Friday, May 27, 2016

Movie Review - The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book (2016)
*viewed in 3D*
Starring Neel Sethi and featuring the voice talent of Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong'o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito, and Christopher Walken
Directed by Jon Favreau

Exquisitely filmed with some of the best integration of computer-generated animation and live action acting I've ever seen, director Jon Favreau's reimagining of Disney's 1967 version of The Jungle Book is stunning to watch.  Unfortunately, it also left me feeling somewhat bored, pondering the notion why Disney feels the need to keep rehashing their prior successes instead of formulating new and original ideas.  Much like last year's Kenneth Branagh adaptation of Cinderella and, to a lesser extent, 2014's Maleficent, the production quality of these recent live action updates is undeniably stellar, but I have to wonder if I'll ever be emotionally moved by them seeing as how I've already seen the animated originals.

We all know the story here -- Mowgli (newcomer Neel Sethi) is a young boy who was somehow abandoned in the jungle and ends up being raised by a pack of wolves led by Akela and Raksha (voiced by Giancarlo Esposito and Lupita Nyong'o).  Thanks to a bit more ominous storyline than in the original animated film, it's decided that Mowgli must be taken to the man village to be raised with other humans.  Panther Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) begins the journey with Mowgli, but they are soon separated at which point the young boy comes across a lazy bear named Baloo (Bill Murray) and a friendship quickly ensues.  With Baloo willing to keep Mowgli company, Mowgli sees no reason to continue on to the man village, but little does he know that the vicious tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) seeks to end the young boy's life.

I'll give the film credit for going darker than the original and giving Mowgli's initial existence in the jungle a bit more of a backstory, but beyond that, the film mirrors very closely to the original in terms of overall plot.  Admittedly, when I reviewed the original, I found it a little episodic and Favreau's version is surprisingly able to solve that issue.  This live action version flows like a more singular piece of material rather than a melange of character meetings.  However, it never gripped me and pulled me in to the story in any way.  There was never any sense of dread for any of the characters nor any sense of excitement because I knew where the story was heading.

Young Neel Sethi deserves a lot of credit.  As the only speaking live-action human in the cast, he more than captivates and holds our attention.  His comedic timing is spot on and considering he stars with a cast of all computer animated creatures, his acting ability deserves commendation.  The voice cast is also stellar.  I loved the mellifluous slyness of George Sanders' vocalization of Shere Khan in the original, but Idris Elba's menacing anger in this updated version may win out for me in the end.  Similarly, Bill Murray as Baloo and Ben Kingsley as Bagheera strike a nice balance of paying a bit of homage to the original vocals while also crafting their own tones.  However, by the time Christopher Walken's King Louie comes into the picture, I found myself shrugging my shoulders and not really caring because I knew exactly what the end result was going to be at the end of the scene.

Admittedly, I find myself in a bit of a conundrum with 2016's The Jungle Book.  I think it's a better movie than the original and the special effects are incredibly realistic, but I also find myself oddly detached from the proceedings in the update because the story is too similar.  Therein lies the problem with these recent Disney updates.  Although they may be well-crafted, they lack any emotional oomph because they don't do enough to reinvigorate or reimagine the stories we know so well.  Maybe my mind will change when next year's reimagining of Beauty and the Beast comes out...but I will not get my hopes up in the slightest.  As for this version of The Jungle Book, it's certainly good, but perhaps it'd be better if you were completely unfamiliar with the Disney source material.

The RyMickey Rating:  B-

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Movie Review - Love

Love (2015)
Starring Karl Glusman, Aomi Muyock, and Klara Kristin
Directed by Gaspar Noé
***This film is currently streaming on Netflix***

What exactly makes a movie "porn?"  Is it actual non-simulated sex onscreen?  Because if that's the case, Netflix is totally allowing the public to access porn via its streaming service with the movie Love, a flick by odd auteur Garpar Noé whose two previous films I've seen -- Enter the Void and Irrréversible -- place sex front and center in both positive and negative lights.  Love certainly doesn't change that emphasis as this lengthy flick -- clocking in at over two hours - takes a minimal story and amps it up by depicting real sex amongst his actors.  Love actually works for about an hour or so, but then the lack of story really begins to rear its ugly head (ugh...I guess that could be a sexual pun if you so wish) and all we're left with is sex.

