Tag Archives: Tim Roth

Luce (2019) Review

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Luce

Time: 109 Minutes
Cast:
Kelvin Harrison Jr. as Luce Edgar
Octavia Spencer as Harriet Wilson
Naomi Watts as Amy Edgar
Tim Roth as Peter Edgar
Brian Bradley as DeShaun Meeks
Andrea Bang as Stephanie Kim
Norbert Leo Butz as Dan Towson
Director: Julius Onah

A liberal-minded couple, Amy (Naomi Watts) and Peter Edgar (Tim Roth), are forced to reconsider their image of their adopted son (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) after they discover he has written an extremely disturbing essay for his class at school.

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I heard about Luce more recently, I knew of Octavia Spencer, Naomi Watts and Tim Roth’s involvement, and I also heard it was pretty good, so I wanted to check it out for sure. Having seen it, I can say that it’s really one of the most overlooked movies of 2019, and it really deserves a lot more attention than it has been receiving.

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I think it’s better to be surprised by the plot and not know too much going in, so I’ll try to keep my review as vague as possible when it comes to the plot. Luce relies quite a lot upon its script, and thankfully it’s written quite well, and has your interest from beginning to end. Much of the movie feels like a play at times in the way it’s written, especially with the dialogue. As it turns out, it is based on a play by J.C Lee. It’s also a movie that talks about plenty of difficult subject matters, like adoption, social injustice, tokenism, mental illness, stereotyping, and race. With that said, it doesn’t explore every single theme to its fullest extent or done equally as well. It’s a very ambiguous movie with a lot of complexity, it’s not as black and white as it would seem at first, there’s a whole lot of grey. You have to assume that you won’t get the answers that you want about certain characters, and you’ll have to draw your own conclusions based off what the movie actually gives you. The ending particularly will have people confused a little as to the interpretations of the final moments of the film.

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Part of what makes this movie work particularly well are the 4 central outstanding performances. Each character has their own thing going on with them and have more complexity to them than they initially appear. Naomi Watts and Tim Roth play the parents of Luce, and both are great (this is the best I’ve seen Roth in years). Octavia Spencer gives one of her best performances as Luce’s teacher, really believable. I had previously only seen Kelvin Harrison Jr. in It Comes at Night but he’s shown himself to be an outstanding actor with his performance here as Luce. He’s so charming and convincing, and there are points where even though you can’t tell whether he’s manipulating and lying or telling the truth. Definitely an up and coming actor that you want to be paying attention to. These 4 performances essentially anchor the movie, and even elevate it a bit.

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I just know Julius Onah as the director of The Cloverfield Paradox, and while for many that doesn’t bode well, with Luce he really gets to show off his talents. The cinematography was stunning, and it was edited very well. The music by Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury was also good, adding a level of unsettledness throughout. While it’s not a conventional thriller and you’re not expecting anyone to be killed or anything of the like, you do feel somewhat tense throughout, like something isn’t quite right.

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Luce is a complex and well written movie, with some excellent performances leading it. There are some aspects that don’t work quite as well, some parts of the writing are a little too ambitious for its own good, it doesn’t quite follow through on what they set up during it, and they don’t all come together to form a clear message at the end, but I still think it’s generally well done. Definitely check out Luce when you can, at the very least for the acting.

The Hateful Eight (2015) Review

Time: 168 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Graphic violence, sexual violence & offensive language
Cast:
Samuel L. Jackson as Major Marquis Warren
Kurt Russell as John Ruth
Jennifer Jason Leigh as Daisy Domergue
Walton Goggins as Chris Mannix
Demián Bichir as Señor Bob
Tim Roth as Oswaldo Mobray
Michael Madsen as Joe Gage
Bruce Dern as General Sandford “Sandy” Smithers
James Parks as O.B. Jackson
Director: Quentin Tarantino

While racing toward the town of Red Rock in post-Civil War Wyoming, bounty hunter John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell) and his fugitive prisoner (Jennifer Jason Leigh) encounter another bounty hunter (Samuel L. Jackson) and a man who claims to be a sheriff. Hoping to find shelter from a blizzard, the group travels to a stagecoach stopover located on a mountain pass. Greeted there by four strangers, the eight travelers soon learn that they may not make it to their destination after all.

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I had been meaning to rewatch The Hateful Eight for a while. I remember looking forward to The Hateful Eight ever since its announcement, mostly because of Quentin Tarantino’s involvement. We nearly didn’t get this movie when the script leaked and Tarantino initially wanted to not do it, but I’m glad he changed his mind because The Hateful Eight ended up being really great. Having rewatched it (the recently released extended version), I now consider it to be one of his all time best movies. The acting from its large and talented cast is fantastic and Tarantino’s script is great, it had me riveted from start to finish.

