Spoil-Free Reviews: The Hateful Eight
So I settled down in AFI Silver’s almost too hard and too authentic 1920’s era movie house seats. Some bald guy named Todd or Jeff or something like that steps out to the podium on the stage to tell everyone about the bar that will be open during intermission. And I being to prepare myself for the movie, turning off my phone, taking out my…. Wait, did Todd just say intermission? I look around to see if I’m the only one who is flabbergasted to find out that there will be an intermission for the 70mm Roadshow presentation of The Hateful Eight. I appear to be the only one who didn’t get the memo about this intermission which is disconcerting, especially since my experience with shows featuring intermissions had been scarred the night before at the touring company’s version of Motown: The Musical which was… well Tarantino would be proud is all I can say.
The curtains open on the biggest screen I’ve ever seen and the first shot fades in, it is of course a crucifix covered in stark white pillowy snow. The one thing I can say at this point is that $20 for the tickets was a good deal if only to see the blizzard beaten tundra of Colorado in the crispest resolution I’ve ever seen.
The Hateful Eight is separated into the six chapters, and two acts. The film opens with the aptly named chapter, “Last Stage to Red Rock.” Hateful Eight, much like Tarantino’s first film, Reservoir Dogs is a parlor piece, also similarly its starts outside of its final setting. “Last Stage to Red Rock,” is a prelude scene at its finest, introducing the two main characters and the villain in one sequence of punchy dialogue. If there is one thing that stands out from Tarantino’s eighth film besides the directorial prowess, it’s the writing. Which is surprising because even at Tarantino’s peak, in Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs the dialogue was always the weaker point of Tarantino as a filmmaker.
The Hateful Eight is at its core a mystery. Tarantino himself claimed in an interview with Deadline that it’s a film inspired by famous western shows like Bonanza, The Virginian, and The High Chaparral. I would suggest that The Hateful Eight more closely resembles the likes of Rope and Rear Window than it does a western. Aside from the gun toting criminals and big hats and a lot of shoot first ask questions later, there isn’t much to the story that resembles any western I’ve seen. I would think Tarantino, the man who jumped from modern Japan to Nazi Germany and the slavery ridden wild west, would not want to have this film categorized so closely to Django. And it isn’t, people will certainly make a lot of connections to Django and there are many to be made, but this is in no way the same film.
Samuel Jackson and Walton Goggins are fantastic. The film rests most of its success firmly on the shoulders of its cast and in general it comes through in spades. I only say in general because it feels as though Michael Madsen is out of place in The Hateful Eight but from all the reports that have surrounded the production of the film I would hardly guess this is entirely Tarantino’s first choice cast. Ironically, it appears that Jennifer Jason Leigh, Daisy Domergue a.k.a. “The Prisoner” was not who Tarantino wrote the part for Jennifer Lawrence who I would guess was either working on The Hunger Games or Joy. But it is Leigh who has been getting the most plaudits of any of the cast pulling the Golden Globe nomination for supporting actress and winning the same award from the National Board of Review which has also awarded The Hateful Eight best original screenplay as well as a spot on its Top Ten Films list. I’m not opposed to the Leigh’s nominations but this does feel a lot like Julianne Moore’s best actress bid from last year, it was mostly that a lot of people were very loud about it and there were no real stand outs in the pack.
The complaints about The Hateful Eight will be the same as Django and most of Tarantino’s films before it. There is a lot of gratuitous violence. It is clear that Tarantino either has a subliminal issue with women or is very aware of it and loves brutalizing them on film. I will say that as a 22-year-old man it’s very hard for me to get up-in-arms the fictional mistreatment of women when there is real mistreatment of women on a mass scale and on a daily basis. Also just like his contemporary George R.R. Martin—who has received similar criticism about the treatment of women in Song of Ice and Fire—there is as much to complain about what happens to the women in Tarantino’s work as there is to praise in the way that he writes his female characters. In a society so starved for “strong female characters” that we’re still crowding theaters to see the fourth Hunger Games film I would think that counts for something. I didn’t bother counting but I’m sure the “nigger” count will find its way to the internet soon and it will upset people. But if you put one black guy in a room during post-Civil War America with a lot of white guys, two of which are ex-Confederate soldiers than it’s hardly like people won’t be saying “nigger.” The writing, the story, and the characters of The Hateful Eight are hardly fun in the traditional sense, it’s not a feel-good movie by any measure, despite Tarantino’s signature dark humor, but it is fantastically made and almost every film fan will find something to enjoy even if they don’t fall in love with the final installment in Tarantino’s filmography. I loved it, but there are few things I hate less than feel-good happy times, so maybe take in a few more reviews before you decide to go see it.
Must-See Rating: 5/5 see it in 70mm, see it because its Tarantino’s last (supposedly), and see it because it’s best wide-release in theaters right now
Best ensemble cast of the year
Tarantino in form
Lots of satisfying violence and even more gore
Scenic panoramic shots
Well developed mystery