The Hateful Eight Review

Sometimes in life we all need to be told “no”. All of us do, myself in particular. I like to think that every now and then I get some good ideas, but at the same time, I always get some pretty crap ones. Thankfully, I have loving people around me, namely my mother, that are there to ground me when I get lost in my own thoughts and think every little plan I have is a genius idea. It’s a brilliant piece of life advice that everyone needs to be aware of. Quentin Tarantino is no exception to this rule. Over the course of his now eight film career, Tarantino has made some of cinema’s most classic movies and produced intoxicating segments of dialogue that are near impossible to emulate no matter how hard David O. Russell tries. “The Hateful Eight,” Tarantino’s newest film, is a prime example of one of those moments when somebody should have told him “no”.

Historically with Tarantino films, despite them being long and filled mostly with dialogue, I have never been bored. Even with the long moments of dialogue in “Inglorious Bastards” I was always entertained and engrossed by the characters. With “The Hateful Eight,” however, I found myself being very bored for a majority of the time and never became engaged with the film until after the two-hour minute mark. I was yawning, checking my watch, and constantly getting distracted by other things in the theater, which is highly unlike me. I wasn’t as bad as the woman next to me who fell asleep and started snoring on two separate occasions throughout the film, but I still found that this film was missing that typically sharp Tarantino spark that always manages to engage the audience regardless of the situation.

The main reason behind my boredom is because the film was incredibly overwritten, almost as if Tarantino had too much time to work on it and began to overthink everything. There was a lack of vision for a majority of the film and it never gained any solid footing until it was already too late to save my attention. For the last forty odd minutes or so it is engaging and elevates to a new level, but for a film that clocks in nearly 170 minutes, I can’t be waiting that long to see anything substantial. There were many little nuances in this film that were testaments to his old work; similar cinematic techniques used in “Reservoir Dogs,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Django Unchained,” and “Inglorious Bastards” were all scattered throughout the film, but rather than enhancing the film, it was as if Tarantino was trying so hard to fit them in to the script that he compromised certain areas. “Spectre” was a film earlier this year that had mini testaments to old Bond films that were used as nice added bonuses to the separate storyline, and ultimately made the movie more rewarding for the die-hard 007 fans out there. With “The Hateful Eight,” though, all it does is take away from what could have been a much better story.

There are some shining moments; Jennifer Jason-Leigh gives a great supporting actress performance and Tim Roth and Samuel L. Jackson are always fun actors to watch in Tarantino films, but not much beyond that showed any signs of positivity to me. Tarantino may not have been as self-indulgent as Inarritu was in “The Revenant” but he sure was close. Being as Tarantino films are always produced by the Weinstein Company, you get the sense that the executives just let Tarantino do what he wants without any checks, but maybe he could benefit from somebody sitting him down and letting him know when he’s too caught up in his own thoughts. I also don’t understand why he did another Western. He accomplished so much with Django and he’s talented enough to do any style of story (how about a prohibition gangster film?), so why do a repeat? Beats me. There is a good story in this movie, but Tarantino never found it and it results in Tarantino’s worst movie.

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The Hateful Eight (2015): 1.5/4 stars

The Revenant Review

I’ve finally seen it. When I composed a list of the 20 most anticipated films to watch out for this awards season, this film was the first one on the list, and why shouldn’t it have been? Director of last year’s Best Picture winner at the Oscars was teaming up with one of the most accomplished cinematographers and Leonardo DiCaprio to create a story of survival and revenge in the frozen winter wilderness of the historical frontier. After watching the preview I couldn’t contain my excitement and had trouble keep my jaw from hitting the floor. I was dying to see this movie more than any other film that was to be released in 2015. And after finally seeing it, I must say I left the theater feeling rather disappointed.

I had time to reflect on my disappointed and see if it was because I hyped up the movie too much in my mind, but I didn’t. I went with an anticipated, yet open, mind and wasn’t given the results that I received from other greats from this year such as “Spotlight” and “Room.” Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu wanted so badly for this movie to be a survival epic that broke new ground, almost in a way that “Apocalypse Now” has done. I can see many similarities between the production and composition of this film and the Coppola classic, but unfortunately Inarritu isn’t quite at Coppola’s level and this movie is missing many key components that make “Apocalypse Now” one of the best films of all time. An epic of poetic chaos, this film just feels like a self-indulgent, narcissistic attempt at creating greatness from a director that went a bit mad after his success with “Birdman.” It’s a movie that thinks it’s all that, but in the end really isn’t. It’s similar in a way to Kanye West, with his notion that whatever he creates is groundbreaking art, but in the case of Mr. West, his musical creations support his mentality.

There is a splattering of memorable scenes in this film, with the first half an hour being brilliantly crafted, but these moments are dispersed between long draughts of nothingness. It’s as if Inarritu spent more time trying to make this film look visually appealing to the eyes than focusing on the story itself, although it does look absolutely stunning. Using natural lighting for the entirety of the film was definitely an expensive and challenging task, but one that pays off magnificently in terms of how the film looks on screen and will more than certainly guarantee a Best Cinematography award victory. Looking good doesn’t guarantee greatness though; it’s similar to a girl who spends significant amounts of time on her make up and looking good but has no personality to go along with it. There’s no sense of character or sense of connection the subjects of this grand struggle.

