Monday, February 29, 2016

Hitchcock / Truffaut (2015)

Being literal-minded, I halfway expected this documentary to be reenactments of passages from the book first published in 1966, which was composed of a memorable and influential series of interviews conducted by Francois Truffaut in 1962 of Alfred Hitchcock. Well, this movie is about the book, but mostly only as an excuse for director, cowriter, and film maven Kent Jones to work up wonderful appreciations of their work as filmmakers (mostly Hitchcock). My favorite parts were the long sections on Vertigo and Psycho, carried by an army of usual-suspects talking heads: Martin Scorsese, Peter Bogdanovich, Olivier Assayas, Richard Linklater, David Fincher, Paul Schrader, etc., etc. I loved it, especially on Vertigo, where it affirms for me again how strange and powerful that particular movie is—how hard it is even to describe what it is. A woman's picture? This documentary sets up a wonderful clip of the Vertigo reveal shot, glowing in the green of the hotel's neon sign, and it's fun to feel like you're seeing it in the company of people at least as gobsmacked. There are clips from all eras of Hitchcock pictures, from the silent and early talkies into his late failures. It's essay filmmaking in my favorite form—about filmmaking. The clips are great, nicely picked and used. The interview subjects are great too, sympathetic and knowledgeable. The Truffaut book and connection is interesting as well. There are some nice clips from The 400 Blows and other Truffaut pictures. There's also audio from the week-long interview sessions, which were conducted via a translator. All-day sessions must mean there are hours of audio. What we hear is often through the muddled filter of both subtitles and the translator. Reviewing it all must have been a herculean task, though it's exciting to hear both of their recognizable voices. The audio clips tend to be overly set up with heartwarming tales of the connection and lasting bond between the two (which at least have the advantage of being apparently true). Sometimes it starts to feel like a celebration at one remove—a celebration of Truffaut's celebration of Hitchcock—and sometimes it tramples Truffaut a little getting to Hitchcock. That's probably the way it should be, and a straightforward appreciation of Hitchcock might not have had as much of a pitch intrigue for producers as something to do with the book: the friendship that came of the interview, the sad proximity of their deaths, only four years apart, though Truffaut was a much younger man, their shared preoccupations with movies and moviemaking. Well, why not? I'll take those good sections any way I can get them because they're just about perfect. It also does a nice job on some of the Hitchcock titles from the '30s, such as the original Man Who Knew Too Much, which this picture calls the first true Hitchcock movie. There's also a nice discussion of The Wrong Man, another strong outing from the '50s. This is a great show.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

"A Bottle of Milk for Mother" (1941)

Read story by Nelson Algren online.

Nelson Algren's 1941 O. Henry Award nominee is something of a one-trick pony—all flinty Chicago mobster slang, featuring a police interview of one Bruno "Lefty" Bicek concerning a robbery and shooting death. "A Bottle of Milk for Mother" (the title refers to Lefty's attempt at an alibi) can get so heavy on the Chicago wiseguy dialect that it's easy to bog down parsing what is being said in the dialogue passages. That's annoying—dialect is notoriously difficult to do well, as there's a necessary tension between the accuracy of the rendering and the clarity of its meaning. Algren's attempt is not bad. I've seen worse, and it does bring the Chicago flavor. But in general the story is so dated as to read as quaint, or "colorful." It hinges most on the shock of the naturalistic Chicago cops and criminals of the Depression era, the sight of them in their environs, interacting. The cops are cynical and corrupt. Lefty is brutal and dim. Hard street life scenes are dropped in all over: Lefty's life is about accepting the conditions or escaping them. He attempted first to escape them, as a reasonably talented boxer and baseball player, but now he's leaning more toward accepting them. That involves a life of crime one way or another. In the back and forth of the police interview, the cops finally corner Lefty and he realizes he's going to take the fall for the crime, which he probably did, we see by the evidence presented. The last line of the story poignantly underlines both the motivation to escape and the acceptance of the conditions: "'I knew I'd never get to twenty-one anyhow,' Lefty told himself softly at last." Yes, it's tragic, but equally bad and worse things happen now, and I'm left mostly unmoved. There's just not enough going on beyond the Chicago trappings, which are the featured attraction in this story but no longer read as vividly as I'm sure they once did. To my jaded contemporary ears it comes off more like Damon Runyon than perpetual human tragedy. In this case, for better or worse, the "colorful" swamps the "human." I have a lot of regard for Nelson Algren. He's one of those writers whose reputation intrigues me and I've always meant to read more, beyond a handful or so of his stories over the years. What always appeals to me are the moods and tones, the gritty city scenes and the plain way they are described. But he has also seemed hit and miss in my limited experience. "A Bottle of Milk for Mother" is more of a miss for me.

