Tag Archive: Quentin Tarantino


The Film Hound’s 2015 Year End Awards

Best of 2015 Collage

The Oscars are this Sunday, which means another night of me yelling at my television when the Academy inevitably awards the wrong movies. But this blog gives me the perfect opportunity to honor those that I believe are truly worthy of a gold statue. While this may not be quite as prestigious as the Academy Awards, it’s a great way for me to honor the best in film from 2015. This year even features the new category of Best New Character! So without further ado, I present to you the 3rd annual Film Hound Year End Awards! Check them out after the jump and let me know what you think!

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My Top Ten Films of 2015

My Top Ten Films of 2015 Collage

Honorable Mentions (in alphabetical order): Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, Carol, The End of the Tour, Ex-Machina, The Gift, Love & Mercy, Macbeth, Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation, The Peanuts Movie, Queen of Earth, The Revenant, Shaun the Sheep Movie, Spring, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Tangerine

 

  1. It Follows – Not only is David Robert Mitchell’s sophomore feature the best horror film of the year, it’s also the best horror film of the decade so far. John Carpenter influences abound, from the sneakily sinister score to the frightening portrayal of Midwest suburbia, but this is still very much its own thing. This unique premise of a supernatural virus that can only be passed through intercourse is not only a cautionary warning for young teenagers, but it’s also a clever examination of the loss of youth. Mitchell has crafted something truly refreshing that stands out from typical horror fare that we’re usually subjected to throughout the year.

 

  1. Creed – Sylvester Stallone is the heart and soul of the Rocky franchise, but having another film with him in the ring would have been pretty ridiculous. But by having Rocky act as the trainer to Apollo Creed’s son, they’ve effectively passed the franchise off to an entirely new generation of film fans. For some younger viewers, this could very well be their first Rockyfilm, so it’s a good thing that Creedis a fantastic addition to the franchise. The basic story here is pretty formulaic stuff, but it’s the strong direction from Ryan Coogler and fantastic performances from Stallone and Michael B. Jordan that elevates this above typical boxing fare. Even casual fans of the Rocky franchise will find themselves tearing up at this truly inspiring film.

 

  1. Spotlight – Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight is a thorough and realistic portrayal of how the Boston Globe uncovered the Catholic priest child molestation scandal. A great screenplay and understated direction keep you truly engaged in the investigation, but it’s the incredible performances that really elevate the material. And the final seconds of the film are absolutely phenomenal, ending on such a dark note that will have audiences shaking as they leave the theater. People may tell you that this is an important film and while that sounds cliché, it’s absolutely true. When we read about stories like this one in the paper, we rarely hear about the extensive amount of reporting and research that brought out the truth. You may think you know the story, but Spotlight places this scandal in a whole new light.

 

  1. A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence – If there’s one film on this list that you’ve never heard of before, it has to be this one. This Swedish film from director Roy Anderson is a darkly funny look at the bizarre mundanity of life. Told through a series of loosely connected vignettes, Anderson gives us a look at how painfully ordinary life can be. A pair salesman unsuccessfully try to sell a string of lame products, a man dies trying to open a bottle of wine, a Captain arrives to a meeting at the wrong time etc. etc. When the film dips into the absurd and the profound, it feels completely earned and will resonate long after the final credits have rolled. With a camera that remains almost completely static throughout the entire film, unique blocking and intentionally dull set design, this probably the most unique film to come out in 2015. If you watch in the right mood, it’ll work wonders on you.

 

  1. The Martian – Space films have lately seen a resurgence and The Martian stands as one of the best examples in recent years. This story of stranded astronaut Mark Watney is a hugely entertaining and uplifting crowd-pleaser that shows how the fate of a single man can bring so many people together. Matt Damon is great in the lead role and he gives Watney a playful and cocky personality that perfectly fits with the film’s light tone. But what I loved most about the film was its overwhelming optimism. Entire countries put aside their differences in order to work together and bring one man home. There’s not an ounce of cynicism or hatred anywhere to be found, just the entire world uniting around the universal will to survive. Director Ridley Scott has made some sci-fi films that exist solely for genre fans, but The Martianis a sci-fi film for everyone.

