REVIEW: ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD

Starring

Leonardo DiCaprio (Inception)
Brad Pitt (Moneyball)
Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad)
Emile Hirsch (Alpha Dog)
Margaret Qualley (The Nice Guys)
Timothy Olyphant (Santa CLarita Diet)
Julia Butters (American Housewife)
Austin Butler (Arrow)
Dakota Fanning (Ocean’s 8)
Bruce Dern (Freaks)
Mike Moh (Inhumans)
Luke Perry (Riverdale)
Damian Lewis (Homeland)
Al Pacino (The Devil’s Advocate)
Brenda Vaccaro (Supergirl)
Nicholas Hammond (Stealth)
Samantha Robinson (Cam)
Lena Dunham (This is 40)
Harley Quinn Smith (Yoga Hosers)
Danielle Harris (Halloween 4)
Scoot McNairy (Argo)
Clifton Collins Jr. (Westworld)
Dreama Walker (Compliance)
Rebecca Rittenhouse (The Mindy Project)
Rumer Willis (Return To Sender)
Clu Gulager (Feast)
Martin Kove (The Karate Kid)
Rebecca Gayheart (Dead Like Me)
Kurt Russell (The Christmas Chronicles)
Zoë Bell (The Hateful Eight)
Michael Madsen (Species)
James Remar (Black Lightning)
Corey Burton (Critters)
Quentin Tarantino (Planet Terror)
Maurice Compte (Power)
James Marsden (X-Men)
Townsend Coleman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (2019)In February 1969, Hollywood actor Rick Dalton, star of 1950s Western television series Bounty Law, fears his career is over. Casting agent Marvin Schwarz advises him to make Spaghetti Westerns, which Dalton feels are beneath him. Dalton’s friend and stunt double, Cliff Booth —– a war veteran who lives in a trailer with his pit bull, Brandy —– drives Dalton around because Dalton’s alcoholism has resulted in multiple DUIs. Booth struggles to find work due to rumors that he murdered his wife. Actress Sharon Tate and her husband, director Roman Polanski, have moved next door to Dalton, who dreams of befriending them to restore his status. That night, Tate and Polanski attend a celebrity-filled party at the Playboy Mansion.Margot Robbie in Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (2019)The next day, Booth repairs Dalton’s TV antenna. He reminisces about a sparring contest he had with Bruce Lee on the set of The Green Hornet, resulting in Booth being fired. Charles Manson stops by the Polanski residence looking for Terry Melcher, who used to live there, but is turned away by Jay Sebring. Tate goes for errands and stops at a movie theater to watch herself in The Wrecking Crew. While driving Dalton’s car, Booth picks up a hitchhiker, named Pussycat. He drops her off at Spahn Ranch, where Booth once filmed Bounty Law. He notices the hippies living there (the Manson Family). Suspecting they are taking advantage of the owner, George Spahn, Booth insists on checking on him despite Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme’s objections. Spahn dismisses Booth’s fears. Booth discovers that Steve “Clem” Grogan slashed a tire on Dalton’s car; Booth beats him and forces him to change it. Tex Watson is asked to deal with the situation but arrives as Booth drives away.Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (2019)Dalton plays a villain on the pilot of Lancer, and strikes up a conversation with his eight-year-old co-star, Trudi Fraser, a committed Method actor. Dalton struggles with his dialogue. After having a breakdown in his trailer, Dalton delivers a performance that impresses Fraser and the director, Sam Wanamaker, bolstering Dalton’s confidence. After watching Dalton’s guest performance on an episode of The F.B.I., Schwarz books him as the lead of Sergio Corbucci’s next Western, Nebraska Jim. Dalton takes Booth with him for a six month stint in Italy, during which he appears in two additional Westerns and a Eurospy comedy, and marries Italian starlet Francesca Capucci. Dalton informs Booth he can no longer afford his services.Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (2019)On the evening of their first day back Dalton and Booth go out for drinks, then return to Dalton’s house. Booth smokes an acid-laced cigarette and takes Brandy for a walk. Tex, Susan Atkins, Linda “Flower Child” Kasabian, and Patricia “Katie” Krenwinkel park outside in preparation to murder everyone in Tate’s house. Dalton hears the car and orders them to leave. Changing their plans, they decide to kill Dalton after Sadie reasons Hollywood “taught them to murder”. Flower Child drives off, deserting the other three. They break into Dalton’s house and confront Capucci and Booth, who recognizes them from Spahn Ranch. Booth orders Brandy to attack, and together they kill Katie and Tex and severely injure Sadie. Booth is injured in the altercation. Sadie stumbles outside, alarming Dalton, who was listening to music on headphones, oblivious to the mayhem. He retrieves a flamethrower – a souvenir from one of his movies – and incinerates her. Booth is hospitalized, Sebring engages Dalton in conversation, and Tate invites Dalton over for drinks.The ending leaves you wondering “What if…” over and over again, questioning what reality would look like if these fictional characters of Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth actually existed. And I think that’s when I realized how perfect the title was: it’s a humorous, fairy-tale (although not completely violent-free) ending to the tragic fate of Hollywood in the 60s…

