Let’s be frank. Yes frank, not Sally, not Tommy, not Mary, or Sue, but frank.
Frankly, I have enjoyed films most of my life, and the semi-indulgent nature of earning the knowledge associated with industry names, terms, and sitting through repeated viewings of films so that I can quote them, and call up details is one of those weird things that I am very proud of.
And with the right affection, not affectation, I can use that knowledge in helpful ways and contribute to conversations or generate them from thin air. The problem with so much love is that it can turn into hate, the opposite side of love, but equally with as much passion.
That’s where today’s movie review comes in.
The Hateful Eight (2015)
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins
Director: Quentin Tarantino
released on blu-ray March 29, 2016
Rotten Tomatoes: 75%, Audience Score 77%
The Guardian: ***/*****
Quentin Tarantino is an American filmmaker, screenwriter, and actor. He has directed eight films to date, in case that wasn’t clear from the movie posters, trailers or the case of movie release. Which I would like to take a moment to think upon, because he has definitely directed more films than 8, but I guess he has decided to ignore certain works as canon (My Best Friend’s Birthday and Four Rooms)
All of his previous films have been tentatively noted to be set in a particular universe and are self-referential. For instance, the 6th film Inglorious Basterds shows a world where the Americans defeat Hitler rather violently by mowing him down and blowing up a movie theatre he is located in, setting the stage for his pop-culture ridden characters of post 1940’s America.
The Hateful Eight is adventurous, entertaining, and nuanced, but is it a good film?
Taken from Wikipedia and edited,
Years after the Civil War, bounty hunter Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) is transporting three dead bounties to the town of Red Rock, Wyoming. He hitches a ride on a stagecoach driven by a man named O.B. Jackson. Aboard is John Ruth (Kurt Russell), a bounty hunter known for bringing in outlaws alive to see them hang, and fugitive Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh)), whom Ruth is escorting handcuffed to him to Red Rock.
Former Lost-Causer militiaman Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), who claims he is travelling to Red Rock as the town’s new sheriff, persuades Ruth and Warren to let him on the stagecoach. Warren and Ruth form an alliance to protect each other’s bounties. Mannix and Warren almost come to blows over their controversial war records.
The group is forced to seek refuge from a powerful blizzard at Minnie’s Haberdashery, a stagecoach lodge. They are greeted by Bob (Demian Bichir), a Mexican who says owner Minnie is visiting her mother and left him in charge. The other lodgers are Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), a hangman; Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), a quiet cowboy travelling to visit his mother; and Sanford Smithers (Bruce Dern), a former Confederate general. Suspicious, Ruth disarms all but Warren.
As the group eats, Mannix surmises that Warren’s Lincoln letter is a forgery. Warren admits this, saying the letter buys him leeway with whites, outraging Ruth. Warren leaves a gun next to Smithers and provokes him into reaching for it by telling Smithers he tortured, sexually humiliated and killed Smithers’ son. Warren shoots Smithers in “self-defense”, in revenge for Smithers’ execution of black soldiers at the Battle of Baton Rouge.
While everyone is distracted by the confrontation, someone seen only by Daisy poisons the brewing coffee. Ruth and O.B. drink it, vomit blood, and collapse. The dying Ruth attacks Daisy, but she kills him with his own gun. Warren disarms Daisy, holds the men at gunpoint and leaves her cuffed to Ruth’s corpse. Warren is joined by Mannix, whom Warren trusts because he nearly drank the poisoned coffee.
Warren executes Bob, deducing that he is an impostor who killed the lodge owners. When Warren threatens to execute Daisy, Gage admits he is the poisoner. A man hiding in the cellar shoots Warren in the groin. Mobray draws a concealed gun and shoots Mannix, who returns fire, wounding Mobray and forcing Gage against the wall.
That’s a good place to set up a cliffhanger, because frankly this movie is almost 3 hours long and happens to have one.
With that all said and done, I did enjoy this movie, though it did feel a little slow going at times, and I struggled to find the surprise, because this is a Tarantino film, and he always attempts a crazy plot twist. And I’m pretty sure I ruined it for myself by reading the credits at the bottom of the movie case. So if you haven’t seen the movie yet, definitely don’t do that.
Pros: The movie is less interested in addressing issues of race and inequality, though strangely laden with opportunity for it, and would rather gift us with a western theme and combination of both subtle and no-so subtle violent emotions.
Cons: What is baffling about this film is the way it was pitched in previews and in the trailers. Shot on 70mm and presented with vistas, but it doesn’t do anything like those old westerns, it attempts to be one, but doesn’t quite reach it.
Runtime: 187 minutes
Points of Interest: According to Tarantino the major influencers for this film were The Thing and Reservoir Dogs, which makes a fair amount of sense. Though Samuel L. Jackson has been involved in six of Tarantino’s films, this is his first time as a lead actor. This has been confirmed to take place in the same universe as Django Unchained, though it is not a sequel.
My initial impression after watching this movie for the first time was that I did enjoy it. I enjoyed the set pieces, the costumes and the era appropriate characterizations. After watching the movie, and thinking upon it more, I decided that while I do enjoy this movie, and I can definitely sit through extra screenings, it’s not a movie I am going to endorse to see for it’s themes or narrative. It’s a fun movie, but not necessarily a thought provoking one.
You see, the thing about hate is that you have to have love first, and you can only ever hate something if you felt strongly enough about it in the first place to have been wounded by it. Quentin Tarantino loves film, all of its intricacies, and he is willing to take risks to create new films, while inspiring thoughts about the industry in general.
I’ve loved a number of his films in the past, but something about this one doesn’t quite sit with me. Now I don’t hate it, but I’m wondering if something far worse is setting in – indifference. Which is in fact the opposite of both love and hate. Just a theory though.