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CATFIGHT SQUARE OFF Sandra Oh, Anne Heche, Alicia Silverstone, Amy Hill, Myra Lucretia Taylor, Ariel Kavoussi, Damian Young, Stephen Gevedon, Giullian Yao Gioiello, Dylan Baker, Onur Tuk

Catfight: after losing touch in college former friends – a struggling artist and a trophy wife – become bitter rivals, and find their lives changing dramatically at the hands of each other. This is an interesting film in that it’s the type of movie that doesn’t really get made anymore. It feels like something from the early 2000s: quirky and eccentric “Woody Allen style” New York caricatures coming together in a semi-absurd plot that could have come from someone like Todd Solondz or Larry David. It’s also refreshing in that you don’t often get to see female actors in this age bracket lead a movie. Both Sandra Oh and Anne Heche get to chance to showcase their fine acting chops – playing irritating characters, but making the most of the comedy in the script through their respective stereotypes. The film’s performances complement Tukel’s unique directorial voice and style, although his ability to craft and capture so many deadpan scenes, wry cameos, and absurd lines is what shines the brightest – this absolutely smashed through the six-laugh test.  Where the movie fell down for me was that it took a lot of swipes in the background at American culture, the U.S. government, foreign wars, inequality, topical Television shows, etc… This felt like easy – even lazy – targets for a film with this much promise and talent, and distracted from the central rivalry. The three prolonged ‘slobber-knocker’ fights also push the film momentarily from comedy & satire into a cartoonish farce: the hits are too big, with ‘wooshing’ & ‘crunching’ sound effects that become ridiculous, and the sequences feel much longer than they needed to be – although the film is called Catfight…. Catfight feels genuinely refreshing – coming through in an time where the majority of movies feel more like ‘safe investments’ designed by committee, that actively avoid taking any risks. This feels unique, original, fresh, and although it doesn’t land every punch, it’s is more than funny enough to remain entertaining for the duration.

Score: 7/10

CATFIGHT ALICIA Sandra Oh, Anne Heche, Alicia Silverstone, Amy Hill, Myra Lucretia Taylor, Ariel Kavoussi, Damian Young, Stephen Gevedon, Giullian Yao Gioiello, Dylan Baker, Onur Tukel

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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

Nude Nuns with Big Buns: tasteless throwback nunsploitation revenge flick with a latino twist. The single best thing about this film is that the entire female wardrobe could have been packed in to a purse; this is proper bang-for-your-buck stuff – with so much tits and ass that birthday suits seem normal by the end! It’s also way more offensive than your standard b-movie with some genuinely filthy scenes like the gas station encounter and motel self-surgery – it feels like a proper old-fashioned video nasty but without the hype – and it’s actually nasty. Story-wise, it’s pretty standard for the genre – following a lesbian, drug-addicted nun-gone-wild, with plenty of bad habits(!!). Technically, it’s pretty solid for a low-budget b-movie, and the acting’s passable for a bunch of z-listers playing stock characters. With possibly the most honest title in cinema history, this is genuinely packed full of gratuitous nudity and violence; it’s also got the greatest dispatch of a main bad guy in any film. Although this definitely isn’t for everyone, Nude Nuns with Big Guns is an entertaining, formulaic Machete-esque revenge flick aimed at the proper fans of ‘blood and titties’; a solid B-movie

Score: 4/10

Sucker Punch: after being checked into the world’s worst foster home Baby Doll must gyrate for her life, and has some super-crazy dreams to keep her mind off of the job. This is surely the single-biggest attempt to tick every single nerdy niche box: schoolgirls, robots, dragons, ninjas, goblins, WWI, Steampunk, noir, hosiery, vintage undies, pigtails, swords, the future, nazis, girls with guns, manga-influence, lesbian undertones… if geeks like it, it’s in here somewhere! As with previous outings Sucker Punch is very well directed, and a visual orgy-feast. However, this verges into over-direction, and over stylisation, which makes some scenes feel like a music video (with over-emphasised music), and others like a Victoria’s Secret advert (with an over-emphasis of lingerie). The dream sequences in particular look amazing, and are topped off with great fight/action choreography; unfortunately the asylum/caberet aspect gets tedious by the end. Sucker Punch May not be perfect but given the quality of Watchmen and 300 blu rays, I’ll be treating myself to this down the line – despite the pretty bleak colouring. Sucker Punch was a ballsy film to make, but it reasserts that Snyder is to pariah geek culture what Tarantino is to retro-cool.