Quentin Tarantino is generally great when it comes to writing, and his script here is among his best work. This movie like his many of his others are dialogue driven, and unsurprisingly the dialogue is fantastic, no one writes dialogue like him. The theatrical cut is very long at 168 minutes and people need to know that going in. Also it’s not like an explosive action movie, it’s a suspenseful mystery film and moves at quite a slower pace. Once all the main characters are in the same place in the same house, it builds up the suspense as we spend time with the characters and have to try to figure out if they are trustworthy or not. It definitely improves on a repeat viewing, because you know exactly what is going on. People only really start dying around the halfway point, from then on it becomes very tense. So if you are a little bored during it, the second half should pick up for you. None of these characters are particularly good people, in fact in terms of lineups of Tarantino characters in each of his movies they are easily the most despicable group, but they are entertaining and interesting enough that you’re still willing to watch them for just under 3 hours. This movie was surprisingly darkly hilarious as well, it really had me entertained throughout. As for people who have seen the movie already and are wondering about the extended cut, Netflix broke it up into 4 50 minute segments, making the movie about 3 and a half hours long. I looked up at some parts of it, and the parts that did add in were written pretty good. Otherwise for the most part I didn’t notice too many differences, and you’re not necessarily missing out anything major. So if you’re watching the movie for the first time, it might be better to go with the theatrical cut.

This cast is large and talented with Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Walton Goggins, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Demian Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern and James Parks and they were all fantastic, there were a few highlights though. This is one of Samuel L. Jackson’s all time best performances, he just absolutely nails this role. This was actually the first movie I have seen Walton Goggins in, and if I was forced to pick a highlight performance among plenty of other great performances in this movie, it would be his. Another showstealer was Jennifer Jason Leigh, who is amazing here as the prisoner being taken by Kurt Russell’s bounty hunter. I do feel like the writing didn’t give the character quite as much to do in the movie as she could’ve, but JJL really brought it to the performance. Channing Tatum also makes an appearance that’s a little more than a cameo, and I will say that he is great in his screentime, very different role for him.

Tarantino once again directs this film really well. One of the first things you’ll notice about this movie is Robert Richardson’s cinematography, it’s a stunning looking movie. It really felt like we were back in the 19th Century and it really places you in this snowy environment, we don’t really get that with Westerns. The Hateful Eight is a much smaller movie compared to Django Unchained, there are very little action or scenes with violence. It’s very much a suspense and mystery film, almost like a longer and Western version of Reservoir Dogs. There aren’t a whole lot of people being killed like in Kill Bill or Django Unchained but when people die, it is unsurprisingly violent in pure Tarantino style. However this time it’s much more brutal than you’d expect it to be, which fits the tone of the movie. The soundtrack from Ennio Morricone was masterful, he actually used some unused music from The Thing as part of it. It fits absolutely perfectly for this movie.

The Hateful Eight is yet another fantastic film from Quentin Tarantino that has gotten a bit of a mixed response from some people, but it really worked for me. From the fantastic writing, the great performances and direction, everything about this movie I really loced. This Hateful Eight definitely does hold up on repeat viewings, in fact it gets better upon rewatches. Both this and Inglourious Basterds are now my favourite movies from Tarantino, and I’m looking forward to seeing if Once Upon a Time in Hollywood manages to be at that level.

Pulp Fiction (1994) Review

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Pulp Fiction

Time: 154 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Graphic Violence and Offensive Language
Cast:
John Travolta as Vincent Vega
Samuel L. Jackson as Jules Winnfield
Uma Thurman as Mia Wallace
Bruce Willis as Butch Coolidge
Harvey Keitel as Winston Wolfe
Tim Roth as “Ringo”/”Pumpkin”
Amanda Plummer as Yolanda/Honey Bunny
Maria de Medeiros as Fabienne
Ving Rhames as Marsellus Wallace
Eric Stoltz as Lance
Christopher Walken as Captain Koons
Director: Quentin Tarantino

Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) and Vincent Vega (John Travolta) are two hitmen who are out to retrieve a suitcase stolen from their employer, mob boss Marsellus Wallace. Wallace has also asked Vincent to take his wife Mia out a few days later when Wallace himself will be out of town. Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis) is an aging boxer who is paid by Wallace to lose his next fight. The lives of these seemingly unrelated people are woven together comprising of a series of funny, bizarre and uncalled-for incidents.

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Pulp Fiction is one of the big cinematic classics that most people have heard of. I remember hearing about this movie for years and when I finally saw this movie I wondered how I could’ve held off this long. Everything is good in this movie with the great acting, filmmaking and the brilliant script created by director Quentin Tarantino, all of these help to make it a cinematic masterpiece.

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Let’s get the obvious out of the way: the script is absolutely fantastic. The structure is interesting, it has three stories, one with Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta, another with John Travolta and Uma Thurman and another with Bruce Willis. These stories aren’t played chronologically instead they are plated during each other, a structure that Sin City would eventually use. All of the stories are great but if I had to pick a favourite, I’d pick the Jackson/Travolta story; the chemistry between those two were just so hilarious. I love dark comedy and it is well done here, it proves that death in movies can in fact be funny (not spoiling anything). The dialogue really shines here, a lot of these characters end up talk about meaningless things but they are interesting, hilarious and overall entertaining to watch. On top of that, all of the characters are well established and a lot of that is done through the dialogue. The pacing is also really good, I didn’t feel bored, the only time it felt a little slow was a scene with Bruce Willis and his girlfriend which felt a little long but that was it.

