Tag Archives: Quentin Tarantino

Movie Review: The Hateful Eight (2015)

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Rating: C+/ Well, you certainly can’t accuse Quentin Tarantino of false advertising. These eight characters are, in fact, hateful. And then some. Let me just preface this review by saying I love Tarantino’s movies. Usually. But his latest effort, The Hateful Eight, stands as one of his weakest so far. Usually, we can follow Tarantino into the craziest plots, the nuttiest situations that he conjures up before us. His movies are self-indulgent as fuck, films derived from films derived from other films, but that matters to us not one whit. The man has a gift; for dialogue, for characters, for pitch-black, twisted humor that is as prevalent in his films as the ubiquitous big twist in a M. Night Shyamalan flick. Continue reading Movie Review: The Hateful Eight (2015)

Reservoir Dogs (1992)

“Reservoir Dogs,” Quentin Tarantino’s second film after the little known low-budgeter “My Best Friend’s Birthday,” is a good and polished early effort from a brilliant and controversial filmmaker.

A lot of Tarantino’s trademarks are present here: extreme violence, black humor, brilliant dialogue, and an unflinching portrayal of racism, but a little more emotion is present than with Tarantino’s other works, including a rather touching relationship between two of the main characters, Mr. White and Mr. Orange.

The color-coordinated characters, Mr. White (Harvey Keitel), Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen), Mr. Orange (Tim Roth), Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi), Mr. Blue (Edward Bunker), and Mr. Brown (Director Tarantino) are a group of criminals cornered by the police during a diamond heist.
After a bloody shootout, a group of them escape, including Mr. Orange (Roth), who is badly injured in the getaway. Stationed at a hiding spot, the remaining thieves suspect that someone among them may be a police informer. And with volatile Blonde in their midst, the situation has nowhere to go but down.

As per usual with Tarantino, the dialogue is clever and quirky, rife with the idiosyncrasies and oddities of daily life. I didn’t find the dialogue as funny this time round as “Pulp Fiction,” which was ultimately a more engaging work. The acting here is very good, with Chris Penn as “Nice-Guy” Eddie being a weak-point in an otherwise strong cast.

Tim Roth is a stand-out as reluctant newbie Orange, while Michael Madsen as Blonde makes a very convincing psycho. Harvey Keitel and Steve Buscemi give steady support as White and Pink, respectively. The violence is occasionally shocking and provoked walk-outs during “Reservoir Dogs'” stint at the film festival circuit, but may have become less so with time.

Overall, “Reservoir Dogs” embodies what we have come to expect from Tarantino — shocks, thrills, and graphic violence — like an invigorating roller-coaster ride, but with a little extra heart. We care about the relationship between White and Orange, and the following events saddens us. But most of all, it is spectacular Tarantino entertainment. Who could ask for anything more?

Pulp Fiction (1994)

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First off, I’m an unabashed fan of Tarantino. I’ve liked pretty much all his stuff, from “Reservoir Dogs” to “Django Unchained” to even his segment in “Four Rooms” ( which no one likes.) I think the guy’s brilliant. So it should come as no surprise to you that I consider “Pulp Fiction” a masterpiece of dialogue and plot.

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“Pulp Fiction” tells the interconnected stories of two chatty hitmen (Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta) who may or may not be on a collision course with fate, an aging boxer (Bruce Willis) who is paid to throw his last fight, and two cheap criminals (Amanda Plummer and Tim Roth, two of my favorite actors) who set out to rob a cafe.Nothing turns out the way it was planned in this ferociously violent, witty, and genre-defying masterwork.

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Don’t go into this movie looking for touchy-feely romance or particularly sympathetic characters, because you’ll get none of that. But as my dad likes to say, “It’s not the violence, it’s the dialogue.” The conversations between various eccentrics is rich in it’s insistent oddness.  I tend to be a little bit emotional, so certain scenes in this got to me (strangely, the rape scene wasn’t among them.)

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One was the scene in which Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) corners the kid, Brett (Frank Whaley) who made off with Jules’ boss Marcellus (VIng Rhames)’s briefcase. The whole sequence was very funny in a way (what ain’t no country I ever heard of!) and my family was laughing throughout, but I dunno. I guess I felt a little sorry for ol’ Brett. It takes a lot of nerve to take a man’s burger and his life the same day.

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The second scene was where Butch (Bruce Willis), the boxer, goes off at his girlfriend Fabienne (Maria de Medeiros) for leaving behind a family heirloom. I get it, the girl screwed up, but it seemed so much like something I would do that I felt sorry for her. Uma Thurman also figures into this movie as Marcellus’ girlfriend, Mia, and I had so much of a girl crush on her in this movie

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. I think “Reservoir Dogs” nearly stands up to this in terms of quality, especially since “Reservor Dogs” had a certain emotional quality that “Pulp Fiction” couldn’t copy (“…Fiction” is, like most of Tarantino’s work, cold as ice.) But “Pulp Fiction” has a certain muchness “Reservoir Dogs” can’t beat. The dialogue crackles,  the non-linear timeline is well-conceived, and the cast does a great job as well.