25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: THE HATEFUL EIGHT

CAST

Samuel L. Jackson (The Legend of Tarzan)
Kurt Russell (Fast & Furious 8)
Jennifer Jason Leigh (Single White Female)
Walton Goggins (Tomb Raider)
Demián Bichir (Che)
Tim Roth (Lie To Me)
Michael Madsen (Species)
Bruce Dern (The Driver)
James Parks (Kill Bill)
Dana Gourrier (Django Unchained)
Zoë Bell (Game of Death)
Channing Tatum (21 Jump Street)
Quentin Tarantino (Planet Terror)

Samuel L. Jackson in The Hateful Eight (2015)Years after the American Civil War, bounty hunter Major Marquis Warren is transporting three dead bounties to the town of Red Rock, Wyoming. He hitches a ride on a stagecoach driven by O.B. Jackson. Aboard is bounty hunter John Ruth, and handcuffed to him is fugitive Daisy Domergue, whom Ruth is escorting to Red Rock to collect her bounty and watch her hang. Ruth and Warren bond over Warren’s personal letter from Abraham Lincoln. Former Lost-Causer militiaman Chris Mannix, who is traveling to Red Rock as the town’s new sheriff, persuades Ruth and Warren to let him on the stagecoach. Warren and Ruth form an alliance to protect each other’s bounties.Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hateful Eight (2015)The group seeks refuge from a blizzard at Minnie’s Haberdashery, a stagecoach lodge. They are greeted by Bob, a Mexican, who says the owner, Minnie, is away visiting her mother. The other lodgers are Oswaldo Mobray, a hangman; Joe Gage, a quiet cowboy traveling home to visit his mother; and Sanford Smithers, a former Confederate general traveling to put his son to rest. Suspicious, Ruth disarms all but Warren. As the group eats, Mannix surmises that Warren’s Lincoln letter is a forgery. Warren admits this, saying the letter buys him leeway with whites, outraging Ruth. Warren leaves a gun next to Smithers and provokes him into reaching for it by telling Smithers he tortured, raped, and killed Smithers’ son. When Smithers pulls a gun, Warren shoots him as revenge for Smithers’ executions of black soldiers at the Battle of Baton Rouge.Tim Roth in The Hateful Eight (2015)While everyone is distracted by the confrontation, someone poisons the brewing coffee. Ruth and Jackson drink it, killing Jackson and seriously injuring Ruth. The dying Ruth attacks Daisy, but she kills him with his own gun. Warren disarms Daisy, leaving her shackled to Ruth’s corpse, and holds the others at gunpoint. He is joined by Mannix, whom Warren trusts because he nearly drank the poisoned coffee. Warren executes Bob, deducing that he is an impostor who killed the lodge owners, as Minnie hates Mexicans and would never leave one to care for the lodge. When Warren threatens to execute Daisy, Gage admits that he poisoned the coffee. A man hiding in the cellar shoots Warren in the genitals. Mobray draws a concealed gun and shoots Mannix, who returns fire, wounding Mobray.Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Roth, and Kurt Russell in The Hateful Eight (2015)Hours earlier, Bob, Mobray, Gage, and a fourth man, Daisy’s brother Jody, arrive at the lodge. They murder Minnie and five other bystanders, leaving only Smithers. Jody tells Smithers they plan to ambush Ruth to rescue Daisy, and that his gang will spare Smithers if he keeps quiet. The bandits dispose of the bodies, hide the evidence, and conceal guns around the lodge. As Ruth’s stagecoach arrives, Jody hides in the cellar.Samuel L. Jackson and Walton Goggins in The Hateful Eight (2015)In the present, Mannix and Warren, both seriously wounded, hold Daisy, Gage, and the dying Mobray at gunpoint. They force Jody out of the cellar by threatening to kill Daisy. Jody surrenders and Warren executes him. Daisy claims fifteen of her brother’s men are waiting in Red Rock to kill Mannix and ransack the town; if Mannix kills Warren and allows her to escape, the gang will spare him and let him claim the bounties of the deceased except her brother.Samuel L. Jackson and Kurt Russell in The Hateful Eight (2015)As Daisy and Mobray taunt Warren, Warren shoots them both, mortally wounding Mobray. Gage draws a hidden revolver, but is shot dead by Mannix and Warren. Warren then tries to shoot Daisy, but he is out of bullets. Mannix calls Daisy’s bluff and rejects her offer, but faints from blood loss. Daisy hacks off Ruth’s handcuffed arm and frees herself. As she reaches for Gage’s gun, Mannix regains consciousness, shooting her. Warren persuades Mannix to hang her from the rafters inside the lodge in honour of Ruth. Afterward, as the two men lie dying, Mannix reads aloud Warren’s forged Lincoln letter.The Hateful Eight is a masterpiece. The rhythm is good, the film is balanced and it’s violent in almost a funny way. This is definitely a film I will see again.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: HANSEL & GRETAL: WITCH HUNTERS

