The Hateful Eight (2015) Review

The Hateful Eight (2015)

Directed & Written by Quentin Tarantino

Starring: Samuel L Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demián Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, James Parks, Channing Tatum

Narrated by Quentin Tarantino

Music by Ennio Morricone

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In the dead of a Wyoming winter, a bounty hunter and his prisoner find shelter in a cabin currently inhabited by a collection of nefarious characters.

My Opinion:

Yesterday I reviewed Jackie Brown as part of my 2017 Blind Spot Series & for Quentin Tarantino’s 54th birthday. In that review, I talked a bit about my disappointment over The Hateful Eight. It was hard to not compare the two films as I watched them almost back to back but it made me appreciate Jackie Brown even more and made me realize, in comparison, just how overblown The Hateful Eight is.

I already went on about this movie in yesterday’s review so I’ll keep this one short: The Hateful Eight is easily my least favorite Tarantino film (I’ve ranked them all HERE). It’s not a horrible film but he’s clearly believing his own hype too much & needs to return to the simplicity of a really good script as in things like Reservoir Dogs. His films have been getting more & more over the top and this one finally went fully overboard. It’s one thing to be over the top but another to be so dragged out & rather unenjoyable, which is something that I can’t say of any of his other films.

Okay – I’ll try to say some good things about this movie. Well, the best thing about it is Ennio Morricone’s score (but I’ll come back to that). The two main reasons I watched this were for Morricone and to see Jennifer Jason Leigh’s Oscar-nominated performance since I’m a fan of hers (plus to be able to say I’ve seen all of Tarantino’s films, I suppose). The clue is in the title and all these characters are indeed hateful (which isn’t going to make it easy to like a movie very much) but Leigh was great & her character was the one I enjoyed watching the most. I’m glad she got the recognition for this role as the movie itself lets its talented actors & composer down. Samuel L Jackson & Kurt Russell were also very good (although Jackson was, once again, his over-the-top Tarantino self) but no one else in the cast really stood out compared to these three. The other characters were extremely weak for a Tarantino film – he usually manages to make even the smallest characters in a film interesting. Maybe it should’ve just been The Hateful Three. But that’s a shit title. Did he come up with the title first & then had to write in five extra boring characters? Ah ha! That must be what happened. Plus, I think there were actually more than eight so he’s full of shit (you don’t count, Channing Tatum! The Hateful Nine isn’t a good title).


But back to Ennio Morricone. Morricone is a movie music God. Like I said in my Jackie Brown interview, the one thing Tarantino always does right in his movies is the music and I know he was overjoyed when he got Morricone to agree to score this (I want Morricone to score my whole life. That would be awesome). Is it Morricone’s best score ever? Well, no, but you can’t really top something like The Good, The Bad And The Ugly. Yes, he probably won the Oscar for this mainly because the Academy realized they’d seriously f*^kd up in never giving him an Oscar (other than an honorary one) until now. I hadn’t even realized that beforehand – he’s someone you’d just assume already had one. Anyway! Here’s a good interview with Tarantino talking about how he got Morricone to do this score. Wow. Morricone is a true professional. It was a very last minute thing and Morricone did it in very little time & in a way he’s not used to usually working. Combined with unused parts of his score for The Thing, I can’t believe they managed to pull this all together so well in that length of time. Tarantino of course wants to use him again so just imagine what we’d get if Morricone is involved in the project from the very start. It gives me chills thinking about it. I just hope, if they do work together again, that the movie can live up to the score next time!

Oh. The cinematography was good too. There’s one more thing! The last & final good thing. The outdoor shots were quite beautiful and the opening, combined with Morricone’s score, was very good (I’ll post the opening scene below). Too bad the majority of the film is inside a dark, tiny cabin!!! To start out in a rather epic sort of way with this beautiful snowy landscape and to then end up stuck in a dark little cabin for what felt like far more than the 3 hour & 7 minute running time was so damn cruel. To us. Cruel to the audience. Never mind the characters! Although I suppose they would’ve frozen to death outside, so…

The Hateful Eight. It’s too damn long. It has a good score from a true master. It has three really good actors doing the best they can with a weak script. It’s pretty to look at when they’re actually outside that goddamn cabin. It’s violent as f^*k. It’s definitely a Tarantino film. I still like Tarantino’s films & I’ll still watch them all despite finding this one the most disappointing so far. To be fair, it could’ve been worse. But it could’ve been SO much better. And this review was meant to be short. Like Tarantino, I sometimes don’t know when enough is enough.

My Rating: 6/10

Foxcatcher (2014) Review

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Foxcatcher (2014)

Directed by Bennett Miller

Starring:
Steve Carell
Channing Tatum
Mark Ruffalo
Vanessa Redgrave
Sienna Miller

Running time: 134 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Foxcatcher is a 2014 American biographical drama film based on the true events surrounding John du Pont’s efforts in hiring the Schultz brothers to help train US wrestling Olympians.

