Weekly Round-Up: Comics Released 1/20/16

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Look, there are a lot of comics out there. Too many. We can never hope to have in-depth conversations about all of them. But, we sure can round up some of the more noteworthy titles we didn’t get around to from the week. Today, we discuss Batman and Robin Eternal 16, Robin: Son of Batman 8, American Monster 1, Wolf 5, Star Wars 15, and Judge Dredd 2.

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Batman and Robin Eternal 16

Batman and Robin Eternal 16Michael: I have “hate watched” TV shows before – it’s a destructive self-fulfilling prophetic experience that I don’t really recommend (unless you’re looking for more negativity in your life). I don’t think Batman and Robin Eternal is quite at the level where I’m “hate reading it,” because amid the cliché over-the-top drama there are ideas and characters I like present in it.

I think Jason Todd as a character is rife with potential, but I’ve yet to see anyone tap into it. Instead, writers characterize him as the bad boy Robin who is most famous for being beaten and killed by the Joker. Guess what character element of Jason’s the creative team decides to play with in Batman and Robin Eternal 16? If you guessed his death at the hands of the Joker, finish your drink. Joker killing Jason is of course an important moment – it’s a scary moment for the fictional world of Batman and a scarier moment for DC Comics publishing standards – but still essential.

Scripted by Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelley, Batman and Robin Eternal 16 takes a unique and possible controversial approach to this pivotal moment in Jason’s life. St. Dumas has ol’ Jason hooked up to one of Mother’s brainwashing devices and is making him relive that terrifying last encounter he had with the Joker as Robin #2. A key part of Mother’s brainwashing is removing all fear from the individual as a way of making them more effective killers/weapons. Consequently, Jason is experiencing some revisionist history where he turns the tables on the Joker and starts beating the clown senseless. After Azrael has his “duh-doy” moment of working for the bad guy, he helps Tim Drake attempt to free Jason. In order to counteract St. Dumas’ brainwashing, Tim pleas to Jason not to give in to this revenge fantasy. Tim tells Jason that he has to remember every terrible moment of that day and accept it as it was – embrace the fear. Tim reminds Jason that he’s not alone: he’s a Robin.

Jokeson Todd

Lanzing and Kelley frame this mental struggle of Jason’s as positive experience – accepting the trauma he’s endured and working to move past that. Initially I thought that Tim’s insistence on Jason remembering his death the way it actually happened was cruel. It made me think of victims of abuse, rape or other violent crimes being forced to relive their tragedy over and over so the police can get the story straight etc. The more I think about it however, the more on board I am with the way things played out in Batman and Robin Eternal 16. Upon waking, Jason tells Tim how he hasn’t been “good for a really long time. But I think I’m ready to try.” Having Jason legitimately come to terms with his death and try to move past it is a big step for the character; I’m hoping future creators that shepherd Jason Todd will take note.

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Robin: Son of Batman 8

Robin Son of Batman 8Spencer: Robin: Son of Batman 8 is the series’ first fill-in issue, giving Ray Fawkes and Ramon Bachs a chance to try their hand at penning the adventures of Damian, NoBody, and Goliath, even if it takes a handy flashback to do so. Bachs does excellent work, capturing the youthful spirit of Damian that’s long been an essential component of Patrick Gleason’s work with the character without directly copying Gleason’s style — Bachs’ take on Damian is looser and less moody, but still dynamic and very much in character. Just look at this cocky little smirk: that’s 100% Damian Wayne.

Robin smirk

Fawkes likewise has a fine handle on Damian and Maya’s voices, but perhaps sticks a bit too closely to the template Gleason established in the first few issues of this series. Robin’s attempt to return an artifact he stole during the “Year of Blood” ends up pitting him and Maya against living embodiments of what they could be if they continued on their once-dark paths. They’re appropriate opponents for these kids and it’s a fitting message for this series, but it does feel like a somewhat simplistic repetition of lessons Damian and Maya already learned during Gleason’s first arc. In the end, though, I suppose that’s about the most you can ask for from a fill-in issue; if nothing else, the story serves as a handy reminder of Robin: Son of Batman‘s core themes after the diversion that was “Robin War.”

