Motels are creepy. Alfred Hitchcock knew that in 1960 when he set his classic thriller Psycho [IMDB] in one. By their very nature they’re nowhere. After all, if you were somewhere, there would be a hotel, right? Motels are where people end up when they can’t get where they’re going. Motels are awkward, uncomfortable, and far from people or the hope of help.
At first blush (perhaps second and third, as well) this is a movie trying too hard. It’s a quirky indie comedy/drama that runs, intentionally or not, slavishly through the quirky indie comedy/drama playbook. The question is, does it have anything worthwhile to say?
One thing can be said for Quentin Tarantino [IMDB] films: they’re easy to dismiss. Before a tirade about how over-rated his films are, you’ll often hear “too violent”, “too long” or “too complicated”. Tarantino’s films are hard. They require a commitment from the audience that some are unwilling to make. “The Hateful Eight” is no different.
The trailer for this begins “In a world…”, so you know it’s going to be something different! Or at least a different version of something you’ve seen before. Or maybe something exactly the same as what you’ve seen before, but with a different paint job.
Before I begin, an admission: I had no interest in seeing this. At all. I gave it a glance and dismissed it as another brooding, tween, After School Special melodrama. Somebody would offer somebody else drugs, they’d just say no. Somebody else would cry and so forth and so on. I am, however, married, and this film was shot in my lovely bride’s hometown at her former high school.
So, guess who got to watch “The Sisterhood of Night”?
After many years building their skills producing award winning short films, Pixar quietly slipped Toy Story [IMDB] onto the big screens in 1995. Initially a curiosity – it was the first feature-length computer animated film – it quickly won over audiences and critics. The movie became an instant classic and established Pixar as a force to be reckoned with.
This initial success was short lived. It was replaced by mind-numbing, Earth-shattering success. Their 16 feature films have earned 12 Oscars and over four billion dollars in ticket sales (and that’s not counting the billions more in home media, partnerships and merchandising). No studio in history has enjoyed such a consistent record over such a long period of time.
I was a big fan of the first film (my review). I spoke extensively about the quality of films featuring older, more experienced actors. This movie? That thing I said: same thing again. That’s not a particularly bad thing. I liked the first movie. It had an amazing cast, a funny, but understated, script and a simple, heart-warming message. This is more of the same and the same is pretty good.
After starting it, I was instantly convinced that I would love this movie. I also instantly regretted waiting so long to see it. In some cases my initial reaction is wrong. The movie squanders it, tosses it away, and I feel betrayed. In this case it somehow just kept getting better.
Danielle (Juno Temple [IMDB]) is the titular “Dirty Girl”. She doesn’t play well with others, is rebelling both at school and at home and tends to look out for number one. When she’s placed in the “Special Education” class as punishment for her behavior, she’s paired with Clarke (Jeremy Dozier [IMDB]), a closeted teen with a troubled home, on a parenting exercise. They’re to take care of a “baby”, a fragile bag of flour they name “Joan”, together to see how difficult raising a baby can be.
It’s a high concept kissy-face movie! With the ups and the downs, and the highs and the lows, and the will-theys and the won’t-theys! There’s smoochin’ as well, lots of it, but this is a serious kissy-face movie, not a laughy kissy-face movie, so there’s some sad stuff too.