One Room Country Shack: Quentin Tarantino Unleashes The Hateful Eight

'The Hangman' John Ruth (Kurt Russell, left) is suspicious of 'The Bounty Hunter' Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson, right).
‘The Hangman’ John Ruth (Kurt Russell, left) is suspicious of ‘The Bounty Hunter’ Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson, right).

Some movies come with a colorful history, meaning that their road to the big screen has been rather unusual. One of those is Quentin Tarantino‘s The Hateful Eight. Originally designed as a follow-up to the successful Django Unchained, the director temporarily scrapped the whole project because a first draft of the screenplay had been leaked on the internet and, as a consequence, planned to turn it into a novel. Eventually, however, Tarantino revisited the movie idea after a live reading of the script and assembled a mighty fine cast for it. Now that The Hateful Eight has seen its theatrical run and already made it through the recent awards season, how does it fare in comparison with the remaining works of the cult director?

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Double Agents: Guy Ritchie Reveals The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander), Illya Kuryakin (Armie Teller), and Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill, from left to right) ponder how to stop the evil Vinciguerras.
Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander), Illya Kuryakin (Armie Teller), and Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill, from left to right) ponder how to stop the evil Vinciguerras.

Pop culture has always been captivated by the Cold War. Back in the day, its backdrop spawned the longest-tenured blockbuster movie franchise ever, the James Bond series. This fascination with spies from the East-West conflict has never ceased, particularly so with Hollywood reenacting television shows and feature films from that era. The latest example is The Man From U.N.C.L.E., once co-creator for the small screen by 007 inventor Ian Fleming and interestingly as well as daringly pitting a U.S. and a Soviet agent on the same side to fight against a multinational terror syndicate. Can director Guy Ritchie’s modern cinematic take on the beloved series bring U.N.C.L.E. back to life?

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Attack of the Nerds: Fanboys Makes a Joyride out of Looking Forward to Star Wars

The Fanboys eagerly await the opening of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
The Fanboys eagerly await the opening of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

Remember when, back in 1999, the Star Wars hype was almost as huge, if not even bigger, than this year? After an absence of more than a decade and a half, the saga was about to return with Episode I: The Phantom Menace, and expectations were through the roof. Fanboys, a 2009 comedy by director Kyle Newman, feeds to the frenzy of that time. As the title suggests, you might be in for a wild ride if you belong to the eponymous group. Does the film satisfy in that regard, however, and – on top of that – is it also a movie that’s fun to watch for non-Fanboys?

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A New Chapter: J.J. Abrams Introduces the Next Generation to Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Finn (John Boyega), Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), and Han Solo (Harrison Ford, from left to right) are in the hands of the Stormtroopers once again.
Finn (John Boyega), Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), and Han Solo (Harrison Ford, from left to right) are in the hands of the Stormtroopers once again.

‘Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away…’ Every part of the Star Wars franchise begins with that fairy tale opening and John Williams’s trademark fanfare, and each time, the diehard fans have been passionate about it. A decade after George Lucas’s final film in the series, the latest installment, Episode VII: The Force Awakens, has smashed all previous box-office records with J.J. Abrams, Hollywood’s current favorite wunderkind to be handed over the reins for classic franchises, at the controls for the first time.

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Ghost in the Machine: Daniel Craig’s James Bond Hunts Sam Mendes’s Spectre

James Bond (Daniel Craig) pursues almost invisible enemies.
James Bond (Daniel Craig) pursues almost invisible enemies.

‘James Bond will return…’ Barring a short period in the early 1990s, when the future of the series was up in the air thanks to legal issues, this statement has been as sure as death and taxes for more than five solid decades. Three years after the gargantuan success of Skyfall, the British super spy graces the silver screen of the blue planet with his presence once more. In the midst of some controversy about whether he still enjoys the role, Daniel Craig returns for his fourth outing as 007. Can Spectre, which is again directed by Oscar winner Sam Mendes, ‘deliver the goods’ in the face of enormous expectations?

