It seems that director Quentin Tarantino has developed something of a fondness for Westerns. Following on from 2012’s Django Unchained, his eighth film takes place on the other side of the Civil War and focuses on eight strangers thrown together through circumstance, forced to bed down together in an American frontier town in the face of severe weather.
One of the unsavoury group is fugitive Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who is in the custody of John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell). When it becomes known that there is a cash reward for her capture, the dynamics between the eight changes as alliances are forged and broken and trust remains thin on the ground.
As ever, Tarantino masterfully cranks up the tension, with the film playing out like a cross between an Agatha Christie novel and John Carpenter’s The Thing when it becomes obvious that one of the group is not who they say they are.
Talkative, blood stained and editorially ill-disciplined, The Hateful Eight has all the hallmarks of a Tarantino classic, with beautiful cinematography and a score to match.
As his wedding approaches, straight-laced Jason Kelly (Zac Effron) is tricked into driving to Florida to celebrate spring break by his grandpa, Dick (Robert De Niro). From epic parties to romancing girls more than half his age, Dick is on a mission to prove that you’re only as old as you feel. While the concept is amusing in theory, the film goes for quantity over quality with its jokes, some of which hit the mark, while others fall a bit flat. Full of stereotypical characters, Dirty Grandpa is not going to make film history, but it will make you smile once or twice.
Sandra Bullock goes to war, but not as you expect it. Here, she stars as Jane Bodine, a political consultant, and the war she is fighting is one of words against an old rival (Billy Bob Thornton) as they go head-to-head behind two opposing South American presidential candidates. While the film may lack bite in some areas, passing up ripe opportunities for satirical critique, what it does provide is a refreshingly strong female character, free from any romantic entanglements or dependence on men. It’s a performance that could put the 51-year-old actress in contention for another Oscar nomination.
In a refreshing take on the superhero genre that has become so popular over recent years, American Hero is all about Melvin (Stephen Dorff), a man who uses his telekinetic powers to get up to no good until a brush with death brings on a change of heart, as he decides to use his powers to fight crime rather than commit it.
This sports drama stars R Madhavan as a former boxer who quit due to disillusionment with the sport’s underlying politics. In order to fulfil his dreams, he becomes coach to a 17-year-old female protégée (real life boxer, Ritika Singh), who has aspirations of her own. Saala Khadoos is a Hindi-Tamil bilingual film.