point called Minnie’s Haberdashery. Once they’re on their way to Mannie’s, they ran into another stranded individual named Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), who said he’s the new sheriff at a town where Ruth and Domergue are heading to. Arriving at Minnie’s to escape the roaring storm, Ruth keeps a steady eye on Domergue, sussing out other customers, including Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), Bob (Demián Bichir,), General Sandford Smithers (Bruce Dern), and Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), while stagecoach driver O.B. (James Parks) tries to keep out of the way. As the strangers attempt to figure one another out, paranoia soars, pitting the gunmen in a contest of storytelling as they try to wield lies before they brandish guns.


Just like other Tarantino’s films, the story is broken up to chapters, but told in a linear style. Tarantino seems to love his own writing, a little too much in case of this film. While I do enjoy the dialogues by all the actors, the film’s first half tends to drag a bit. At nearly 3 hours long, it could’ve used some trimming. Despite my qualms about the first half though, once the story gets going, QT knows how to ratchet up the tension and when the bullets starts flying, it’s a vintage Taranto’s film.

The performances by the actors were pretty great, especially Russell, Jackson and Leigh. The entire film is built out of monologues and these actors were up to the task by delivering some over-the-top lines. This being a QT film, the N-word and F-word has been uttered many many times.

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Tarantino and cinematographer Robert Richardson decided to shoot the film in 65mm and it looked spectacular. I’ve seen the film twice, once on a 70mm presentation and the other on digital. To be honest with you, I prefer the digital presentation only because the 70mm theater I saw it at wasn’t properly set up and there were film scratches the screen. Not many theater has the ability to set up 70mm screen properly anymore so I think I would’ve enjoyed the 70mm presentation much more had I seen it in a proper set up. But I’m still happy that Tarantino is one of the few directors who still insist on shooting his films on high quality film.

The Hateful Eight may not be one of QT’s best films but it’s one heck of a good time. If you can stomach the bloodshed and of course QT’s over-indulgent dialogues, then you should check it out.

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So have you seen The Hateful Eight? Well, what did you think?

Everybody’s Chattin + Trailer Spotlight: Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight

Happy Midweek everyone! Two more days until Friday 😀 How’s your week so far? It’s kind of a s-l-o-w week for me and there’s been no Instagram updates from my dahling French crush so I’m missing him so much I could barely concentrate on anything today. Yes I live for Stanley Weber these days [sigh]… he is EVERYTHING!!!!

ehm, now that I get that out of the way…

… about those links…

Cindy posted a heartfelt tribute to the late author David Foster Wallace a while back, the subject of the recent film I saw, The End of the Tour

Mark wrote a retrospective piece on Top Gun that got me all nostalgic

In response to the recent box office bomb Fantastic Four, we’ve got a review from Keith that confirmed my dread, whilst Eddie offers up some suggestions on how to fix the franchise.

Two directorial debuts from excellent Aussie actors: Josh wrote about Russell Crowe’s debut The Water Diviner, while Tom wrote about Joel Edgerton’s The Gift

Meanwhile, Natalie reviewed this New Zealand horror comedy Housebound

Last but not least, Chris lists his picks of Best Songs of the Decade so far.


Time for question of the week

The Hateful Eight almost didn’t happen due to a script leak in 2014 by Gawker. If you follow this news, you’d likely know that QT ended up withdrawing the lawsuit against Gawker. At Comic-con last July, Tarantino said that “…it was the first draft that leaked online and he expected to write two more to get to a point where he was ready to shoot” (per THR).

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In post-Civil War Wyoming, bounty hunters try to find shelter during a blizzard but get involved in a plot of betrayal and deception. Will they survive?

Check out the brand new trailer:

Image Source: The Playlist' Tumblr
Image Source: The Playlist’ Tumblr

I’m not a big fan of Westerns, but this one looks intriguing. QT sure knows how to cut a trailer, and the visuals look fantastic, as to be expected. The only thing is, I don’t know if I want to see Wintry scenes right smack dab in the middle of Winter when this movie’s released.

The cast is astounding… We’ve got QT’s perennial favorite Samuel L. Jackson, plus Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Roth, Demian Bichir, Bruce Dern, Michael Madsen, Amber Tamblyn, Walton Goggins, etc. Channing Tatum gets top billing on IMDb but I barely see him in the trailer (?) I’m bummed that Viggo Mortensen didn’t end up joining the cast because of scheduling conflict.