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American Monster 1

American Monster 1Drew: Brian Azzarello knows how to write a crime story. His name has long been enough to get me to invest in a new series, but this time, it also has me investing in a new publisher. As part of the first barrage of Aftershock Comics, American Monster helps give the publisher some of the street cred it needs to challenge the legacy of Vertigo. Scooping up creators who made their name at Vertigo, like Azzarello or Garth Ennis, goes a long way towards making that case, but even more important is just how good this issue is. I hesitate to assume the quality of this issue translates to the rest of Aftershock’s line, but there’s no denying how smart the editors were to nab this series while they could.

The issue introduces three characters that the series seems poised to revolve around: one is Snow, a teenage stoner who makes money showing her breasts to local perverts; another is Felix, a vindictive criminal introduced torturing and murdering a couple who had wronged him; and the last is an unnamed, disfigured veteran whose car breaks down on his way through town, apparently after staging a successful bank heist. Who is the titular monster? Felix is easily the most demonstrative in his evilness, but there’s clearly more to the stranger than we get here. I’ll also make the case for Snow, whose casual degradation of “Seesaw Man” and apparent interest in disfigurement suggest that she might have some sociopathic tendencies (plus, you know, it’s an Azzarello joint, so the simplest answer can’t be the right one).

Artist Juan Doe brings a bold, graceful line evocative of Bruce Timm, leaning on noirish stylization and plenty of inky black shadows. His color work is just as striking, bathing most of the issue in sunset reds, and pulling out breathtaking lighting effects in just about every scene. Add that to the brilliant writing, and you’ve got an issue that’s a publisher could well stake their name on. I’m looking forward to following this series for a long, long time.

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Wolf 5

Wolf 5Patrick: Wolf has always been about perception – particularly just what people are willing to ignore. The fact that human beings can only see 3% of the electromagentic spectrum came up a couple of times in the first four issues, and while that percentage seems high, the concept is intriguing. Wolfe, and Anita, are both given a leg up in this world of monsters and normals by being able see the shit that everyone else either can’t perceive or chooses to ignore. Which is why issues five — which starts a new story arc under artist Ricardo Lopez Ortiz — is so troubling: not only is Wolfe unable to use his extraperceptory powers, it seems like he can’t tell fantasy from reality, or past from present. We flash back to his time in Iraq, and hook-up he had with a rando-ghost-zombie Iraqi woman, but it’s hard to say when we flash back to the present. When Wolfe finds himself straddled by the figure, is he in his memories or stuck in the present? Is he in Iraq or is he in that private prison we read about in issue 4?

Meanwhile, Anita’s turned into quite the teenage detective. I think it’s appropriate to emphasize both parts of that moniker – she is very much teenage and very much a detective. She keeps a journal, has a Hole poster on her wall, and idly speculates about her sexuality. Oh, and she’s got a plush Pikachu on her bed. Totally 17 years old. But I love that 5 years away from her once-protectorate motivates her to investigate Wolfe’s whereabouts. We don’t really to know how she’s put in contact with Yeti — or how Yeti knows what’s going on — but the scene is so delightfully goofy, playing to all of the sillier strengths of this series. Lopez Ortiz almost dresses the character like Han Solo, which, when combined with his furry facade, makes their meeting charmingly reminiscent of the Cantina scene from Star Wars.

is that you chewieHey! Speaking of Star Wars

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Star Wars 15

Star Wars 15Taylor: One of the things I like best about the current run of Star Wars comics hitting the shelves is how it fills in the gaps of what happened before, in between, and after the original trilogy. In doing so the creative teams involved have done a wonderful job of not so much expanding the universe, but deepening it in meaningful ways. Star Wars 15 is a distillation of this mission, explored through the lens of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Trapped on a desert planet and charged with watching over young Luke, Obi-Wan is a portrait of loneliness and devotion.

We’ve always known that Obi-Wan was watching over Luke, even as early as A New Hope. After all, Darth Vader’s former master doesn’t just end up on the same planet as his estranged son, that much is clear. And while I’ve always known Kenobi spent upwards of twenty years on Tatooine, I never really considered before just how trying that might be on the man. Writer Jason Aaron does a great job of shining some light on Ben’s living circumstances during these years and he presents a once proud Jedi dealing with estrangement from everyone and everything he once knew.

While there are many instances of Kenobi’s isolation, what really struck me was the scene where Obi-Wan is seen preparing his dinner of snake soup for the evening.

