Tag Archives: Kurt Russell

I hated “The Hateful Eight” (2015)

“The Hateful Eight” (2015) might be the first Quentin Tarantino film that I entirely disliked.  I’d rate it a 3 out of 10 for being an overlong, overwrought story inhabited almost exclusively by irritating, overly stylized characters who are constantly shouting.  It was alternately boring and grotesque.  It even managed to occasionally be glumly depressing, given the violence it depicts against defenseless innocents.

And I’m surprised, because this movie was highly recommended to me by my college-aged nephew — he’s a smart kid whose judgment I trust.  I certainly hope that he has seen Tarantino’s classic “Reservoir Dogs” (1992), as that movie seems to be this one’s direct inspiration.  Throughout “The Hateful Eight’s” lengthy running time (it clocks in at just over three hours), I kept thinking that this was a failed effort to transplant “Reservoir Dogs'” story setup to the old west.

That probably was the director’s strategy here.  You see an attempt to recreate all of the story elements that made the earlier movie a success: quirky characters; idiosyncratic dialogue; unexpected violence; tragedy; and black humor.

Regrettably, it just didn’t work.  The movie was so long — and so loud — that it even made priceless performers like Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson and Tim Roth come off as annoying.

For me, the movie’s sole bright spot was Jennifer Jason Leigh’s damned terrific portrayal of the plot-driving, brutal gangster, Daisy Domergue.  I had no idea that Leigh had such incredible range (not to mention some Vaudeville-style comic timing).  Her performance isn’t enough to redeem the movie, but it surprised me and easily stole the show.

Look — if this is the first Tarantino movie you’ve seen, then please don’t let it dissuade you from seeing the man’s other work.  Seriously, go watch “Reservoir Dogs,” “Pulp Fiction” (1994) or “From Dusk Till Dawn” (1996).

 

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“Bone Tomahawk” (2015) was superb. “Wyatt Earp” meets “Cannibal “Holocaust!”

Let’s get something out of the way first — “Bone Tomahawk” (2015) isn’t only a western.  It’s a genre-busting … “horror-western,” as other review sites have called it.  It pits four protagonists against a tribe of monstrous “cave dwellers” who have kidnapped two people from their tiny frontier town of “Bright Hope.”  And the results at the movie’s end are pretty damned horrifying.

This was superb — I’d give it a 9 out of 10.  “Bone Tomahawk” succeeds in being scary and enjoyable simply because it’s a quality film.  The script is outstanding, with nuanced, occasionally funny, and ultimately quite likable characters.  The four leads — Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox and Richard Jenkins — play the diverse quartet perfectly.  I could honestly watch another one or two movies about these guys, even without the horror-movie plot device that this flick employs — and that is coming from a guy that doesn’t like westerns.

The directing and cinematography are perfect.  And the end of the movie is nerve-shattering, smartly written and satisfying.  (Although there is one violent sequence that might make your heart stop.  Good lord.)

My only criticisms are very subjective.  For one, this movie sometimes felt slow.  The exciting horror-movie element that drives the plot is introduced early, but briefly.  It is then more than an hour before we arrive at it again, as we follow the four protagonists traveling to an uncharted valley just to reach the bad guys’ lair.

For another … this movie got just a little too dour during its lengthy second act (the trek to the valley where the climax takes place).  We see a few sad things, including the fates of innocent people and animals.  These punctuate what is literally a painful journey for one of our heroes waging a doomed battle against a horribly wounded leg.  Throughout its middle,  “Bone Tomahawk” isn’t so much of a “scary movie” as it is a slightly depressing movie.

Still, this was fantastic.  And if you see it and you really like it, as I did, then spread the word.  This flick hasn’t gotten the press it deserves.

Quick postscript: watch for David Arquette and none other than Sid Haig in surprise supporting roles!  And … supposedly Sean Young was in this movie, but I’ll be damned if I could spot her.

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