DiCaprio’s character, Glass, has minimal background connection whatsoever, making it difficult to fully grasp the type of person we are working with. Hardy’s character (Fitzgerald), while being the antagonist, is much easier to connect with and thus enhances Hardy’s performance. Quite frankly I thought that Hardy was better than DiCaprio in this film. There’s all this buzz going around that DiCaprio will win best actor at long last, but why? Since when did heavy breathing for two hours and eating a bison liver classify as good acting? I understand that he dedicated a lot to this role, but that doesn’t mean his acting was superior to anyone else’s. He will still win the award because he, more than anyone else in Hollywood, deserves it given his career, but he will win solely because he hasn’t yet rather than this one singular performance. Michael Fassbender gave a better acting performance in “Steve Jobs” than DiCaprio was in this film.

Overall, this film looks amazing and has some amazing moments and strong directing from Inarritu, but it’s not enough to make up for all the pitfalls. I never felt like I was enjoying the film at any point; I was struggling to get through just like the DiCaprio’s character was. I couldn’t wait for it to be over and was too relieved when it finally was for me to say that I enjoyed the film overall. It’ll win a couple of Oscars, but it’s far from the best that we’ve seen this year.

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The Revenant (2015): 2.5/4 stars

Best Movies of 2015

Post by: Stephen Feely

For this list, I am ranking my top 10 best films of 2015. This list is being determined by the overall quality of the film rather than how well it did at the box office or what the general public’s perception is. This list is entirely opinion, based upon my own viewing of the films. I haven’t had the time to see The Revenant or Hateful Eight before compiling the list, so once I have seen those films I will update it if need be. But until then, here are my Top 10 Best Films from 2015.

  1. Creed– Managing to recapture the spirit of the original Rocky film in a fresh and vibrant way, Creed manages to be another stellar production from the dynamic duo of director Ryan Coogler and actor Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station).

 

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  1. Mad Max– One of the best action films of recent years, Mad Max sees George Miller at his directorial best, by crafting a film with brilliant effects and visuals plus a surprisingly strong story to back it all up.

 

  1. It Follows– Despite not being the largest fan of most horror films, It Follows earned my respect. The film manages to be undoubtedly original and brilliantly subtle in its horror. A classic horror story to be told around modern camp fires.

 

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  1. Timbuktu– Sometimes the best films are not the most entertaining ones, but the ones that hold a message with true emotional depth. Timbuktu manages to portray its somewhat unknown world in a way that does justice by those who reside in that area of the world. No extra dramatization; just pure emotional cinema at its best.

 

  1. Inside Out– Representing a stellar return to form for animation giants Pixar, Inside Out is one of the most creative storylines of this year, managing to extract every possible emotion from the viewer while being fun for audiences of all ages.

 

  1. Amy– Documentaries never seem to get the recognition they deserve in comparison to other films, but Amy stood as my favorite film of 2015 for a long time by paying respectable homage to an incredibly talented artist who, despite her personal demons, was able to enrich the world with her music and soul.

 

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  1. Beasts of No Nation– A glorious and honest portrayal of war through the eyes of a child solider in Africa, Beasts of No Nation hits upon all the possible layers of war and struggles of youth to craft an excellent character study of those children whose lives are turned upside down by the crises occurring in their home countries.

 

  1. Carol– A simple love story told in a sublimely elegant manner, Carol benefits from an incredible “Mad-Men-like” attention to detail and two incredible performances from Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara in the lead roles. Deliberately paced and subtly brilliant, this film never shouts or makes a fuss, but leaves an impressionable mark.

 

  1. Room– Mesmerizingly powerful and shockingly emotional, this movie is never an easy film to watch, but manages to be far too gripping to ever turn away. It stands as a testament to the true bond between a mother and her child, while never compromising its grasp on reality and the frailties of the human condition.

 

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Honorable mentions: The Martian, Ex Machina, Sicario, Mr. Holmes, Slow West, Dope

 

  1. Spotlight– Brilliant and necessary filmmaking about brilliant and necessary journalism, Spotlight does everything perfectly, while never overdramatizing the situation at hand and keeping the journalists from being portrayed as larger than life heroes. The runaway best picture of the year for movie, Spotlight will be one of my favorite films of the decade when it is all said and done.

 

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What was your favorite film of the year?

Three Movies to Watch on Netflix in January

By: Stephen Feely

Still on break from school and don’t know what to do with your life? Already back at school and trying to find something to distract you from the work that you should be doing? Looking for a movie to watch by yourself since your Netflix and Chill date fell through? Trying to find a movie to watch with friends on a casual Wednesday night? Look no further, because I’ve got some suggestions for three good movies to watch on Netflix this month!

