Tag Archives: Quentin Tarantino
Tarantino’s latest effort is an unapologetic love letter to the western genre and an extremely self-indulgent exercise of cinematic talent. Overly long shots of stagecoach and horses in the snowy landscape of Wyoming, dragged-on banter between untrusting and untrustworthy characters are a few things that do not work as well as planned. The gist of the story is: eight strangers (more or less) are forced by a blizzard to spend a day together at Minnie’s Haberdashery (thanks Tarantino, that was my word of the day!) and bounty hunter John “the Hangman” Ruth (Russell) worries that someone will try to free his prisoner, Daisy Domergue (Jason Leigh) before he can deliver her to the sheriff of Red Rock. At this point, the audience has already been introduced to John, Daisy, another bounty hunter, Major Marquis Warren (Jackson), the coach driver O.B. (James Parks) and Chris Mannix (Goggins) during the aforementioned stagecoach ride with some clever exchanges. At the haberdashery they find a peculiar gallery of characters: hangman Oswaldo Mobray (Roth), retired confederate general Smithers (Dern), world-weary cowboy Joe Gage (Madsen) and Bob (Demian Bichir), who is looking after the place since Minnie and her husband are away. As a side note: the tally is up to nine not eight but I guess poor O.B. doesn’t really count.
The stage is set for the drama to unfold and the viewer is waiting for the explosion of violence in Tarantino’s style, although not before we are regaled with the background stories of most of the characters… or so we think. This western is suddenly turned into a murder mystery theatre piece, which is far from a bad thing as Tarantino already proved with Reservoir Dogs and the heist movie genre. It is however a little too slow-burning and at times you feel the lack of a more ruthless editing. With that said, all the actors but especially Russell, Jason Leigh and Jackson are a riot and a joy to watch, showing their acting chops (and having fun too!) and drawing the viewer in.
A minor quibble I have is about the soundtrack: Tarantino’s dream come true of having Ennio Morricone composing a score for one of his movies might not be all that great, it ended up being less personal and eclectic, I enjoyed Django’s music much more. As for the film as a whole, it is definitely not my favorite of Tarantino’s oeuvre, it doesn’t have enough bite and the pace is too slow. Barely up to par —7/10
Here’s my second post devoted to speedy reviews of films I watched on my comfy couch at home during the past month. It’s a very eclectic selection that well reflects the wide range of movies I end up seeing.
A.C.A.B (All Cops Are Bastards): tough and unflinching look at the life of four cops in Rome: three veterans and a rookie. They are part of a riot unit, usually deployed for security at the stadium during football matches, and their job ain’t pretty! Stefano Sollima doesn’t spare any detail in showing how these people live, think and react to various situations. The compelling performance of all the cast, especially Pierfrancesco Favino, carries the viewer along and sells the story effectively. Intense —7/10
Pawn sacrifice: the story of Bobby Fischer (Tobey Maguire), wunderkind of the chess world, and his epic battle of wits with Boris Spassky (Liev Schreiber) in 1972 for the title of world champion. Notwithstanding Maguire’s solid performance, this is a run of the mill drama, formulaic and with no bite or surprises. Fisher’s egotism and paranoia make it even harder for the viewer to root for him, which turns the whole story in a rather pointless exercise. Off-putting —5/10
Clueless: Emma meets Mean Girls with a very poor outcome! Popular and beautiful Cher (Alicia Silverstone) decides to help Tai (Brittany Murphy), a new and very naive student, to fit in and navigate the ups and downs of high school life. Her plan is a little too successful and has some unexpected and unwanted results. Of all the high school themed films I’ve seen, this is a real miss: no sass, no heart, no epic or quotable scenes. The characters are neither relatable nor endearing enough, even a very young Paul Rudd. Lame —4/10
Chasing mavericks: my soft spot for surfing flicks led me to watch this one. A scruffy-looking Gerard Butler plays Frosty Hesson, Santa Cruz surfing legend, who reluctantly become mentor and father-figure to young Jay Moriarity. The boy is a surf prodigy and wants, more than anything, to ride mavericks: the biggest waves on Earth. What immediately came to mind was this quote from Point Break: “Big-wave riding’s for macho assholes with a death wish.”, however this film is an inspirational tale of giving everything one’s got to realise one’s dreams (based on a true story). The surfing scenes are thrilling and brilliantly shot. Enthralling —6.5/10