CAST

Jeremy Renner (Avengers Assemble)
Gemma Arterton (The Voices)
Famke Janssen (X-Men)
Pihla Viitala (August)
Derek Mears (Friday The 13th)
Robin Atkins Downes (Babylon 5)
Peter Stormare (22 Jump Street)
Zoe Bell (Raze)
Ingrid Bolsø Berdal (Hercules)
Thomas Mann (Project X)

Gemma Arterton in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)Abandoned by their father deep in a forest, young Hansel and Gretel enter a gingerbread house and are captured by a cannibalistic witch. The witch forces Hansel to continuously eat candy to fatten him up, and enslaves Gretel, ordering her to prepare the oven, but the siblings outsmart her and incinerate her in the fire of the oven. In the fifteen years that follow, Hansel and Gretel become famed witch hunters, slaying hundreds of witches. The pair find that they are somehow immune to spells and curses, but the incident in the gingerbread house has left Hansel diabetic. He needs a shot of insulin every few hours or he will get sick and die.Jeremy Renner in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)Hansel and Gretel arrive in the town of Augsburg and immediately prevent Sheriff Berringer from executing a young woman named Mina for witchcraft. Mayor Englemann tells the crowd that he has hired the siblings to rescue several children presumed abducted by witches. Berringer hires trackers for the same mission in the hopes of disgracing the mayor and cementing his power. All but one of the sheriff’s party are killed that night by the powerful grand witch Muriel, who sends one man back to the town tavern as a warning to the locals. Hansel and Gretel, along with the Mayor’s deputy Jackson, capture one of Muriel’s witches and interrogate her. They discover that the witches are preparing for the coming Blood Moon, where they plan to sacrifice twelve children in order to gain an immunity to fire. Muriel, accompanied by her witches and a troll named Edward, attack the town and abduct the final child. Muriel kills Jackson and launches Gretel out a window, rendering her unconscious. Gretel is rescued by Ben, a local teenager who is a fan of theirs and plans to be a witch hunter himself. Hansel grabs onto a fleeing witch by her broomstick, but falls and is lost in the forest.
Jeremy Renner in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)The next morning, Hansel is found hanging from a tree by Mina. She takes him to a nearby spring where she heals his wounds and makes love to him. Gretel searches for Hansel in the forest but is attacked by Sheriff Berringer and his posse. The men capture and beat Gretel before being stopped by Edward, who kills the sheriff and his men. Edward tends Gretel’s wounds and tells her that he helped her because trolls serve witches. Hansel and Gretel reunite at an abandoned cabin, which they discover is both a witch’s lair and their childhood home. Muriel appears in front of them, telling them the truth of their past. She reveals that Hansel and Gretel’s mother was a grand white witch named Adrianna who married a farmer. On the night of the last Blood Moon, Muriel planned to use the heart of the white witch to complete her potion. She found Adrianna too powerful and decided to use Gretel’s heart instead. To get rid of Adrianna, Muriel revealed to the townspeople that Adrianna was a witch. The townspeople burned her alive and hung Hansel and Gretel’s father. Following this revelation, the siblings battle Muriel before she stabs Hansel and abducts Gretel for the ceremony.
Jeremy Renner in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)Hansel wakes up with Mina, who reveals herself to be a white witch. She heals his wounds again and uses a grimoire to bless Hansel’s arsenal of weapons. Hansel, Mina, and Ben head out to disrupt the Blood Moon Sabbath. Mina begins slaughtering dark witches with a Gatling gun, while Hansel squares off against Muriel’s witches and frees the children. Edward defies Muriel’s orders and releases Gretel before Muriel throws him off the cliff. Muriel flees on a broomstick, but Ben manages to shoot her and forces her to crash. Hansel goes after Muriel while Gretel stops to revive Edward. Hansel, Ben, and Mina follow Muriel’s trail to the original gingerbread house. Muriel wounds Ben and kills Mina before Hansel shoots her several times, knocking her into the house. Gretel arrives and the pair engage Muriel in a brutal fight that ends with Muriel being beheaded with a shovel. They burn Muriel’s body on a pyre and collect their reward for rescuing the children. They head out on their next witch hunt accompanied by Ben and Edward.Jeremy Renner, Pihla Viitala, and Gemma Arterton in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)A very enjoyable fantasy horror film.  Good fun if not taken seriously this is a tongue in cheek very gory and over the top film. Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arteton somehow play it completely straight as Hansel and Gretel while everybody else including Famke Jensson as a witch the pair are after and Peter Stormare as the sherriff of a small town ham it up completely. With impressive special effects and good action scenes and the ending seems to set up a sequel. A great fun film.