Short Story Masterpieces, ed. Robert Penn Warren and Albert Erskine

The Neon Wilderness by Nelson Algren

Saturday, February 27, 2016

No More Shall We Part (2001)

Nick Cave's wedding album almost certainly has more to do with recovery from heroin addiction and alcoholism than with marriage, but that's OK. It works either way. "The contracts are drawn up, / The ring is locked upon the finger": whether he's talking about marital bliss, or a lifetime of sobriety charms, or both, it has the mournful yet profoundly gratifying sound of accepting responsibility. Its many layers are self-contradictory. Every time he uses a term like "no more shall we part," for example, all I hear is longing, sorrow, and absence. Maturity is a terrible price to pay for growing up, they like to crack at places where a guy like Nick Cave finds help (or maybe not: "goose-stepping twelve-stepping tee-totalitarianists," he erupts in an out-of-context pique at one point). You feel the rue in every song here. The sense of regretful wisdom hangs over it like swamp gas. But it's not all sorrow, or even mostly sorrow. It's tempered by real joy, compressed into the labors of simply producing it. The band is in an undeniable state of grace. The faith glows in the commitment to doing it. In practical terms, it's heard in the careful way the parts of the songs are worked out, and the way they're played. They're tentative, feeling their way through the moods of the lyrics, landing on riffs and hooks and good sounds that resonate. The McGarrigle singers, Kate and Anna, appear in the role of chick singers, and they are a heavenly presence. In one song a single note is struck on the piano repeatedly, finally rousing the band to the point, like a wire walker hundreds of feet in the air and no net, taking one step at a time. The singer here, the married man, would not have it any other way, I suspect—marriage is a type of high wire act—and I also suspect he's a bit like the songwriter, Nick Cave. With "the Lord" addressed so frequently, there's an ancient feeling about all this (or at least medieval) that tempts characterizations such as "Calvinist." You feel the tortured faith in it, or at least in the performance of it, the near-nihilism of a belief in predestination and its result in craven empty yearning for grace. "God is in the house," he sings in another song. "No cause for worry now." There he goes again. It sounds like worry is all he has.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

My Tiny Life (1998)

I found the receipt from my purchase of this book inside it when I finally opened it up to read it recently, dating back to 1999. Reading the book quickly reminded me why I had put it off so long. It vividly brings back my own memories and experiences with that strange and wonderful and terrible place known as LambdaMOO. My time on it lagged author Julian Dibbell's by two or three years (so it's unlikely I ever encountered him, though you met so many people there then), but otherwise the parallels are uncanny. It's hard to know what anyone encountering it now for the first time would think—about the book, I mean, which trucks heavily with "VR" (virtual reality, not the goggles type) and "RL" (real life) and the heady way it all developed in the narrow few years before the World Wide Web and ever-cheaper, ever-smaller more powerful computers swamped it. It seems a little quaint now, if not positively antiquated, which I'm sure it is. That's where my experience is making it hard to judge—though I still think the issues raised on LambdaMOO, and in this very good book, have not yet been dealt with adequately, or really much at all, and we'll have to one day. But I could be wrong, and in any event have learned to live with it that way, as something that happened in the past. In fact, Dibbell's slightly pained bittersweet melancholy about it, and his forthright sense that, whatever it was, it was (and is) important, also matches my view. Whatever it was: whether it was the surprisingly immersive quality of the experience—whether it was something for people with a certain affinity for text and narrative—whether it was the strange politics and battles that ensued—or whether it was the cybersex—it's still hard to know exactly what happened there. I briefly longed to revisit the place I ultimately abandoned (and all my possessions too), which at the end of this book published in 1998 Dibbell still had not done. I poked around a little on the Internet and found LambdaMOO is still online, still accessed via telnet, but I immediately ran into technical difficulties attempting to get back there, which I took as sign to just leave it alone. As for My Tiny Life, I think it's good enough that it's worth looking into even for someone who has never heard of MUDs, MOOs, or MUCKs. Certainly if you have you'll want to read it, though I think it's possible at this late date that I'm the very last one getting to it. As memoir, as sociology, as freak show, it's perfectly goddam splendid.