Hermit Life

The isolation of his house paired with a disgusting dinner the likes of which has been eaten every night for year is somewhat sad. Add to this the fact that Ben is talking to himself, or perhaps an unanswering Qui-Gon, and the scene is close to heartbreaking. The mention of the Jedi temple reminds me that Ben once spent his days flying around the universe, saving lives, and generally being somebody. His reduced role on Tatooine, while important, is a shadow of his old life and I can’t help but feel Kenobi’s loneliness throughout this issue.

Ultimately I think Obi-Wan’s pathetic Tatooine life speaks to the kind of man he is. If anything, Obi-Wan is a dedicated Jedi and even if that means a life of near isolation, he’ll be sure to see his duties through until the very end. This isn’t anything we didn’t already know about Obi-Wan from the movies, but it does give me a better appreciation of the man and his role in the Star Wars saga.

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Judge Dredd 2

Judge Dredd 2Drew: In a comics market full of antiheroes, Judge Dredd has always stood out because he’s not really a hero at all. Sure, he’s usually cast as the protagonist, but he’s also a murderous fascist, often fighting against democratic ideals of justice. Like most characters that sprung out of 2000 AD, Judge Dredd was meant to make a political point, satirizing the restrictive conservative policies of Margaret Thatcher. Of course, the character proved to be much more enduring than Thatcherism, but the satirical elements are still baked right into the character, which is precisely why IDW’s new Judge Dredd series has interested me so much. Cast out of his Mega-City One, apparently into the future, Dredd’s will no longer reflect the morals of society — he no longer is the law. Writers Ulises Farinas and Erick Freitas drop him into a basically anarchic society — just as foreign and distasteful to the audience, but the polar opposite of Dredd’s fascism.

Cleverly, this anarchy seems to be based on social media, where everyone is allowed to do and say whatever they want — the only crime is trying to suppress the rights of others. Farinas and Freitas draw just enough parallels to make the connection, but leave much of their world too fickle to pin to any one philosophy. Except, of course, for Trog Lody, who first comes to Dredd’s aid before ultimately becoming the bad guy. It all comes down to methodologies — Lody abhors violence, hoping instead to draw hypocrites into exposing themselves through conversation. Lody’s own hypocrisy around those methods ultimately undermines his point, though the issue never ultimately celebrates Dredd’s methods as better.

The issue is drawn by Dan McDaid, who wears his debt to Frank Miller on his sleeve. Indeed, McDaid’s dynamic sense of line and cheeky mockery of his futuristic populace is so evocative of Miller, this feels like the Judge Dredd story Miller could have written if he were invited to 25 years ago. I suppose, then, that Farinas and Freitas’ ambiguous morality is a perfect fit, channeling all of the energy and confused politics of classic Frank Miller into a character that seemed designed for it.

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The conversation doesn’t stop there, because you certainly read something that we didn’t. What do you wanna talk about from this week?

 

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9 comments on “Weekly Round-Up: Comics Released 1/20/16

  1. Batman and Robin Eternal: I need to write down exactly which writers have done each issue, as I think what has happened is that as he hit issue 13, the order of writers has now been reversed. Which has been a big problem, as the best writers (Seeley, Valentine and to a lesser degree Orlando) were all at the start of the order. Now that we’ve hit the middle of Batman and Robin Eternal, we are getting all the bad writers twice, which is a real problem. On the other hand, this should mean that Batman and Robin Eternal is going to have a great ending, as Valentine and Seeley write a climax just as great as their amazing set up issues. You guys were talking about second act issues in your Lumberjanes review, and I think Batman and Robin Eternal is suffering this majorly, especially because, quite simply, they have positioned the good writers to write the ‘important’ issues, at the beginning and end. Not too long until Seeley and Valentine return, though.

    On the comic itself, the Azrael stuff just hasn’t been flash. The Jason Todd stuff could have been good, but I felt the writing wasn’t up to scratch with the ideas. The idea of Jason actually having to come to terms with his death could have been amazing in the hands of the right creative team. And the flashback stuff is getting annoying, as we understand what Batman is doing far too well to have the buildup to Cairo mean much. Of course Batman has something up his sleeve.

    Robin: I caught up on Robin during Robin War, and I have to say, I really enjoyed it. Gleeson has great art, and I love Maya as a character, and hope she stays on. The writing has a lot of work to do to improve, but Gleeson understands the hard part, the structure, and it honestly feels like it just needs another draft. Not the sort of quality you expect from Writer/Artists.