Fans of 70mm format rejoice! [I’m looking at you Ted ;)] as the film will be shown in its Ultra Panavision 70 presentation. Per IMDb, the film will be released on December 25 of this year as a roadshow presentation in 70mm format theaters only before being released in digital theaters on January 8, 2016.

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So are you excited for The Hateful Eight?

TCFF Day 7 reviews: The Liability, Casual Encounters, How I Live Now

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Now that TCFF has wrapped, I’ll be posting some reviews from the last few days of the film fest, as well as which films won the TCFF Awards which was announced last night. Glad to see some of my personal favorites getting nominated. You can check out the list here.

Now here are some films from Day 7 that are worth checking out:

How I Live Now

by Ruth Maramis

I have not heard about this film until it was announced as a TCFF lineup. I was immediately drawn to it because of Saoirse Ronan who’s been excellent in everything I’ve seen her in so far. This time it’s no different. In this film adaptation of novel by Meg Rosoff, Ronan plays an angst-y American teenager Daisy, who reluctantly goes to spend her Summer vacation with her cousin in an English countryside. Once she’s there, the rural house is in complete mess as her four cousins, Isaac (Tom Holland), Piper (Harley Bird), Edmond “Eddie” (George MacKay) pretty much had to look after themselves as their mom is involved in a mysterious project, something about the ‘peace process,’ who’s quickly whisked to Geneva, never to be seen again.

What starts out as an idyllic vacation, complete with picnic, lake-swimming, and a blossoming teen romance between Daisy and Eddie, life is soon turned upside down for them as war suddenly broke out, seemingly out of nowhere. Whilst there are hints along the way that of what looks to be a World War III scenario, from news footage on TV, signs of military presence, etc., when nuke effect “snow” from a London nuclear attack falling on them, it still came as quite a surprise. As the country descend into a violent and chaotic military state, Daisy is given a chance to return to America, but yet she chooses to stay with Eddie.

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The last half of the film becomes a journey for survival story as Daisy and Piper flee a forced-labor camp through the woods. The pacing of the film drags at times, and I find the film’s relentlessly-allusive storyline a bit frustrating. I like a good mystery but somehow this film felt more elusive than truly suspenseful. I also feel like the chemistry between the characters a bit lacking. The romance is far from gripping and the pairing of Daisy and Piper also didn’t quite mesh well, though both actors did a good job. Thus I didn’t feel as emotionally-involved with the characters as I otherwise would.

I do think the premise is intriguing though, and there’s enough going for it here that kept me engaged. The tone is dark and pretty grim, especially the last third of the film, with some gruesome doomsday scenes that warrants its R rating. Just like she did in Hanna, Ronan pretty much carried the film here and she’s more than capable. She easily outshines everyone else in this film, though Harley Bird as Piper has some scene-stealing moments. The cinematography is gorgeous as well, giving us a stark contrast between the serene and lush pastoral beauty and the sinister apocalyptic views of a doomed future.

As far as young adult stories go though, this one is certainly far more compelling than other ‘supernaturally-themed’ offerings out there. I quite like the hopeful but not ‘too neat’ ending, though some might feel it’s a bit anti-climactic. It could’ve been a bit more compelling, especially coming from director Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland, State of Play), but I’d say it’s worth a rent though if you’re a fan of the talents involved.

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Casual Encounters

by Adam Wells

Casual Encounters is an anthology film about people who meet other people online for a casual night of love. The movie shows five different people’s experience with a casual encounter and they do intertwine as some characters show up in multiple storylines. The film is really 5 short films and in some cases they have been shown separately in some cases but Casual Encounters has them shown altogether.

The movie has excellent performances all around, the actors and actresses in this film handle the maturity of the content of this nature. In particular the character of Eric who is the only one to appear in three storylines including his own, his character has many levels of depth to him as his life is a bit complicated. Eric is portrayed by Aaron Mathias (who was also the star of Things I Don’t Understand which premiered at TCFF last year), and he is definitely an actor to keep on your radar.

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The movie has many settings that take place at night, but despite that the cinematography is done very well, while also different color palettes for lighting in each story’s setting. As each story differs in its nature of intimacy and sexual orientation, the colors of the lighting seem to change, and that shows the producers and director really thought through the composition of the shots wanted the viewer to associate certain colors with certain interactions, as Eric’s story is the final one in the film and has multiple settings as opposed to the other stories that have one or two.

