The Hateful Eight

five cigars

 

What can you say about a Quentin Tarantino movie, except that it is a Quentin Tarantino movie? In this, his thirteenth film, he reminds us not only of how movies should be made, but how much fun watching a film should be.

Beginning with the filming. Tarantino filmed this in 65mm and projects in 70mm. This, as the bonus material on the DVD explains, makes for a spectacular visual experience. I am old enough to have seen movies like Ben-Hur, Lawrence of Arabia, and Sound of Music when they first came out, these were filmed with the same technique and I remember how spectacular they were visually.  Sadly, I watched Hateful Eight on DVD and although it is still grand, not as much so as if I had seen it in the theater.

The best parts of this film are the dialogue and the range of topics.  Tarantino hits all the buttons of racism, bigotry, ignorance, loyalty, women’s rights, and betrayal. The characters are never who they say they are and like a good Agatha Christie story, the viewer is never sure of exactly what is happening.

Samuel Jackson, Tim Roth, Kurt Russell, and Bruce Dern deliver performances worthy of the talent we expect. Michael Madsen acts as though he just came over from filming Kill Bill, which is not a bad thing.  Walter Goggins is excellent. The last time I had seen him was as Shane in The Shield.  Jennifer Jason Leigh is outstanding as the main female in the film.

At two hours and 48 minutes this is a long film, but it does not get boring. Once it starts it doesn’t let you go. As the film comes to a close, there are questions left unanswered and one is left to imagine the next few scenes.

This film combines all the elements that make Westerns like The Magnificent Seven, Bad Day At Black Rock, Rio Bravo, and The Wild Bunch great.

Yes, this has Tarantino’s trademark of excessive blood and guts, and his overuse of the F word, and some may be offended by the multiple times the N word appears. This movie has so much more to offer once you set these aside.

This one gets five cigars and is worth watching a few more times.

 

 

 

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Watching You by Michael Robotham

watchingyou

 

Another good one from Robotham….  ****

 

Once again Michael Robotham proves he is at his best when at least one of his characters is written in first person.  This time we are in the head of the protagonist, who Robotham uses to take the reader down a path that has twists, turns, and finally a slight head scratcher. I can’t say who the protagonist is without this being a spoiler.

Marnie Logan’s husband has disappeared and she goes to see Joe O’Loughlin for therapy. This puts Joe and his retired detective sidekick, Vincent Ruiz, in the middle of the story. Someone is eliminating or harassing people in Marnie’s life that have wronged her, and the question of who is doing this drives the plot.

In the middle of the book, a secret about Marnie is revealed and Robotham wants the reader to think this will be the answer to the mystery, but then the twists and turns begin.

In the end, I was left thinking, “Okay, this was possible, but it does stretch believability.”  This is a good read and one of Robotham’s better novels.

This one gets four stars.

 

 

 

Say You’re Sorry by Michael Robotham

syasorry

 

Nothing to be sorry about in this one……   ****

 

Reading Robotham’s novels is like playing Ping Pong. One is good, the next not so good, then good, and on and on. This is a good one!

It seems when he writes the protagonist, in this case Joe O’Loughlin, in first person and adds one other character in first person, Robotham’s writing excels. He did this in Shatter, where the other point of view character was the villain. In this novel the other first person point of view is a teenager, Piper Hadley, who was kidnapped three years ago along with her friend, Tash McBain. Robotham’s ability to get into the heads of these characters makes for an outstanding read.  In this case, he reveals the mind of a teenager in a way that is not only believable but made me forget it was the author writing.

This novel has a great deal of tension, a few scenes that made me cringe, and plenty of twists at the end that kept me guessing. Once the kidnapper is revealed, I had to stop for a minute and think about whether it made sense for that character to be the culprit.  And yes, it did.  There is even a moment when I caught myself saying out loud to the character, Piper, “Don’t do that, don’t you know who that is!?” I will let you figure out when I did that.

My only concern now is since the last book, The Wreckage, was not one of his good ones, and this one is, what will the next one be like in this game of back and forth?

In the meantime this one gets four stars. This one loses a star for a couple of plot points that I can’t point out without this review being a spoiler.

 

 

The Wreckage by Michael Robotham

thewreckage

 

An apt title for this one…..  **

 

This novel starts out well. Somewhat – gripping, interesting characters, multiple viewpoints. Then it begins to drag, the characters multiply a bit too much and become hard to keep straight, and then it just becomes unbelievable in regards to what the characters do.

Michael Robotham has a knack for writing good and not so good novels. This would be one of the not so good. His two main characters, Vincent Ruiz and Joe O’Loughlin, are back and as we expect save the day. It is the how that adds to the unbelievable aspect.

The settings jump between Baghdad, London, Luton, Istanbul, and Washington. The chapters are short and the characters are exposed only a little at a time, making the story somewhat confusing. Fortunately, each chapter heading lets the reader know where they are, otherwise it would be more confusing than it is.

One of the threads that weaves through the story is around a character known only as The Courier. He is a ruthless killer who lets nothing get in his way nor leaves anyone alive in his wake. I realize the heroes Ruiz and O’Loughlin have to survive to continue the series, but for both to encounter The Courier and not die was a bit much. This is not just a weakness in Robotham’s novel, but a problem in most thrillers – when a killer hesitates when confronted by the protagonist or leaves them bound and gagged instead of dead.

The most unbelievable scene, however, is when Ruiz interrupts a dinner meeting between the CIA and the bankers involved in the story. Ruiz would have never been able to even get close to the table, much less sit down as if he belonged.

This one gets two stars as I move on to the next Robotham novel, hoping for a good one.