    But I think the nature of Robin means a fill in issue like this really doesn’t work. The joy of Robin is the strength of the character dynamics and, more importantly, how they constantly change (damn, this is impressive stuff from a guy who begun as an artist). Do a fill in issue, and you understand exactly how generic and boring the premise is if you don;t place such an emphasis on character. Quite simply, this book requires a forward momentum, and I can’t wait for Gleeson to actually return

    So Long As You Can See The Moon: This was a fascinating comic, and my favorite of the week. Got it as part of the Torment: Tides of Numenera beta release, and it was amazing. Patrick Rothfuss gets writing comics instantly, with a major emphasis on visuals that is unexpected from a prose writer. It is full of the interesting ideas you expect from the Numenera setting, and the central relationship between Rhin and Otero uses these ideas in fascinating ways, to explore how Rhin struggles after finding herself, quite literally, in a different world. Their brief friendship and tragic falling apart is a sad exploration about the difficulty of cross cultural communication and the difficulties of living in a world where, quite simply, no one is like you. THe final panel of the moon is tragic. Rhin was always told that she will never be lost as long as she can see the moon, but when she finally sees the moon, that is the true proof that she is lost. Because while it isn’t explicit, it is clear that whenever she is from, the moon hadn’t shattered yet.

    Not only is it fantastic, but it also is interesting in how it works. This comic is 45 pages, and the sort of thing that just couldn’t exist in today’s market, if it wasn’t for the fact that it was a cool thing being given out alongside a computer game. Any writer would want to make this story only one issue long, especially as it isn’t conductive to splitting in half. It is too short to be a graphic novel, and double length issues are used when Snyder and Capullo want to do a finale to their latest epic, not for a story about a kid wandering around lost. There isn’t really a criticism of the market, as if the market did this, they couldn’t do another thing. But So Long As You Can See the Moon is a great example of what you can do outside the usual page constraints we have on comics. Just a beautiful little story.

  2. I am becoming desensitized.

    I watched The Hateful Eight last weekend and then The Revenant this weekend. I then also read American Monster.

    Lead characters that are horrible people that revel in the power of their violence is getting to be a hard sell to me, not because it’s unappealing (it is, but that’s ok at times), but because there is so much of it right now.

    I don’t think I disliked American Monster, but it didn’t make me feel anything, either. This could be a case of timing: Dark art has taken over my eyewaves and I need to escape some of the gloom. I need to go read Squirrel Girl and Ant-Man for a bit.

    • To be fair, watching the Revenant probably didn’t desensitize you. The reason you felt desensitized is actually because it is a terrible movie that is so utterly empty that it is impossible to feel anything. It exists only to look pretty, with the camera flying around showing wonderful shots at the exact wrong thing, while the storytelling is generally terrible. There’s is honestly nothing to do in that terrible movie except laugh at the hilariously over the top savaging by a bear and wait for Tom Hardy to turn up with his actually captivating performance. The rest is utterly empty, except for the racism and sexism. Honestly one of the worst movies I’ve seen recently, and I’m not surprised that as soon as you move away from the always terrible Oscar circuit, you see film critics treat the movie as a joke (my favorite one was: Today, the Academy apologized for nominating the Revenant for best picture. ‘We only got half way through it and thought there would be a point’)

      Hateful Eight is an utter masterpiece. Saw it this weekend. I had watched the Big Short last week (not a good choice as counter programming to Hateful Eight), which I thoguht was a masterpiece, and thought it was going to be a hard movie to beat, and so was shocked when the Hateful Eight was not only better than the Big Short, but leagues and leagues better.
      Hateful Eight is a truly nihilistic film. I think it is a fair reflection on today’s society (damn, that final moment) but also one that I understand is a hard watch, and will challenge people to a degree that many aren’t comfortable with. Hateful Eight is a movie where evil wins, and not the fun sort of evil like Darth Vader. An evil that is a base, primal sickness that horrifies us. Anyone wanting to read Squirrel Girl after watching Hateful Eight makes perfect sense

      • I didn’t like The Revenant, but you hated it more than me. I was able to enjoy Hardy’s performance enough and some of the scenery enough to not loathe it. However, it was a monotonous drone of a movie that I found only changed tone when it became laughably pretentious. I thought the movie mostly looked great, but I think the movie would have looked great if they just would have filmed the scenery and never had any actors or CGI bears in the movie at all. But it made me appreciate Tom Hardy, which I’m not certain I fully did before, so it had that going for it.

