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Vice Principals: when a school principal retires and the vice principals are passed over for a promotion they form an unlikely tag team to take their new boss down. Not unlike most Danny McBride projects, the humour in VPs is an acquired taste: it’s stupid and lowest-common denominator stuff, but I’m a fan of the funny to watch the crass swearing, childish squabbling, stereotypes, silly faces etc… McBride’s pretty much been here before in Eastbound and Down with his faded baseball star going back to school to teach; his latest character Neal Gamby is essentially an older, and slightly more filtered/censored Kenny Powers. Goggins on the other hand turns in an against-type effeminate role, that requires a lot of eye rolling, sucking up, and mincing around in pink clothes. Both leads are great at what they do and the core supporting cast notes (Gregory / Whigham / King / Love – GO SCOTLAND! / Patterson) all hit the right comedy notes. The show mostly cruises along, with scenarios that lead to silly and cringe comedy, but there’s a few curveballs in here with surreal moments, weird filming techniques, and the finale feels a little too bizarre and doesn’t fit in with the rest of the show. Vice Principals will go down best with fans of McBride’s trademark style, and he’s firmly in his comfort zone… for regular viewers it may be stray a little too far into crass and unacceptable territory.

Score: 6/10

vice-principals-poster-hbo-danny-mcbride-walton-goggins-kimberly-hebert-gregory-georgia-king-sheaun-mckinney-busy-philipps-shea-whigham-maya-g-love-edi-patterson-susan-park-mike-ogorman

 

the-hateful-eight-banner-poster-The Hateful Eight Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demián Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, James Parks, Channing Tatum, Zoë Bell, Quentin Tarantino, Ennio Morricone

The Hateful Eight: a bounty hunter and his prisoner get snowed-in at a cabin stop with six strangers, but “one of them fellas is not what he says he is”. Most of the actors get to do what they do best: grouchy Kurt grumbles magnificently; magnetic Goggins spits out redneck ramblings; Sam J does his shouty-preaching; Roth ponses around; in fact, Madsen is the only actor that doesn’t really get any good screentime. Despite the huge names, Señor Bob (Demián Bichir) steals the show for me with a ridiculously terrific comedy performance and accent. There’s some absolutely stunning exploitation gore, blood sprays, head explosions, etc, etc – all electrifying for even the most hardened splatter aficionados. As you’ll have read everywhere; the main issue with H.E. is that it’s simply far, far, far too long. It takes over 45 minutes to get to the cabin setting; an hour ‘til we get to the crux of the movie; and even with 2hr40min of dialogue heavy scenes, a narrator (voiced by QT, obvz) is still required to throw in more details – how sloppy and empty can the writing get? In fact, most people’s issues with Django seem to be applicable here too: it’s almost as if Tarantino is intentionally trolling his own audience (too many n-bombs, too long, no censorship…). Finally, a massive deal was made about resurrecting the ultra-Panavision 70mm format: but exterior shots are pretty much whiteouts, and the last two hours are confined to a cabin interior – which leaves you yearning for epic vistas. With his last few films, Tarantino is starting to come across as a ‘brat’ director (surrounded by ‘yes men’); refusing to cut out flabby parts, censor himself, or make any changes to his precious baby. Boiled down: The Hateful Eight is simply a decadent, elaborate, and extremely self-indulgent Reservoir Dogs remake: and a very testing setup for what’s essentially a room full of people shooting each other… again.

Score: 6/10

The Hateful Eight Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demián Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, James Parks, Channing Tatum, Zoë Bell, Quentin Tarantino, Ennio Morricone

Justified Season 6 Timothy Olyphant, Nick Searcy, Jere Burns, Joelle Carter, Jacob Pitts, Erica Tazel, Walton Goggins, Sam Elliott, Mary Steenburgen, Justin Welborn, Garret Dillahunt, Rick Gomez, Duke Davis Roberts, Patton Oswalt,

