How about starting off the new year with a little Grand Guignol, Quentin Tarantino style? The Hateful Eight has it all -- macabre humor, great dialogue, and extreme violence. Extremely extreme. The story is set right after the Civil War, and Samuel L. Jackson's first appearance as a bounty hunter gives you fair warning of what's coming. He's in an immense snow field, nothing but white all around, waiting by a pile of three corpses with a saddle on top of them (his horse died).

Most of the action takes place in a sort of halfway-house where eight of the characters are sheltering from a storm, and at times I thought I was watching a stage play: the confined, almost claustrophobic space, wonderfully articulate people going at one another, the ensemble acting. I wasn't completely happy with Kurt Russell's performance; he slipped into camp on occasion, even getting a bit hammy. But Jackson and the rest of the cast were excellent -- Michael Marsden, Channing Tate, Jennifer Jason-Leigh, Tim Roth, Bruce Dern, others who were unfamiliar to me.

If Tarantino's ultra-violence is too much for you, then skip this one; it's a bloodbath. But you'll be missing a helluva good movie.