REVIEW: The Hateful Eight

The Hateful Eight

The Hateful Eight
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Written by: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Walton Goggins

(Spoilers throughout)

The Hateful Eight is Quentin Tarantino’s most punishing film, both in terms of length and content.  His eighth feature is a three hour chamber drama that crams post-Civil War America into a cabin during a blizzard and watches as its characters tear each other apart. It seems made with a sinister glee that antagonizes the viewer more than it entertains, coaxing uncomfortable laughter and squirms as it becomes more and more sadistic.

Though much of The Hateful Eight takes place in the same room, it begins in the snowy Wyoming wilderness.  A black Yankee soldier-turned bounty hunter named Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) crosses paths with a stagecoach carrying three white people: a driver, another bounty hunter and his bounty.   Warren himself is hauling a few dead bounties with him, but the other bounty hunter, John Ruth (Kurt Russell), prides himself on taking his in alive so they can hang.

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REVIEW: Arbitrage

Arbitrage
Directed by: Nicholas Jarecki
Written by: Nicholas Jarecki (screenplay)
Starring: Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth and Brit Marling

Richard Gere gives a phenomenally sly performance in Nicholas Jarecki’s equally sneaky Arbitrage, although when it’s all said and done the movie is content with simply being slick and clever.  It weaves a tale of deception and excess out of the generically named New York billionaire Robert Miller (Gere) and his various personal and financial misdealings.

By far the story’s biggest asset is its willingness to leave Miller’s social circle and directly confront issues of class and race.  Jarecki lingers on the wealthy lifestyle a little too often, but the man at the center of his movie is never a hero.  The bulk of the entertainment comes from watching Gere bring such a manipulative man to vivid life, and though it doesn’t really leave much to think about when the credits roll, it is certainly an engaging and relevant story to tell.

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CLASSICS: Pulp Fiction

Pulp Fiction
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Written by: Quentin Tarantino (screenplay)
Starring: John Travola, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman and Bruce Willis

It’s hard to weigh the merit of a movie like Pulp Fiction.  Quentin Tarantino’s bloody chat-fest had a sudden and immediate impact on the landscape of American film, yet it’s still young in the eyes of the art form.  It is a classic like all those old movies you associate with that word (some of which it references), yet it’s filled to the brim with sleaze.

Pulp Fiction forges its story of fragments of other movies, most of which wouldn’t have made it past the cutting room floor.  There are heated exchanges about fast food in Europe, riffs on the sexual nature of foot massages and lengthy discussions on what a television pilot is.  All of those happen in the first scene that hit men Vincent (John Travolta) and Jules have together.

After a similarly chatty opener where two lovebirds decide to rob a diner, these two hit men banter back and forth.  Much has been made of the highly stylized dialogue, so much so that these types of conversations have earned this director his own label: “Tarantinoesque.”

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