And don't get me wrong -- the sex here is filmed in quite an exquisite manner.  Noé knows eroticism, I'll give him that.  But when the nudity is stripped away, the tale of Murphy (Karl Glusman), an American twentysomething living in Paris, is bland.  An aspiring director (because that allows his character to be pretentious by talking about "great" films and their effect on his life), Murphy has fallen for Electra (Aomi Muyock), a French artist, and in order to spice up their love life, they decide to invite their new neighbor Omi (Klara Kristin) to join them for a threesome.  After a very successful ménage à trois, Murphy gets a little overexcited while Electra is out of town and a subsequent one-on-one encounter with Omi leaves her pregnant.  What's an a-hole like Murphy to do?

Told almost entirely in flashback with the bookends of Murphy dealing with the fact that he's a father to his and Omi's newborn son, Love simply doesn't have the story to cultivate interest.  Once we grow acclimated to the risqué sex (which happens about an hour in after the admittedly engaging sexual trio sequence), there's nothing here.  I read an article in which Noé stated that he wanted Love to be like a musical -- in a musical you're always waiting for the next song to come around and here you're always waiting for the sex.  That's all well and good, but in a musical, the songs forward the purpose of the story.  Here, the sex rarely does that.  Sure, there are a few scenes that give us a glimpse into the inevitability of the tortured relationship between Murphy and Elektra, but those moments are few and far between.

The main cast is unsurprisingly made up of relative newcomers and it often shows.  Klara Kristin fares the best, but her role of Omi is unfortunately featured the least.  Karl Glusman is passable as Murphy, but about halfway through the film his character gradually begins to become an unwatchable pompous prick and any interest that the audience had in him begins to disintegrate.  Aomi Muyock undoubtedly fares the worst.  In her more quiet moments with her character, she's actually moderately successful, but when she's asked to be angry or upset, she's laughable.  It's in those moments where the audience should've felt some connection and sympathy for her, but instead Muyock is completely unable to draw us in to her character's plight.

Gaspar Noé is an intriguing director.  That said, I think he's the kind of guy who thinks his films are more cinematically important than they really are.  Quite frankly, if you take away the sex from Love, there's absolutely nothing here so any purported idea of importance is hogwash.  He can certainly film a sex scene, but his concept of story here is decidedly limp.

The RyMickey Rating:  C-

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Movie Review - I Smile Back

I Smile Back (2015)
Starring Sarah Silverman, Josh Charles, Skylar Gaertner, Shayne Coleman, and Thomas Sadoski
Directed by Adam Salky
***This film is currently available on Amazon Prime***

Very rarely will you ever see me write that I wish a film would've been longer, but that's the case with I Smile Back, a captivating look the addictions (drug, alcohol, sexual) facing a suburban mother who desperately wants to get better, but struggles to succeed.  Comedian Sarah Silverman takes on a hefty dramatic role as Laney Brooks, a married mom of two whose typical day may include dropping her kids off at school and then driving the minivan to a hotel room for a tryst with her lover who also happens to supply with her with cocaine and prescription meds.  Sounds like a blast, huh?

In the first screenplay by writer Paige Dylan, we get a nicely rounded character in Laney as both the director Adam Salky and actress Silverman herself add depth to the well-written role.  When the film focuses on Laney, it's entirely successful.  Unfortunately, as we branch out to other characters -- particularly when Laney spends time with her children -- some of the dialog feels trite and some of the scenes seem ill-conceived and never really pay off with any dramatic emphasis.  While I understand the importance of showing Laney's downward spiral and how it affects her relationship with her kids, I never found myself latching on to this aspect of the story in a meaningful way and quite frankly, considering the subject matter of a mother going off the deep end, I should've.

However, overall, this is an indie movie that proves to be an unflinching look at addiction.  As mentioned, although I wanted the film to go on (which is certainly a credit to the screenwriter, director, and lead actress), the film ends on a note that causes the viewer to really ponder Laney's past and future journeys.  Silverman (nominated for a Screen Actor's Guild award for Best Actress) is captivating and engaging, showcasing that she definitely has the dramatic chops to tackle a role like this.  Here's hoping we see more of this in her future.  As for the film itself, it's well worth 85 minutes of your time and while it may have a few problems, its positives undoubtedly outweigh its negatives.

