The Hateful Eight

Not the friendliest bunch.

Just about everyone gets shot, slapped, hit in the face with a gun butt, or otherwise roughed up in a slow-burn mystery set in the snowy backcountry.

Identities change, often in a flash, and allegiances are fluid, as a group of vicious back-stabbers (and front-shooters) warily circle one another.

It’s a gorgeous-looking film with a haunting Ennio Morricone musical score, and almost cries out to be viewed multiple times.

First time, you’re caught by surprise each time the story flips or a cast member dies horribly, while future viewings allow you to marinate in the moment.

Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood

Suck it, hippies!

Quentin Tarantino, and his characters in this fantasy retelling of Hollywood history, don’t much cotton to the great unwashed.

What they do enjoy are quality booze, cigarette smoke, old-school movies (and the dudes who made them), and a heapin’ helpin’ of the ol’ ultra-violence.

And yet, beneath the bluster and machismo, the film delivers some of its finest moments when it gets seriously melancholy.

Leonardo Di Caprio’s struggling actor trying to rediscover his mojo, or Margot Robbie’s ethereal Sharon Tate being given a new destiny straight out of a movie script, those are the magical money shots.

 

Four Rooms

“I’ve had a … really … bad night.”

Tim Roth gets run ragged as a bellhop at a hotel where things are more than a bit out of control in this anthology film.

Four directors with serious mid-’90s juice (Quentin Tarantino, Allison Anders, Robert Rodriguez, and Alexandre Rockwell) helm the segments, with an all-star cast swinging by for short stints in front of the camera.

With action jumping from room to room, and the mania ever increasing, it’s Roth’s Ted, new to the job, who tries frantically to hold everything together.

Will he?

Probably not, but he’ll give it all he’s got.

Reservoir Dogs

“Are you gonna bark all day, little doggy, or are you gonna bite?”

Here we are, 28 years down the road, and Michael Madsen dancing, straight-edge in hand, taunting a tied-up cop, remains seared in memory.

Same with the iconic opening scene of Quentin Tarantino’s band of hoodlums struttin’ in slow motion, which has been copied or parodied a thousand times over.

At its core, this is a lean ‘n mean crime thriller with big-name actors working for scale and delivering florid dialogue written by a guy trying to break into Hollywood by being too cool for school.

Looks like it worked.

 

Death Proof

Pedal through the metal.

This is usually considered one of Quentin Tarantino’s lesser efforts, yet it has a real zing and is a great showcase for Zoë Bell.

She and her friends find themselves menaced by a leering, homicidal Kurt Russell, with the second half of the film being a hopped-up death metal showdown on the back roads of America.

Stuffed full of testosterone (and his own self-importance), Stuntman Mike picks the wrong woman to terrorize this time, however.

Bell, riding the hood of a madly-speeding Dodge Challenger, is an avenging angel unleashed, and there’s a (brutal) showdown a’coming.