Overall, Casual Encounters is an excellent film and comes highly recommended due to its amazing performances, elaborate world it creates with intertwining storylines, and its content that is usually not shown in films. The film plays against the viewers expectations as it has romantic movie plots but they don’t play out as most romantic movie plots usually play out, which is always pleasant to see.
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The Liability

by Sarah Johnson

A movie with good plot twists that also wraps up all the loose ends by the time the credits roll? The Liability, the new crime tale directed by Craig Viveiros and written by John Wrathall, does just that. It stars Tim Roth as Roy, a world weary hit man who only wants to retire so he can attend his daughter’s wedding, and Jack O’Connell as Adam, the 19 year old stepson of Roy’s gangster boss Peter (Peter Mullan). When Adam wrecks Peter’s car he gives him a job of becoming Roy’s driver as a way to work off his debt. “It’s either that or the septic tank,” Peter says.
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Of course things don’t go according to plan. A bizarre string of events involve a girl, a hippie van and the true reason Adam was paired with Roy. Suffice it to say, when I heard a nearby audience member gasp at one of the plot twists, I knew the filmmakers had done their job. Casting Tim Roth in one of the starring roles was a good choice as his wry acting style is a good mix with the sexy edginess of the movie. (“I haven’t killed a woman since 1983,” he proclaims.)
The one thing I found slightly lacking was the chemistry between O’Connell and Roth- it would have been nice to see them play off each other more. Some might say the movie is a little too by-the-book in wrapping it up at the end. I appreciate movies that keep you guessing as well but is walking out of the theatre feeling like you understood everything so wrong?

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So that about wraps up our Day 7 reviews. Any thoughts about any of these films?

TCFF Day 7 Highlights: MN Shorts 2, The Liability, Casual Encounters, How I Live Now

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Only four more days left at TCFF but there are no shortage of great films to look forward to. Between my two volunteer staff and I, there’s a myriad of shorts, documentary and feature films we’re planning to catch tonight:

Beyond Right and Wrong: Stories of Justice and Forgiveness

Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 4:00pm

Directed by Lekha Singh & Roger Spottiswoode

BEYOND RIGHT AND WRONG follows the stories of survivors, like Beata, whose children were murdered in the Rwandan Genocide; Bassam and Rami, who each lost a daughter in the conflicts in Israel and Palestine; and Jo, whose father died in the bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Relying on the survivors’ own words, BEYOND RIGHT AND WRONG does not dwell on the violence and loss, but highlights healing through forgiveness, as victims and perpetrators alike begin humanizing the people they once perceived as enemies or animals. By sharing their experiences of loss and anger, their struggles with forgiveness, and their efforts for peace, these survivors have opened a discussion on the role of forgiveness in the search for justice.

This premise of this documentary intrigues me. It’s a tough subject that promises to be a heart-wrenching and thought-provoking one.


MN Shorts Part II

Another collection of great short films shot in the state of Minnesota!


Panhandler – 25 minutes

Go Home – 13 minutes 

PROTOS – 17 minutes 

Public toilet – 2 minutes 

The Information Thief – 11 minutes 

3 Bullets – 14 minutes


The Liability

Showing: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 6:30pm

Directed by Craig Viveiros

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Dark comedy thriller starring Tim Roth and Jack O’Connell. When Adam (O’Connell) is asked to be the driver for a business associate of his mother’s crime boss boyfriend, he soon finds out that this business associate is Roy (Roth) – an aging hitman on the eve of his retirement. While Adam drives Roy to what he hopes are his last ever jobs, a series of unexpected events lands the pair in a game of cat and mouse with a mysterious Latvian woman (Talulah Riley).


Casual Encounters

Showing: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 9:00pm

Directed by Will McCord

No matter how alone or strange one may be, internet sex personals provide an anonymous setting to divulge one’s most secret and intimate desires. Post an ad about your kinkiest desires and you’re bound to receive dozens of replies from like-minded people – some genuine and real and others deceitful and predatory. CASUAL ENCOUNTERS tells five stories where each character meets their online respondent for what they think will be a simple encounter. What they discover is very different.


There’s also another screening of Hot & Bothered short film tonight. Stay tuned for a spotlight post on that with review and interview with director Jake Greene!


