1 Mile to You

(USA 2017)

High school senior track star Kevin (Graham Rogers) is livin’ the dream in his Mississippi small town: he’s handsome, athletic, and setting records in the state. He and his girlfriend, sweet Ellie (Stefanie Scott), are working on a way to end up in the same city for college next year so they can be together.

Kevin’s happiness implodes after a track meet one Saturday in the fall: his coach (Tim Roth) loses control of the bus carrying his entire team, which leads to an accident that kills everyone on board—including Ellie, who happens to be his coach’s daughter. The only reason Kevin isn’t on the bus is because he has to go somewhere with his parents after the meet.

Kevin deals with his grief and his guilt by running—a lot. And hard. He quickly discovers that he can “communicate” with Ellie during the runner’s high he gets toward the end of a sustained, hard run. The chance to be with her again makes him run faster and faster, more and more.

For some reason—maybe his whole class was on the track team, I don’t know—Kevin switches schools. His new principal (Peter Coyote) coerces him into joining the track team, and he participates grudgingly. Kevin doesn’t like his new school, his new coach (Billy Crudup), or Henny (Liana Liberato), the girl who follows him everywhere. On top of that, a running rival (Thomas Cocquerel) is giving him shit. It’s all getting in the way of his time with Ellie.

Based on Jeremy Jackson’s Life at These Speeds: A Novel, 1 Mile to You is not what I expected. It’s an underwhelming melodrama disguised as a sports tragedy. The plot is somewhat promising and the film has a few good scenes, but the story lacks intensity. I’m not sure whether the problem is Marc Novak’s screenplay or Leif Tilden’s directing, but the characters don’t fully develop and Kevin’s catharsis is given shallow treatment. The whole thing is dull. Plus, the special effects that tell us Kevin is in his trance are, in a word, cheesy.

Tilden has a lot of talent to work with, but he underutilizes everyone except Rogers and maybe Crudup. While I won’t be surprised to see Rogers in bigger and better things in the future, 1 Mile to You did not impress me.

With Melanie Lynskey, Ty Parker, Peter Holden, Elizabeth Canavan, Jaren Mitchell, Casey Groves

Production: Cinema Revival, Culmination Productions, Ingenious Media, LATS Productions, WeatherVane Productions

Distribution: Paseo Miramar Pictures, Gravitas Ventures

104 minutes
Not rated

(Facets) C-

https://m.facebook.com/1MILETOYOU/

The Hateful Eight

(USA 2015)

The trailers piqued my interest but didn’t totally sell me, so I wasn’t sure about The Hateful Eight. My apprehension was unfounded: it’s gotdamn motherfucking Quentin Tarantino, all the motherfucking way, motherfucker. If that last sentence sounds good to you—and you read it how Jules Winnfield might say it—well, you’re in for a treat. I said, goddamn, god damn!

Traveling through Wyoming on the way to Red Rock not long after the Civil War, bounty hunter Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) is caught in the mountains just as a blizzard is a-brewing. He stops a stagecoach that happens to be carrying another bounty hunter, John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell), and his captive, the lovely Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh)—who has blood on her face for nearly the entire film—and finagles a ride. Another guy, Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), who claims to be en route to Red Rock to become sheriff, is thrown into the mix. The blizzard forces them to seek shelter at Minnie’s Haberdashery, where they join four strangers: “Mexican Bob” (Demian Bichir), smarmy Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), quiet cowboy Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), and “The General” (Bruce Dern), a frail former Confederate soldier. Niceties, banter, and then expletives are exchanged until characters are killed off, Ten Little Indians style but with twists—Agatha Christie never blew anyone’s nuts off. Then again, Tarantino’s way of telling a story is completely his own.

True to form, Tarantino jams The Hateful Eight with memorable miscreants, snappy dialogue, and impossibly crazy cutthroat situations. The action here is intense and suspenseful, unfolding gradually and teasingly. The timing is out of sequence—no shock there. The plot gets thicker with each character that falls off, leaving questions begging for answers. Best of all, not a single performance is subpar and not a single character—except maybe Minnie’s helper—is superfluous. Russell and Dern stand out, but Jackson is a master scene-stealer—his delivery is so strong that you simply cannot turn away when he speaks. Channing Tatum makes a surprise appearance and gives an even more surprisingly impressive performance.

Well, let’s not start sucking each other’s dicks quite yet. The story has a hole or two, and the gore is so over the top it loses its impact at points. There’s the use of the ‘n’ word like a mere conjunction. Jason Leigh sounds annoyingly like Roseanne Barr. Oh yeah—more than eight characters actually appear, which a couple of times—namely when everyone is in the same small room—requires extra concentration to follow along. All that said, though, none of it detracts from enjoying the film. Yes, it lacks the elegance and grace of Kill Bill, my personal favorite, but The Hateful Eight is toward the top of Tarantino’s resume. I loved every minute—which did not seem like three hours.

Side note: the overall experience was one I’ve never had at a movie theater. Truly a bona fide “event,” the atmosphere was like a rock concert: the screening was sold out ahead of time, and the crowd was abuzz with excited fans taking pictures and chattering about other Tarantino films. Some had on Reservoir Dogs and Kill Bill tee shirts. The line to get in was all the way to the next block. Programs were provided. Shot on decadent 70-millimeter film, the Music Box showed The Hateful Eight on a brand spanking new screen it acquired for this special “roadshow engagement.” The price was double a normal ticket but oh so worth it.

The Hateful Eight ended my year of movies on a high note—I can’t think of a better director to release a new film to close out the year. To borrow from it, “Old Mary Todd is calling, so it must be time for bed.” Time will tell for sure, but I think this one belongs to the ages.

(Music Box) A+

http://thehatefuleight.com

 

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Selma

(USA 2015)

Martin Luther King Jr. lived an amazing life, and it would take volumes to cover it. That’s why it was smart of director Ava DuVernay to focus on one key event—the freedom march on Selma—and not MLK’s entire life.

With Selma, DuVernay does a nice job downplaying the legacy and showing MLK as an imperfect man, flaws and fears and all. David Oyelowo lacks MLK’s intensity, but he pulls off the task of portraying the man. Seeing Oprah Winfrey play an unglamorous old lady is a surprise.

I have two issues here. One is technical: Selma looks and feels like a made-for-cable movie. The other issue is treatment: I would have liked the story to go a little deeper. Still, Selma is a film definitely worth its running time; in fact, it could have gone on and I probably would not have noticed.

With Carmen Ejogo, Giovanni Ribisi, Jim France, Clay Chappell, Tom Wilkinson, Haviland Stillwell, André Holland, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Colman Domingo, Omar J. Dorsey, Tessa Thompson, Common, Lorraine Toussaint, David Morizot, David Dwyer, E. Roger Mitchell, Dylan Baker, Ledisi Young, Kent Faulcon, Stormy Merriwether, Niecy Nash, Corey Reynolds, Wendell Pierce, John Lavelle, Stephan James, Trai Byers, Lakeith Stanfield, Henry G. Sanders, Charity Jordan, Stan Houston, Tim Roth, Nigel Thatch, Tara Ochs, David Silverman, Charles Saunders, Dexter Tillis, Cuba Gooding Jr.

128 minutes
Rated PG-13

(AMC 600 North Michigan) B

http://www.selmamovie.com