 

  1. Mistress America – In the last five years alone, Noah Baumbach has made three films with Greta Gerwig and they just seem to get better and better. Mistress America might just be their best film to date. It’s a zany, screwball comedy with an eclectic cast of characters and a warm heart at its center. Consistent laughs abound and the third act of its fantastic screenplay culminates in one of the best comedic set pieces in ages. And while it may come in at a disappointingly short 84 minutes, it’s better to leave audiences wanting more than to have a film overstay its welcome. Easily the funniest film of the year.

 

  1. Sicario – From its opening sequence all the way to its stunning conclusion, Sicariois packed to the brim with tension. Director Denis Villeneuve stacks fantastic sequence upon fantastic sequence and somehow the film continually manages to top itself. Whether it’s the opening house raid, the terrifying trek across the Mexican border or the climactic moments in a drug-smuggling tunnel, it’s clear that the war on drugs has danger lurking around every corner. Here the Mexican border is presented as sheer chaos, with bad people on both sides of the line who are fighting for their own selfish needs. With an intriguing script from first-time writer Taylor Sheridan and absolutely stunning cinematography from industry veteran Roger Deakins, this is another homerun for Villeneuve.

 

  1. The Hateful Eight – I know that this is a bit of a cliché, but I really think that Quentin Tarantino is one of our greatest living filmmakers.  I love his characters, his trademark dialogue and his over-the-top violence. If I had to pick one director today whose sensibilities seemingly fall right in line with mine, Mr. Tarantino would be very close to the top of that list. And while The Hateful Eight is certainly not his best film, it still works as an excellent showcase for all of Tarantino’s classic trademarks. With the majority of the film’s runtime taking place inside a small lodge, this feels more like a single location stage play than most of Tarantino’s past works. But this works to the film’s benefit because we get to spend more time with the characters, learning about their personalities and further enhancing the mystery that permeates the film. Even if the film provides viewers with a  harsh outlook on humanity, its final moments optimistically suggest that even the most absolute of enemies can one day peacefully find some common ground.

 

  1. Steve Jobs – Since his death in 2011, a number of films have been released chronicling the life of Steve Jobs, but this year’s Steve Jobswill surely be viewed as the de facto Jobs biopic. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin has cooked up one of the best screenplays in years, managing to showcase the tech guru at his best and worst. The screenplay takes a risky, but wholly original structure, only giving us glimpses into three distinct moments in Jobs’s life. Adding to the exhilaration is director Danny Boyle, who brings his usual energy and flair to pump up the film. One of the most interesting directorial choices that Boyle made was the decision to shoot each time period on a different format (16mm for 1984, 35mm for 1988 and digital for 1998). This feels like the kind of perfectionist decision that Jobs would have approved of and it only further helps to emphasize the development of Jobs and Apple throughout the film. Playing the often maligned CEO, Michael Fassbender hits a homerun, as do his supporting cast which includes Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen and Jeff Daniels. From the visuals, to the kinetic energy, to the unique structure, Steve Jobsscores in every department. This is truly one of the greatest biopics in recent memory.

 

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road – When I saw the fourth entry in the Mad Max franchise back in May, I would have never predicted that it would end up being my favorite film of 2015, but yet here we are. This is the action movie to end all action movies. At 70 years old, director George Miller puts to shame every action movie that’s attempted to recreate the aesthetic that he created back in 1979 with the original Mad Max. This is such a brutal, breathless and beautiful film that it’s hard to imagine it came from the same guy behind Babe and Happy Feet. During a time when action films constantly feel the need to overly complicate things with too much plot and too many characters, Fury Roadis refreshingly simple. The entire plot – beginning to end – could be summed up and written on the back of a napkin and I mean that in the best possible way. Here’s a film that trims the fat, leaving in the only thing that truly matters: the action. It’s not often that a nihilistic genre film can stand head and shoulders above all the prestige pictures that studios release throughout the year, but when I think of 2015 in film, only two words come to mind: Fury Road. The best film of the year.

