THE HATEFUL EIGHT Trailer & Thoughts, Plus Some Bonuses Because I’m a Nice Guy

A new Tarantino film is always an event, and our first glimpse of some actual footage (as opposed to the fairly useless teaser that was making the rounds since around Christmas) is certainly worth notice. But how does it look compared to the rest of his oeuvre?

Well, you just take your Wienerschnitzel-lickin’ finger and click that “Continue Reading” button to find out.

I made sure to watch this twice before writing it up, the second time on a larger screen. I’m glad I did, because I’m starting to see just how Tarantino plans to use the 70mm frame. Rumor has it that most of the film takes place in Minnie’s Haberdashery, and I’m thinking QT means to use the format to enhance the claustrophobic setting, as well as studying the faces of his characters–since, as Russell tells us, one of them isn’t who they claim to be. At least that’s what I’m hoping. I don’t think he’d waste an opportunity such as this.

On the other hand, I’m a little concerned he’s repeating himself just a little bit here. That first moment with Jackson recalls the start of Django, and I know one character is nicknamed “The Little Man”…just like Uitivich. The story itself also doesn’t grab me as much as the stories of Basterds or Django, and I’ve heard rumors (I LOVE RUMORS!) that the script isn’t quite on a level with his best work. That may be based on the leaked version, however; I do believe he has reworked it since.

But he’s assembled a great cast and they look like they’re having a good time. I really love Leigh’s little miming of her own execution–she’s been mooted as a possible Oscar contender, and from the looks of it she may well be the MVP. I would certainly welcome that.

In any case, this is a must-see, and I hope sincerely I get to see it in 70mm. Probably not on Christmas Day, but as soon as I can.

The trailer for Trumbo also dropped today. Movies about movies, especially about real filmmakers, have always been a bit of a tough sell for me–I have a hard time getting past how they’re feeding off of other, greater films and other, greater filmmakers. Plus, this film–a take on the blacklist and a biopic of arguably its most famous victim–just screamed “Oscar bait”…even if it was directed by the same guy who made the Austin Powers and Meet the Parents/Fockers trilogies.

And yet…this doesn’t look too bad. Cinematically, it’s probably about on the level of an HBO movie, but the one likely Oscar nomination may well be deserved…a Best Actor nod for Bryan Cranston. He seems to be having a whale of a time as Trumbo, being witty and snarky and righteous…it’s obviously too soon to say if he’ll win, but for his performance alone, I’ll give it a chance. (Helen Mirren as Hedda Hopper shouldn’t be too bad either.)

There needs to be a name for the particular breed of biopic that puts an audience-surrogate character (often a fictionalized composite of real individuals) in the lead, while the star-on-paper is a glorified supporting turn. Such was apparently the case with that Pablo Escobar film with Benicio Del Toro, and such may be the case here.

This doesn’t look all that great, frankly. I don’t think DeHaan really captures Dean, and while R-Pats seems to be doing a good job…who cares about Dennis Stock? I’ll give the film this, it looks really good; the cinematography is strong and the period detail is aces. But this got iffy reviews out of Berlin, and I’m not surprised. Unless this gets strong awards buzz, I’ll pass.

This has also been getting awards buzz, for Elle Fanning, though I’m not just how strong the buzz will be once it hits. On one hand, the issue of trans identity is a crucial one and any film that explores it well is likely to be acclaimed. On the other hand, this is yet another case of a cisgendered performer playing a trans character, which may or may not prove problematic. Fanning seems to be doing a pretty good job, although the film seems to spread its focus between her and Naomi Watts–possibly at the cost of exploring her side of the story fully, or making a strong lead (unless she was pushed supporting, which…I doubt that would go over well).

The writing sounds a bit on the heavy-handed side as well, though the trailer obviously doesn’t tell the whole story. Personally, this is definitely a wait-for-reviews scenario for me, but if the reviews are there I’m game.

Now, this trailer has been stirring up quite a bit of controversy, and mostly because, looking at the trailer, it suggests the film’s fictional white cisgendered protagonist threw the first brick of the Stonewall riot, when in fact it was thrown by Marsha P. Johnson, a black trans woman.

The response has been widely varied; the film’s makers state that the film is less whitewashed than the trailer gives out, and while Johnson apparently does not throw the first brick, a black transvestite character does. That in itself is problematic–why include Johnson and not have her play her part in history? There is, however, the argument (made here by Ryan Adams at Awards Daily) that not only is the trailer not necessarily a perfect representation of the film, but that a film about gay history by a major studio and major gay filmmaker is worth celebrating–or at least worth giving a chance.

That we still have a fictional protagonist (a trope I’m getting weary of–even Pride could’ve done without its FP), and that the film looks pretty damn baity doesn’t make me more inclined so to do, nor does the memory of Emmerich’s last foray into prestige cinema, the mediocre pro-Oxfordian epic Anonymous. I don’t think I’ll go far out of my way to see Stonewall, but at the very least I’ll make sure to read the Slate article on how much of it is bullshit.



That happened.

Her nickname is “Potato Chip”.

And we live in “the United States of Money”.

Well, except for whoever paid to make this.

Now, I actually was really interested in this. I don’t think Jolie is a bad director (my issues with Unbroken had more to do with the writing), and based on the premise, the setting, and the fact that it stars her and Pitt, had me thinking it could be a Taylor-Burton-style classy, glossy drama.

But while the first half of the trailer looks solid (especially the cinematography–also, I dig the use of the old Universal logo), the second half, especially once they start talking, goes over the top awfully quickly, and Pitt’s “Just STOP!” is a frankly awful moment. And I don’t really care for the music choices–the song just gives off the wrong kind of vibe.

I want this to be a good movie, but for the time being, I’m drastically tempering my expectations.

And then there’s this.

I love how movies can’t get social media right at all. That line about Twitter is so clearly an attempt to sound savvy, it’s ridiculous.

I like how this trailer is overwhelmingly sappy for the most part, but then throws in the robot to pull an R2-D2. I assumed there was a science-fiction angle here, but maybe the robot is the extent of it?

I doubt I’ll ever actually see this, but I’m curious just based on how bizarre it is.

Let’s finish with something good.

It took me a couple of viewings to warm up to Zoolander, but I now recognize it as a funny fucking movie.

Long-delayed sequels are a risky proposition, at least when you’re bringing back the original cast. Stiller is directing again, which is a good sign (one of these days I’m gonna do an analysis of his directorial filmography. Should be interesting), but it’s coming out in February, which isn’t a great sign.

Obviously, there’s nothing here to form an opinion on, but Stiller remains committed to Derek’s utter idiocy (“But I’m not Italian”), so it should at least be good for a few (dozen) laughs.

Next up: another Poster Salad!

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