Justified: The Final Season (Season 6) –  Old-school kick-ass US Marshall Raylan Givens tries to put his lifelong nemesis Boyd Crowder behind bars before he gets re-posted to Miami. I didn’t get round to writing up reviews of Seasons 4 & 5 as they felt like the show was resting on its laurels – but Season 6 brings back all of the elements that make Justified a great show to watch; well written storylines and characters, fantastic dialogue, and a thick streak of humour – it’s entertaining TV in its purest form. The writing is particularly special in this season, which boasts an intricate, overlapping and multi-layered story that sees the upper hand continually shift between the law, and Harlan’s various quibbling crime factions. Everyone that’s still alive gets drafted back in, and because it’s the final season there’s no shortage of people being written out either – usually at the behest of Boyd, to make him seem more dangerous than the last few seasons. The only thing that is missing is a baddie that matches the villainous heights of Quarels or Maggs Bennett – or even a consistent henchman – but with all of the other fireworks going on, it’s not as big a deal as the previous seasons. The final 20 mins our may divide people, as it plays out in an ‘X years later’ fashion, trying to round everything off. Season six had a major legacy to uphold and close out, which it managed comfortably, while staying true to the characters, which are the biggest draw to the show – Olyphant and Goggins will always be Raylan and Boyd to Justified fans. Season six is a satisfying conclusion to one of the most enjoyable and truly entertaining shows on TV – sad to see it hand over its gun and badge.

Score: 9/10

Shamelessly stolen from Michael over at It Rains… You Get Wet.

Oldboy Korean Movie1 – A movie you love with a passion

Oldboy: saw it in a tiny – practically empty – 50-seater screen [Aberdeen, Belmont Cinema] and just fell in love right there. It’s got plot, style, direction, acting, editing, originality, and groundbreaking themes that the re-make probably hasn’t touched with a bargepole: I’m not rushing to watch it! Such a fine example of original, bold, and brave film-making.

High School The Musical Logo2 – Movie you vow to never watch

Don’t think I would purposely decide to never watch a particular film on grounds that it’s potentially bad (I’ve sat though old propaganda films, terrible B-movies, outrageous exploitation films with no problems), but you’d be hard-pushed to convince me to watch the High School Musical movies, or any of those “he/she dies of cancer at the end” manipulative sob-fests.

Children of Men Clive Owen Michael Caine No more babes future london dystopia3 – Movie that literally left you speechless

Children of Men: My friend Spencer and I literally walked home slack-jawed, glancing at each other occasionally and muttering phrases like “No way”, “Holy shit” and “Fuck me” for 20 minutes after we left the cinema. Unbelievable, powerful film-making, paired with groundbreaking technical precision that should be watched big, loud and uninterrupted.

City Of God Brasil Brazil Lil Ze Rocket Drugs Crime Gangs4 – Movie you always recommend

City of God: usually to people that haven’t yet been swayed to world cinema yet. My DVD of this has been continuously whored out for the past 5 years. Actually, I don’t even know where it is any more… Poor Rocket! Take that acclaimed coming-of-age crime film Gomorrah, turn that son-bitch sideways, and stick it straight up your candy ass!

Barry Pepper Hollywood's unsung hero5 – Actor / Actress you always watch no matter how crappy the movie

I try to catch as many Barry Pepper films as I can. For me, he’s one of American cinema’s unsung heroes, never the leading man, but always putting in a top shift, and connects with the audience so effortlessly. Jackie Chan too, although he’s done so many movies that it’s hard to keep tabs – and had a few ropy hollywood outings.

Zooey Deschanel GROSS6 – Actor / Actress you don’t understand the appeal of

Zooey Deschanel: seems to have carved herself out as the go-to queen of the quirk. I cannot stand her cutesy, look at me, bug-eyed, big-fringed, dressed-like-a-tranny-from-the-1980s vibe. Arrested Development is Michael Cera’s get out of jail free card, or else he’d be cast off in the same boat.

Russell_Crowe7 – Actor / Actress, living or dead, you’d love to meet

See next question – LOL. Seriously, I’d love to sit down and have a few beers with Russell Crowe. Of all the egos, stars, and reported stories from behind the scenes, he’s been the most fun to follow through the years, and sounds like he’d be a great drinking buddy. It helps that he can act the pants off of most people too, at least when he puts his mind to it.