Since I’ve never technically reviewed a film from Quentin Tarantino, I should probably start off this review by saying that I’m a huge fan of his work. I know that’s a bit of a cliché, especially for a guy in his twenties, but I truly believe he’s one of the greatest filmmakers working today. I love his characters, his trademark dialogue and his over-the-top violence. If I had to pick one director today whose sensibilities seemingly fall right in line with mine, Mr. Tarantino would be very close to the top of that list.

So it goes without saying that I was eagerly anticipating his 8th film, The Hateful Eight. Tarantino said he planned on cancelling the film after the script leaked in early 2014, but after a successful table read, he decided to once again move forward with the project. It’s a good thing that he did because this film really wowed me. All year I’ve been waiting for a film to come along that blows me away and this is one of the only films that was able to do so. Tarantino’s managed to top his last western, Django Unchained, with a mean, violent and sinister whodunit set in the years after the Civil War. The entire cast brings their unique personalities to memorable characters who effortlessly spout off Tarantino’s trademark dialogue. It’s a film that absolutely oozes his style and will keep audiences guessing until the very end.

A stagecoach creeps past a statue depicting Jesus on the cross as its passengers hurtle towards an inevitably bloody conclusion. Inside the stagecoach is John Ruth (Kurt Russell), a bounty hunter who is transporting known outlaw Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to the town of Red Rock to await execution. As a strong blizzard approached, the stagecoach encounters Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) and newly appointed Sherriff Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), both of whom are seeking refuge from the coming storm. The group ends up at Minnie’s Haberdashery, a small lodge that is also being occupied by a Mexican servant (Demián Bichir), a hangman (Tim Roth), a cowpuncher (Michael Madsen) and a Confederate General (Bruce Dern). But one of these men is holding a secret and it’s enough to turn Minnie’s Haberdashery into a bloodbath.

Split into six different chapters, The Hateful Eight is a long movie that takes its time in telling its story. Like most of Tarantino’s previous works, 90 percent of this film is dialogue and yet it still somehow feels like it’s action-packed from start to finish. Tarantino has a knack for creating intriguing characters that instantly suck you in. From the moment we’re introduced to Ruth, Warren and Domergue, we want to know their stories. The casting in the film is seemingly perfect, with each character actor memorably defining their role. Every line of dialogue that’s delivered adds further depth to these characters, especially when secrets are revealed towards the film’s conclusion.

Other than the first two chapters, the majority of the film takes place entirely inside Minnie’s Haberdashery, allowing the film to feel much more like a single location stage play than a typical western. This works to the film’s benefit because its central mystery is extremely intriguing and the single location setting allows for the audience to experience the paranoia that has seeped into the characters. Along with the general mystery that drives the film forward, Tarantino also has a few other twists up his sleeve that only the luckiest of moviegoers will be able to see coming. As certain secrets and character motivations are revealed, it becomes clear that this is a film that will be viewed entirely differently on a second watch.

I could probably go on and on with all of the things that I loved about this film, but the best thing I can possibly do is shut and up and tell you to see the film for yourself. With the aid of a deliciously sinister score from Ennio Morricone and great cinematography by Robert Richardson, this is Tarantino and his crew firing on all cylinders. Some people may find its mean characters and ridiculous violence to be a turn off, but they’re missing the point. Tarantino is holding up a mirror to humanity and showing us that these racist, hateful murderers might not be that far off from the people we interact with every day. And even if the film provides viewers with a  harsh outlook on humanity, its final moments optimistically suggest that even the most absolute of enemies can one day peacefully find some common ground. Bloody, brutal and an absolute blast, The Hateful Eight proves that even though we may live in a cruel world, it’s still a great time to go to the movies.

The Hateful Eight receives 4/4

 

This past week was very exciting in regards to trailers. We got our first look at Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, The Perks of Being a Wallflower starring Emma Watson, and Disney’s upcoming Wreck-It Ralph. Check out all of this week’s trailers below.