        (I won’t get into the racism or sexism part. Others have already done so and I don’t have the time or energy to get into ways that… nope, not falling into that trap, not even in my disclaimer)

        I also liked The Hateful Eight, but not as much as you did there, either. I don’t think it’s a fair reflection on today’s society. I don’t think it’s a fair reflection of anything other than how ugly Tarantino wanted to make everybody and everything and really it’s more of a reflection of Tarantino’s skill in making the beautiful ugly and the ugly even uglier.

        At some point, I think a great movie needs something for the audience to latch on to in some way. A character or a mood that is familiar or comfortable. Someone that is worth rooting for. It reminded me the most of Reservoir Dogs, except that movie made the bad guys real people on some level, even while they were doing terrible things. This didn’t give the audience that satisfaction.

        I also think Tarantino flirted with unintentional self-parody at times, with the entire “Early that morning scene,” which I found poorly executed, General Smithers’ son’s flashback, and, unfortunately, almost everything about Daisy.

        However, there were enough strong performances, especially Walton Goggins (who I think had the most difficult role in the movie as he was the only character that had any depth at all), to make it a very good, if profoundly dark and unpleasant, movie.

        I haven’t gotten to Squirrel Girl yet. I did read Spider-Woman, so that was a start.

        • I think the Revenant is shit, because it is a monotonous drone of a movie that only changes tone when it became laughably pretentious (or the unintentionally hilarious bear attack scene). That is exactly the problem. When it comes to hating it, my problem is less with the movie itself, which bored me to tears, and more with the director as a whole, who is proving himself to be a pretentious idiot every time he opens his mouth, and the living incarnation of everything wrong with the Oscars. As someone who follows film very closely, the Revenant being a massive joke, Inarritu’s interviews and awards season makes everything around the movie frustrating.

          And yeah, Tom Hardy, no matter how bad the movie, always gives a fantastically charismatic performance.

          — To those reading past this point, there will be spoilers for Hateful Eight. Will avoid being too explicit, but giving warning —

          On the Hateful Eight, I don’t think you a movie needs someone for the audience to latch onto, and I think a big part of Hateful Eight is that it isn’t satisfying. The moment that you feel like you are feeling comfortable with someone, they do something terrible and force you to confront the fact that the person you were connecting just did great evil. And that is a big part of the movie, and how it reflects today’s world.

          Ultimately, the movie is about how we haven’t properly moved on from slavery, and the hateful attitudes that exist in America still exist. In fact, it really feels like the events of Ferguson have had a major impact on the movie, especially if you have knowledge of the leaked script and the production history. Hateful Eight is about America’s original sin, and how it has corrupted everything. That’s why you have ‘earlier that morning’. Not only it is dramatizing the events and making the deaths that occurred that morning matter, it is also showing how the dream of the united America is destroyed by that very original sin, hatred. The ideal is dead before anyone arrives, and the America we live in is full of hateful people. A repulsive image, but Tarantino wants you to be repulsed. Because the events of Ferguson, or the Republican Primaries or Bernie Bros are showing the exact same hatred.

          Also, I think saying Walton Goggin’s Mannix is the only character with depth isn’t fair (I honestly didn’t feel he was particularly deep compared to others). Kurt Russel’s John Ruth was fantastic as the ‘liberal’ white man. I liked how his sadism is covered up by this false idea of justice, and his reaction to the reveal about the Lincoln Letter is a perfect representation of the hypocrisies of so many when it comes to racism

          Samuel L Jackson’s Major Marquis Warren is a stand out performance, and I love how impossible it is to pin him down. Jackson’s performance in any normal movie would be great, but his performance as a character made up almost entirely of lies is fantastic. I love how hard the question of ‘Who is Marquis Warren?’ actually is. I would say Marquis is the deepest, most complex character and no other character has such an elaborate string of lies defining him. You complain about the General Smithers’ son flashback, but that’s a great moment of him. Firstly, I approve of the flashback simply because I like visualizing events, and that every part of Marquis’ speech/the flashback is wonderfully visual, even when the shot is of Marquis talking. But there’s also the fact that it is very likely that this is all a lie. We have just had confirmation that Marquis is a liar, we know he is trying to provoke the general (and in the end of the movie, we get even more evidence that he’s a liar when he lies about Minnie’s hatred of Mexicans in an attempt to get a reaction out of Bob) and the tension on whether the flashback is actually real is fantastic, especially when he asks ‘You’re starting to see pictures, aren’t you?’

