Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Hateful Eight (Theatrical review)

The Hateful Eight (2015)
Comedy, Crime, Drama, 179/187 minutes
Directed by Quentin Tarantino
Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michael Madsen, Tim Roth, Bruce Dern, Walton Goggins, Demián Bichir and James Parks

It's been three years since Quentin Tarantino released Django Unchained, so I have been starved of the dark humor and intelligent writing that appears in so many of my favorite movies.

Before I review The Hateful Eight, I want to explain what I think of Tarantino. His previous seven main features have delivered some of the most entertaining cinema of the past 20 years. His dialogue is unmatched and the screenplays have the ability to tell compelling, entertaining stories, while making me laugh at the dark humor. He also has the ability to choose the perfect music to fit the scenes and he uses actors in ways that they have never been used before. He boosted the careers of people like John Travolta and Pam Grier, and introduced us to Christoph Waltz. Tarantino is a genre all his own and his body of work probably makes him my favorite director.

However, The Hateful Eight is a huge disappointment.

Tarantino has explained how he used to anticipate the release of films from his favorite directors, such as Brian De Palma. He always wanted to see the film for himself before viewing it with friends. It was a much-loved ritual. That's how I feel about Tarantino's own movies. They are gifts to be savored and I deliberately waited a few weeks for the fuss to die down so that I could experience the movie without a large audience ruining the experience for me. Today's morning showing gave me that opportunity and I managed to find a quiet spot from which to devour this latest Tarantino treat.


As with his previous films, The Hateful Eight is broken down into chapters. The opening chapter introduces bounty hunters Major Marquis Warren (Jackson) and John Ruth (Russell). Ruth has captured Daisy Domergue (Leigh) and allows Warren to hitch a ride to Red Rock where he will turn in the three dead criminals he is transporting. This opening exchange is quite promising, although it lacks some of the punch of Tarantino's dialogue from other movies.

A blizzard forces the party to seek refuge and it's here that the other characters are introduced. The majority of the film's three-hour running time takes place in a single building.

As with many celebrated directors, Tarantino has his favorites when it comes to actors. Michael Madsen and Tim Roth are a welcome presence, while Jackson and Russell are the most important characters for much of the story.


I found myself grinning as the White Stripes' Apple Blossom played when we met Daisy; it fit the scene perfectly as I have come to expect. Ennio Morricone won a Golden Globe for his original score, so what was lacking?

I find it strange that Tarantino would make consecutive Westerns. Is he finally running out of original ideas? The trademark foul language and excessive violence is present as it is in his other films, but this time it feels forced and, at times, even unnecessary. The tongue-in-cheek humor is sparse at best. I found myself thinking that Tim Roth's character was written for Christoph Waltz, although Roth did a decent job and was one of the better characters.

The whole thing was just off. I cared about The Bride, Butch and Jackie Brown, but I didn't care about any of these characters. I'm at a loss to explain Jennifer Jason Leigh's various nominations, as her character contributed very little to this struggling story. It's as if Tarantino tried to make a Tarantino movie, but forgot how.

I thought Django Unchained was brilliant in places, but bloated in others. The Hateful Eight feels bloated throughout (even the title sequence) and I have to wonder how much the loss of editor Sally Menke has affected Tarantino's last two films.

My Blu-ray cabinets contain all of Tarantino's movies, but I am not certain I'll even add this one to my collection. I would rather watch Death Proof than revisit The Hateful Eight. I'm sorry Quentin; I love your previous work, but I can't lie. Let's hope for Kill Bill 3 and a return to form in another three years or so.

Overall score 6/10

Return to index of every review on the site.


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Building nothing out of something - final thoughts and statistics


As promised when I revealed my Top 5 Modest Mouse songs, here is the final post in the series. I want to take a look at how the releases would be ranked if I assign points based on the position of each song. Next, I will compare this year's ranking to the smaller series I did for the Top 25 last year. I also want to mention a couple of unreleased songs that would have made the Top 100 if I had considered them eligible.

But first, I have something to say to Isaac Brock:

Message for Isaac Brock

Isaac, if you're somehow reading  this, I want to sincerely thank you for all the music. For the past 18 months or so, it's been hard for me to play anything else, even by other bands that I love. Whenever I am having a bad day at work, on go the headphones and my choice of Modest Mouse albums. Your music enables me to get through anything and it almost instantly improves my mood.

Your lyrics are incredible, as well as the music. There is so much insight and intelligence in your writing. It astounds me that so many of my favorite lyrics and songs come from things you created 20 years ago at such a young age.