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In the Cards: Christian Bale is Terrence Malick’s Knight Of Cups

Rick (Christian Bale, right) with his ex-wife Nancy (Cate Blanchett, left)
Rick (Christian Bale, right) with his ex-wife Nancy (Cate Blanchett, left)

Terrence Malick remains an enigma. First, the reclusive director vanished from the filmmaking landscape for two solid decades between his sophomore effort Days Of Heaven and the acclaimed The Thin Red Line. Then, he returns with a new movie every other year from 2011’s The Tree Of Life on, after never having spent less than five on every other previous feature. Knight Of Cups, which reunites him with erstwhile Batman Christian Bale, is the third of these experimental narratives that Terrence Malick has put out in a relatively short span of time. Given the frenetic working pace, can the director continue his run as the film buffs’ darling or has he finally run out of steam with his latest output?

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Cheap Sunglasses: Roddy Piper Fights the Aliens in John Carpenter’s They Live

John Nada (Roddy Piper) has finally seen the truth behind the lies.
John Nada (Roddy Piper) has finally seen the truth behind the lies.

‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper was arguably one of wrestling’s first true major superstars in the late 1980s. When the Canadian fought Hulk Hogan at the then-WWF’s initial Wrestlemania, his popularity almost rivaled that of the blond, mustache-wearing ‘Hulkster.’ These two men were also pioneers in terms of turning their fame in the ring into carving out a niche for themselves in Hollywood. Hulk Hogan managed to land a part in Rocky III and later got his own television series, Thunder In Paradise. Roddy Piper unfortunately died of a heart attack at age 61 last month. Therefore it’s time to pay tribute to and remember him with arguably his greatest role – that of the leading man in John Carpenter’s They Live.

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Home by the Sea: Ray Milland Welcomes The Uninvited

Dr. Scott (Alan Napier), Roderick Fitzgerald (Ray Milland), Stella Meredith (Gail Russell), and Pamela Fitzgerald (Ruth Hussey, from left to right) try to find out what the supernatural events in the haunted house are all about.
Dr. Scott (Alan Napier), Roderick Fitzgerald (Ray Milland), Stella Meredith (Gail Russell), and Pamela Fitzgerald (Ruth Hussey, from left to right) try to find out what the supernatural events in the haunted house are all about.

Horror films were popular in the United States in the 1940s, in spite of the Second World War and the feel-good stories Hollywood brought to the silver screen to distract the people. Russian-born writer and producer Val Lewton, in particular, managed to attract a cult following with masterful B-movies such as Cat People, I Walked With A Zombie, or Isle Of The Dead, but other greats like Alfred Hitchcock also dabbled with the genre when arriving stateside. Some of these films from that era also featured A-level talent and not just Boris Karloff and other genre-specific stars. The Uninvited by director Lewis Allen based on a bestselling novel by Dorothy Macardle belongs to that category.

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Broadway The Hard Way: Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman, or the Psyche of an Actor

Riggan Thompson (Michael Keaton, front) is always haunted by Birdman.
Riggan Thompson (Michael Keaton, front) is always haunted by Birdman.

Mexican filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu had already been a known commodity in Hollywood circles for a while. His debut feature, Amores Perros, became a fan favorite, while his U.S. projects 21 Grams, Babel, and Biutiful landed him the star power of Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Sean Penn, or Javier Bardem. With his fifth movie, Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance), he has firmly established himself as one of the premier talents behind the camera stateside. The film won four prestigious Academy Awards for Best Motion Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Cinematography – but how good is Birdman really?

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The Monster Is Loose: Andrei Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan as a Parable of Putin’s Russia?

A broken Kolya (Aleksei Serebryanov) reflects on his life.
A broken Kolya (Aleksei Serebryanov) reflects on his life.

Russian cinema has always commanded international respect, even when things were frosty between the Soviet Union and the ‘West.’ The same still holds true for the modern arthouse movies from the country. Since the early 2000s, Andrei Zvyagintsev has become one of the more distinguished Russian directors. Particularly because of the recent crisis between his homeland, Ukraine, and the NATO, Zvyagintsev’s fourth feature, Leviathan, has seen a lot of politically-motivated controversy coming its way. The question is, then, how good is the movie and how much of an accurate portrait of today’s Russia does it provide?

