T2 Trainspotting: Why or Why Not?

There was a profound opportunity to tell the story how heroin addicts who barely survived their respective early struggles were faring 20 years later.  That’s the story I believe Danny Boyle was trying to tell.  In my book, he failed miserably — that rocket sailed sky-high over his head.  T2 Trainspotting should by all rights have been a deep and powerful film that stood firmly on its own.  Instead, he made a picture utterly pointless without the original.

* * *

I’ve always paired Trainspotting and Pulp Fiction as the two great, seminal, earth-shattering films of the nineties.  The movies that were so utterly transformative.  Quentin Tarantino never tried to remake or produce a sequel to Pulp Fiction, and I hope he stays true in this regard.  Danny Boyle, a vastly inferior filmmaker, didn’t have the same self-restraint.

So it sounds like I’m bashing the heck out of Boyle’s follow-up.  But I liked it just enough for a thumbs-up.  Why?  I love the original so much, and T2, for all its many shortcomings, works well as a vibrant homage to the groundbreaking original.  Kind of like when a rich kid goes off to run the business his father built from the ground up, and is able to at least keep it afloat a few more years.  Put another way, dumb down “massively entertaining” and see what you get: something not nearly as entertaining, but still not a bad trifle.

Marginally recommended, with a heavy dose of all the standard caveats, plus add: an adoration of Trainspotting, and that you see it on a big screen with big sound.  Both trailers included below not by accident.  6/10

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How Great is The Hateful Eight?

Hateful Eight - poster

Quentin Tarantino has made three of the greatest films of the last 21 years.  Brilliant virtuosity propelled Inglourious Basterds, outright glee erupted from Django Unchained, and anchoring his entire oeuvre, Pulp Fiction is one of the most iconic films of all time, and a masterpiece.

Hateful Eight - text blockThe Hateful Eight is not in that class.  But it’s darn good, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Despite its nearly three hour span, I slipped from its grasp only once, and very briefly.  Some critics have likened the film to a bad play, but I didn’t get that feeling at all.  I can see where they are coming from, but this is not a Mamet picture.  Flashes of cinematic greatness dispel any idea that you’re watching a stage production.

Critics are sharply divided on this one, some giving a solid thumbs-down while others hail it as the best of the year.  Check out the Tomato page to see what I mean.   For me: I liked it a lot, but wished for the complexity of his better works.

A note on the presentation: The Hateful Eight features an overture and intermission if you see the 70mm presentation.  I was not so lucky.  It’s criminal that a movie which is supposed to include an intermission and overture is generally not being shown that way.  Thank you AMC, not.  I didn’t mind too much, though, as the story flows well without it.  8/10

Tarantino’s Way with Jackie Brown

Jackie Brown - poster

As a big Tarantino fan, Jackie Brown was the odd one out, the one film in his oeuvre that I had never seen.  And it’s about what I expected and nothing more.

Which is a little bit of a disappointment.  Because when it comes to Quentin Tarantino, I’ve come to expect something more, an added dimension which will lift his pictures above and beyond.  I did not find that in Jackie Brown.

Now, it’s perfectly good entertainment; a linear crime story told with steady drama that doesn’t let up.  But that story is too simple for its 154-minute running time.  Tarantino did not try to ascend any summits in Jackie Brown; his flatland course is set and he stays on that course.  He does construct a life-or-death scenario which is very effective, and it’s good storytelling.  But nothing more.

Jackie Brown - text blockI’ve always given Tarantino credit: with the incredible success and groundbreaking nature of the masterpiece Pulp Fiction, many a lesser movie maker would have been tempted to recreate that winning formula, or worse, make an outright sequel.  I’m sure there was some pressure to capitalize on Pulp Fiction‘s success by essentially copying it.  But Tarantino wasn’t interested in doing Pulp Fiction part II.  And he realized that Pulp Fiction’s formula would not translate to any other film.  Nobody was every going to copy Pulp Fiction, including Tarantino himself.  So he followed it up with the very different Jackie Brown.  It’s one of his weaker pictures, but he did it his way.

Being the exceptional talent he is, Tarantino, taking his time, eventually made another truly great film, Inglourious Basterds, and followed that up with one more great, Django Unchained.  Two movies that are completely different from one-another and Pulp Fiction, and yet fully accomplished on all levels.  Did they reach the rarefied air of Pulp Fiction?  No, but that’s a near-impossibility for any filmmaker.

Jackie Brown will hold you engaged for its entire running time, which is no easy task.  But I wanted more.  6/10

New Tarantino Film & Teaser Trailer

Hateful Eight - Prelim Poster

IN CASE YOU hadn’t seen this making the rounds… not much to see, but it looks like we can definitely expect a new Western-styled QT movie next year.  I’m thinking a sequel to The Magnificent Seven, but hoping that Tarantino keeps up the level of deft originality displayed in his last two films… which will be no easy task.

Looking at this poster, I’m put off by the “8TH FILM FROM QUENTIN TARANTINO” proclamation, something I talked about in regards to Kill Bill — but I suppose with the run he’s been on it’s justifiable.

Bootleg-shot Teaser Trailer at The Verge

Tarantino’s Deaths

Tarantino's Deaths - text blockDISCLAIMER AND SPOILER ALERT!  This meme came through yesterday on The Verge, and I hesitated to post it.  The reason: I am a fan of Quentin Tarantino, but there is one movie I have not seen: Jackie Brown.  I assume at least one person gets killed in it, but I don’t want anything given away; as such, I have watched only the beginning and end of this video, so as to skip any Jackie Brown clips (it is in chronological order).  And I had another, more personal reason for not posting it yesterday.

So — SPOILER ALERT!  — you may not want to watch this video unless you’ve seen all of Tarantino’s movies.  And DISCLAIMER — I can’t vouch for the quality or value of this video, but I would be remiss to ignore it.  So watch at your own risk, and be prepared for a death-fest worthy Caligula.

The insert below is provided for convenience; click on “Vimeo” to watch in HD at vimeo.com.

Pulp Fiction Added to National Film Registry

Pulp Fiction - Poster large

Pulp Fiction is one of the greatest pictures of all time, a masterpiece, and on a personal note there is no other film that I treasure more dearly.  It has been added to the National Film Registry for 2013.  I thought at first that this is maybe 10 years late, but I reckon more time allows one to realize it was not just a flash in the pan or a trendy choice.  Pulp Fiction is a classic which will endure for all time.

Also among those added: the essential documentary Roger & Me, the delightful Mary Poppins, The Magnificent Seven, and one of my favorite films from high school days, The Right Stuff.