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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Eight Little Cowboys

You should all know by now that I’m a huge Quentin Tarantino fan.  When it comes to elevating trashy exploitation B-movies to an art form, there simply is no better than the former video store employee who became one of the best writers and directors of our time.  Since his breakthrough crime noir masterpiece, ‘Reservoir Dogs,’ Quentin Tarantino has entertained us with a steady stream of memorable films such as ‘Pulp Fiction,’ ‘Kill Bill: Volumes One and Two,’ ‘Jackie Brown,’ ‘The Inglourious Basterds’ and ‘Django Unchained.’  His latest feature, the eagerly anticipated (at least by me) mystery-western ‘The Hateful Eight,’ demonstrates his prowess and mastery once again and proves that Tarantino is still on top of his finely honed craft.
 
To put it simply, TH8 is a sordid tale of murder, revenge and poetic frontier justice.  I know it doesn’t get any vaguer than this, but the movie is best enjoyed without any expectations or foreknowledge whatsoever.  It is a deeply layered mystery with a simple yet elegant plot device, pulling you in with its building suspense which doesn’t let up until the final act.  Even at a bladder-trying two hours and 47 minutes, TH8 never seemed to drag because everything about it, from the beautiful cinematography (filmed in Panavision 70mm) to its despicable (as in “hateful”) characters and their interactions and dialogue, are just so damn compelling and fascinating.
 
TH8 is a love letter of sorts to the low-budget spaghetti westerns of yore starring Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef.  It is also one of Tarantino’s best in my opinion, as he lets out his inner Agatha Christie (or Alfred Hitchcock) and gives us a masterwork of suspense that’s both engrossing and deeply satisfying.
 
Grade: A
 
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