Score: 6.5/10

The Assassin Next Door: when her only way out of prostitution is to carry out a few hits, a desperate woman jumps at the chance. Set in an Israeli slum, and opening with a couple of prozzies being beaten and stabbed up, you know this one’s going to be a gritty affair. What you don’t expect from a film called “The Assassin Next Door” is a well-acted foreign drama about women fighting against the odds, that just happens to have a few action scenes. In a way it’s reminiscent of Leon in that you actually care about properly developed characters and their predicament. Kurylenko is shockingly good in this, but you kind of feel that she’s wasted in the part, and should be appearing in more heavy-hitting films. You know the film’s good when things like a sexy Bond Girl holding a big gun, Bond Girl getting her lungs out, and lesbian undertones are only minor distractions from the dramatic story! Despite being a mid-budget affair this boasts decent script and solid acting by all involved.

Score: 6.5/10

Kill Speed (aka Fast Glass): Three chiseled ‘fly guyz’ make huge wads of cash by transporting drugs from Mexico into California in their state-of-the-art fiberglass ‘planes… until the plan changes! This is 100% aimed at the Maxim/FHM market: Cars, planes, chopper bikes, guns, babes, surfin’, partying, X-box – and in that respect, it ticks all the boxes. Staple B-movie elements are all present; stock characters, standard script and longer than necessary, being the three most obvious. Where it excels are the aerial battles / stunt flying which are surprisingly good, in abundance, real eye candy and almost entirely real. In the last 30 minutes the action is also ramped up and it works well. The film’s also shot very professionally, given the scale and budget. The biggest annoyance was Nick Carter, who played a flat-out ridiculous white rapper, and gets out-acted by a wrestler (who’s only in one scene) and inanimate objets like chairs and scenery. I’d rather listen to every Backstreet Boys (and solo) album, single and demo back-to-back than watch him act again! The rest of the cast do well with the characters their given, and there’s a few familiar faces like Matt from Heroes and Robert “T-1000” Patrick!! It’s very aeronautically orientated, so if you’re in to dogfights and supersonic planes check this out – as there’s some straight-to-DVD B-movie goodness here.

Score: 3.5/10

Live and Let Die: after 3 British agents are murdered by a sound, a snake and a funeral precession (!!) James Bond gets sent on the case, leading him into a world of underground drug crime and voodoo.

Starting as he means to go on... ridiculously

Apparently Roger Moore though that the idea of a world-class spy being so easily recognised by terrorists, and being known by name (and drink) in every bar around the world was absurd. Between this school of thought, and the fact that it was the 1970s James Bond soon found himself as the embodiment of camp; calling everyone darling, acting through his eyebrows, and cranking up the innuendo to the max. Moore’s Bond is essentially a cheeky detective, not a ruthless spy. Despite adapting these traits the chauvinism is still in tact – conning a tarot expert into bed rendering her useless and in danger… you just can’t teach a new Bond new tricks!

The price of losing against James Bond, your vagina!

All of the baddies and henchmen are African American, and there’s a real ‘Black Vibe’ to the this film – it’s set in Harlem, New Orleans and Caribbean Islands, there’s a 1970s soul music soundtrack, urban colloquialism, a ‘brotherhood’ against Bond, afros… you name it, pretty much every black stereotype is rampant in this one. To balance it out we also get a ridiculous redneck cop, who’s got to be one of the worst minor characters in the franchise.

That's no way to treat a lady James. (Had to crop the afro)

 

Unlike any of the other films before it this is when Bond starts getting really risque, treading a fine line between racial stereotyping, there’s the first round of implied heavy-duty swearing (including a well edited mother f…), and the crime gang aren’t scheming world domination, but pushing heroin – a real social issue.

 

Baron Samedi - Theatrical but memorable

Solitaire - Just plain ol' memorable

Live and Let die bursts out the blocks with 3 of the most memorable assassinations in the series, followed by one of the biggest-sounding songs. The rest of the film is spent boosting an intriguing story with mysterious voodoo, and some exotic locations. The action is top-drawer – including the now legendary boat chases – and the watch/magnet/saw is one of the best gadgets yet. Despite a new Bond, and new take on the tried and tested formula Live and Let Die is memorable for all the right reasons.

Super crazy magnet watch!!

Super crazy circular saw watch!!

Score: 7/10

What happened to the silhouettes of naked women in the credits?!?!

TOP TRUMPS
Villian: Kananga / Mr Big – pretty smart and ruthless. 7
Henchmen: Hook hand Tee Hee, Whisper, Baron Samedi – none of them die!! 9
Bond Girls: No neckline Solitaire can read my cards any time! Useless agent Rosie Carver. 7
Action: bus chase, assasinations, plane crazy, crocs, legendary boat chase. 8

Easily the most annoying minor character in history... WTF!?

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