The RyMickey Rating:  B

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Movie Review - Macbeth

Macbeth (2015)
Starring Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Paddy Considine, David Thewlis, and Sean Harris
Directed by Justin Kurzel
***This film is currently available on Amazon Prime***

I've always said that you have to be in the mood to watch Shakespeare and I thought I was when I started director Justin Kurzel's iteration of Macbeth...but the heaviness and gloom combined with whispered and sometimes unintelligible dialog (which is never a good thing in a Shakespearean adaptation since the Bard's words are sometimes difficult to grasp) make this adaptation quite a slog.  Truth be told, Macbeth isn't one of my favorite Shakespeare dramas so that may have something to do with my displeasure here, but I had hoped that this cinematic piece would've enlightened me a little bit into Shakespeare's tale of a good guy turned very bad and with one exception that simply isn't the case in the slightest.

Quite frankly, the storyline here, particularly at the beginning, is incomprehensible.  If this were one's first venture into Macbeth, you could never be admonished for not understanding what in the hell is going on.  The heavy Scottish accents, mumbled words, and whispered verse are difficult with which to acclimate oneself.  I tried for forty minutes, but then had to give in and turn on the subtitles -- oh, well.  About an hour in once our title character (played by Michael Fassbender) really takes control of the fiefdom and his wife (Marion Cotillard) begins to recognize the monstrous man she's created, I began to gain interest, but it was too little too late as the dour heaviness of the production just weighs down any modicum of interest.

What the film does do right in terms of the story -- and the few times that the otherwise unemotional and cold Fassbender and Cotillard really shine -- is showcasing the impact that the loss of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth's infant son had on them.  The film's most powerful moments revolve around paternity and lineage, and my eyes are actually newly opened to this aspect in Shakespeare's work.  Kudos in that regard to Justin Kurzel, but while his film contains some beautiful stark cinematography which is admirably shot, that aforementioned dirge-like atmosphere never ends.  The bleak and dismal environment isn't the least bit entertaining or captivating and makes this Macbeth an aggravating failure.

The RyMickey Rating:  D 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Movie Review - American Ultra

American Ultra (2015)
Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Topher Grace, Connie Britton, Walton Goggins, John Leguizamo, Tony Hale, and Bill Pullman
Directed by Nima Nourizadeh

I recorded American Ultra on the DVR during a free preview weekend of some pay cable network and before watching it, I deleted it.  Did I really wanna watch a movie whose main character is a stoner pot smoker?  In the opening minutes, Jesse Eisenberg's Mike Howell and Kristen Stewart's Phoebe Larson must've lit up at least five times.  Longtime blog readers know that I'm not a huge fan of drugs mixing with comedy -- I just feel it's an easy, cheap way to elicit laughs -- so I actually deleted the film.  For some reason, though, I decided to restore it to my DVR and give it a go -- and I'm glad I did.  American Ultra isn't going to set the world on fire, but its ultra-violent premise yielded enough laughs (in a non-drug-centric manner) and a clever, well-acted story that I found myself pleasantly surprised.

Mike is a convenience store clerk who, when not smoking pot, spends his free time hanging out with his girlfriend Phoebe and writing a comic book about a heroic ape.  One evening, Mike is approached at the store by a strange although very put-together and sophisticated woman (Connie Britton) who begins babbling some nonsensical words to him.  Mike shrugs off the exchange, but minutes later when he's jumped by two guys, Mike goes into violent beast mode, attacking and killing the duo with ease.  Mike slowly begins to realize that he may have been programmed by the government to commit such crimes and now that he's been "activated," some government officials may want him dead.

Moving along at a rather rapid clip, American Ultra smartly doesn't overstay its welcome because its entire story is essentially summed up in that aforementioned paragraph.  Without a huge amount of plot, we're instead treated to incredibly violent set pieces that are played for laughs -- a tricky balance to achieve, but executed successfully for the most part by relative newcomer director Nima Nourizadeh.  Tarantino-level in their graphicness, the violence is undoubtedly over-the-top and at times unbelievable, but the film is able to cleverly get the audience to embrace the insanity because the flick's main character can't believe what he's seeing either.  Stoner Mike's expert combat techniques are just as incomprehensible to him as they are to us in the audience so that surprisingly immediately connects us to the character and allows us to "accept" the elevated violence because we're on the same page as Mike.