          And the other stand out performance is, to me, Jennifer Jason Leigh as Daisy. In all honesty, I want her to play the next Joker. I will admit that I have a fascination at how Jennifer Lawrence would do the part, considering she was supposed to play Daisy until filming Joy got in the way, but only because I am interested to see how Jennifer Lawrence would take a part so different to her usual work (which is why it is a shame she did yet another shitty David O. Russel movie instead). But that interest doesn’t change just how good Jennifer Jason Leigh was as Daisy. She is a great example of the complexities of agency. The control she has over her role in the narrative, even chained up, is amazing. The shots of her after Ruth hits her are always a treat. I am completely serious when I say I want her to play the Joker.

          Hateful Eight is a truly ugly movie, but it is ugliness with a purpose. In today’s world, it is becoming clearer and clearer that hatred is what we need to move past, and Tarantino is looking at us today, and struggling to see how. He sees a world exactly like the final shot. Hateful people reading a lie about the peace and understanding of America, ignoring whatever hope it preaches for a cute detail while their crimes hang bloody and abused, being totally ignored.

          Not a nice look, but I think an honest look at what Tarantino sees in America today. America hasn’t moved past Slavery and Hatred, and while I do believe it can be fixed, I am also not surprised that others look at it with nihilistic acceptance. A masterpiece

          And again, Jennifer Jason Leigh as the Joker, please

        • A couple things:

          This movie (unsurprisingly) did nothing to make me look at it as a comment on modern race relations in America. (Unsuprising because I find most subtext (still) to be foolish and I don’t believe the world is that ugly)

          I don’t think they needed to give Samuel Jackson’s character a name, because at no point did I believe he was anything or anyone other than Sam Jackson playing a bounty hunter. To me it felt like a character written for Jackson and the direction was little more than, “Do your thing!”

          I didn’t care about if Jackson was ever lying because it never mattered if what he said was the truth! Whether his story about the General’s son was true or not, the goal of his words and the result of his words were the exact same: Old man got mad and old man got shot and Jackson got to do the shooting. Same really with the letter: The truth of it never mattered except some (few) would be hurt by the fact that Jackson was lying.

          Other things: The only reason I said Goggins’ character was the one with depth was he was the only one that really had any decisions of consequence in the movie. He actually needed to choose how to live or die at the end, and he had to choose a side that he was not comfortable with. The only suspense in the movie to me was whether he was going to side with the gang or with Jackson. That was it. Everything else was just a one way train ride of hateful and miserable people doing hateful and miserable things: Except for the two awful flashbacks, which I don’t think I can be convinced were anything but failures in executing execution scenes.

          I guess if the dream of this movie is to show us that the dream is dead, that the US is hateful and that we’ve never recovered, I feel bad that I went to it. Because that’s not my life, it’s not the life of those I’m around, and it’s nothing that I wish to support. I don’t live in a fantasy land of sunshine fairies and unicorn smiles, and I’m not going to even discuss Ferguson (and I’m even deleting my brief comment on it here, because I’m probably on the other side of the filmmaker’s beliefs on that one), but I’m also pretty sure hatred has always existed and life for most is better now in the US than it has been most likely in history.

          It was a good movie. It wasn’t my favorite thing ever, but as hate-porn it was good. I’d put it in the middle of Tarantino’s work: It wasn’t Pulp Fiction or Inglorious Basterds, but it was miles ahead of Dusk Til Dawn and Jackie Brown.

        • Lots of interesting thoughts here about Hateful Eight. I liked the movie quite a bit too – saw it in one of the roadshow 70MM showings, and the amazingness of that experience certainly helped color the whole movie for me. There was just something so wonderful about going to a movie with no commercials, no previews, a three minute musical Overture and a 10 minute intermission. It was like the whole evening was just about seeing Hateful Eight, which makes it unlike any of the other movie-going experience I ever have.