I'll definitely be going to any future concert within 500km of Toronto. It's obvious that you give everything when you play and I have never detected any performance that is less than one hundred percent effort. Well, it's more like you are possessed than making any kind of effort.

My most recent concert was London Ontario on September 10, 2015. I grinned like an idiot when you went into the break with the message that you were going to "play as long as we fucking can" for the second part of the show. And what a show that was.

It impresses the hell out of me that a show could contain almost anything from your catalog. I think around 70 different songs were played on the latest tour? No other band does that.

I wouldn't presume to mess with your creative process. I want you to play exactly what you want to play instead of turning shows into a performance. However, I have to wonder whether you would ever do a Lonesome Crowded West 20th anniversary tour. The first part of the show would be that album, then whatever you felt like playing in the second part. It would be incredible to hear all of those songs played live on the same night.

Other dream scenarios would be a studio release of Beta Carotene and a lot more new music. I hope that the new album surfaces in 2016. If we're really talking dream scenarios, I would love to write your biography.

I've wasted your time long enough. I appreciate you acknowledging my efforts by liking my Twitter posts. I hope that you keep recording and playing for a very long time. I'll be listening and attending.

---

Let's continue by ranking the albums and other various releases. I will allot 100 points for the top song in my rankings, right down to 1 point for song number 100. Some songs appear on more than one release, so I am going to assign points from songs on Interstate 8 to Building Nothing Out of Something or This Is a Long Drive for Someone With Nothing to Think About (two bonus vinyl tracks) as applicable for the purposes of this ranking.



Rank
TRACK TITLE
Pts

RELEASE TITLE
Pts
1
Teeth Like God's Shoeshine
100

The Moon & Antarctica
872
2
Doin' the Cockroach
99

This Is a Long Drive for Someone With Nothing to Think About
825
3
Spitting Venom
98

