The Hateful Eight

“Let’s be real. I have a very hard time being critical of my favorite filmmakers, and Quentin Tarantino is at the top of that list. Watching a new film by a favorite is like binging on candy, I’m so happy to eat it all up, I don’t pay much attention to the quality or the nutritional value. I love recognizing their signature styles, being taken by surprise by clever dialog, or absorbing moments of general awesome. When it’s all said and done, I can’t objectively say whether or not the film was good, but I can certainly say I enjoyed it.

It killed me that I was going to have to wait about a week since the film’s release to be able to see it. My hometown, while now just cool enough to have an Alamo Drafthouse, is not yet cool enough to get limited release films, especially since I was intent on going to one of the Roadshow screenings. Even if we did get the Christmas release, I still wouldn’t be able to go for a few days. I can often manage to get my Mom to come with me to the movies on Christmas (was unsuccessful this year), but there’s no way I’d take her to a Tarantino. She’d hate it for all the reasons I’d love it. So I had to wait until the day I got back, kicking off my New Year’s Eve festivities.

For those keeping score at home, this is Quentin’s 8th movie (Kill Bill counts as 1 not 2). Set in a similar universe as Django Unchained, this actually most closely resembles Reservoir Dogs as a band of nefarious characters are caught waiting out a blizzard in a small cabin (Minnie’s Haberdashery), not too long after the end of the civil war.

Now what’s the deal with this whole Roadshow business? In an attempt to make his film more of an event, as movie going was way back in the day, select cities held roadshow screenings. They were basically the movie with a few extras, in theaters that still had their old school equipment instead of just the recent digital ones. There was an added Overture, Intermission, and Entr’act. Programs were given out. A few additional minutes of film were included that took advantage of the 70MM format. Reading the program, I learned a bit about 70MM. It’s an even wider shot, and a format that hasn’t been used in about 50 years since the likes of films like Ben Hur. Personally, I don’t really notice much difference in the use of special film, but I can appreciate the attention to detail.

Okay, thanks for the history lesson, but now how was the movie? Again, not the most objective opinion here, but I loved it. As previously mentioned, this most closely resembled Reservoir Dogs, which is probably my favorite of Tarantino’s films (toss up with Kill Bill, but I strongly prefer part 1, and 2 drags it down). The minimal cast included mostly Tarantino alums, in roles written specifically for them: Samuel L Jackson, Walton Goggins, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, Kurt Russel. They’re joined by newbies Jennifer Jason Leigh, Demián Bichir, and Channing Tatum (his inclusion alone should be intriguing enough to at least have your curiosity, if not your attention.) The regulars especially chewed up all the wordy but sharp dialog.

It definitely felt familiar yet new. I got so caught up in all the sharp tongues darting thru the film, I almost forgot about Tarantino’s affinity for violence. When the first spurts of blood showed up, I was taken by surprise, but not at all disappointed. It didn’t really let up once it started, a warning for those who may not be into such things. I also really just loved and appreciated his attention to detail. So many pieces and clues were laid out, often without you even realizing they were clues until their significance was later revealed. Not a single shot was wasted. Sure, for some, the 3 hour run time may seem like overkill, but for me it passed quickly.

I think I was most impressed with Jennifer Jason Leigh and her character Daisy Domergue. Wanted for murder, she’s being brought to justice by bounty hunter John Ruth (Kurt Russell). She spends a good portion of the movie handcuffed to him, but never ceases to make her presence known. Tarantino doesn’t write too many female characters, but the ones he does write are often fantastic tough as nails bad ass chicks. She was no Bride, Shoshanna, or Jackie Brown, but she’s still def up there. And Leigh has always underwhelmed me with her sleepy style, but this kitty had claws, and she really surprised me with her sassy firecracker of a performance. It’s no wonder she’s considered one of the stand outs of this ensemble.

So I at least ended the New Year with a bloody bang. If it really is true that Tarantino only intends to make two more films, at least he managed to turn in yet another solid addition to his portfolio.

The Hateful Eight – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/”

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