REVIEW: LOST – SEASON 4

Starring

Matthew Fox (Alex Cross)
Jorge Garcia (How I Met Your Mother)
Elizabeth Mitchell (V)
Evangeline Lilly (Ant-Man and The Wasp)
Jeremy Davies (Hannibal)
Terry O’Quinn (The Rocketeer)
Josh Holloway (Colony)
Naveen Andrews (The Brave One)
Emilie de Ravin (Operation: Endgame)
Michael Emerson (Arrow)
Rebecca Mader (Iron Man 3)
Daniel Dae Kim (Insurgent)
Yunjin Kim (Shiri)
Henry Ian Cusick (Hitman)
Ken Leung (Inhumans)
Harold Perrineau (Sabotage)

Jorge Garcia and Dominic Monaghan in Lost (2004)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Dominic Monaghan (Flashforward)
Sam Anderson (Angel)
L. Scott Caldwell (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Michael Cudlitz (The Walking Dead)
Mira Furlan (Babylon 5)
Tania Raymonde (Texas Chainsaw)
Lance Reddick (John Wick)
Fisher Stevens (Hackers)
John Terry (Full Metal Jacket)
Marsha Thomason (White Collar)
Zoë Bell (The Hateful Eight)
Jeff Fahey (Texas Rising)
Thekla Reuten (Highlander 5)
Beth Broderick (Sabrina: TTW)
Shawn Doyle (Impulse)
Anthony Azizi (Eagle Eye)
Alan Dale (Ugly Betty)
Kevin Durand (Swamp Thing)
Sonya Walger (Flashforward)
Graham McTavish (The Hobbit)
Andrea Roth (Cloak & Dagger)
M.C. Gainey (Breakdown)
Grant Bowler (Harrow)
George Cheung (Rush Hour)
Cynthia Watros (Titus)
Galyn Görg (Robocop 2)
Malcolm David Kelley (Detroit)
Faran Tahir (Iron Man)
Andrea Gabriel (2 Broke Girls)
April Parker Jones (Supergirl)
Nestor Carbonell (Bates Motel)
Doug Hutchison (Punisher: War Zone)
Amanda Carlin (Friends)
Michelle Forbes (True Blood)
Veronica Hamel (Cannonball)
Cheech Marin (Coco)