Eisenberg and Stewart are a nice match for one another, although neither lights the world on fire here.  They're both a bit too monotone throughout for my liking, but that's really their acting style most of the time, I've always felt.  The supporting cast of Connie Britton and Topher Grace as CIA agents respectively for and against Mike are enjoyable, bringing some additional laughs to the flick.  My review may be slightly overpraising American Ultra which is by no means exceptional, but it was a bit of a surprise for me.  Certainly not for everyone, the flick is much better than I ever expected.

The RyMickey Rating:  B-

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Movie Review - The Keeping Room

The Keeping Room (2015)
Starring Brit Marling, Hailee Steinfeld, Muna Otaru, Kyle Soller, and Sam Worthington
Directed by Daniel Barber
***This film is currently streaming on Netflix***

As the Civil War is nearing its end, three women -- two sisters Augusta and Louise (Brit Maling and Hailee Steinfeld) and their slave Mad (Muna Otaru) -- find themselves surviving, but struggling to keep their small family estate alive and well after they receive word that their father has been killed in the war.  Things take a turn for the worse when two Union soldiers (Sam Worthington and Kyle Soller) break away from their regiment and head out on a vigilante rampage, running rampant across the countryside killing, raping, and looting.  When the soldiers attempt to ransack Augusta and Louise's property, the three women won't back down, doing all they can to stop the two men from succeeding in their vicious aspirations.

The Keeping Room opens with a heartbreakingly, grippingly violent opening scene that sets the tone for what is to come and while director Daniel Barber and debut screenwriter Julia Hart's film can't quite live up to the power that occurs during those initial moments, there's an interesting premise here even if it isn't always executed to its fullest potential.  Ultimately, The Keeping Room is a little too filled with silences and three ladies staring off into the countryside to really maintain its momentum, but at its crux this tells a story from a unique perspective that isn't often seen.

It's a bit unfortunate, as well, that its trio of ladies is a little uneven in terms of fully embodying the grit and determination needed for their characters.  Most successful is Muna Otaru in her first starring film role, but part of her ability to shine lies in some nice monologues concerning slavery that aren't particularly afforded the other women.  Least successful is Hailee Steinfeld whom I often like, but here she never quite grasps the Southern drawl (a little surprising seeing as how she was great in True Grit) and her Louise is the least fleshed out of all the characters.  Similarly, Brit Marling seems to waver in her accent as well, but Marling always has me wavering myself as to whether I like her or find her disappointing as an actress.  There's something natural about her that I appreciate, but sometimes when she's asked to really emote, I'm left feeling empty -- that doesn't just apply for this movie, but for many I've seen her in.  Somehow, though, Marling is captivating as the lead so she continues to befuddle me a bit.

With a little more experience behind the camera (this is only director Barber's second film) and on the screenplay, The Keeping Room had the potential of being something truly special.  While it unfortunately doesn't quite excel, it still works as a film, giving us a believable story from a perspective that feels original.

The RyMickey Rating:  B-

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Movie Review - Irrational Man

Irrational Man (2015)
Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Stone, Parker Posey, and Jamie Blackley
Directed by Woody Allen

No one will ever mistake Irrational Man for being one of Woody Allen's masterpieces, but it's certainly not one of his disasters.  A middle-of-the-road dramedy, Irrational Man is Allen's somewhat comedic take on Alfred Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train.  Here, troubled college philosophy professor Abe Lucas (Joaquin Phoenix) moves to a new university to begin teaching a summer session where he meets engaging graduate student Jill Pollard (Emma Stone).  Although Jill is dating fellow student Roy (Jamie Blackley), she immediately falls for Abe's intelligence and what she perceives as power despite the fact that Abe himself is facing internal strife and what he believes to be an existential crisis.  While Abe doesn't initially return Jill's affections, one afternoon while lunching at a diner, the two overhear a woman desperately complaining to her friends about the unfair judge presiding over the custody hearing concerning her children.  Upon hearing this, Abe thinks that helping this woman whom he doesn't even know may be the key to getting him out of his funk.  And how should he help the woman?  What about carrying out the perfect crime (seeing as how there is zero connection between Abe and this unknown woman) by killing the judge presiding over her custody hearing?