Gina Gershon OH MY GOD SHE IS SO DAMN HOT8 – Sexiest actor / actress you’ve ever seen

I have always exclusively reserved my Hollywood-wood for the lovely Gina Gershon (Those eyes! Those lips! That hair!) – she’s like an expensive whiskey that keeps getting better with age. Although recently I saw a few photos of Italian actress Sophia Loren and my life hasn’t been the same since. Too close to call. Maybe Lizzie Capplin, or Penelope Cruz. Toughest question on the list for sure.

The Good Bad Weird Korean Blockbuster Dream Cast9 – Dream Cast

The Good, The Bad & The Weird is as close to a ‘dream movie’ I’ve seen in real life. However, if I were a producer I would go for… Brian De Palma directing an international action-thriller with an ensemble including Javier Bardem, Jean Reno, Penelope Cruz, Barry Pepper, Moritz Bleibtreu, Monica Bellucci, Vincent Cassel – all in their prime.

Boyd Crowder Raylan Givens walton goggins timothy olyphant justified10 – Favourite actor pairing

When Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) and Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) are in the same scene my telly, brain, and Marshall stiffy pretty much explode simultaneously. The back-and-forth banter between those two is some of the best-written TV out there, and the actor’s chemistry is sublime.

BASEketball Court Matt Stone Trey Parker I hear your moms going out with SQUEAK]11 – Favourite movie setting

If I was living in a world where BASEketball or Death Race 2000 were actual sports I’d quit my job tomorrow. Being dropped into a Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amelie, MicMacs, Delicatessen) or Luc Besson (Fifth Element, Adele Blanc Sec, Angel-A, Nikita, The Last Battle) would be wildly entertaining, although I know for a fact that this is going to change when Snow Crash is finally made – come on Hollywood, pull your finger out!

Amores Perros12 – Favourite decade for movies

I think the 2000s is a tough decade to beat, so much emerging talent and superb movies. Probably helps that I spent most of the decade in front of a cinema screen.

Oldboy, Amores Perros, Mystic River, A Bittersweet Life, Children of Men, Kill Bill Vol 1, Together, No Country For Old Men, 3:10 to Yuma, Battle Royale, Memento, The Fall, Intacto, Infernal Affairs, The Woodsman, Bourne Ultimatum, District 9, 3-Iron, Brick, Eternal Sunshine, Primer, Lilya-4-Ever, In Bruges, City of God, Love Me If You Dare

Commando John Matrix Rocket launcher four barrel carnage moustache guy multipl deaths13 – Chick flick or action movie

Action; every single time. I like the odd chick-flick now and again – Just Like Heaven, Princess Bride, SATC – but even the Mrs prefers a good old action-film over the chick-flicks.

James Bond 007 Everything or Nothing Sean Connery George Lazenby Roger Moore Timothy Dalton Pierce Brosnan Daniel Craig14 – Hero, villain or anti-hero

Two words – James. Bond. Total hero.

Survive Style 5+ Vinnie Jones 15 – Black and White or colour

Colour for the most part. I’m not particularly adverse to black and white – it has its merits – but I’ll take ‘modern cinema’ every time over the classics. Imagine watching films like Volver, Scott Pilgrim, The Fall, Lego Movie, Kill Bill and Survive Style 5+ in monochrome / B&W… no chance.

DJANGO UNCHAINED FILM STREAM WATCH CLIPS Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Goggins, Dennis Christopher, James Remar, Laura Cayouette, Ato Essandoh

Django Unchained: a German bounty hunter frees a slave, then partners up with him to make some cash and rescue his girl from a flamboyant plantation owner. As expected, Waltz absolutely steals the show with what’s essentially a re-write/reprise of his intelligent, oddly-humorous ‘Jew-hunter‘. Everyone else turns up and does their thing entertainingly enough. While the film pokes a lot of fun at the stupidity of racism (KKK mask scene & Sam Jacksons rant about Foxx sleeping in the house), for me the ‘N-Bomb’ is dropped far, far too often: which may have been accurate of the period, but it’s such a loaded word that drags the tone down – taking it way beyond any ‘light-hearted’ Blazing Saddles similarities. Clocking in at 2hr 45, it’s also far, far too drawn out, for such a simple revenge tale, especially once Dicaprio pops up: some scenes seem to go on forever with rambling, empty, dialogue and plodding shot after shot. While they’re all quintessential Tarantino scenes, it also suffers from his trademark lack of self-censorship. Finally, although, stylistically, most scenes are undeniably QT -and this isn’t really his fault – his style’s been ripped off so many times (funky music, uber-gore and back-and-forth dialogue) that it no longer packs the punch it once did. As a stand-alone film, Django Unchained is a decent film dragged down by its ‘epic’ runtime and the difficult task of balancing racism and comedy. It’s only when you step back and hold it up against a film like Inglorious – equally long, but crammed with great, tense and cinematic moments – that you realise how ordinary Django Unchained is.