          Also, loved having the narration coming back from the intermission, like QT knew that he had to ease us back into his universe. Which is good too because it comes back with that really long, truly excellent scene of Daisy singing that song and watching Ruth eat the poison soup, which then transitions into some of the more Tarantino-y gross-out violence in the whole movie.

          I think I side with Kaif in that I don’t think the message of the movie — that race relations are forever-fucked and we all hate everyone forever — comes from a true place. There’s obviously a lot of work to do in this country, and racism is / was / will be a real hurdle for a long time, but I’m not convinced that cartoonifying that conflict does anything to express it more eloquently. That’s QT’s vocabulary, so maybe we can just take solace in the idea that he’s expressing ideas that are important to him in what is genuinely his voice. But the flick just looks so good, and the experience was so effective, I couldn’t help but love it.

          Two stray observations: 1) pop music cues didn’t work for me in this one. 2) “Hateful Eight” doesn’t really mean anything, while “Hate-Fellate” is a central image in the film.

        • Have you read Ta-Nehisi Coates writings on Reparations? It is a fascinating look at history of Black America, and how racism has crippled black people throughout history. Even after slavery, there was Jim Crow Laws. Even after Jim Crow Laws, there were racist home loans that treated the existence of black people in a neighborhood as a cause of a rating so low that they were usually ineligible for financial backing, making it impossible for black people to get home loans in legitimate ways, and forcing black people to be exposed to very predatory practices if they wanted any hope of owning a house. VyceVictus, a writer on BirthMoviesDeath, that website I like to link to on occasion, had a fascinating article where he discussed that the reason there isn’t any old money black families is that every time black people got money, white people stole it (for example, the Rosewood massacre). Combine these historic events of sabotaging black progress with modern day events like police brutality, the confederate flag controversy (which, while important, also distracted from the fact that it was more than just the flag that caused the massacre) and other recent events, and it is clear that there still is something ugly in race relations. We live in a world where a video of a policeman using an illegal chokehold to ‘subdue’ a suspect who is helpless and saying nothing but ‘I can’t breathe’ before dying can exist. There is a real problem. Yes, there is a lot of good stuff in today’s world, but there is a lot that is broken. And I completely understand how Tarantino can look so nihilistically at the problem. Especially after making two movies full of revisionist history, only to realize that ultimately, all it is doing is creating comforting lies. Because we live in a world today where Mannix can become Sheriff. Because we live in a world where people like John Ruth will say all the right things, until they feel they have been wronged. Because we live in a world where people like the General can commit crimes like that and then be free to live their lives.

          Surprised you think Warren’s lies mean nothing. The Lincoln letter reveal is massive. It provides an important reveal about how Warren is forced to exist, made very clear by John Ruth, the supposedly progressive, attacking Warren with a truly racist assault about ‘you people’ (something that Bernie Bros are making very clear is true to real life). It also changes Warren’s actions immensely. There is a reason he makes the choice to to kill the General immediately afterwards. The reveal of the lie strips him of his protections, and he needs a new set of protections because otherwise, he’s dead.

          I also disagree that Mannix made the only decision of consequence. Imagine how different the climax would have been if Warren didn’t kill the general? Daisy’s choice about the coffee is important, leading to the death of OB, the one good man, Quite simply, each character had their own psychology, and acted upon it. Mannix found himself in an interesting choice, but all characters made character motivated decisions as they dealt with the hands they were drawn.

          I don’t believe that the message is that, as Patrick said, race relations are fucked forever, but that race relations are fucked right now. That America still is infected from the Original Sin. It is entirely possible that after the events of Hateful Eight, Minnie’s Haberdashery, and therefore America, can become a place of peace and tolerance. Anything is possible after the Warren and Mannix die. But that isn’t what things are like at this moment. I do believe that it can be fixed, but as a reflection of today, a lot of it sings true. Mannix can become Sheriff, and people like John Ruth go around saying the right things but are ultimately just hiding their hatred. This is Tarantino about today (also, I don’t think the violence ever has the issue of being too cartoony. I think that it is sufficiently disgusting. In fact, there have been more than enough people who have been truly disgusted by the level of brutality, which is a good sign that it is doing it right)

          Also, really jealous of people who got to see it in 70mm. Didn’t come to my country in 70mm, despite having a cinema that could have done it!

        • It’s been showing in 70mm in Portland for about a month. Took us about 3 weeks to finally get to a non-sold out showing of it.

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