Therein is the Hitchcockian spin in Allen's latest feature film which, when it occurs about halfway through, lifts the flick up from a bit of a slow, predictable start.  Phoenix fits right in to the Woody Allen landscape with his downtrodden professor a perfect match for the actor himself who is quite adept at playing depressed men with a bit of anxiety.  (It wouldn't be a Woody Allen film without anxiety creeping in, right?)  While Emma Stone's Jill doesn't stretch the actress in any way, it's a much better character than her somewhat over-the-top role as a kooky psychic in Allen's last feature Magic in the Moonlight.  In fact, everything about Irrational Man is better than that prior feature, despite the fact that this flick, as mentioned, takes a little while to actually get to the meat of its story.  While Phoenix and Stone certainly try to make their relationship patter click in the film's first half, it really doesn't end up mattering much to the overall story which is no fault of the two actors.  Still, Irrational Man falls into the upper half of the Woody Allen flicks I've seen in terms of quality and story, and, while not perfect, creates an engaging atmosphere that comes into its own as the film progresses.

The RyMickey Rating:  B-

Friday, May 20, 2016

Movie Review - Self/less

Self/less (2015)
Starring Ryan Reynolds, Natalie Martinez, Matthew Goode, Victor Garber, Derek Luke, Michelle Dockery, Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen, and Ben Kingsley
Directed by Tarsem Singh

When the aging billionaire Damian Hale (Ben Kingsley) is diagnosed with terminal cancer, his wealth permits him to meet up with a scientifically creative professor named Albright (Matthew Goode) who has created a procedure called "shedding" wherein one's thoughts, consciousness, and "mental past" is transferred into the body of a younger, healthier body.  Hale agrees to the procedure which is successful as Hale's consciousness is placed into that of a younger man (Ryan Reynolds).  As the new "Hale" starts a new life, he begins to have flashbacks involving a woman (Natalie Martinez) and her young daughter (Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen) whom he never knew.

Who exactly are these two females and why "Hale" is envisioning them are the questions at the center of director Tarsem Singh's Self/less (yes, that '/' is ridiculously part of the title for some reason) which isn't nearly as confusing as that summary may make it sound.  Unfortunately, the premise despite being slightly original feels tired because the screenplay and direction are rote and generic, unable to capture the genuine interest of the audience.  Ryan Reynolds is fine and he, at the very least, makes the flick watchable.  However, Matthew Goode (whom I typically like) is given a role that feels incredibly cookie cutter -- and whose character's motivations are obvious from the get-go.  Also unfortunate, Reynolds shares many a scene with Natalie Martinez, a model-turned-actress who I've seen in a few things now (including an entire season of the tv show Secrets and Lies) and am convinced she can't effectively emote onscreen.  Over-the-top, not believable in the slightest, and oftentimes painful to watch, I don't quite know why she's getting jobs in the entertainment industry.  Maybe she'll grow as an actress, but right now I'm not enjoying what she brings to the table.

Self/less actually isn't quite as painful as this review may make it out to be, but it's certainly not all that entertaining.  It's a bit too much of a slog to sit through in order to make it be considered even average.

The RyMickey Rating:  C-

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Movie Review - The Forger

The Forger (2015)
Starring John Travolta, Christopher Plummer, Tye Sheridan, Abigail Spencer, Anson Mount, and Jennifer Ehle
Directed by Philip Martin

While I'd never find myself urging anyone to go rent The Forger, this little drama/heist flick isn't nearly as bad as its extremely minimal theatrical release indicates.  John Travolta is Raymond Cutter, a con man who strikes a deal with a criminal (Anson Mount) in order to get released early from prison so he can be with his son Will (Tye Sheridan) who has been diagnosed with an inoperable malignant brain tumor.  As a stipulation to his release, Raymond -- a talented artist -- must forge a painting by Monet and then take part in an operation to steal the original from a Boston library.