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My Opinion:

I’ll keep this brief (I promise!). This sort of true story drama isn’t really my sort of thing usually. Obviously, this isn’t the type of movie where you can exactly say you “loved it” or thoroughly enjoyed it or that you’d want to watch over & over again. It’s not an easy watch but I did think it was a good film with wonderful performances (even from Channing Tatum!).

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As for the real life story, I didn’t know a THING about it beforehand. I’d never heard of anyone involved & didn’t know what the outcome would be so I was totally engrossed the entire time. As always, I won’t reveal the full plot as I think it’s probably better to watch this with no knowledge of what happened if you don’t already know the story. It’s a very slooooowwww movie and also very quiet (which makes you feel self-conscious while munching on popcorn!). I think some people may not like the slow pace but this is a movie that is all about the performances and the character studies of a very eccentric millionaire and a lonely young man who strike up an unusual partnership & friendship.

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The nominations received by Steve Carell & Mark Ruffalo so far are indeed well deserved. It’s a shame that Channing Tatum seems to be being left out but his performance deserves praise as well. It may be because he doesn’t seem to exactly be playing against “type”… I’ve complained about him before – Magic Mike was rubbish & he seemed very out of place in Side Effects. However, the Jump Street films really suit him and this role does as well. Unfortunately, he’s overshadowed by Carell (who I never liked until The Way Way Back – why do I only like funny actors when they move on to serious roles?) and even, surprisingly, Ruffalo.

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Summary:

Foxcatcher is well worth the watch just for the performances alone. The tension builds very slowly and I’ll admit that the story possibly takes a little too long to tell but the time spent is worth it for the amount of character development you get. I can’t say I “enjoyed” the movie due to the subject matter (the outcome but also the “wrestling” – I’m sorry but, especially as a girl, I just DON’T get wrestling). However, it’s luckily not a “sports” movie as that part takes a backseat to the exploration of the relationship between Carell’s & Tatum’s characters. I’m glad I saw it and I found Carell’s character fascinating.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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The Book Of Life (2014) Review

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The Book Of Life (2014)

Directed by Jorge Gutierrez

Produced by Aaron Berger, Brad Booker, Guillermo del Toro, Carina Schulze

Starring:
Diego Luna
Zoe Saldana
Channing Tatum
Ron Perlman
Christina Applegate
Ice Cube
Kate del Castillo

Running time: 95 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Manolo, a young man who is torn between fulfilling the expectations of his family and following his heart, embarks on an adventure that spans three fantastic worlds where he must face his greatest fears.

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My Opinion:

Hmm. I liked this movie and did think it was lovely to look at (but was probably a bit “too much” visually – they could have toned it down). As an adult, it’s not always fun sitting through kids movies but I enjoyed the story well enough in this and didn’t just want to sleep through the whole thing like I pretty much did during the horrible Boxtrolls movie. The problem with this one, though, is that I think adults may almost enjoy it a bit more than really young kids as I think the story is too confusing for those under maybe 8 or so. There’s no reason that younger kids can’t go to it – I just think they won’t like this one as much as it’s very fast paced, the story is too complex, and it’s just very “busy” – you’re constantly bombarded with the visuals, the story, the songs… I found it hard to keep up myself so I doubt a five-year-old really could.

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As I said, I did quite like the story. It’s actually told as a story that’s being told to a group of kids at a museum and I wasn’t sure that would really work at first but it wasn’t too bad – it just made it a bit harder to get into the characters who are in the “story within a story”. I put the very simple plot synopsis at the top but here it is from Wikipedia in much more detail to show you exactly what the central story is about (although, as I said, it’s more complex than this):

The spirits La Muerte, ruler of the Land of the Remembered and Xibalba, ruler of the Land of the Forgotten, appear at the San Angel’s Day of the Dead festival where they set up a wager after seeing two boys, Manolo and Joaquín, competing over a free-spirited girl named María. La Muerte bets that Manolo will marry María, while Xibalba bets on Joaquín. If La Muerte wins, Xibalba can no longer interfere in mortal affairs, but if Xibalba wins, he and La Muerte would switch lands.

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The girl in this is pretty good – she’s feisty and when the boys are fighting over her says something like “I belong to no one!” so I was all for that as too many female characters in kids movies are horrible role models to young girls. Her pet pig was pretty adorable and there weren’t any annoying or unlikable characters.

