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Bad times at El Royale
The bad Italian title that mock "The Hateful Eight", actually has a merit. It explains a lot, if not all, this film. Behind the camera and behind the typewriter (of course it was not a typewriter, but I liked the retro assonance given the setting) we find Drew Goddard nominated for an Oscar for the screenplay of "The Martian" and appreciated director of "The Cabin in the Woods". This time Goddard throws himself into a thriller/crime that has much of Tarantino's latest work, from the point of view of story, from the way he directs and also has that bit of caustic irony that we know well.
A game of references and inspirations that I appreciate but which brings "Bad Times at the El Royale" to suffer from a lack of originality. As if this were not enough, an excessive duration frays the story, bringing many dead points and therefore, yes, boredom.
The beginning, however, is compelling, exciting, with the protagonists who arrive, at the end of the sixties, to "El Royale", a hotel built exactly on the border between Nevada and California, as the "Cal Neva Resort and Casino" also owned by Frank Sinatra. A funny idea, which irony about the differences between the two States, but which is lost in the course of story
"El Royale" was a fashion hotel, famous and loved, but now lies ignored and cared for Miles Miller (Lewis Pullman), a young porter, a former war veteran, with a few skeletons in the closet. Dark passes and things to solve that also involve the other who arrives there, ie the fake priest Daniel Flynn, which is actually called Dock O'Kelly and is played by Jeff Bridges, the singer Darlene (Cynthia Erivo) and the seller of vacuum cleaners that in reality is an undercover agent played by the good Jon Hamm, in a part that recalls the movements and duplicity of his most famous character. Close the group of interesting guests, the sisters Emily and Rose Summerspring none other than Dakota Johnson and Cailee Spaeny, with the first that saves her sister from a sect headed by Chris Hemsworth, but we'll talk later. Everyone has something to solve in this place. Those looking for a hidden treasure, those looking for a forbidden film shot in what is, actually, a place of perverts with lots of cameras, rooms and fake mirrors.
In this already dense story, comes Chris Hemsworth, head of a Manson-style sect, in search of his Rose. His arrival brings a large dose of blood and speeches in Tarantino style, which again underlines a certain lack of originality.
It struggle a little to complete the vision but everything is saved by a good cinematography, by the search for elegance and perfection and by a series of non-original Soul songs sung by Cynthia Erivo. Not to mention an obvious big cast that does not miss (but it couldn’t different) the creation of good characters.