A thousand different films could have resulted from this tale, and most of them would have been stirring schmaltz at best, but the property fell into the hands of Clint Eastwood, at age 86 one of the most fundamentally sound and unaffectedly idiosyncratic directors making multiplex movies today.
Happy Hour has a rambly, digressive quality that belies the precision of its construction. After an opening that establishes its core ensemble cast of four 37-year-old female friends, the movie is pulled hither and thither by each of their individual stories, intersecting again only to break off into different routes.
As shot by Storaro, lush, verdant Southern California and the sparkling Pacific have never looked quite so Mediterranean, if not Elysian, the figures rimmed in an amber daylight, the coloration of the deep-focus photography given the pop of stained-glass or hand-painted movie posters.
Refn is a prim provocateur next to the likes of Anger and Harrington, who worked from an experience of genuine sexual outlawry. As for Kubrick, well, along with the Aronofsky film Black Swan, The Neon Demon may be said to belong to the burgeoning subgenre of Kubrickian kitsch.
A big influence on me was Edward Hopper, because I look at his paintings and you have two or three objects in a room, but they combine to create a mood and a whole story. Suddenly a lamp become important, or a poster or a piano, and you choose more carefully.
I will never understand those hostile responses to Malick, which seem determined to hold the line so that American narrative cinema will not be overrun by avant-garde abstraction, as though there was a flotilla of directors making experimental films on this scale instead of literally just one guy.
As with Django Unchained, what we now tend to refer to as “America’s troubled racial history” is central to The Hateful Eight, though the racial hang-ups attributed to America are naturally filtered through Tarantino’s own, as surely as the streak of podophilia running through his films is no accident.