Jeff Fahey in Lost (2004)After a stunning conclusion to the show’s third season, the bar was raised and much was expected of the fourth season of Lost. With the final three seasons reduced to sixteen episodes each and a clear finish line. The creative team could now focus on telling their story without having to worry about how many episodes they had left to work with. Season four is the first to benefit and delivers a faster paced and leaner story that expands the Lost universe in some unexpected ways and delves into the mystery that was introduced at the end of last season.Mira Furlan, Michael Emerson, Josh Holloway, Terry O'Quinn, and Rebecca Mader in Lost (2004)The “flash-forward” at the end of last season introduced an exciting new way in which Lost stories could be told. The use of these flash-forwards continues through the fourth season, revealing that even more Oceanic survivors made it off the island and also introduces an intriguing conspiracy of silence regarding those who weren’t so lucky. This storyline is the backbone of the fourth season as we discovered who was fortunate enough to escape the island and who was left behind. This is arguably the series’ best story arc since the mystery surrounding the hatch and is a well-developed, tightly paced narrative that actually has a satisfying conclusion at the end of the season.The benefit of a shortened schedule is apparent and this season has far less “filler” than previous outings.Michael Emerson in Lost (2004)Less episodes means that every minute of screen time becomes that much more precious and the outcome is a season that doesn’t have what we’d consider a bad episode in the bunch. Even this season’s Kate-centric episode is decent when compared to previous years’ outings. There are plenty of episodes that you will want to revisit here, including the pivotal “The Constant” that is a game-changer when it comes to the series’ mythology. It also features Henry Ian Cusick’s best performance as Desmond to date and one of the more memorable Michael Giacchino scores. The rest of the season is filled to the brim with moments that will have any Lost fan riveted.Michael Emerson in Lost (2004)Acting wise, all the great performances that you have come to expect from the series’ regulars are present. Henry Ian Cusick in Lost (2004)Michael Emerson and Terry O’Quinn continue to put in stellar performances as Ben Linus and John Locke respectively. As has been stated many times throughout the last couple of seasons, these two have some phenomenal chemistry on screen and they spend a great deal of time verbally sparring with each other this season. The newcomers to the show are no slouches either. Veteran actor Jeff Fahey is memorable as helicopter pilot Frank Lapidus. Ken Leung has already become a series favorite as the sharp-tongued Miles Straume and while some fans have had a negative reaction towards Rebecca Mader’s Charlotte Lewis, it is hard to deny that she puts in a respectable performance here.Elizabeth Mitchell in Lost (2004)Jeremy Davies deserves special recognition for his portrayal of physicist – Daniel Faraday. Simply put, Davies’ is awesome as the polite and awkward scientist whose unique viewpoint of the island’s core mysteries is a benefit to the series. If given more screen time he would have probably stolen the show and he stands alongside Ben Linus and Desmond Hume as yet another exceptional new addition to the series.With the introduction of new characters and the already expanded Lost cast, some regulars take a step back and are not featured as prominently as you would expect. Most notable are series heavyweights Jack and Kate, who are present and accounted for, but see their roles slightly reduced as other characters are brought to the forefront. As the cast and story expand, it has obviously become a necessity to focus on a wider range of characters. The series’ writers are equal to the task and do a good job of handling a large cast without forgetting anyone in the mix.

 

REVIEW: DEATH PROOF

 

CAST
Kurt Russell (Big Trouble In Little China)
Zoe Bell (Freshwater)
Rosario Dawson (Daredevil)
Vanessa Ferlito (Spider-Man 2)
Sydney Tamiia Poitier (Veronica Mars)
Tracie Thoms (Cold Case)
Rose McGowan (jawbreaker)
Jordan Ladd (Cabin Fever)
Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Final Destination 3)
Quentin Tarantino (Alias)
Michael Bacall (Django Unchained)
Michael Parks (Red State)
James Parks (Kill Bill)
Marley Shelton (Planet Terror)
Eli Roth (Inglourious Basterds)
Three friends, Arlene, Shanna and radio DJ “Jungle” Julia Lucai, drive down Congress Avenue in Austin, Texas on their way to celebrate Julia’s birthday. In a bar, Julia reveals that she made a radio announcement offering a free lap dance from Arlene in return for addressing her as “Butterfly,” buying her a drink, and reciting a segment of the poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”. Aging Hollywood stunt double “Stuntman” Mike trails the women to a bar and claims the lap dance. Arlene is suspicious, having seen Mike’s car earlier that day, but he puts her at ease.The three women prepare to depart with Lanna, another friend. Pam, an old classmate of Julia’s, accepts Mike’s offer of a ride home. Mike takes Pam to his Hollywood stunt car rigged with a roll cage and tells her the car is “death-proof,” but only for the driver. He speeds recklessly and slams on the brakes, smashing Pam’s skull on the dashboard, killing her. He catches up with the women’s car and drives into it at speed, killing them. Mike survives with no serious injury. Sheriff McGraw is suspicious, but because Mike was sober while the women were intoxicated, he cannot be charged.
Kurt Russell and Rosario Dawson in Death Proof (2007)
Fourteen months later, three young women, Abernathy Ross, Kim Mathis and Lee Montgomery, are driving through Lebanon, Tennessee. They stop at a convenience store where Mike watches them from his car. Unaware of Mike, the women pick up their friend, stuntwoman Zoë Bell, from the airport. Zoë tells them she wants to test-drive a 1970 Dodge Challenger, the same type of car from the 1971 film Vanishing Point, for sale nearby. The car’s owner lets them test-drive it alone after Abernathy lies to him that Lee is a porn star and will stay behind. Zoë tells Abernathy and Kim that she wants to play a game they call “Ship’s Mast”, whereby she rides the hood holding leather belts while Kim drives at speed. Kim is hesitant, but agrees. The three enjoy the stunt unaware that Mike is watching them. He rear-ends them in his car, causing Zoë to drop one of the belts. After several more collisions, he T-bones them, throwing Zoë from the car. Kim shoots him in the shoulder and he drives away. Abernathy and Kim cry over the loss of their friend, but discover that Zoë is uninjured. The three agree to catch Mike and beat him. Mike has stopped in a narrow road to treat his wound with whiskey. The women rear-end him at speed. Zoë gets out and beats him with a pipe; he speeds away, pleading with them, and they pursue. Mike crashes and the women beat him mercilessly.
Rose McGowan and Kurt Russell in Death Proof (2007)
Pure, unadulterated fun and excitement: that’s the key to appreciating Death Proof. Do not expect a smart, unusual take on an overused genre, like the director has done in the past: this time around, he sticks to the rules, delivering a loud, silly, sexy, violent piece of Entertainment with a capital “e”. It may not be the best film of 2007, but it sure as hell is one of the most purely enjoyable.