I will admit that as I typed out that summary, it almost seems a little laughable, formulaic, and overly melodramatic.  And perhaps The Forger is all those things, but I was surprised that I didn't dislike it as much as I thought I would.  (That's a ringing endorsement, huh?)  Travolta is fine throughout, but he comes alive in scenes involving the young Sheridan (also quite good) and the charismatic Christopher Plummer who plays Raymond's father.  The trio of actors make The Forger an enjoyable quick watch.  Now, is this little known film going to set the world on fire as a sleeper hit in years to come?  Not in the slightest, but should it perchance pop up on any streaming entity in the near future, believe me when I say you could do far worse.

The RyMickey Rating:  C+

Monday, May 16, 2016

Movie Review - The Hateful Eight

The Hateful Eight (2015)
Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demian Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, and Channing Tatum
Directed by Quentin Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino movies piss me off...and I mean that in the nicest way possible.

As I sit and watch them (with the exception of Kill Bill which I admittedly haven't watched in a while), I often find myself cursing the writer-director for being so loquacious, adding scenes that seemingly do little to advance the plot except to showcase his (only sometimes) brilliant ear for dialog.  But by the time most of the conclusions to his films roll around, I end up giving him a pass on the preceding verboseness because he manages to tie things up on such a clever note.  Such is the case with The Hateful Eight - a nearly three-hour epic that features an awful lot of talking, very minimal sets, and a group of essentially eight actors who carry the film very adequately on their shoulders doing Tarantino's Western-Agatha Christie And Then There Were None mash-up justice.

In his eighth film as a director, The Hateful Eight unfolds across six chapters detailing how a group of people end up seeking refuge at Minnie's Haberdashery in Wyoming during a horrible blizzard in the time shortly after the Civil War concludes.  Arriving just before the snowstorm really hits is John Ruth (Kurt Russell), a bounty hunter, who has the elusive Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) in tow ready to reap his reward upon delivering her to the authorities in Red Rock.  Ruth arrives at Minnie's with Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) - a Union major in the Civil War - and Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins) - the newly appointed sheriff of Red Rock.  Pent up at Minnie's already are four men whom are immediately distrusted -- Bob (Demian Bichir), a Mexican who claims he's working for Minnie who has left to see her sister several miles away; Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), an Englishman who is also a hangman; Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), a cowboy just passing through; and Sanford Smithers (Bruce Dern), a Confederate general.  With a large bounty on the head of Daisy, John Ruth questions his safety and perhaps he is justified.  As the night unfurls, secrets and motivations are revealed as one by one people begin to bite the dust.

There's no doubting that The Hateful Eight moves at a slow pace -- many of the reviews and personal comments I heard from people stated that "nothing happens" until the last hour.  While it's certainly true in that there's not much plot per se in the film's first half, there is a sense of character building that I must admit is Tarantino's forte.  We get a real sense of who these characters are by the dialog they speak and their interactions with others.  Yes, it's true that the characters present are racist misogynists (of which there was much hoopla upon the film's release), but that's Tarantino's modus operandi across his last three films (for better or worse).  And, admittedly, that's part of the reason for my first sentence of this review in that I can't help but think that Tarantino sticks too closely to what has worked for him in the past -- films broken up into chapters; films told out of order or with massive flashbacks; brash language; insanely rough violence; characters all cut from the same cloth in terms of personality -- rather than branching off in unexpected directions.  Kudos to him for finding a niche that works and sticking to it, but I do long for something new and fresh from the guy.  However, The Hateful Eight works so maybe I should just let him do what he does.

As far as the small cast, most successful at settling into their characters are Jennifer Jason Leigh (Oscar-nominated for her role) and Kurt Russell taking center stage in a film for the first time in a long time which this reviewer found to be a bit of a pleasure.  Leigh and Russell have a lot of interactions with one another and right off the bat the two click with Leigh portraying the tough as nails criminal and Russell playing the tough as nails bounty hunter, neither liking each other, but quite literally linked together by chains.  Samuel L. Jackson is certainly entertaining and a captivating entity, but he's the only one of the group that feels as if he was transplanted from a more modern time into the past.  He doesn't necessarily take us out of the era, but his character never quite clicks realistically.

The Hateful Eight will never be a film for everyone -- it's undoubtedly a Tarantino film and if they're not your cup of tea, this will not be for you either.  Yes, it's too long and that harms it, but it's definitely on par with the director's efforts as of late which have all been quality flicks that would all fare a little better if an editor tried to trim things a little more.

The RyMickey Rating:  B