The Lonesome Crowded West
819
4
Heart Cooks Brain
97

We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
677
5
Dramamine
96

Good News for People Who Love Bad News
542
6
Exit Does Not Exist
95

Strangers to Ourselves
524
7
The Whale Song
94

Building Nothing Out of Something
363
8
Cowboy Dan
93

No One's First and You're Next
204
9
Trailer Trash
92

7" Single
81
10
3rd Planet
91

Everywhere and His Nasty Parlour Tricks
57
11
Dark Center of the Universe
90

The Fruit That Ate Itself
47
12
Never Ending Math Equation
89

12" Single
34
13
Lounge (Closing Time)
88

Sad Sappy Sucker
5
14
The Stars Are Projectors
87



15
Steam Engenius
86



16
Fly Trapped In a Jar
85



17
Bury Me With It
84



18
The Tortoise and the Tourist
83



19
Parting Of the Sensory
82



20
White Lies, Yellow Teeth
81



21
Tiny Cities Made Of Ashes
80



22
Truckers Atlas
79



23
Broke
78



24
Edit the Sad Parts
77



25
Breakthrough
76



26
Invisible
75



27
Novacain Stain
74



28
Ocean Breathes Salty
73



29
Talking Shit About a Pretty Sunset
72



30
Black Cadillacs
71



31
I Came As a Rat
70



32
Grey Ice Water
69



33
A Manic Depressive Named Laughing Boy
68



34
A Different City
67



35
Life Like Weeds
66



36
Convenient Parking
65



37
Paper Thin Walls
64



38
Tundra/Desert
63



39
Gravity Rides Everything
62



40
The Best Room
61



41
Head South
60



42
The World at Large
59



43
Interstate 8
58



44
Night On the Sun
57



45
Be Brave
56



46
Lampshades On Fire
55



47
King Rat
54



48
Float On
53



49
Alone Down There
52



50
The Ground Walks, With Time In a Box
51



51
What People Are Made Of
50



52
Bukowski
49



53
Education
48



54
Dashboard
47



55
Sugar Boats
46



56
Custom Concern
45



57
Ansel
44



58
The View
43



59
Shit In Your Cut
42



60
Satin In a Coffin
41



61
Little Motel
40



62
Shit Luck
39



63
Bankrupt On Selling
38



64
Beach Side Property
37



65
Lives
36



66
Wicked Campaign
35



67
Whenever You See Fit
34



68
The Cold Part
33



69
Missed the Boat
32



70
Florida
31



71
Guilty Cocker Spaniels
30



72
The Waydown
29



73
People As Places As People
28



74
Ohio
27



75
Satellite Skin
26



76
A Life Of Arctic Sounds
25



77
Perfect Disguise
24



78
The Good Times Are Killing Me
23



79
Blame It On the Tetons
22



80
Coyotes
21



81
March Into the Sea
20



82
All Night Diner
19



83
Sunspots In the House Of the Late Scapegoat
18



84
Pups to Dust
17



85
Might
16



86
Polar Opposites
15



87
One Chance
14



88
Whenever You Breathe Out, I Breathe In
13



89
Other People's Lives
12



90
She Ionizes & Atomizes
11



91
Dance Hall
10



92
Styrofoam Boots/It's All Nice On Ice Alright
9



93
Space Travel Is Boring
8



94
Of Course We Know
7



95
Strangers to Ourselves
6



96
Out Of Gas
5



97
Dukes Up
4



98
We've Got Everything
3



99
Fire It Up
2



100
Birds vs Worms
1



 
These results surprise me. I would have guessed that with 6 songs in my Top 10, The Lonesome Crowded West would dominate overall. However, it places third behind The Moon & Antarctica and This Is a Long Drive for Someone With Nothing to Think About. I have counted Edit the Sad Parts and A Manic Depressive Named Laughing Boy as tracks from This Is a Long Drive as they appeared as bonus tracks on the vinyl version. I suppose I should have weighted tracks that appear higher in the rankings, but I am happy to see two other albums in the same discussion as The Lonesome Crowded West.

The results don't mean that the other releases aren't worth hearing. I am comparing excellent albums to my absolute favorites. If I ranked all of my music collection and included every band, Modest Mouse releases would completely dominate the list. There are quite a few unmissable songs that didn't even make the 100. Three that immediately come to mind are Dirty Fingernails, Baby Blue Sedan and Jesus Christ Was An Only Child. There is no Modest Mouse song that I would ever want to skip.

As promised, let's compare the rankings from this project with my much smaller effort from last year. The Lonesome Crowded Quest was written as my love of the band was soaring, but I only ranked the Top 25. I talked about 59 songs overall, but some did not receive a final ranking. It was written 15 months ago, so Strangers to Ourselves had not been released. Here's the comparison to show where the Top 25 from 2014 would fit in these current rankings:



PREV
NOW
TRACK TITLE
1
1
Teeth Like God's Shoeshine
2
2
Doin' the Cockroach
6
3
Spitting Venom
8
4
Heart Cooks Brain
7
5
Dramamine
4
6
Exit Does Not Exist
3
7
The Whale Song
21
8
Cowboy Dan
13
9
Trailer Trash
5
10
3rd Planet
11
11
Dark Center of the Universe
-
12
Never Ending Math Equation
-
13
Lounge (Closing Time)
14
14
The Stars Are Projectors
20
15
Steam Engenius
-
16
Fly Trapped In a Jar
16
17
Bury Me With It
-
18
The Tortoise and the Tourist
-
19
Parting Of the Sensory
-
20
White Lies, Yellow Teeth
10
21
Tiny Cities Made Of Ashes
-
22
Truckers Atlas
18
23
Broke
15
24
Edit the Sad Parts
-
25
Breakthrough
24
26
Invisible
-
27
Novacain Stain
17
28
Ocean Breathes Salty
9
29
Talking Shit About a Pretty Sunset
22
30
Black Cadillacs
23
31
I Came As a Rat
-
32
Grey Ice Water
-
33
A Manic Depressive Named Laughing Boy
-
34
A Different City
-
35
Life Like Weeds
-
36
Convenient Parking
-
37
Paper Thin Walls
12
38
Tundra/Desert
-
39
Gravity Rides Everything
-
40
The Best Room
19
41
Head South
25
42
The World at Large
-
43
Interstate 8
-
44
Night On the Sun
-
45
Be Brave
-
46
Lampshades On Fire
-
47
King Rat
-
48
Float On
-
49
Alone Down There
-
50
The Ground Walks, With Time In a Box

I think the above comparison shows just how futile a project such as this can be. My own rankings from just over a year ago are significantly different from how I currently rate the songs. I wonder how it would look if I attempt this kind of thing when the next album is released?

As I mentioned earlier, the 100 songs that I ranked were all official releases. Some were singles, but you could go to the Glacial Pace store or Amazon and track down every release if you are missing any. But Modest Mouse has other songs that I did not deem eligible for this project.

Two cassettes were produced, with about 100 copies being made for each, of the band's early songs. The quality is poor, but it's more than interesting to see how Modest Mouse's sound originated:

Tube-Fruit, All Smiles and Chocolate consists of 25 tracks. If you listen to Tossing Your Weight, Super Saver Day, or Crow Bar, you know that you're listening to Modest Mouse.