In case it's not at the library.

Friday, February 19, 2016

I Am Trying to Break Your Heart (2002)

USA, 92 minutes, documentary
Director: Sam Jones
Photography: Matthew Clark, Dave Colitre, Matthew J. Curry, Paul Hughen, Sam Jones, Joe Kessler, Dan Larkin, Jim Matlosz, Keith Pokorski, David Rudd, Alan Thatcher
Music: Wilco
Editor: Erin Nordstrom
With: Jeff Tweedy, John Stirratt, Glenn Kotche, Jay Bennett, Leroy Bach

As seems to happen so often in the history of making documentaries, a bunch of fortuitous stuff happened shortly after filmmaker Sam Jones turned on his many cameras for this strangely haunting rockumentary about alternative rock band Wilco and their album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. First, poised on the verge of commercial breakthrough (albeit poised in that position for approximately the previous four years), the band's record label unceremoniously dropped them on receiving the album. That wasn't supposed to happen—this movie was probably intended to be about the commercial breakthrough. And then relations with one member of the band, Jay Bennett, imploded, and he was kicked out. That wasn't supposed to happen either.

It says something about the weird power of this compact black and white picture that these incidents, which in the normal course of things would have to count as something like "documentary gold," are instead the least of it, in terms of surprise or news value anyway. They even look a little like convenient scripted turns of event, for how neatly they are tied off and resolved by the end. It's not the music either, which has alternately thrilled me (when I first saw it) and sometimes (more recently) kind of embarrassed me for its diligent underachievement. On balance, I'd have to say I like the music a fair amount, though it is also a matter of mood. You have to have a taste for the kind of skronky, druggy exercises they indulge to "deconstruct" their workaday alt-country fare, not to mention for the workaday alt-country fare itself. No, I think it's something else that's getting to me here.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Brooklyn (2015)

I don't know director John Crowley, but I know a few things by screenwriter Nick Hornby, and I noticed the title of this one, so I had some idea what I was in for with this very sweet story about a young Irish woman emigrating to the US in the early 1950s. It's little more or less than a romantic comedy, but for once the emphasis is on romance, not comedy. Brooklyn takes its time working up to its highs, and for the most part plays fair with its swooning romantic impulses. The main character, Eilis, is barely in her 20s. She's played by a wonderfully composed Saoirse Ronan, late of The Grand Budapest Hotel and Hanna. Eilis longs to escape the oppressive town she was raised in, but finds herself overwhelmed by homesickness after she's crossed the ocean and been in New York a short while. She works as a clerk in a department store. She lives in a boarding house. She meets someone and falls in love. Then her sister unexpectedly dies and she must return to Ireland, which seems a different place to her, and worse than ever. I feel so trained by the movies that I kept waiting for something awful to happen, but this is not that kind of movie. It takes advantage of its setting in the past to make the implicit case for Better and More Innocent Times, which I have to count a little against it. It can be altogether too smug about its midcentury New York nostalgia, but more often it's a barbed nostalgia. It doesn't make the past look like a place I'd like to live. There's a lot of good period detail to the production, but the best parts were watching Eilis make the transitions of growing and changing in her mind. She's painfully introverted, but proud and capable, able to impose her will in nearly any situation. It's a time of stricter sexual codes, meaning all repressed all the time. More interesting to me, and possibly related, are things like table manners, which impressed me any time anyone sat down to eat, and there are many dinner scenes in this. Brooklyn is a romance on many levels, a boy-meets-girl story and also a story about escaping the limitations of a past and going places where anything is possible. It's heartwarming in a way that's not cheap, but also by-the-numbers and somewhat predictable. It's worth seeing for a nice quiet cry. I wouldn't think of steering you away from it.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Tragic Muse (1890)