REVIEW: DJANGO UNCHAINED

CAST

Jamie Foxx (Dreamgirls)
Christopher Waltz (The Green Hornet)
Leonardo DiCaprio (Critters 3)
Kerry Washington (Save The Last dance)
Samuel L. Jackson (The Avengers)
Walton Goggins (The Bourne Identity)
Dennis Christopher (Angel)
James Remar (X-Men: First Class)
Don Johnson (Machete)
Amber Tamblyn (Two and a Half Men)
M.C. Gainey (Lost)
Tom Wopat (Jonah Hex)
Jonah Hill (Cyrus)
Zoe Bell (Oblivion)
Michael Bowen (Jackie Brown)
Robert Carradine (Timecop 2)
James Parks (Death Proof)
Michael Parks (Red State)
Michael Bacall (Gangster Squad)
Evan Parke (Alias)
John Jarratt (Wolf Creek)
Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction)
J.D. Evermore (Cloak & Dagger)
Rex Linn (The Postman)
Ned Bellamy (Terminator: TSCC)
Gary Grubbs (Battleship)

In Texas in the year 1858, the Speck brothers, Ace and Dicky, drive a group of black slaves on foot. Among the shackled slaves is Django, sold off and separated from his wife, Broomhilda von Shaft. The Speck brothers are stopped by Dr. King Schultz, a German dentist-turned-bounty hunter from Düsseldorf, who asks to buy one of the slaves. When he questions Django about his knowledge of the Brittle brothers, a group of outlaws for whom Schultz is carrying a warrant, Ace becomes irritated and threateningly aims his shotgun at Schultz. Schultz, a superior gunslinger, immediately kills Ace in return and leaves an injured Dicky at the mercy of the newly freed slaves, who kill him and follow the North Star to freedom.doubletrouble_0As Django can identify the Brittle brothers, Schultz offers Django his freedom in exchange for help tracking them down. After hunting down the Brittles, the liberated Django (who adopted the surname “Freeman”) partners with Schultz through the winter and becomes his apprentice, and Schultz discovers that Django has a natural talent of being an incredible crack shot. Schultz explains that he feels responsible for Django since Django is the first person he has ever freed, and felt more obliged to help Django (whom he described as a “real-life Siegfried”) reunite with Broomhilda. Django, now fully trained, collects his first bounty, keeping the handbill for good luck.
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In 1859, Django and Schultz travel to Mississippi, where they learn the identity of Broomhilda’s owner: Calvin J. Candie, the charming but cruel owner of the Candyland plantation, where slaves are forced to fight to the death in brutal wrestling matches called “Mandingo fights”. Schultz, expecting Candie will not sell Broomhilda if they ask for her directly, feigns interest in purchasing one of Candie’s prized fighters for far more than the normal price. Schultz and Django meet Candie at his gentleman’s club in Greenville and submit their offer. Intrigued, Candie invites them to his ranch at Candyland. After secretly briefing Broomhilda, Schultz claims to be charmed by the German-speaking Broomhilda and offers to buy her.MV5BMTk4NzQwODM5MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjgzNTI3Nw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1486,1000_AL_During dinner, Candie’s staunchly loyal house slave, Stephen, becomes suspicious of Schultz and Django’s motives. Deducing that Django and Broomhilda know each other previously and that the sale of the Mandingo fighter is a ruse, Stephen alerts Candie and admonishes him for his greed. Candie is angered at being fooled and having his time wasted, but contains his anger long enough to theatrically display his knowledge of phrenology, which he uses to theorize why the slaves have failed to kill their oppressors, despite ample opportunity. Candie’s bodyguard, Butch Pooch, bursts into the room with his shotgun trained on the two bounty hunters, and Candie explodes in anger, threatening to kill Broomhilda. He offers an alteration of the original deal, with Broomhilda taking the Mandingo fighter’s place at the same price, and threatens her death should the deal be rejected. After business appears concluded, Candie insists that the deal be sealed through a handshake, which Schultz initially refuses but eventually appears to concede. However, Schultz snaps and kills Candie with a concealed derringer. Butch shoots Schultz dead and Django kills him in turn, and an extensive gunfight in the mansion between Django and Candie’s henchmen ensues. Django guns down a great number of his opponents, but surrenders when Broomhilda is taken hostage.