Jane Eyre: to get my regular fix of period drama I’ve re-watched the 2011 adaptation of this classic novel, helmed and beautifully shot by Cary Fukunaga (before he went on and showed the world his mettle with True Detectives). Poor, plain Jane (skillfully played by Mia Wasikowska) finds home and love in the old manor of Mr. Rochester (Fassbender), only to have everything taken away by a cruel destiny and deceit. Fassbender fits well the shoes of the doomed, romantic hero and, of course, we know that there’s a happy ending to warm the cockles of our heart. Soothing —7/10
Narc: a dark and gritty tale of undercover cops in Detroit; Joe Carnahan does not pull punches and takes the viewer into a harsh world, aptly shot in hues of blue and gray. Jason Patric and Ray Liotta truly inhabit their characters and play off of each other very well. The adrenaline-fueled opening scene is a gem of camera work and perfect introduction to the story, that alone makes worth watching this film. Uncompromising —7.5/10
Death proof: I have finally sat down and watched the lesser film of Tarantino’s oeuvre from start to finish, having seen bits and pieces throughout the years. What can I say? It’s a self-indulgent homage to B-movie/horror flicks of the seventies, chock-full of pop culture references, muscle cars and foot fetish. As expected, there are some tough-as-nail ladies who will take matters in their own hands and then there’s Kurt Russell…who is having a blast as a sociopathic stuntman who stalks girls and takes them on their last ride. You need to be in the right mood for this one. Crackpot —6/10
As my first entry of 2016 in my Sound & Motion Pictures series I decided to revisit great combination of music with duel/fighting scenes. Sometimes it is the music itself that make all the difference and changes a rather normal fight in something more, other times it just underline the tension of the images or the combination of the two is so perfect that you cannot really tell what makes the scene special. Here’s my list of favorites, hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
1) Colonel Mortimer vs. Indio – La Resa Dei Conti, Ennio Morricone (1965)
There are many great duels in Sergio Leone’s oeuvre but this is my all time favorite. The chime is so haunting and from a device of hideous sport becomes a means of retribution. Ennio Morricone strikes again!
2) The Bride vs. O-ren Ishii – Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood, Santa Esmeralda (1977)
This is Tarantino’s version of a Leone’s duel with oriental flavour, on the notes of a very up-beat cover of Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood with a flamenco component… just perfect!
3) Neo vs. Morpheus – Leave You Far Behind, Lunatic Calm (1998)
Techno music as soundtrack for a kung fu showdown (even an amicable one) is a radical choice. The Wachowski siblings have changed the way we view things a lot with The Matrix.
4) Sherlock vs. hulking guy – Rocky Road To Dublin, The Dubliners (2006)
Guy Ritchie comes up with a lot of inspired ideas in his movies and this fight is a great example: slow-motion and regular speed to show a bare-knuckle boxing match with an Irish traditional song to keep the blood pumping!
5) Obi Wan & Qui Gon Ginn vs Darth Maul – Duel of the Fates, John Williams (1999)
Although The Phantom Menace is my least favorite movie of the Star Wars saga, this duel is pretty awesome mostly because of Darth Maul, a pretty cool but very underutilised villain. John Williams’s score is effective and stirring.
Four different episodes, four different directors, one hotel and one protagonist: Ted the bellboy (Roth). A mix of surrealism and general weirdness with a touch of Tarantino’s style. Ted, as the only staff member on duty on New Year’s Eve, has to tend to the needs of the hotel’s guests by himself, he ends up meeting really peculiar people and satisfying very strange requests. We will meet a covenant of witches, a rather kinky couple, unruly children and a movie star with his entourage. You might feel the diverse hands on the helm for each episode but there is no feeling of disconnection. Roth is brilliant and all the supporting cast is spot-on, special kudos to Tarantino and Banderas. Particular. —6.5/10
First credited collaboration of Rodriguez with Tarantino (the first at the helm, the second at the writing desk) and a brilliant mash-up of genres: action/thriller and vampire splatter horror. In perfect Tarantino’s style the first part is extreme violence (the ordinary, “it’s a wolf eats wolf world” type) and verbal incontinence. The opening scene is a pearl, great introduction of characters! So the pace is set for a action/thriller and when you get comfortable and start to enjoy the ride..bam! Everything goes topsy-turvy and you are in a splatter horror with tons of vampires and an incredible body count. It is not everyone’s cup of tea, aficionados of the two genres might not like it but if you like Tarantino is a must-see movie. Suggested as an antidote to the excess of sugary films that will start to flood the cinemas but especially TV during the upcoming holiday season. —8/10