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The jokes in this are actually somewhat funny, even for the adults (well, one joke was SO dirty that the hubby & I looked at each other in disbelief! Don’t worry, though – your kids would NOT pick up on it. Just don’t laugh at it if you can help yourself. I couldn’t help myself…). There’s also a lot of music in this film which was sometimes fun as they did some popular stuff. Although I wasn’t sure if I should think it’s cool or if I should be pissed off at them doing Radiohead’s Creep… But, hey – it’s the first time I’ve heard Biz Markie’s Just A Friend since 1989!

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Summary:

The Book Of Life is a decent enough film that adults probably won’t mind sitting through as well. I do think it’s too complex for the very young but, aside from one dirty joke they won’t get anyway, I wouldn’t say there’s really anything inappropriate for kids (other than maybe the issue of “death” being discussed but you get that in most Disney movies anyway). Obviously, it’s not Pixar or Disney so it’s still just a kids film to me & I never rate those as highly as I’d rather watch a grown-up movie. I liked this okay, though, and think most kids of at least 7 or 8 probably will too.

My Rating: 6/10

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Here’s some Radiohead for Cara. 😉

21 Jump Street & 22 Jump Street Double Review

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I went to see 22 Jump Street a couple of weeks ago (I only watched three movies that day, not four like I did one day last month. No, that’s NOT a regular thing that I do!). 😉 Anyway – they were Oculus, The Fault In Our Stars (review HERE) & 22 Jump Street. I’m not reviewing much lately but I’ll try to do Oculus at some point (Spoiler: I thought it was pretty shit). Since I just watched 21 Jump Street for the first time a few months ago, I figured I might as well review the two together…

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21 Jump Street (2012)

Directed by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller

Starring:
Jonah Hill
Channing Tatum
Dave Franco
Brie Larson
Rob Riggle
DeRay Davis
Ice Cube
Nick Offerman

My Opinion:

Okay! So. I finally watched this movie a few months ago. I’d avoided it because… How DARE they mess with 21 Jump Street! That’s one of my all-time favorite TV shows (number 11)! And they made it into a silly COMEDY? WTF?! Well, there’s no point discussing the TV show – the movie shares its name & the fact that young looking police officers go undercover in high schools but that’s IT – there are no other similarities so I’ll just discuss the movie and try to pretend it has a different title.

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21 Jump Street was okay. It didn’t exactly blow me away but it was better than I was expecting and I even found a few bits fairly funny. I’ve started to warm a little to Jonah Hill since he was so fantastic in The Wolf Of Wall Street. I’ve never understood the Channing Tatum thing – the first thing I actually saw him in was Side Effects and he seemed out of place. Then I saw the dreadful Magic Mike… Ugh. But he’s likeable here and I think they finally found a role that suits him. Ice Cube was pretty hilarious – I think he was probably the funniest thing about this. The best thing about this, however, was Brie Larson. I’ve not seen her in anything else other than Don Jon but now I really want to see Short Term 12 based on her performance in this.

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21 Jump Street starts out pretty promising but about halfway through gets a little TOO silly and over the top for my liking. I like comedy that stays a bit more simple (as in, not juvenile “in your face” humor). By the end I was a bit bored and fell asleep a few times and kept having to go back to try to finish the last 15 minutes. Hell – I’m not sure if I ever did! By the time they got to the cameos (minor spoiler maybe but I think everyone knows about the cameos by now) I was like “No”. The cameos were pretty stupid and not handled very well. The movie definitely had some potential at first and I had some hope that I was going to end up liking it okay. And I sort of did. Unfortunately, it does fall apart at the end.

My Rating: 6/10

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22 Jump Street (2014)

Directed by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller

Starring:
Jonah Hill
Channing Tatum
Peter Stormare
Ice Cube
Amber Stevens
Wyatt Russell
Jillian Bell
Jimmy Tatro
Nick Offerman

My Opinion:

Well, this is a big step up from 21 Jump Street. Overall, this is a much funnier film and feels a lot more “together” than the first film did. It still goes a little over the top at the end but doesn’t fall apart like I thought 21 Jump Street did. And the best thing about this movie is that it makes fun of itself. A LOT. Because it’s the exact same story again but set in college instead of high school and the movie knows this and constantly jokes about it and the whole “sequelitis” problem in Hollywood. I thought that was all really funny and the end credits scenes (as the credits rolled) were BRILLIANT! It was actually the best bit of the entire movie and worth watching for that alone. So do NOT leave the second the credits roll on this one, people! (Oh, there’s also a final scene at the very end after the credits as well – that one is pretty stupid & not worth staying for, in my opinion).

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This time around, I thought Channing Tatum was much better and a lot funnier. I MAYBE finally like him more after seeing this one. Maybe… Yeah – he’s pretty good in this one and possibly even outshines Jonah Hill this time. They also feel more like a team and have better chemistry. And Ice Cube luckily has even more screen time in this one and he’s again hilarious – I really liked the scenes with him. The “female love interest” this time around doesn’t have the charisma of Brie Larson but I’d have to say that’s the only thing they didn’t improve on from the first film.

