THE HATEFUL EIGHT
With Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason-Leigh, Tim Roth, Walton Goggins, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, Channing Tatum
Written & Directed by Quentin Tarantino
It seems as though the era of getting excited about specific directors releasing new movies has blown over (for me at least). However, while this may be the result of homogenized filmmaking (streamlined to appeal to the most generic of audiences for highest grosses, diminishing individual auteur styles and identities) I will certainly take notice if a whisper in the wind mentions names like David Cronenberg, Martin Scorsese, David Lynch… and, Quentin Tarantino. These filmmakers all have a special something that I know will appeal to me, whatever subject they take on.
There has been a lot of news regarding Tarantino's follow up to Django Unchained, and its related but not directly linked thread (initially intended as a Django sequel), a leaked script draft leading to changing it to its current state after intending to release it as a book, and so forth.
Set after the American civil war, a group of eight diversely dubious characters find themselves holed up in a tavern in the middle of a snow storm. With all sides of the North, South (and in between) present, they include a bounty hunter (Russell) and his female prisoner (Jason-Leigh) on his way to get her hanged at Red Rock and claim his money, a former major in the Union turned bounty hunter (Jackson), a man claiming to be the new Red Rock sheriff (Goggins), the alleged executioner on his way to Red Rock (Roth), an old Southern general (Dern). Along with other untrustworthy characters, suspicion is rife, the various conflicts systematically building towards unveiling the truth behind each one of them, violence and death a naturally being inevitable. Tied together with Tarantino's trademark dialogue, the racial thread of Django remains a fresh wound within the history period, as well as harsh Western justice.
Russell and Jackson steal the show, with all of the other actors great in their character guises.
This 8th film by Quentin Tarantino is exactly that, a "film" - Where HD moviemaking is now beyond commonplace, in true Tarantino cineaste fashion he still wants to capture his motion pictures on celluloid, and in this particular case using Ultra Panavision 70mm (like the super panoramic Westerns of old). A system defunct for many decades, he had the Weinsteins commit to retrofitting dozens of theatres in the US with 70mm projectors and lenses to screen it in this wide format for a special roadshow of the film.
For the exterior scenes the wide format is great, but within the confines of the cabin (for the bulk of the film), the format feels a bit wasted (even though you get to see the the place from one corner to the other).
Whether it is his fetishistic hardheadedness in his love of the art, or a gimmick, hopefully it will have some kids born into the digital age (who never dropped a roll of film off at a 1 hour stills development kiosk, or seen a huge 35mm film roll in a projection booth) to learn more about this process. (I was expecting a lean back to the classic celluloid style of filmmaking to have a resurgence, but not as soon this - the Labia theatre in Cape Town where we run our film festivals still has a 35mm projector left in one cinema, the rest upgraded to DCP digital projectors - Hope they don't trash it!)
Unfortunately we get to see The Hateful Eight in regular digital cinemas here in South Africa, which in a regular sized cinema is very much just an extreme letterboxed projection, no extra width, special film contrast or saturation.
Naturally Tarantino tips his hat to Westerns he loves, from thematic situations, character tropes, to narrative, film format and character names (like Jackson's Major Marquis Warren named after the writer of shows like Rawhide and Gunsmoke).
Many feel Tarantino is a master imitator of existing movies and genres (from Euro crime flicks and Exploitation, to Blaxploitation and Westerns) - even if that's the case, he resurrects these with his own flare and cheeky style that will always be entertaining. One can read a lot into this 8th movie as Tarantino not only circling back to his debut Reservoir Dogs (with a similar scenario of dodgy characters stuck with each other in a single location), but it swerving back on itself in a figure 8 infinity curve, retelling films of others as well as his own… Or maybe not…
Regardless, he constantly has links within his movies, from characters in different films related to one another, his Red Apple cigarettes… however I didn't notice his toe / foot fetish here, as I'm sure Jason-Leigh's character's feet would be in a terrible state during this era and circumstances!
(While Jackson is his most used actor covering several of his movies), in The Hateful Eight I identified actors from across all his movies (except, Inglourious Basterds is less evident and I haven't delved into spotting an actor re-used here - can't rememebr if Tarantino cameos in it? - He appears here via a narration bit).
There are some western-themed movies I really admire (like those of Sergio Leone), but I won't call myself an avid fan of the genre - Personally I didn't want Tarantino's follow-up to Django to hang around the same era, subject and theme. We all want another Pulp Fiction after all!
I was at the ophthalmologist several hours before the screening, but wasn't going to miss the movie, heading in with my one pupil dilated to the size of a saucer. Towards the end I noticed an image discrepancy by opening and closing each eye - the one gave the picture a warmer orange tone, while the other's hue was more blue… The blend of the two eyes were not perfect (bordering on old school 3D specs, but our eyes adapt quickly) - While I'm not sure what the image grading was supposed to be, I'm assuming the bluer, colder tinge is the one.
The Hateful Eight is not my favourite Tarantino movie by a long shot (in fact, it's in the bottom 3), but still well worth watching (unless you have an aversion to 3 hour movies!)
I would in fact argue that this is his 7th film (seeing Kill Bill as a single movie in two parts), but having him claim he will only make 10 movies, maybe it's just me wanting to cling to a director that still excites me, and get an extra film out of him before quitting.
4 / B
- Paul Blom
0 1 2 3 4 5 6
- A - B - C
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5 - Blistering
4 - Hot
3 - Smolder
2 - Room Temperature
1 - Fizzled
0 - Extinguished
A: Multi-Viewing Potential