Henry James was in his early 40s when he wrote The Tragic Muse, which is also when he seriously made an attempt at a career in theater, producing and writing plays. Those two factors may help explain the overarching theme of this long and shaggy novel, which appears to be about making the commitment to the bohemian lifestyle, as an artist. The two main narrative threads concern one character who can't decide between a career as a politician or as a painter—portrait painter, to be specific—and a young actress who may or may not be preternaturally talented, but is definitely taking the London theater world by storm. Round and round they go in their frolicsome agonies. This being Henry James, most of the action comes cloaked in a mantle of the novel of manners, by which I mean the main concern here, above anything else, is who is going to end up married to whom. He didn't seem to have the imagination to conceive his stories any other way, for better or worse. It's strange (and something of a loss) because the issues around the career decisions James raises here are real and consequential—obviously for himself as much as any reader, though not often involving the privileged classes quite this way, I suspect. Or, if they do, I don't care, because I don't particularly care whether someone in line for an ambassadorship would hurt himself by taking an actress as a wife. Even if James was genuinely a student of theater, as I'm sure he was, he always cared very much about the upper classes, so here we are. From our remove of more than a century it's hard for me to take much of this as believable. Particularly when it is continually stuffed back into the box of how will the marriages sort out. That said, I was often entertained and mostly satisfied by the stories of who ended up together—for the most part they were neatly done. And, on an even more abstract level, I often find reading James a kind of comfort, even with his rambling overdeveloped sentences and lack of human insight in many areas. It's not like he's completely without insight. And his dedication to the craft, even when it goes somewhat off the rails, as here, is always worthy of esteem, as he might say. In terms of the plot points, however, there's even more than usual for James a lot of magic wand waving for overstated purposes. At one point a character here gets on a boat in Central America and travels weeks and months to arrive just as the curtain is going up on a new show. Really, he had it timed so precisely? But you forgive these ridiculous conceits because you're glad he could make the show, and that means you care about the characters, so no matter what else, on some level, James has done his job.

"interlocutor" count = 9 / 812 pages

In case it's not at the library.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit (2015)

I've liked Courtney Barnett's music since the first time I heard it—she's one of those acts that wins you right over. You're not even sure what it's about but you're already sold. Even so, I'm not always convinced I like it for the right reasons. People seem to talk a lot about her lyrics and words, which, indeed, upon close examination, are thoughtfully weird, neurotic in a kind of calculated way, a pastiche of vivid and colorful fragments, and seemingly piped out of regions of the unconscious. They occupy their place well in a song, giving it a natural focus. She sounds smart because she sounds literate, and she sounds literate because she uses unusual and surprising words, making up strange tales out of tumbles of words. She loves words, perhaps her most obvious connection to Bob Dylan—she used 10 of them for the title of her album, when most are happy with a handful or fewer. But a point made by David Byrne (of all people) might apply here: "At times words can be a dangerous addition to music—they can pin it down. Words imply that the music is about what the words say, literally, and nothing more." I make the point because what I like more than anything about this album is that Courtney Barnett is essentially just head of a good old rock band, 2 guitars bass drums, raving up their hooks and riffs into fine soaring high moments. The best thing about this album is that you never want to stop listening to it, as one after another sharp stomping wry rock workout after another rolls on by. It's addictive, it's one of those little obsessive pop albums, that only seems to get better and better heard every day. In fact, the band is credited as a unit with writing the music, and that's how these songs sound: worked out as a band. I have the impression Courtney Barnett is a lyricist in the mode of Chris Difford, writing them by herself late at night and figuratively slipping them under the door for her band to work out the musical setting with her later. The result often sounds just a little derivative—I hear obvious strains of Elastica, Pretenders, Velvet Underground, T. Rex, some flashes of shoegaze, and many other elements in a rich and viscous stew. One guitar solo plays almost like an homage to Robert Quine. But those are all the right sources, for me, and it's also fresh enough to sound like something I've never heard before, and difficult to describe in that way that the best music is when it's still new. It just sounds good. It's going to influence a lot of people.

Friday, February 12, 2016

The Wedding Banquet (1993)

Xi yan, Taiwan / USA, 106 minutes
Director: Ang Lee
Writers: Ang Lee, Neil Peng, James Schamus
Photography: Jong Lin
Music: Mader
Editor: Tim Squyres
Cast: Winston Chao, Mitchell Lichtenstein, May Chin, Sihung Lung, Ya-Lei Kuei

The Wedding Banquet is only the second feature by Taiwan director and cowriter Ang Lee, and his first real hit. Lee went on to earn a reputation as a versatile (not to say chameleonic) filmmaker, with an ability to work across many different types of drama, from upholstered period pieces such as Sense and Sensibility to the fantastic martial arts of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and the searing family story of Brokeback Mountain. He even made a superhero movie, with Hulk, though it was ultimately drummed out of the larger conceptual framework of the ongoing Marvel universe now unfolding before us, and redone by someone else.

