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Entries in Samuel L Jackson (8)

Thursday
Aug132015

YNMS: The Hateful Eight

David here digging into the trailer of the moment...

Or as the logo has it, The H8ful Eight. Which seems incongruous given both the Western setting and the classicism of the 70mm promotion at the end of the trailer, but that's Tarantino for you. He lives by his own rules.

Anyway, let's dig in to one of the year's most anticipated trailers, which gives us our first glimpse at the eighth/ninth film from one of cinema's most controversial auteurs.

The trailer, Jennifer Jason Leigh and more after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Mar092015

We Can't Wait! #13: The Hateful Eight

Team Experience is counting down our 15 most anticipated for 2015. Here's Michael...

Who & What: Fresh off the biggest box office hit of his career (and a second Oscar for writing) Tarantino returns for another go at the western genre. This story set in Wyoming a few years after the Civil War, involves eight outlaw types holed up in a mountain pass to wait out a blizzard.

The auteur promises The Hateful Eight will be no less than a cinematic event with exclusive 70mm engagements explicitly designed to remind people of the power of the theatrical movie experience and stave off the tide of digital projection. So, yeah, not lacking for ambition.

Why We're Excited About it: Love them or hate them, it is hard to deny Tarantino’s films are always worth seeing, discussing, dissecting. It's worth noting that while everyone has been focused on Quentin's film’s flashier, button-pushing aspects, the jittery auteur has managed the neat trick of getting mass audiences to line up for some daring, experimental filmmaking. On top of which he can always be counted on to give movie stars the material to reach new career high points. This time out the cast is a thrilling mix of old Tarantino favorites (Tim Roth, Kurt Russell, Sam Jackson, Michael Madsen) Django bit players with beefed up roles (Bruce Dern, Walton Goggins) and Tarantino newcomers who could do wonders with the right role (Demian Bichir, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Channing Tatum). 

Samuel L Jackson tweeted this photo in November from a rehearsal. From left to right: Dern, Jackson, Leigh, Tarantino, Bichir (back to camera), Russell, Goggins, Madsen, and Roth

What if it all Goes Wrong? The loss of Tarantino’s brilliant, longtime collaborator, editor Sally Menke, was felt in Django, particularly in that film’s shaggy final act. Here’s hoping he manages to regain the sharpness this time. Also, if you are one of those fading fans who believe it’s been all downhill since Jackie Brown, there is no sign that Hateful Eight is anything like a return to maturity. On the other hand, a story about criminals holed up together told through a series of interlocking flashback does give off a strong Reservoir Dogs vibe. 

When: Currently slated for November 13 by The Weinstein Company. (Will it stay there? Django Unchained didn't open until Christmas.)

Tuesday
Feb242015

Black History Month: Pulp Fiction (1994)

Our Black History Month through the lens of Oscar continues with Jason on Samuel L. Jackson...

If you'd like a master class in screen-acting (not to mention a Minor in Pronouncing Vulgarity in New & Unique Ways) then you couldn't do much better than by studying the two times Sam Jackson's called upon to recite his character's favorite Bible scripture, Ezekiel 25:17, in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction. The scenes essentially bookend the film with Jules holding an audience captive through just the conviction of his delivery. Hardly the last time Sam would manage that feat.

More...

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Sunday
Feb222015

Review: 'Kingsman' is a Toxic Stew of Tone Deaf Mayhem

Michael C here with a question: When did it stop mattering if the hero saves the day?

Recently, it seems as long as the protagonist gives it the old college try that’s good enough to get rounded up to a victory. If a few thousand innocents die before he gets the job done, eh, nobody’s perfect. I started noticing this trend right around the time Man of Steel had to be careful to keep the piles of dead Metropolitans out of frame while Superman kissed Lois Lane on a pile of rubble.

Now we have Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman: The Secret Service which ups the ante by not only having the hero fail to stop the villain from causing an outbreak of mass violence, but by lingering lovingly on the mayhem, including a mother who is brainwashed into attempting to murder her own baby. With previous examples of this trend, one could chalk it up to blockbuster inflation, with each movie trying to top its predecessors until the implications of all that destruction became unavoidable. With Kingsman, however, it feels like the showing of true colors, dropping the pretense that the film is about anything more than unashamedly reveling in a mass bloodletting. Vile stuff.

I realize I risk coming off as a prude and a scold by taking to task a film which wants only to be giddy escapist entertainment. [More...]

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Friday
Dec142012

Hats Off to Mr. Jackson

Michael C here to sound some trumpets for a fine actor's return from the wilderness. There are many pleasures to be found in Django Unchained, but for me the most satisfying was being able to unambiguously love a Samuel L. Jackson performance for the first time in what feels like forever. 

Let's be frank, Jackson has always been a guy who would cheerfully say yes to just about any script that was correctly formatted. But at least back in the 90’s he would throw in an Eve’s Bayou or a Jackie Brown every once in a while. Over the last decade, however, his time has been divided between coasting on his star presence in blockbusters or squandering his considerable talent in straight up dreck like The Man or The Spirit. What attempts he has made at meaningful work have largely been dumped directly in the straight-to-video bin. (Home of the Brave anyone?) The last performance of his that left any impression on me was 2000’s Unbreakable, although your mileage may vary. Black Snake Moan had its fans, as did The Caveman’s Valentine. Whatever the case, there’s no denying the internal compass he possesses for choosing projects is severely miscalibrated.

But now there is his work in Django and damn does it feels good to seem him nail it in a big way. Jackson gave what is basically one of my favorite performances ever in Pulp Fiction and Tarantino has handed him another winner. He plays Stephen, the most trusted slave of Leo’s malevolent plantation owner and the two of them share a terrific, twisted chemistry. In terms of thematic weight Stephen's importance to the story is second only to Foxx's Django, and Jackson makes a meal out of every second of screen time. It’s a devious, deceptively simple performance. A late in the film monologue in particular should have Oscar voters second guessing whether DiCaprio and Christoph Waltz, who were both Golden Globe nominated, are really the Django performances to unite behind in the awards game.

Jackson may very well turn around and follow this up with another decade of crapola (the XXX sequel listed on his IMDb page doesn’t bode well) but for now I’m pleased to see he has another performance that can stand proudly alongside Jules Winfield, Gator Purify and Sean Nelson’s alcoholic, chess playing father from Fresh (Rent it!)