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Everybody who isn’t squeamish about violence should watch this movie to see one of the most influential films of the early 90’s. It’s unique, intense, and in it’s own way, weirdly hilarious. I’ve seen most of Tarantino’s films (sans “Jackie Brown,” “Kill Bill Volume 2,” and “My Best Friend’s Birthday,”) and this is my favorite so far. Modern cinema at it’s most memorable!

Django Unchained (2012)

“Django Unchained” is a blood-soaked, blackly funny, slavery-era extravaganza of a film, compliments of Quentin Tarantino. It is a movie populated with great actors delivering great dialogue, with some great gore and not one but two epic shoot-outs at the end to top it off.

Django (Jamie Fox) is a slave who was separated from his wife, Broomhilda Von Shaft (Kerry Washington) as punishment when the two tried to run away together from their plantation. Forced to walk shackled to a horse, under harsh winter conditions, Django is surprised to encounter eccentric “dentist” Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), who turns out to be a skilled bounty hunter.

King Schultz acquires Django under strange and bloody circumstances, and offers him a proposition: Django will earn his freedom if he helps King to identify three slavers who are wanted dead or alive. Thus begins a blood, unusual adventure as the two seek out outlaws and ultimately attempt to save Django’s wife from Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), a sadistic and insane slaveowner.

Christoph Waltz, who proved his acting chops playing opportunistic SS officer Col. Hans Landa in Tarantino’s 2009 film “Inglourious Basterds,” shines here as charismatic and mysterious King Schultz, who seems to have his own strange code of ethics.

Jamie Foxx is good and Kerry Washington excels playing a fairly uninteresting character, but the biggest surprise is DiCaprio. Nothing of 90’s heartthrob Leo is present as slimy, venomously evil Candie, like “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?” It’s a total transformation.

Some people might be disgusted by the sixth character: Stephen, a manipulative and subservient slave (Samuel L. Jackson), but I thought it was brave of Tarantino to introduce a black villain into a slavery-era film and show the shades of gray in race relations of that time.

There were certain parts of the movie I felt were a little excessive, for instance the KKK scene, which I felt dragged a little. The blood, too, could be a little excessive, but Tarantino without blood? Where would we be? Simply put, this will be a delight for fans of Quentin Tarantino, but people looking for a gentler, kinder, more sensitive movie will best look elsewhere.

Tarantino delivers as he always does: clever dialogue, creative shots, and gallons of blood. On a side note, although no movie could accurately portray the horrors of slavery, this film gets pretty far out of people’s comfort zone, which is more responsible for the controversy than any alleged racism. If you like Tarantino, you will like this strong entry into his cinematic universe.

Four Rooms (1995)

For reasons I cannot fully explain, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, and laughed throughout. Blame it on my crazy sense of humor. Blame it on my love of gratuitous film violence and insanity. But mostly, blame it on Tim Roth. Roth’s manic, inspired portrayal of swishy, spasticated, neurotic bellhop “Ted” resulted in one of the most entertaining characters I’ve seen in a while.

Here’s the deal- “Four Rooms” is a pseudo-anthology film featuring four segments written and directed by four filmmakers. Each segment follows Ted (Roth) through one insane New Year spent at a hotel and punctuated by violence, weird sexuality, and mutilation. Three of the segments are directed by filmmakers I’m not really familiar with, and the fourth is done by Tarantino.

I liked all of the stories in the film, but in different ways. I didn’t really know what to make of the first one. A coven of witches staying at the hotel, played by prominent ’90s icons such as Madonna and Lili Taylor, discover they need sperm to complete their witchy potion to bring the goddess Diana to life. And who else for the job but twitchy hotel bellboy Roth?

The second story involves an insane husband and wife who want to Ted to participate in their kinky sex games. The third and the funniest, “The Misbehavers,” follows Ted as he is bribed into caring for Antonio Banderas’s two whiny children. The kids, who exemplify the reason I hate small children, soon push Ted over the edge with their demands. But how will Ted react when there’s a real emergency on hand?

I actually thought Tarantino’s short, “The Man From Hollywood,” was the weakest, because it seemed self-indulgent, suffering from uninterrupted periods of Tarantino reading his dialogue. In this one, Ted comes across a Hollywood bigwig (Tarantino) with a shocking proposition.

I watched this movie free of the knowledge that it had been critically panned, with an abysmal 14% on Rotten Tomatoes. I think you have to have a certain kind of sense of humor to appreciate this kind of movie. For me, it was very funny, because it wasn’t the usual wishy-washy cliche type of comedy.

I derived the majority of the humor from Tim Roth’s absurdly physical performance. It reminded me a little of Charlie Chaplin for the ’90s, which was, obviously, a less innocent time for cinema than the Tramp’s heyday. Overall, “Four Rooms” is an interesting and overlooked black comedy for those who like their comedy absurd and bizarre.