Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Snow Screen: The Hateful Eight, The Big Short & The Revenant

What's some holiday weekends without some movies?! After the nearly botched press screening of Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight I attended, it was time for round two at The Arclight in Hollywood in the Cinerama Dome...oh wait, Disney put the kibosh on that as their reported terms were 4 weeks in the biggest house for any theater that wished to exhibit juggernaut Star Wars: The Force Awakens. While that really sucks because 8 was made for the Dome to be projected in 70mm, let's be honest, The Arclight and any other theater is going to make a lot more money from Star Wars and the following 20 sequels and spin offs than they would from Hateful. And Disney is all about making their billions. But we still got 70mm and some killer programs with centerfolds. I was hoping for Kurt Russell and his magnificent mustache but we all ended up with Tim Roth. Like a western take on John Carpenter's arctic set The Thing, Hateful follows a group of colorful and less than savory criminal, sheriff, bounty hunter, former soldier and cowboy types. A terrific cast includes Russell, Samuel L. Jackson, a scene stealing Walton Goggins, Roth, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michael Madsen and quick appearances by Channing Tatum and Zoe Bell. If you like Tarantino, i.e. revenge, lots of cursing, derogatory terms for black people and women, violence, blood and humor, you'll like The Hateful Eight.

Next up it was The Big Short for pre-New Years Eve at the Cinemark in Playa Vista for a star studded telling of the housing meltdown and financial crisis of 2008. Filled with facts, weird hairdos, celebrity cameos and Wall Street lingo, Short is enjoyable and educational while also frustrating and sad as greedy bankers made it happen, weren't punished, got bailed out by your tax dollars and are back to business as usual. I wish Anonymous would target those guys and open things up a bit...Christian Bale dons his American accent as the genius loaner who saw the crash coming then we get Ryan Gosling and Steve Carrell as hedge fund managers who buck the trend and bet against the current to reap billions. Producer Brad Pitt shows up in a small role as a mentor to some young guns while continuing his transformation into Robert Reford. Usually funny guy Adam McKay blends the yuks with facts to break it down for us non-Wall Street types and does well for his first non-Will Ferrell starring directorial effort. Gosling gets a near Pain and Gain moment of greatness when he shouts "I'm jacked to the tits!". For action fans, American Dragons, Street Fighter and Arrow's Byron Mann shows up as a cocky gazillionaire who tells Carrell how it is.

On Saturday it was Alejandro Gonzaelez Inarritu's mountain man revenge tale The Revenant over at The Landmark in a weird theater with couches instead of stadium seating. It seemed like a nice change of pace and a relaxed atmosphere for the nearly 3 hour movie and trailers but by the mid point my neck was sore, I couldn't lay down and no arm rest in the middle meant passing our gallon sized Coke Zero back and forth. An incredibly beautiful as well as brutal film, The Revenant is to be commended for what the cast and crew went through to produce the film. Shooting took nearly a year in snow, ice and freezing rivers and I wondered if anyone got sick or injured. While vistas of nature and scenes of escape and violence were shiver inducing and blood curdling, the actual story of the film played out like a big mash up of Jeremiah Johnson, Gladiator, Dances With Wolves, Man VS Wild, The Punisher and Rambo that made me want to eat the meat of wolves, fish, horse, buffalo, elk, etc. While Leonardo DiCaprio no doubt went through living hell to make the film, I don't think that warrants "acting" merits or awards since you have no speeches or brooding to show off the verbal or physical transformation. Just lots of struggling and pain.

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