Tag Archives: Samuel L. Jackson

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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A very short review of “Cell” (2016)

The lower-budget “Cell” (2016) wasn’t quite the spectacular horror movie that I was hoping for.  (A Stephen King zombie film?!)  But it was still pretty good — I’d give it an 8 out of 10.

The screenwriting and directing are average.  The acting seems uneven too.  And, yes, that includes its curiously low-key performances by John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson.  But the opening action set piece was well done, and it succeeds in capturing the creepiness and originality of King’s 2006 novel.  What a neat genre-buster too — this is zombie movie meets sci-fi film meets supernatural horror epic meets art-house road movie.  It really is an interesting (and quite divergent) variation of the zombie subgenre.

I’ll go ahead and answer the million dollar question for those who have read the book.  Yes, that widely unpopular ambiguous ending has been changed, and what we are shown is far more conclusive and satisfying.

By the way, this isn’t King’s first venture into zombie horror.  He wrote an excellent short story entitled “Home Delivery,” which I cheerfully recommend.  It’s far closer to mainstream zombie horror, and I think it would appeal to “The Walking Dead” fans.  I first read it in a worn copy of 1989’s “Book of the Dead” zombie anthology; it also appears in 1993’s “Nightmares & Dreamscapes.”