Tag Archives: Samuel L. Jackson

The hateful eight

Director: Quentin Tarantino; Main Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason LeighWalton GogginsTim RothMichael MadsenBruce Dern;

the-hateful-height

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

Advertisements

13 Comments

Filed under Seen at the cinema

Great use of a pop culture reference

PulpFiction-GunsNavarone

Leave a comment

Filed under Great use of pop culture references, Odds and ends

Kingsman: the Secret Service

kingsman

Director: Matthew Vaughn; Main Cast: Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Samuel L. JacksonMark StrongMichael CaineSofia BoutellaJack Davenport;

Vaughn’s latest effort is a funny, tongue-in-cheek foray into the spy world, in a way, it’s a love letter to the genre and to the 007’s films of yesteryears (I’m looking at you Goldfinger!). In his world the heros are knights in shining armor who happens to be spies and gentlemen. They have mad fighting skills, ingenious (and lethal) gadgets, dapper suits and, above all, good manners. Colin Firth is Harry, a.k.a Galahad, veteran member of a secret, independent agency, and  Taron Egerton is Eggsy, a young man with potentials who is recruited to fight the good fight. The two of them have a mentor-protégé relationship but there’s also the clash of different cultural backgrounds and the professional attitude versus street smarts, that, although pretty cliched, it’s still quite entertaining. While Eggsy is at the secret agent boot camp (more The Recruit than Nikita), that will decide if he is cut out to be a Kingsman, Harry is busy unravelling the mystery behind the death of his friend and colleague Lancelot (Davenport). To spice things up we get Samuel Jackson as Valentine, the villain with a crazy, ambitious plan for world domination and his faithful henchman Gazelle (Boutella): a lady in killer heels…literally! It’s almost as good as teeth capped with steel and a swimming pool full of sharks.  To roundup all the usual suspects there is also Michael Caine as M… oops sorry, he is Arthur in this film (well not only in this one but he’s not a butler here) and Mark Strong as Merlin, who is half way between Q and gunnery sergeant Foley. The viewer gets a lot of action scenes, a few plot twists and some over-the-top violence, that ends up being more hilarious than disturbing, more Guy Ritchie’s style than Sam Peckinpah’s. Talking about violence, there is a scene that rivals the fight of the Bride with the Crazy 88 (Kill Bill Vol.1). Vaughn gives the audience an entertaining and fun ride and the cast, while providing solid performances, is clearly having a blast as well. In addition the combination of the opening credits with Dire Straits is pretty spectacular. Always remember: manners maketh the man. Amusing —7/10

8 Comments

Filed under Seen at the cinema

Great use of a pop culture reference

PulpFiction-Fonzies

1 Comment

Filed under Great use of pop culture references, Odds and ends

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Directors: Anthony RussoJoe Russo, Main Cast: Chris EvansSamuel L. JacksonScarlett JohanssonRobert RedfordAnthony MackieSebastian Stan;

captain-america-winter-soldier

The second chapter of Captain America’s story (or the fourth chapter of the Avengers?) is about a conspiracy and a new, scary Big Bad. Although Earth (and the Universe!) has been recently saved by Thor, it manages to get in jeopardy again pretty soon, this time around the menace comes from within S.H.I.E.L.D. and nobody can trust no one… see alien races, we are perfectly capable to annihilate our species all by ourselves, you don’t need to break a sweat. Steve Rogers (Evans) has to face this new peril all by himself, relying only on his running buddy Sam (Mackie), who happens to be a super-trained soldier a.k.a the Falcon. Devious and cunning agent Romanov (Johansson) will eventually prove her loyalty as well and lend a hand (and a flying kick) to the cause. In the meantime, shrewd Nick Fury (Jackson) plays dead to find out who is behind the evil scheme and how far its ramifications go. Primary agent of villainy and legendary hitman, the Winter Soldier (Stan) wrecks havoc and brings ruin wherever he is sent and he can hold his own against the Cap. He is, however, only a blunt instrument in a much bigger plan of the true villain, Alexander Pierce (Redford). What can I say? The action scenes are top-notch, I wouldn’t have expected anything less, sly Fury gets a bigger part to play and brings some layers to the cliched plot, badass Black Widow feels more like the token strong woman this time around, to appease the female audience (and be ogled by the male one), than a character in her own right (Marvel still fails spectacularly the Bechdel test!). Falcon is just the sidekick/comic relief and the Winter Soldier is one-dimensional and loses his aura of danger and mystery too soon, becoming just a tackling amnesiac. Super-villain Pierce is hindered by a poor script, making him too stereotypical, Redford’s valiant effort notwithstanding. Last but not least, Captain America himself: gallant and noble soldier, white,red and blue hero and so boring! Chris Evans does a pretty good portrayal of the character but I’ve never warmed up to him, sorry, but I need some bad boy in my superhero and a bit of humor. Far more interesting is Loki’s impersonation of the Cap in Thor 2, in which Evans renders Loki’s mannerism brilliantly:

In conclusion: conspiracy, mysterious baddie, attack ships on fire, tons of fist fights, nazis on steroids and pulling a Snowden to save the day…mmm, sometimes less is more but the Russo bros missed that crucial lesson. This movie wants  to be serious but lacks the necessary nuances to be compelling, a dose of humor would have helped the final result. Not up to snuff —5.5/10

Leave a comment

Filed under Seen at the cinema

Oldies but goldies: Jurassic Park (1993)

Director: Steven Spielberg, Main Cast: Sam NeillLaura DernJeff GoldblumRichard AttenboroughSamuel L. Jackson;

jurassic-park

A classic sci-fi movie that withstand the test of time. Spielberg nicely mixes adventure, suspense, humor and pretty amazing special effects. Even after many viewings I still get the chills when the water in the glass starts to tremble, he has this knack for announcing when something bad is coming that’s unique, as we have learned since we heard  Jaws’ theme the first time. As usual a dreamer creates something that’s not supposed to be…like living dinosaurs…and then the shit hits the fan because of greed (naturally!) and scientists…guess what?…screw up! The cast doesn’t drop the ball and the film is a great ride. —8/10

Leave a comment

Filed under Oldies but goldies, Seen at home