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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Movie Review- The Hateful Eight

Dark things bode ill at Minnie's Haberdashery in, The Hateful Eight


Intro

Most directors aren't allowed the freedom to do whatever they want on a project. That is of course unless that director is Quentin Tarantino (Q.T.). The man has a golden ticket to do his films exactly as he sees fit. If he wants to slice a guy's ear off with a straight razor while playing K-Billy's Super Sounds of the 70's (Reservoir Dogs), he can. If he wants Bruce Willis to save Ving Rhames from some randy raping rednecks while using a pair of pliers and a blowtorch (samurai sword too) (Pulp Fiction), he's gonna do it. If he wants to have a brassy Brad Pitt carve a swastika deep into the forehead of Christoph Waltz with a bowie knife (Inglorious Basterds), it's happening. If he... You get my point. Other filmmakers might take bold steps as well, but Q.T. makes it cool and acceptable. Most people agree with his brazen style, while a handful of hypocrites do not. Spike Lee (Bamboozled) is at the top of that hater list. What Spike and some others fail to acknowledge and/or realize, is that Q.T. tells things honestly regardless of how unpopular those things may be. Would Django Unchained have been as effective as a revenge tale if the slaves in it had been treated as human beings and called by their real names instead of the usual for the time period? I don't think so.

The Hateful Eight

The Hateful Eight is another example of Tarantino making his films, his way. For better or worse, Q.T. has his signature all over this picture. It mostly works, yet I can't help but think that if Quentin had taken a slight step back from himself, this film could have been great. First off, the running time is too long (167 minutes). Normally I don't complain about those things, however when the film is almost entirely set inside a cabin, claustrophobia starts to sink in. It adds to the tension, but let's get on with it for God's sake. The scenery, costumes, and cinematography, look so good, though, I can forgive it. This is not your typical western. It looks and feels like a three-dimensional play. It's almost as if the audience is watching it through the cracks in the cabin walls. About halfway through, I started to get a feeling of familiarity, like I'd seen this before. By the end, I knew my suspicions were true; Aside from the obvious similarities to Reservoir Dogs and other Q.T. works, The Hateful Eight had, at least, five connections to John Carpenter's 1982 film, The Thing. That brought a smile to my face and made me enjoy this film even more. And like that horror classic, when it comes time for some gore, it doesn't hold back. The same thing can be said about this film's blatant racism; It's so ignorant and easily said, that it becomes hilarious once the shock has worn off. That's what I love about Tarantino. He's honest and his films are more memorable for it. And let's not forget about Ennio Morricone's (The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly) captivating score. He's eighty-seven and he's still got it. I even recognized some of his tracks from The Thing.
What is questionably memorable, however, is the Hateful Eight themselves. Some are great. Some are good. Some are odd/annoying. And some are a waste of casting. Samuel L. Jackson (Jackie Brown), Walton Goggins (Django Unchained), and Jennifer Jason Leigh (Dolores Claiborne), are the best of the cast. Jackson takes the lead and runs away with his bounty hunter role. Goggins is so immersed in his character that you along with he believes that he is none other than just that. Leigh's Daisy Domergue is so irredeemably "hateful" and vile, that it's something to see. Kurt Russell (The Thing) and Bruce Dern (The Burbs) aren't bad. I just wish that Russell had been better written. He seemed like a cynical version of his Wyatt Earp character from Tombstone. The final three consisting of Tim Roth (Reservoir Dogs), Demian Bichir (Machete Kills), and Michael Madsen (Kill Bill), are just off in one way or another that mostly goofs up the seriousness of the picture. Roth relishes in his role so much as a chatty Brit, that his stupid smiles made me think I was watching Benny Hill or something. Bichir has some funny lines, but his dialogue and accent came off as a caricature of a Mexican instead of the real thing. I honestly thought that he was a white guy in makeup and costume that was going to be some big twist reveal by the end. Nope. Madsen has seen better days. It looks like he was just cast as a nostalgic connection to Q.T.'s previous works. He has little to say and nothing important when he does. These last three were like those backup members of all those popular boy bands from the 90's and 2000's (The Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, 98 Degrees); more background than anything and with never the attention and good material that the lead singers got. Smaller performances from James Parks (Death Proof), Channing Tatum (Magic Mike), Zoe Bell (Q.T.'s go-to stunt lady), and Lee Horsley (Django Unchained), all have their own piece of charm to them. The tension between these unsavory characters is strong enough to keep the film interesting, yet when it's all over, did I really give a damn if they survived or not? Not really. They're all dirty dogs that have no real quality and that's the point, but it left a bad taste in my mouth. I cared more during Reservoir Dogs.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, of The Hateful Eight

The Good- The projectile vomit scene reminded me of that one Family Guy episode. "Let's just use that word as many times as possible to make up for everyone else being too afraid to use it". The truth about the Lincoln letter. "Shut the damn door!". Daisy's guitar solo. Don't use brain chunks as hair conditioner.
The Bad- Tarantino's narration leading to and during the Minnie scene. His vanity is so apparent as he likes the sound of his own voice. The Minnie scene (chapter 5), doesn't hit anywhere near the tension of his previous films. It comes off as a pointless explanation that should have been left out to add to the mystery of the story.
The Ugly- The things a man will do for a blanket when trapped naked in the snow. How can something be both sick and hilarious? Watch and see.

Final Thoughts

The Hateful Eight is a big, beautiful, mixed bag of shit, that entertains and churns the stomach. It's interesting to see all of the pieces fit into place. Some work, some don't, but you won't feel ripped off when it's over. You'll know what you're getting into. Not one of Q.T.'s best but still worth a look, and it's miles ahead of the god awful The Ridiculous 6. Now he should focus on something other than westerns. I'm thinking like an actual horror film. Ooh! How's about a sequel to The Thing?! It'll be like his stab at an established property like how James Cameron did with Aliens. Quentin, make this happen!
Rating- 7.5 out of 10

The Hateful Eight (2015)

R | | Comedy, Drama, Mystery | 30 December 2015

Director: Quentin Tarantino           

Writer: Quentin Tarantino          

Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh     

 

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