MEANTIME
1984, Janus Films, 102 min, UK, Dir: Mike Leigh

Mike Leigh’s slow-burning depiction of economic degradation in Thatcher’s England is the culmination of the writer-director’s pioneering work in television. Unemployment is rampant in London’s working-class East End, where a middle-aged couple and their two sons languish in a claustrophobic public-housing flat. As the brothers (Phil Daniels and Tim Roth) grow increasingly disaffected, Leigh punctuates the grinding boredom of their daily existence with tense encounters, including with a priggish aunt (Marion Bailey) who has managed to become middle-class and a blithering skinhead on the verge of psychosis (a scene-stealing Gary Oldman, in his first major role). Informed by Leigh’s now-trademark improvisational process and propelled by the lurching rhythms of its Beckett-like dialogue, MEANTIME is an unrelenting, often blisteringly funny look at life on the dole.


THE HATEFUL EIGHT
2015, The Weinstein Company, 187 min, USA, Dir: Quentin Tarantino

For this wintery Western, writer-director Quentin Tarantino has marshaled an all-star cast including Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Roth and Bruce Dern. In post-Civil War Wyoming, a blizzard brings eight desperate characters - a combustible mix of bounty hunters, lawmen, criminals and ex-soldiers from both sides of the war - under the roof of stagecoach stopover Minnie's Haberdashery; it’s anybody’s guess who will make it out alive. Featuring glorious widescreen vistas and music by Ennio Morricone, Tarantino’s eighth film pulses with blood and betrayal.


PULP FICTION
1994, Park Circus/Miramax, 153 min, USA, Dir: Quentin Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino’s dazzling, nitro-fueled homage to 1930s crime fiction, Elvis Presley flicks, Los Angeles diners, Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Pierre Melville and much more was easily the most audacious and exciting American film of the 1990s. The movie’s brilliant, against-type casting includes John Travolta (in a career-reviving performance), Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Bruce Willis, Harvey Keitel, Eric Stolz, Maria de Medeiros, Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer, Christopher Walken and Ving Rhames. Nominated for seven Oscars and winner for Best Screenplay. Winner of LAFCA Awards for Best Picture, Actor (Travolta) and Screenplay (Tarantino and Roger Avary).


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