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Something that Quentin Tarantino can generally do is get the best out of his actors. It definitely helped that Tarantino’s ensemble of actors were well picked for their roles. Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta are great in this movie and as I said before, their chemistry was very strong. Other actors like Uma Thurman and Bruce Willis did very well. It should be noted that this movie revived John Travolta and Bruce Willis’s career, so they have Tarantino to thank. Christopher Walken is only in one scene in the film and it results in one of the funniest scenes in the movie involving a gold watch. Every actor in this movie takes advantage of any scene they’re in.

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Pulp Fiction relies more on its script and acting than it does on special effects but the technical side is done very well. The film is very stylish with the editing, cinematography and overall direction, it was all very Tarantino esque. There are so many locations and moments that are so memorable, even when there’s nothing big going on. The soundtrack was also well picked and all of the songs were edited to the right moments.

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Pulp Fiction is a fantastic movie that should be watched by everyone. The acting is superb, Tarantino’s direction is great, the film is entertaining to watch but it’s the script that really ties everything together. It’s in my opinion Quentin Tarantino’s best movie, everything fits nicely together. If you haven’t seen this classic, check it out as soon as possible. Just know that it’s more of a dialogue driven movie, so you may not love this movie as much as others.

Reservoir Dogs (1992)

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Reservoir Dogs

Time: 99 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Graphic violence and offensive language
Cast:
Harvey Keitel as Mr White
Tim Roth as Mr Orange
Michael Madsen as Mr Blonde
Chris Penn as Nice Guy Eddie
Steve Buscemi as Mr Pink
Lawrence Tierney as Joe Cabot
Edward Bunker as Mr Blue
Quentin Tarantino as Mr Brown
Director: Quentin Tarantino

Six criminals, who are strangers to each other, are hired by a crime boss, Joe Cabot (Lawrence Tierney), to carry out a diamond robbery. The six strangers are Mr. White (Harvey Keitel), a professional criminal; Mr. Orange (Tim Roth), a young newcomer; Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen), a trigger-happy killer; Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi), a paranoid neurotic; Mr. Brown (Quentin Tarantino); and Mr. Blue (Edward Bunker). Right at the outset, they are given false and are completely sure that the robbery is going to be a success. But, when the police show up right at the time and the site of the robbery, panic spreads amongst the group members, and one of them is killed in the subsequent shootout, along with a few policemen and civilians. When the remaining people assemble at the rendezvous point, they begin to suspect that one of them is an undercover cop.

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With Reservoir Dogs, Quentin Tarantino established himself as a director to keep an eye out for. His excellent dialogue with the well rounded cast and even the bloody violence makes this an absolute classic.

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Quentin Tarantino movies are often driven by dialogue. Sometimes, some of the dialogue doesn’t have much to do with the plot but it doesn’t feel forced; it actually makes the dialogue even better. In the first scene we don’t really hear anything about the heist; instead we hear the main characters talk about what Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” is about and a debate about tipping. The only other writer I can think on the top of my head who has managed to do this is Martin McDonagh. It is also one of the best heist movies despite not even showing the heist. The film shows the events before and after the heist and are presented and written so well, the audience doesn’t need to see the heist in order to get a picture of what happened; the majority of what happened is conveyed through dialogue. It’s also not always placed in chronological order; some of the scenes are mixed around in time.

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The film has a huge cast which consists of Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Steve Buscemi, Michael Madsen, Chris Penn, Laurence Tierney and a cameo by Quentin Tarantino. All the actors are great but the two stand outs are Steve Buscemi and Michael Madsen; both of them were absolute show stealers. Michael Madsen in particular has a scene involving the song ‘Stuck in the middle with you’ by Stealers Wheel, which is probably the most famous (or infamous) scene in the movie; it was reminiscent of A Clockwork Orange’s use of “Singin’ in the Rain”. The actors really played off each other well and delivered the dialogue greatly.

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The film is well shot; the cinematography is often overlooked due to the excellent writing and dialogue. While not mind-blowing, the cinematography is good, same goes for the editing. This movie also showed another thing that Tarantino would be using for a lot of his movies; a lot of blood and gore. Some people have argued that the violence is unnecessary but I think it was well done and used. The music is absolutely great and is picked right for the moment; a great example is again “Stuck in the Middle with you”.

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Reservoir Dogs is one of Quentin Tarantino’s best movies. It isn’t for everyone; I can see that, mostly because of the level of violence. But if you think you might like it or if you are a Tarantino fan, who hasn’t seen this movie yet, go see it as soon as you can, you won’t be disappointed.