Uncle Bunny Faces' Useless Analogy Involving Distance, Freight Trains, and Half Ripe Limes (It Doesn't Matter, Limes Are Sour Either Way) consists of 22 tracks. You can see where the tendency to choose long album names originated. As On, Vandetta and Problem really starts to show us the Modest Mouse sound. I would love to hear a studio version of that with today's lineup. The structure that I love now is present in that song for sure.

Those early releases aside, I want to share three songs that any Modest Mouse fan should have the chance to hear. Two would probably feature somewhere in the second half of my Top 100, while the third would be in the Top 20, or perhaps even the Top 10.

This one is from 1995 or so:

Dead End Job At The Dead Letter Office (Wrong Decision)  


Get a job at the dead letter office
I said I was sore, but I am so sick, so sick
Bad life with a bad plan, Brad's here
I'm doin' bad, but I'm doin' the best I can

I know I made decision
I am wrong

I know I made that wrong decision
I am wrong

You say you wonder, wonder how
How I get here, got here now
Well I put on my shoes and socks
Goddamn If I walked here tiff or tock
You say you wonder wonder how
How I get here, got here now

Get a job at the dead letter office
I said I was sore, but I'm so sick, so sick
Bad life with a bad plan, Brad's here
I'm doin' bad, but I'm doin' the best I can

I know I made decision
I am wrong

I know I made that wrong decision
I am wrong

You say you wonder, wonder how
How I get here, got here now
Well I put on my shoes and socks
Goddamn if I walked here tiff or tock

I know I made that wrong decision
I am wrong

I know I made that wrong decision
I am wrong


Next up is Calculus Man with that incredibly catchy bass:



And the stars
Shine on
Get On
The Planet

The stars
They shine on
They shine on
This planet

The stars are projectors
Projectin' our lives on down to this planet

The stars are on
And projectin' our lives on to
This planet
Fine
I know everything

And the stars
They're projectin' our lives on down to
This planet
Oh yeah
The films we're watchin' is you
And said "How?"
You get on your knee
Your mouthin' my mood
If you were talking out loud
You'd say a "Howdy do"

And I get my mouth
And my words
They can't make use
To my mouth out of or my brain
And you say what you do
When you do what you said
You're talking out of to
You're talking out of threat
I want what
I get on
I get off
I get the things you don't want

And I walk to my head
And I walk through my hell
And I walk through my head
And I know I ain't goin' nowhere
And I talk myself
And I talk to my hell
And I'm walkin' round

The planets they revolve around themselves
They evolve
You were talking to god
You were talking to mom
And you were sayin' things loud
And I was doin' out loud
You said "I can't"

And the planets projectin' their selves around

And the stars
They're projectin' our lives on this earth

And the stars are projectors
Projectin' our lives on to this earth

I watch you playin' out
You move your mouth and you said what you were worth

I'm not sure why Calculus Man never saw a release. Perhaps The Stars Are Projectors idea was deliberately confined to one song? I still think that this is a great song in its own right.

I've saved the best for last. I bet a lot of Modest Mouse fans dream of hearing this live:

Beta Carotene



I got myself the means
I got myself what I call the Beta Carotene
Despite from all the string
I never had enough, enough to keep you dreaming along

And by the poolside
I watch the summer and the thought of the life ends in fire
Sometimes we get so many lifts well
Sometimes you know you're gonna have to gonna get around

And all your friends know that you know, you know you're right and
Cuz they all know you know, you know, you know, you know, you know you're right

I got myself the things
I got myself what I call the Beta Carotene
Despite from all the string
I never had enough, enough to keep you dreaming along

And by the poolside
I watch the summer and the thought of a life ends in fire
And some, so many lifts you know, know, know, know, know, know, know
You're gonna have to go and get a ride
You're gonna have to go and get a ride
Have to go and get a ride
Gonna have to go and get a ride
Gonna have to go and get a ride

I'm never anywhere
I never feel somewhere, don't you know
You know I never feel somewhere, don't you know
Oh no, I never

Oh no, I know
Oh no, oh no
What was, what was
Oh no, I don't, I don't
No, I know
I know, don't go
You go, oh no
Hell, we'll pay

Heaven as a collection agency
One, two, seven
Heaven collection agency
Dot I, I, I, I, I, I, I
All the pages

Yeah, definitely close to my Top 10. Maybe in there if a great quality recording was released.