The next morning, Stephen tells Django that he will be sold to a mine and worked to death. En route to the mine, Django proves to his escorts that he is a bounty hunter by showing them the handbill from his first kill. He convinces them that there is a large bounty for criminals hiding at Candyland, and promises that they would receive the majority of the money. The escorts release him and give him a pistol, and he kills them before stealing a horse and returning to Candyland with a bag of dynamite.

Returning to the plantation, Django kills more of Candie’s henchmen, takes Broomhilda’s freedom papers from the dead Schultz’s pocket, bids goodbye to his late friend and frees Broomhilda from a nearby cabin. When Candie’s mourners return from his burial, Django kills the remaining henchmen and Candie’s sister Lara Lee Candie-Fitzwilly, releases the two remaining house slaves, and kneecaps Stephen. Django then ignites the dynamite that he has planted throughout the mansion, and he and Broomhilda watch from a distance as the mansion explodes with the incapacitated Stephen inside, before riding off together.MV5BOTA2NjY5NzY3NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzcyNjY4Nw@@._V1_A brilliant movie. Very entertaining and I loved it. We don’t get many westerns any more so this was a welcome addition to the genre. Tarantino is of course well known for the violence in his films, which renders them as not being for the squeamish, but on top of that they usually feature touches of levity to brighten up the more grisly proceedings. Above all he assembles highly accomplished actors and good stories with some great lines. The cinematography is superb and the music excellent. Oh, and there is some wonderful horsemanship. An excellent film which can be highly recommended.