 

Django Unchained

Quentin Tarantino is one of my favorite directors, so my expectations were high in regards to his newest film. After having viewed the trailer, my anticipation for the film has grown even greater. This is truly a Tarantino film, filled with stylized violence and humorous dialogue. The use of a James Brown song in a western may seem like an impossible feat to pull off, but it is the perfect fit for Tarantino. I sincerely hope that he will use more songs like this in the actual film. Performance wise, everybody appears to be doing a great job, but Leonardo DiCaprio is the clear standout. I don’t want to speak too soon, but if his performance is as good in the actual film as it is in the trailer, than we might see him secure his first Oscar win. The film may look a little too similar to Inglorious Basterds, but the plot seems to be a little more straightforward than his previous film. We will all be able to unwrap this entire present, when the film is released this Christmas.

 

 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

I’m a big fan of Emma Watson, so I was looking forward to this film just because she was in it. But I must say that this film actually appears to be fairly interesting. I have not read the book that the film is based on, but I hope to read it before it is released. The performances from the three leads appear to be very good and Emma Watson is as charming as ever. Thanks to the use of the song “It’s Time” by Imagine Dragons, this is a trailer that I cannot get out of my head.

 

 

Wreck-It Ralph

After learning that this film would contain cameos from actual video game characters, I was really looking forward to it. In the trailer, we see appearances from Bowser, a ghost from Pac-Man and a zombie from House of the Dead. While it was cool to see these characters in a movie, the rest of the trailer is pretty awful. They are clearly trying very hard to get kids interested, because the humor in this film is very juvenile. Also, the use of the song “Good Feeling” by Flo Rida feels tacked on and it completely ruins the second half of the trailer. On a positive note, the visuals for the film look very good and John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman appear to give great voice performances. But unless Disney can release a better trailer, my interest in the film has plummeted.

 

 

Flight

I actually didn’t know anything about this film before viewing the trailer, which might be why I enjoyed it so much. I was expecting a bland movie about an airplane, but this film actually looks really good. Denzel Washington appears to be as excellent as he always is and the visuals for the film (particularly in regards to the crash) are astounding. This could be a case of a trailer that is better than the actual film, but hopefully it won’t be. In any case, this is a film that I will be looking forward to.

 

 

Other trailers released this week include 360 and The Babymakers.

 

360

 

 

The Babymakers

 

Quentin Tarantino’s newest film, Django Unchained, is still filming, but some new images for the film have been released online. These images feature Jamie Foxx as the title character, Christoph Waltz as Dr. King Schultz and Leonardo DiCaprio as Calvin Candie, the plantation owner who owns Django’s wife. If the final image is true, Quentin Tarantino also appears to have a supporting role in the film. All of the images are visually satisfying, with the image of Foxx and Waltz on horseback being my personal favorite.

It also appears that the teaser trailer for the film will be shown before Prometheus. While this has not been confirmed, it was tweeted by Variety’s Stuart Oldham. Hopefully this is true, because I have been anticipating this trailer for months.

Django Unchained is scheduled for release this Christmas.

Check out the rest of the new images for Django Unchained below:

For the last five years Eli Roth has managed to keep himself busy without directing a single movie. He starred in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds, had a cameo in the film Piranha 3D, and even produced The Last Exorcism. Now Roth is finally signed on to direct his first film in five years entitled The Green Inferno. Worldview Entertainment has come onto produce the film, with the script being written by Roth and Guillermo Amoedo. Roth had this to say about the film:

“I’ve had an amazing few years producing, writing and acting, and am very excited to get back in the director’s chair. I’ve been working on this idea for several years, and was inspired by filming in Chili and cannot wait to get back. Worldview backs my vision and believe in me, and is giving me the support I need and the freedom to take risks and make something daring and terrifying.”

So far no plot details have been released, but the film has been planned to shoot in Peru and Chile this fall. I have been anticipating Roth’s return to the director’s chair for quite some time now, so I’m pleased to finally hear about what his next film will be. If I had to predict, I would guess that the film will be about a vacation-gone-wrong in the tropical jungles. Eli Roth is an extremely influential horror director, so it will be interesting to see if this film can live up to his past standards. Having been a fan of his previous three films, I plan to follow this story very closely.