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Spybreak: Matthew Vaughn Introduces Us to Kingsman: The Secret Service

Harry Hart (Colin Firth, center) introduces 'Eggsy' Unwin (Taron Egerton, left) to Internet billionaire Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson, right).
Harry Hart (Colin Firth, center) introduces ‘Eggsy’ Unwin (Taron Egerton, left) to Internet billionaire Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson, right).

Parodies of spy pictures – and the James Bond variation in particular – are a dime a dozen, with a fairly mixed bag of results. The cream of the crop may be the first two Austin Powers movies, International Man Of Mystery and The Spy Who Shagged Me. The low point is arguably a spoof based on Ian Fleming’s first novel, the star-laden 1966 attempt at Casino Royale with Peter Sellers, David Niven, and Woody Allen that needed a whopping five directors to be completed. Now X-Men: First Class and Kick-Ass filmmaker Matthew Vaughn has entered the territory and assembled an impressive cast to realize Kingsman: The Secret Service. Is his vision of what a spy movie should look like up to the task?

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Food, Glorious Food: Chef Jon Favreau Goes Back to the Roots

Carl Casper (Jon Favreau, back, to the left), his son Percy (Emjay Anthony, front, to the left), and their friend Martin (John Leguizamo, front, to the right) enjoy a good Texas BBQ.
Carl Casper (Jon Favreau, back, to the left), his son Percy (Emjay Anthony, front, to the left), and their friend Martin (John Leguizamo, front, to the right) enjoy a good Texas BBQ.

In Hollywood, Jon Favreau has become a household name as the man at the helm of the Iron Man trilogy. While he admittedly did a commendable job as the director of the first two movies from that franchise, he actually started out as an indie comedy filmmaker. Chef, a pet project of his, sees the jack of all trades return to his roots, while prominently involving him in several roles – as the leading man, director, writer, and producer. Does Jon Favreau succeed, as he did with the Iron Man blockbusters, or does carrying that much weight overwhelm even such an über-talented man?

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Tyranny of Souls: James Franco and Seth Rogen Conduct The Interview

CIA Agent Lacey (Lizzy Caplan, center) briefs television star Dave Skylark (James Franco, left) and his producer Aaron Rapaport (Seth Rogen, right).
CIA Agent Lacey (Lizzy Caplan, center) briefs television star Dave Skylark (James Franco, left) and his producer Aaron Rapaport (Seth Rogen, right).

Despite the fact that most comedies involving Seth Rogen have generally been subject to debate, none of them has stirred as big a controversy as The Interview. A political comedy about real-life North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the film has been threatened by the Pyongyang regime for months, leading to Sony Pictures becoming the victim of the ‘Guardians of Peace’ hacker group and causing the studio to pull the movie from the theaters. That we are now able to watch The Interview anyway is owed to Sony doing a U-turn and releasing the comedy online instead.

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Fight the Good Fight: Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies, or the End of an Era

Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman, front), Gandalf the Gray (Ian McKellen, center), and the Dwarves await the Orcs.
Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman, front), Gandalf the Gray (Ian McKellen, center), and the Dwarves await the Orcs.

Although fans and critics alike haven’t been completely satisfied with the results, the first two parts of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy have been among the biggest-grossing movies in recent years. One of the chief criticisms about the film series has always been that the director made a 300-page children’s book by J.R.R. Tolkien stretch out over three (longish) movies, while including other material not found in the original story. Despite the controversy about The Hobbit, expectations for the last part of the trilogy have remained high. The finale The Return Of The King was probably the high point of Jackson’s previous The Lord Of The Rings series based on Tolkien’s works. Will The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies be able to the same?

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Agent Provocateur: Edward Snowden Explains the Digital World as Citizenfour

Edward Snowden (left) explains Glenn Greenwald (right) how it's done.
Edward Snowden (left) explains Glenn Greenwald (right) how it’s done.

Who is Edward Snowden? Why even bother posing the question, you may ask, as the answer seems to be blatantly obvious: a world-famous whistleblower. The person who first appeared under the alias of Citizenfour to reveal the truth about the NSA, PRISM, and TEMPORA in 2013. We all know his name and face now, but we don’t really know the man and his motivations at all, at least not from a firsthand account. Is he a hero, as part of the internet community portrays him to be, or a villain, as most of the Western (and particularly) American officials paint him?

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