How I Live Now

HowILiveNowShowing: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 8:30pm

Directed by Kevin Macdonald

Starring Saoirse Ronan (The Lovely Bones, Atonement, Hanna and The Way Back) and based on the popular Meg Rosoff novel, HOW I LIVE NOW tells the story of an American girl on holiday with her family in the English countryside, who finds herself in hiding and fighting for her survival as the third world war breaks out. A powerful tale of battlefield heroics, shattered innocence, and how love enables us to endure.

I’ve been a huge fan of Ronan since I saw her in Atonement, and one of my favorite Irish actors. She’s easily one of the most talented young actress working today so she’s the main draw for me here. I also like the Scottish director Kevin Macdonald’s previous work State of Play. Sounds like the role is tailor-made for Ronan, I hope this film is worthy of her talents.


TCFFTickets

Ticket Prices are as follows:
General Admission $10; Opening/Closing Gala $20; Centerpiece Gala $20; Sneak Preview Galas $20. Festival Passes can also be purchased: Silver $50 for 6 films; Gold $70 for 10 films; or Platinum $120 for 12 films + 2 tickets to Opening, Closing or Gala. (Silver and Gold Packages do not include Opening, Closing or Gala Tickets).

For more information and to purchase tickets visit www.twincitiesfilmfest.org.


So that’s Day 7 highlights. Any one of these piqued your interest, folks?

Rental Pick: Arbitrage (2012)

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It’s been a while since I saw Richard Gere in anything. It must’ve been a good five years or so. Well, it’s nice to see him in a meaty role that proves he’s got the dramatic chops to go with his good looks. At 63, he’s still quite a looker. Even paired with someone half his age, he somehow makes it look far less creepy than it could’ve been.

Gere plays Robert Miller, a multi-billionaire who seems to have it all. He has a successful career and a beautiful wife. He’s about to sell the seemingly profitable hedge fund he’s been managing with his daughter for a boatload of money. But of course, within minutes of the film’s opening we realize that Mr. Miller is in over his head, financially AND personally. I don’t know how this guy sleeps at night with all the lies he’s trying to cover up from everyone, especially those close to him.

One night, a tragic accident that kills his mistress propels his situation from bad to worse. Robert then turns to an unlikely person for help, which gets him even deeper into the rabbit hole, though it’s all his own doing. What I like about this film is the in-depth character study of about a person we could totally see happening in real life. Robert is not some fantastical character, there’s a ring of truth that made me think it could’ve been based on a real person. The kind of decisions he makes throughout the film reveals so much about his character and the film becomes an intriguing morality tale.

Richard Gere is in top form here, he certainly has the elite look and gravitas that makes him perfectly suited for a person of power. But he also displays a fine layer of vulnerability here that makes us still sympathize with Robert despite all the VERY bad things he’s done in his life. At times the film feels like a procedural drama when Robert is being investigated by a resolute detective Bryer (Tim Roth), but overall the film never loses its focus.

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The supporting cast is superb all around. I like Brit Marling‘s understated performance in After Earth, but here she proves her versatility as an actress. There’s an explosive scene between her and Gere that’s quite thrilling to watch. Nate Parker and French model/actress Laetitia Casta have small but very crucial roles here, and both of them did a decent job. Last but not least, Susan Sarandon once again lends a memorable performance as Gere’s loyal wife. Like Gere, the 66-year old actress still looks luminous for her age, and still has the sex appeal to hold her own against even a former Victoria’s Secret model!

Though some of the financial/investment jargon at times got lost on me, the film manages to keep me engaged from start to finish. The plot is complex enough where I didn’t see the twists from miles away, and that finale at a banquet in his honor is pretty darn satisfying. Kudos to Nicholas Jarecki who wrote and directed his debut film with such an adept hand, he’s definitely a newbie filmmaker to watch for. This film proves that you don’t need bombastic shoot outs or crazy car chases to create genuine tension.

Final Thoughts: I LOVE cerebral thrillers like this that blends mystery and morality tale, more of a slow burn but it really makes an impact when the time is right. The real thrill here isn’t the special effects or clever camera work, but more in the taut script and performances. Though the film is aesthetically-shot and full of beautiful people, the story still takes center stage and that to me, is the beauty of this film.


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Have you seen Arbitrage? Well, what did you think?