I want to thank everyone who read this mammoth series. The 22 installments took me about 50 hours to write. There was also a lot of hidden time spent playing the songs that I would potentially choose for each set of five to determine what to include and in which order. I will miss writing this series, but I feel closer to this wonderful music than ever before.

I'll leave you with one last thing. My latest playlist and ultimate setlist for a concert. Thanks again for reading:

3rd Planet
Never Ending Math Equation
Dark Center Of the Universe
Lounge (Closing Time)
Parting Of the Sensory
Bury Me With It
White Lies, Yellow Teeth
Trailer Trash
Tiny Cities Made Of Ashes 
Fly Trapped In a Jar
Dramamine
Beta Carotene
The Tortoise and the Tourist
The Stars Are Projectors 
Teeth Like God's Shoeshine
Spitting Venom
Cowboy Dan
Steam Engenius
Heart Cooks Brain
Exit Does Not Exist
The Whale Song
Doin' the Cockroach 

And here is my Top 100 with links to the rest of this series:

100. Birds Vs Worms
99. Fire It Up
98. We've Got Everything
97. Dukes Up
96. Out of Gas
95. Strangers to Ourselves
94. Of Course We Know
93. Space Travel Is Boring
92. Styrofoam Boots/It's All Nice on Ice, Alright
91. Dance Hall
90. She Ionizes & Atomizes
89. Other People's Lives
88. Whenever You Breathe Out, I Breathe In (Positive Negative)
87. One Chance
86. Polar Opposites
85. Might
84. Pups to Dust
83. Sunspots in the House of the Late Scapegoat
82. All Night Diner 
81. March Into the Sea
80. Coyotes
79. Blame It On the Tetons
78. The Good Times Are Killing Me
77. Perfect Disguise
76. A Life of Arctic Sounds
75. Satellite Skin
74. Ohio
73. People as Places as People
72. The Waydown
71. Guilty Cocker Spaniels
70. Florida
69. Missed the Boat
68. The Cold Part
67. Whenever You See Fit
66. Wicked Campaign
65. Lives
64. Beach Side Property
63. Bankrupt On Selling
62. Shit Luck
61. Little Motel
60. Satin in Your Coffin
59. Shit in Your Cut
58. The View
57. Ansel
56. Custom Concern
55. Sugar Boats
54. Dashboard
53. Education
52. Bukowski
51. What People Are Made Of
50. The Ground Walks, with Time in a Box
49. Alone Down There
48. Float On
47. King Rat
46. Lampshades On Fire
45. Be Brave
44. Night on the Sun
43. Interstate 8
42. The World at Large
41. Head South
40. The Best Room
39. Gravity Rides Everything
38. Tundra/Desert
37. Paper Thin Walls
36. Convenient Parking
35. Life Like Weeds
34. A Different City
33. A Manic Depressive Named Laughing Boy
32. Grey Ice Water
31. I Came As a Rat
30. Black Cadillacs
29. Talking Shit About a Pretty Sunset
28. Ocean Breathes Salty
27. Novacain Stain
26. Invisible
25. Breakthrough
24. Edit the Sad Parts
23. Broke
22. Truckers Atlas
21. Tiny Cities Made of Ashes
20. White Lies Yellow Teeth
19.Parting of the Sensory
18. The Tortoise and the Tourist
17. Bury Me With It
16. Fly Trapped In a Jar
15. Steam Engenius
14. The Stars Are Projectors
13. Lounge (Closing Time)
12. Never Ending Math Equation
11. Dark Center of the Universe
10. 3rd Planet
9. Trailer Trash
8. Cowboy Dan
7. The Whale Song
6. Exit Does Not Exist
5. Dramamine
4. Heart Cooks Brain
3. Spitting Venom
2. Doin' the Cockroach
1. Teeth Like God's Shoeshine

Building nothing out of something (overview)
Building nothing out of something - songs 85 to 81
Building nothing out of something - songs 80 to 76
Building nothing out of something - songs 75 to 71
Building nothing out of something - songs 70 to 66
Building nothing out of something - songs 65 to 61
Building nothing out of something - songs 60 to 56
Building nothing out of something - songs 55 to 51
Building nothing out of something - songs 50 to 46
Building nothing out of something - songs 45 to 41
Building nothing out of something - songs 40 to 36
Building nothing out of something - songs 35 to 31
Building nothing out of something - songs 30 to 26
Building nothing out of something - songs 25 to 21
Building nothing out of something - songs 20 to 16
Building nothing out of something - songs 15 to 11
Building nothing out of something - songs 10 to 6
Building nothing out of something - the Top 5
Building nothing out of something - final thoughts and statistics