The Wedding Banquet looks in many ways like a beginner's movie. It was a favorite of mine at the time it came out, for its sweetly sentimental resolutions, and I saw it a few times then. Coming back to it again after so much time now I was struck by how much it moves and behaves like a TV movie, the kind of thing you might find on the Lifetime channel. The premise is right out of TV sitcoms, based on misunderstandings and perceived needs to hide information from people, in order to spare their feelings. Even the way it plays out is often marked by broad comic turns, throwing in a pratfall or a character or a line for comic relief, even in the middle of significant action. That's typical TV, especially on sitcoms (and, now, "dramedies"), establishing comic rhythms that break up the action whenever it verges on becoming too serious.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Brave New World (1932)

One thing that strikes me about so many of these popular novels taught in high school which I have been looking at recently, including Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, is how much more poorly written they are than I remembered—but not without impressive features, of course. Like Fahrenheit 451, the story and characters in Brave New World are all but throwaway. It's the imaginative vision of a future that's compelling. What's ironic for me is that this future vision doesn't look so bad, for a dystopia—except for the requirements to socialize, which would represent an entire ring of hell for me. Beyond that: good drugs, plentiful sex, and endless consumer goods for all, not to mention jobs and suitable work. What's to complain about? I went back to this novel originally because I thought there might be a comparison between its "soma" drug and today's antidepressants. It doesn't work entirely. Soma is more a recreational, high-making drug taken usually in casual social situations, whereas antidepressants have more of a pharmaceutical aura, as "meds" taken by regimen, and its most enthusiastic adherents swear its mood-altering effects are not specifically noticeable. That wasn't my experience, but that's another story. Ecstasy (antidepressants' chemical cousin) is probably the more apt comparison with soma, because it tends to be more intermittently used and is more of an all-consuming experience. Also, ecstasy culture leans heavily toward socializing—it's not an alienating drug but an affection-making one. Still, I have to admit, as the isolating individualist crank I have become, I would probably not be happy in the "brave new world" described by Huxley.

As with Fahrenheit 451 and its plasma TVs, Brave New World gets points for prescience. The genetic engineering seems more likely than ever, we are nearly there now in fact, but the elements of mass production that so rightly worried him seem less likely as applied here. At the same time, I'm really not sure it's all such a bad idea: human beings mass produced to specification, and defects destroyed as soon as they are discovered. The destruction of the biological family unit as a foundation of society. Schools that steer students to foreordained roles and positions. Conditioning for adjustment. I did not find any of it extremely discomfiting, though certainly the potential for abuse is obvious, attempting to take natural selection as we understand it now out of the equation. The cliché of the Stephen Hawking example remains useful: would Hawking's value have been recognized in this novel's society, or would he have been discarded and destroyed early? Would humans even continue to entertain aspirational visions, such as exploring space and understanding the universe? There's little doubt that the world of mass production and Skinnerian-style conditioning envisioned by Huxley would flatten out the highs with the lows, which could lead to mere pleasure-seeking and survival, the mediocrity of a society in stagnation. But I have to admit that the stability of Huxley's world appeals to me. Instead of war, people go on empty vacation jaunts and have sex with one another, before returning to work again. That sounds like an improvement to me. And I don't know why aspiration would be necessarily taken out of the picture, unless someone with access to the production process nefariously and deliberately programmed it out—clearly one of the abuses that would have to be risked, and may indeed have occurred in Huxley's novel. But does it really have to be that way? The problem, as always, is the one of getting from here to there. The devil is in the details, and all that. But again, for a dystopic novel, I think Brave New World often paints a surprisingly pretty picture, caste system and all. Viewed from certain angles, it is as if humanity has purged itself of the seven deadly sins, addressing their sources and providing adequately for the human needs they represent. Tweak it a little more and you might have something.