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Well, I suppose I should wrap this up as my opinion is pretty obvious anyway. I enjoyed 22 Jump Street quite a bit more than 21 Jump Street. I always love when a movie isn’t afraid to make fun of itself. Overall, though, these films aren’t really my type of thing although I can appreciate why some people like them. If they DO make a 3rd one, I’m hoping they can improve on the whole thing once again & stick to more of the good jokes instead of as many stupid, silly gags (but Hill & Tatum can get high once again. I’ll admit that I find it freaking hilarious when people get high in movies and the fact that I love the Harold & Kumar films probably destroys my argument that I don’t like “dumb” humor). 😉 I feel there should be a bigger gap in the two ratings but I don’t think 21 deserves lower than a 6 while I can’t really give 22 a 7 as I can’t say it’s exactly going to be a favorite film or that I’ll ever watch it again. But I appreciate that they seemed to put much more effort into this one. Plus the scenes during the credits get 8/10!

My Rating: 6.5/10

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Magic Mike (2012) Review

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You may be aware that The IPC was taken over this week by these lovely ladies: Zoe, Smash, and Cara (or should I say Miguel?? I don’t want to piss him off!). 😉

Anyway, Eric stupidly kindly agreed to let me take over today. The fool! So I posted about a shitty movie full of half naked men. You can read my review of Magic Mike HERE.

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Side Effects (2013) Review

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Been putting off reviewing this because I really don’t know how to go about it. It’s a hard plot to discuss at all without ruining the entire movie. Directed by Steven Soderbergh (supposedly his final film), Side Effects is about a depressed girl (Rooney Mara) who, after a suicide attempt, is prescribed a new drug by her psychiatrist (Jude Law). It also stars Channing Tatum as the girl’s husband and Catherine Zeta-Jones as another psychiatrist.

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I won’t go into the plot at all – I’ll just discuss the performances and what I liked about the movie. I don’t think I’m giving anything away by saying this is a psychological thriller and has a Hitchcock feel to it (as every review I’ve seen seems to say the same thing). I love Hitchcock and I love a good twisty-turny thriller that keeps you constantly guessing through the whole thing. There are so few quality movies in this sort of genre nowadays so I found Side Effects very enjoyable.

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As for the acting, I thought everyone did well in their roles. I thought Rooney Mara was the highlight of the movie. I’ve not seen her in her biggest role (Dragon Tattoo) but I can see how she was probably the perfect choice for the role of Lisbeth Salander – I’m looking forward to watching that now. But I have sort of a thing for “cold & aloof”. Both her Side Effects & Dragon Tattoo characters are that way so I’m not sure how great she’d be playing a different sort of character. And the “don’t give a fuck” attitude can get annoying after a while (smile Kristen Stewart!). So Rooney Mara will be an interesting one to watch to see if she can pull off playing characters who are less mentally unstable. And I think she has lovely eyes!

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I also thought Jude Law did a very good job. I liked him in this & I normally don’t like him. I can’t explain this – I have no good reason for not liking him! Just like I have zero reason to hate Channing Tatum. This is the ONLY thing I’ve ever seen him in. I think he reminds me of the type of arrogant jocks I hated SO much in high school. That’s probably unfair as I’ve never seen him in anything, not even an interview. 😉 He’s fine in Side Effects – you don’t really notice him. He’s just… There. Catherine Zeta-Jones is also fine but for some reason I felt that she wasn’t quite right for the role – I’d have maybe liked to have seen a different actress play that role. Not sure who – not thought about it that much.

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I have to make a mention of the music in this movie. I thought the score was really good, as is always the case with Thomas Newman. I think Thomas Newman scores are amazing and think he doesn’t get the credit he deserves – I plan on doing a post dedicated to him at some point.

I’m not one for ever noticing symbolism in movies (I leave that to clever people to notice & then write about). I’m sure there’s plenty going on in Side Effects. Dunno! But I kept noticing a pair of scissors always fairly prominently displayed on every desk you see in the movie. Maybe someone smart can explain that one to me – I’m too lazy. 😉 But it did make me think of Dial M For Murder – a great Hitchcock film. I did think Side Effects had a Dial M For Murder vibe to it (and definitely Vertigo. And maybe a hint of Rear Window). I’ll just think of it as a nod to the master of suspense. Nothing beats Hitchcock. 🙂

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Side Effects is obviously not as good as classic Hitchcock but at least it tries. And it comes a lot closer than most current psychological thrillers. It was a thrilling ride and one I definitely recommend if this genre is your type of thing.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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