Movie to watch with friends: If you’re a guy with a group of your guy friends and you’re looking for a movie that everyone will love, then look no further than “Django Unchained.” The seventh film to come from the mastermind that is Quentin Tarantino, this pre-civil war western film won two Academy Awards for Best Original Screenplay and Supporting Actor (Christolph Waltz as the dentist bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz). Fantastic dialogue, brilliant characters, outstanding acting from Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson, and Leonardo DiCaprio, all combined with Tarantino’s love of extreme violence make this film a standout from recent years. It is quite violent, especially towards the latter stages of the film, so if you’re looking for a film with a little less blood spewing everywhere, then Chef is a good replacement. Just make sure you aren’t hungry before watching though!

Stephen’s Rating: 3.5/4 stars for Django Unchained, 3/4 stars for Chef

 

Movie to watch by yourself: When I first started writing about movies at the beginning of last summer, the first film that I ever reviewed was this brilliant little indie film by the name of “Short Term 12.” Thought provoking by the way that it puts life into perspective, this film takes the phrase “emotionally deep” to an entirely new depth. With the astounding ability to move from heartwarming comedy to tearjerking sadness in the blink of an eye, this film is an emotional rollercoaster that needs to be experienced by everyone, but maybe not when there are other people around to see you break down in tears. The connection between characters and audience in this one is that strong.

Stephen’s Rating: 4/4 stars

 

Movie to watch no matter what the situation: If your heart isn’t warmed by “Good Will Hunting,” then  you clearly have no soul. While it may not be the most original in terms of its plotline, “Good Will Hunting” still manages to hold enough sentimentality to stand out as one of the defining movies of both Matt Damon’s and Robin Williams’ careers. My favorite film from Robin Williams, it’s a movie that can be enjoyed by all on any occasion, and reminds us all why the world of cinema was so saddened upon hearing the news of this iconic actor’s death back in 2014.

Stephen’s rating: 3.5/4 stars

 

If you manage to watch all three of these great films, odds are you’ll have a pretty good start to your 2016.

Predictions for the Golden Globes

Post by Stephen Feely

The Golden Globes are this Sunday night and as promised, here are my picks for what I think the winners will be:

Motion Picture Drama: Spotlight

Spotlight is by far the best film of the year, with every aspect of it being perfect. There are some critics that think this award isn’t as set in stone as I do, but I can’t see any movie topping it. There’s a slight chance that Carol might sneak something, but that would surprise me.

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Lead Actor Drama: Dicaprio;  The Revenant

While I haven’t seen The Revenant yet, the buzz around DiCaprio’s performance is undeniable, making him the favorite. DiCaprio has garnered so much respect throughout his career that it only seems fair to give him the recognition he deserves in an incredibly challenging role.

Lead Actress Drama: Brie Larson; Room

Cate Blanchett’s performance in Carol is extraordinary, but Brie Larson is an unstoppable force in Room, and the Golden Globes owe her one after snubbing Short Term 12 in so many areas.

 

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Motion Picture Comedy: The Martian

It may not be an actual comedy, despite what the category suggests, and that could cause some decrease in votes received, yet The Martian is still head and shoulders better than any other film nominated in this exceptionally weak section.

 

Lead Actor Comedy: Steve Carell, The Big Short

Mark Ruffalo and Al Pacino starred in non-event films and Carell was better than his counterpart, Christian Bale, in the Big Short. While The Martian may be a better film than The Big Short, Steve Carell is one of the standout strong points from The Big Short and is proving himself as a serious actor.

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Lead Actress Comedy: Amy Schumer, Trainwreck

A category that really has nothing to talk about for any of its nominees. Ultimately, Schumer will win because 1) her drunken speech will be the best one and 2) the Globes will want her to host next year, so this will be the best way to appease her.

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Best Director: Tom McCarthy, Spotlight

I wouldn’t be particularly surprised if Todd Haynes or George Miller win for Carol or Mad Max respectively, as each did amazing work, but Tom McCarthy directed the most complete film of the year and should be rightly awarded for doing so.

 

Supporting Actress: Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina

A category that could really go in any direction with the competition all being relatively close to each other in terms of quality, I think Vikander will be honored with the award for a brilliant performance as a robot with human emotion and also to help make up for the fact that there’s no way she could compete with Blanchett and Larson for the lead actress award.

 

Supporting Actor: Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation

An actor that has been continuously underappreciated by American audiences, Elba will add to his haul of Golden Globes from his performances in Luther with his brilliant performance as child army leader in Africa. Mark Rylance could very well will to give Bridge of Spies at least one win from the night, but Elba is the more important performance in his respective film.

 

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Screenplay: Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer, Spotlight

While Tarantino always produces quality screenplays, the dialogue in Spotlight is not only engaging but is crafted to a near perfect T to give this very touchy subject the right amount of respect and drama it deserves.

 

Animated Picture: Inside Out

One of the best years for animated features is still topped off by the insanely creative return to form for Pixar in Inside Out. Bright, vibrant, and deeply emotional, this film is the highlight in a stacked category.

 

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Foreign Language Film: Son of Saul

It won the Cannes Film Festival and that alone is reason enough to give the award to this Hungarian concentration camp drama.

That closes out my predictions for who will take home prizes at this year’s Golden Globes. Time will tell how accurate my powers of prognostication really are.