In case it's not at the library.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Certified Copy (2010)

Copie conforme, France / Italy / Belgium / Iran, 106 minutes
Director: Abbas Kiarostami
Writers: Caroline Eliacheff, Abbas Kiarostami
Photography: Luca Bigazzi
Editor: Bahman Kiarostami
Cast: Juliette Binoche, William Shimell

Maybe it's the European art film gloss that director and co-writer Abbas Kiarostami has wrapped around this puzzle-box picture, but it's always been easy for me to like it the way you fall in love, swooning with delight and surprise. The main players are handsome and well appointed, the setting is the gorgeous Tuscany, and the in-the-know references to movies like Journey to Italy and Richard Linklater's Before... series are clonking yet not oppressive, with a brazen charm of their own. It is a pleasure to sit and look at this weird thing, full of familiar cues yet baffling. Forget about trying to solve the distracting mystery at its center, which is the relationship between James Miller (William Shimell) and Elle (Juliette Binoche). It's beside the point, except insofar as it's suggestion of a simulacrum of marriage and/or relationships. The more germane preoccupation here is with artifice and authenticity. I think.

Miller is an art critic who has just published a book called Copie conforme—or Certified Copy, if you will. It has been "awarded best foreign essay of the year." For some editions, his publisher has insisted on the title Forget the Original, Just Get a Good Copy. The first scene shows Miller at a stop on a book promotion tour he is obviously tired of, giving a presentation, to a small group of book club types. He has clearly given it many times before. In fact, he arrives late, saying the day is so nice and it's such a shame to come inside for this. One senses how many times he has said the things he dutifully begins to drone: "The copy itself has worth in that it leads us to the original and, in this way, certifies its value." He says, by way of declaring his place: "I'm not a member of the artistic establishment." Let's stop here a second. The movie is full of sly moments such as this, packed full of conflicting meaning.

Monday, February 01, 2016

The Hateful Eight (2015)

I made it down to Portland during Christmas week for the "roadshow" version of this, at the refurbished Hollywood Theatre, which now qualifies officially, once again, as a Cinerama theater. Huzzah. I haven't seen the wide release version, which is not 70mm film but digital, and 20 minutes shorter, with no overture or intermission. The place was jammed, of course, but full of the polite and studiously disaffected—fans of indie film and/or Portland residents. There was a lot of jostling, and restrooms and refreshments were adventures with long lines, but holiday spirits prevailed, and it felt almost like a privilege to be there. In fact, Tarantino himself made a surprise appearance at the two shows following the 2 p.m. matinee I attended. As for the picture, I have to put it somewhere on the spectrum of disappointment. To me, now, it looks more than ever like Tarantino has been on a long slide since his best movie, Jackie Brown, though everything so far still has something memorably good going for it. I walked out of the Hollywood feeling like The Hateful Eight was the best I'd seen from him since the underrated Death Proof. But a few weeks of living with it in memory has not done it much good. Just my opinion, but the second half, where it turns willy-nilly into a British cozy mystery out of Agatha Christie (Tarantino style, which means among other things projectile vomiting of blood sprays), should just be ripped out—where are the Magnificent Ambersons molesters when you need them?—and something else done to salvage the first half, which has a lot of good going for it. It has the same kind of wonderful sense for what snow does to a Western landscape (and a person's interior) that's also seen in McCabe & Mrs. Miller, and with Samuel L. Jackson decked out in a fancy Union uniform it ranges easily from its 19th-century Wyoming setting to simmering issues of race at play in the 21st century. The Jennifer Jason Leigh role is more problematic, invoking murky feminist issues but handling them in unpleasant ways that only seem to get worse as the picture goes along. She gets punched a lot and dies a memorably horrible death. Is it a nihilist's version of equal opportunity? I want to give Tarantino the benefit of the doubt here—surely the painfully obvious reference to Carrie is intended to signify something? I hope? I admit it's hard to see—the point, I mean, but the movie is hard to see too. The set-piece violence is too often grotesque and the action sequences are weak. The second half is a complete waste—wait for a guy under the floorboards. That's when you can leave. I've seen more than one reviewer dismiss The Hateful Eight as "talk talk talk" but I always thought "talk talk talk" was actually one of Tarantino's main strengths, especially when Jackson is his mouthpiece, who is excellent here, as usual. "Talk talk talk" is what I'm looking for in a Tarantino picture, not genre-bending or martial arts or ordnance, but just the art of the bullshit worked to a fine hilarious lather, propelling itself into explosive and ridiculous emotional states, just because the sound of the voice talking is itself so enjoyable. That's here, but not enough.