REVIEW: PLANET TERROR

CAST
Bruce Willis (Armageddon)
Rose McGowan (Jawbreaker)
Freddy Rodriguez (Ugly Betty)
Josh Brolin (Gangster Squad)
Naveen Andrews (Lost)
Marley Shelton (Pleasantville)
Jeff Fahey (The Lawnmower Man)
Michael Biehn (The Terminator)
Rebel Rodriguez (Angels Sing)
Fergie (Nine)
Michael Parks (Red State)
Danny Trejo (Machete)
Cheech Marin (Cars)
Zoe Bell (Oblivion)
Quentin Tarantino (Little Nicky
Corey Burton (Critters)
In rural Texas, go-go dancer Cherry Darling (Rose McGowan) decides to quit her low-paying job and find another occupation. She runs into her mysterious ex-boyfriend El Wray (Freddy Rodriguez) at the Bone Shack, a BBQ restaurant owned by J.T. Hague (Jeff Fahey) and his sheriff brother (Michael Biehn). Meanwhile, a group of officials at a nearby US military base, led by the demented Lt. Muldoon (Bruce Willis), are making a business transaction with a chemical engineer named Abby (Naveen Andrews) for mass quantities of a deadly biochemical agent known as DC2 (codename “Project Terror”). When Muldoon learns that Abby has an extra supply on hand, he attempts to take Abby hostage, and Abby intentionally releases the gas into the air. The gas reaches the town and turns most of its residents into deformed bloodthirsty psychopaths, referred to as “sickos” by the surviving humans. The infected townspeople are treated by the sinister Dr. William Block (Josh Brolin) and his unhappy, unfaithful bisexual anesthesiologist wife Dakota (Marley Shelton) at a local hospital.
Random zombie attacks begin along the highway, causing El Wray, with Cherry as his passenger, to crash his truck. In the aftermath, several zombies tear off Cherry’s right leg. Also falling victim, fatally, is Tammy (Stacy “Fergie” Ferguson), who was on her way to into town to reunite with her former lover Dakota. When Tammy’s body arrives at the hospital, Dr. Block recognizes her and by comparing text messages on the cellular phones of Tammy and his wife, realizes Dakota was about to leave him. He then attacks Dakota with her own anesthetic syringe needles, stabbing her repeatedly in the hands, rendering them useless, before locking her in a closet to tend to other patients, including Cherry, who is still alive.
El Wray is detained by Sheriff Hague based on past encounters between the two men. As the patients transform into zombies, El Wray leaves the police station and arrives at the hospital, attaching a wooden table leg to Cherry’s stump. As El Wray and Cherry fight their way out of the zombie-infested hospital, Dakota escapes to her car, but in struggling to open its door with her numbed hands, accidentally breaks her left wrist. She eventually manages to drive away. Meanwhile, Block becomes infected along with others, while Cherry and El Wray take refuge at the Bone Shack.
Dakota retrieves her son Tony (Rebel Rodriguez) and takes him to her father, Earl McGraw (Michael Parks), a Texas Ranger. Tony, who was given a revolver by his mother, accidentally shoots himself in the face after being told not to point it at himself. Cherry and El Wray make love in J.T.’s bedroom. Due to a “missing reel”, what happens immediately following this is not known, but when the film returns, Sheriff Hague has been shot in the neck by one of his own officers, zombies are massing outside the Bone Shack, which is set on fire, and Wray has evidently told Hague who he really is, with both men hinting at some important backstory dialogue that probably happened during the “missing reel”. Dakota, Earl, and Tony’s crazed babysitter twins (Electra and Elise Avellan) arrive at the Bone Shack. With Sheriff Hague badly injured, the group decides to flee to the Mexican border, before being stopped by a large mob of zombies. Muldoon’s men arrive, and kill the zombies before arresting the group. They learn from Abby that the soldiers are stealing Abby’s supply of the gas because they are infected with it and the only treatment is by constant inhalation of the gas, which delays mutation. They also learn that a small percentage of population is immune to the gas, suggesting a possible treatment, which is why Muldoon quarantined the survivors. As Cherry and Dakota are taken away by two soldiers (Quentin Tarantino credited as “Rapist #1” and Greg Kelly credited as “Rapist #2”), the others defeat the security guards. J.T. sustains a gunshot wound in the process, and the group searches for Muldoon. Discovered by El Wray and Abby, Muldoon explains that he killed Osama bin Laden before he and his men were infected with DC2 and were ordered to protect the area. El Wray offers a respectful recognition of Muldoon’s military service before he and Abby shoot the mutating Muldoon.
Rose McGowan in Grindhouse (2007)
Meanwhile, Cherry is forced to dance by Rapist #1 while being held at gunpoint. Cherry attacks by breaking her wooden leg across the rapist’s face and stabbing him in his eye with the stump. Dakota, after realizing she has regained feeling in her hands, quick-draws her syringe launcher and stuns Rapist #2. El Wray and Abby arrive to rescue Cherry and Dakota, and El Wray replaces Cherry’s broken wooden leg with a modified M4 Carbine with a M203 grenade launcher attachment. She promptly kills Rapist #1 and several zombies with it.
J.T., wounded and lying beside his dying brother, stays behind to detonate explosives to eliminate the zombies still in the complex while the others flee. The survivors make plans to escape by stealing helicopters but must fight past the remaining zombies. Abby dies (and hope for a cure with him) when a ballistic projectile blows his head up. An infected Block then arrives and is killed by Earl, shortly before the survivors use the blade tips of their transport helicopter to kill all the remaining zombies. However, while saving Cherry from a zombie, El Wray is fatally wounded. In the epilogue, Cherry (now sporting a minigun prosthetic leg) leads the group and many more survivors to the Caribbean beach at Tulum, Mexico, where they start a peaceful new society during a world-wide zombie outbreak. In the final moments of the film, it is revealed that Cherry Darling has given birth to El Wray’s daughter (alluded to earlier during El Wray’s final scene when he puts his hand on her stomach and restates his motto “I never miss”). In a post-credits scene, Dakota’s son Tony is sitting on the beach at the survivor’s “base” playing with his turtle, scorpion, and tarantula.
Rodriguez has always handled the cinematography, editing, and music for his pictures– he coined the phrase “shot, chopped, and scored” for his Renaissance man approach to his pictures. The film is a visual extravaganza, not only for the gore and make-up artistry , but for Rodriguez’s keen eye for photography on films of this ilk as well as the artificial flaws he implants in the movie to lend authenticity to the idea that this film was meant for another era. Scratches on film, color errors, skipping frames, burn outs on reels as well as a missing reel give “Planet Terror” an atmosphere of cool.