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Posts Tagged ‘bruce dern’

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If ever there was a director who polarised audiences, it’s Quentin Tarantino. Some people love his gratuitous swearing and gore, while others detest it. I fall in the former camp – I’ve never seen a Tarantino film I didn’t like, and I think it’s because whatever you think of the visceral way he tell his stories, they are brilliant stories, which I always find myself getting drawn into.

This particular film is set just after the American Civil War. Racist attitudes are rife, crime is high, and life is tough out in the wild West where most of the characters come from. But don’t be fooled – after the opening scenes, showing the journey of some of the characters to Minnie’s Haberdashery, where they seek shelter from a particularly nasty blizzard, all of the action takes place in just one room. It’s a form of storytelling that I particularly enjoy…one location, shot in almost real time.

Anyway the story…the hateful eight of the title consist of John Ruth (Kurt Russell), a bounty hunter known as the hangman who is bringing his latest quarry Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Lee) to the town of Red Rock. He is hoping to claim the $10,000 bounty which has been put on her head; After Daisy herself, there is Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L Jackson) a former Confederate Soldier who is bringing his own bounty to Red Rock for a reward, but unlike Daisy, the two men he captured are dead; Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), the racist new Sheriff of Red Rock, travelling there to start his new job on the right side of the law; Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth) a hangman at Red Rock, who informs Daisy that when she hangs for her crimes, he will be the man at the other end of the rope; Joe Gage (Michael Madsen) a loner cowboy who is heading to see his mother for Christmas; General Smiths (Bruce Dern) a older racist who has come to pay his respects to his long-lost-son; and Bob (Demian Bichir) a man who is in charge of Minnie’s Haberdashery in the owner’s absence. Trapped with them is O.B. (James Parks) who was driving the stagecoach which brought some of the characters to their refuge.

Before long, tensions rise between the characters, many of whom were on opposite sides in the Civil War, and then it becomes apparent that some of the people may be there for an ulterior motive.

I’m not going to say any more about the plot – I went in with a limited knowledge of the storyline and this helped my enjoyment massively. What I will say is that yes, the film is extremely violent and bloody – there’s a lot of swearing and offensive language as well, but it’s also incredibly well told, beautifully filmed and wonderfully acted. Standout performances for me were from Samuel L Jackson, Tim Roth and the always wonderful and criminally under-recognised Walton Goggins. Jennifer Jason Leigh was also fascinatingly revolting.

So…if you are squeamish or object to foul language, this may not be the film for you. But if you have previously enjoyed Tarantino, and like dark comedy, definitely give it a try. It’s almost three hours long, but doesn’t feel like it. I loved it and will certainly be watching this again in the future.

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Year of release: 2015

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Writer: Quentin Tarantino

Main cast: Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Lee, Samuel L Jackson, Tim Roth, Walton Goggins, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, Demian Birchi, James Parks

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This is the 1974 film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s celebrated book of the same name, set in the roaring 1920s.  Robert Redford plays the title character, Sam Waterston is Nick Carraway (Gatsby’s neighbour, and the cousin of Daisy Buchanan) and Mia Farrow is Daisy, the object of Gatsby’s love.

The basic plot, for anyone unfamiliar with it, revolves around Jay Gatsby, an enigmatic and rich man, who everyone knows of but nobody really knows.  He throws lavish parties at his mansion, but rarely attends them himself.  While the rich elite of Long Island are happy to accept his hospitality, they are even happier to gossip about their host, and speculate on where he got his money.

As Gatsby’s neighbour, Nick becomes drawn into his world, and is perhaps the only person who sees Gatsby for who he is, and is unconcerned with gossip.  Gatsby and Daisy had a relationship years before, but she is now unhappily married to the philandering and unkind Tom Buchanan.  When she and Gatsby meet again, they rekindle their relationship, but circumstances conspire to keep them apart…

As adaptations go, this one is pretty faithful to the book.  However, while I really enjoyed the novel, the movie felt flat in parts.  Although many viewers felt otherwise, I thought that Redford did a fine job of playing Gatsby (and even manages to wear a pink suit without looking ridiculous) – he is certainly handsome and charismatic enough for the part.  However, the actor who stood out most for me was Sam Waterston as Nick.  He was also probably the most sympathetic character in the whole story, and definitely the only one I would probably want to be friends with.  Less successful was Mia Farrow’s portrayal of Daisy; however Daisy was portrayed as a superficial and annoying character in the book, so in that sense, the character depicted here stayed true to the original.

While I’m strictly a jeans and t-shirt person in real life, I do love to see glamour in movies, and this film certainly delivered on that front.  It is populated with wealthy and successful (if entirely shallow) characters, and I loved all the outfits and opulence.  Superficially, it certainly looks good, and captures the era well.

Overall, this is not a disastrous film at all, and there’s some enjoyable parts. However, I can’t say that it matched up to the fantastic novel on which it is based.  Definitely worth seeing though.

Year of release: 1974

Director: Jack Clayton

Writers: F. Scott Fitzgerald (book), Francis Ford Coppola

Main cast: Sam Waterston, Robert Redford, Mia Farrow, Bruce Dern

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Click here for my review of the novel.

Click here for my review of the 2000 movie adaptation.

Click here for my review of the 2013 movie adaptation.

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