Score: 6/10

DJANGO UNCHAINED 2 FILM STREAM WATCH CLIPS Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Goggins, Dennis Christopher, James Remar, Laura Cayouette, Ato Essandoh

Justified (Season 3): the Dixie Mafia – backed by Detroit – are aggressively targeting Harlan with oxy; but Raylan, Boyd, or anyone else in the county isn’t going to be a rollover. The lead antagonist, Robert Quarles, absolutely steals the show, phenomenally played by Neal McDonough: smart, uncontrollable, freakishly calm and articulate, deeply troubled psychotic – he’s like the Bond villain that never was, and watching his tailspin into tragedy is an absolutely engrossing. He also gets called everything from an ‘albino giraffe’ and ‘big stupid baby face’ to ‘the man with a thumb for a head’ – unsure if he knew about this or not – but talk about a punchbag! Quarles also brings out the best in his permanently startled-looking right-hand man,Wynn Duffy. The only main character I didn’t buy in to was Limehouse, who was simply played too goofy, and only really appeared to speed up sub-plots. While there’s a few goodies, and baddies, Justified succeeds in leaving most others in the grey area – where you must make up your own mind. The dialogue one-the-whole is so well-written, and characters like Boyd, Quarles and Raylan are an absolute joy to listen to. The only thing that lets down justified is that, in order to keep characters alive, or the story from drying up, some people do things out-of-character, but the fact that you notice these shows how well-written they are to begin with. This series also peaks a little too soon, in the penultimate episode. Every aspect of Justified gets better with each season: the stories, the characters, the humour, the action, the suspense, the acting, the stakes, the entertainment factor – it’s simply TV at it’s best. It’s also not afraid to dig up a storyline / grudge from episodes or seasons past – which rewards die-hard viewers. This is the only show that’s come close to The Good Wife and The Wire for me. TV Gold.

Score: 9.5/10

Justified: after killing a mobster in Miami, old-fashioned US marshal Raylan Givens is re-assigned back to his home turf, Harlan County, Kentucky – where his past comes back to bite him. At the heart of the show are scores of larger-than-life characters, all of whom are well-developed over the season(s) and who’s intricate, interlacing, backgrounds are slowly revealed as the show rolls forward. When Raylan (Olyphant) and Boyd Crowder (Goggins) are in the same scene, it’s TV Dynamite – not to mention other great leads in Arlo, Art, Mags, Dickie, Doyle, and supporting cast members like Gutterson, Johnny, Duffy, Bo, Helen, Ava, Loretta, Dewey… and although the show hangs mostly on Givens, there are very few characters that you’d want to write out. It stands out against most TV shows by channeling an old-fashioned western, redneck, lawless, gun-slinging vibe. It’s also focused more on entertainment, over just drama: sure, the story can be a tad on the ridiculous-and-conventient side (how many criminals are there in this district? How many men can one man kill? etc, etc) but the writers seem to understand that this is what makes the show so watchable. The script and story-writing is solid, and there’s a lot of comedy one-liners that you could easily miss. Season one went for the ‘one case per episode’ format with bits of backstory mixed in, whereas season two gambled with the larger, holistic end-to-end story arc and a few one-off cases thrown in – and when coupled with better production, writing, and a bigger budget, it really improved the show. There aren’t too many shows that blend drama, tension, action, wit and succeed in keeping it entertaining. Justified is a gem.

Season 1: 7/10
Season 2: 8/10