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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 8.33%
Average: 27.78%
Pretty Bad: 2.78%
Total Crap: 13.89%

3 reviews, 18 user ratings

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Hateful Eight, The
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by alejandroariera

"And then there were none…"
3 stars

No one but Quentin Tarantino could get away with what is tantamount to the cruelest joke you could pull on a cinephile: to shoot what is pretty much a chamber drama in Ultra Panavision 70mm, the same format used by such expansive epics as “How the West Was Won” and “Battle of the Bulge.” He has even added to the roadshow version screening at select theaters (and the one I saw) an overture and an intermission just like in those old David Lean and Sir Richard Attenborough epics. As photographed by veteran DP Robert Richardson, the film looks beautiful, especially when it ventures outdoors. Tarantino takes full advantage of the large format to focus on his characters’ faces and demeanors whether it’s a medium or a tight close-up on an actor, or a two-shot from a low angle. While those epics used the format to provide an audience with a larger than life experience they couldn’t get on their TV sets at home, Tarantino exploits its potential to create a sense of intimacy, essential for such a dialogue-heavy film.

In “The Hateful Eight,” Tarantino tones down a bit some of the excesses that made “Django Unchained” such an unbearably long, repetitive and self-indulgent film. “The Hateful Eight” is still as brutal and provocative. It is also much darker. He revisits the ideas and enclosed setting of his first, and still revolutionary, film “Reservoir Dogs” and transposes them to post-Civil War America while adding a dash of Agatha Christie and references to films like “Key Largo” and John Carpenter’s “The Thing” for good measure. As in past films, he acknowledges the close ties between literature and film by dividing his story in chapters and, this time, splitting the film into two acts, a tip of the hat to the film’s confined setting.

We meet the first half of our hateful crew within the first thirty minutes. Bounty hunter John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell) is taking wanted outlaw Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to be hanged in the town of Red Rock, Wyoming when his stagecoach is detained by former Civil War soldier turned bounty hunter Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson), himself carrying the bodies of several wanted men to the same town. After some back and forth and establishing some rules, Ruth agrees to give Warren and his dead bounty a ride. In one of those deliberate coincidences Tarantino is so fond off, on the way to town they meet Red Rock’s new sheriff, former Confederate soldier Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins) who also hitches a ride with them.

The snowstorm they’ve been trying to avoid catches up with them and this quartet, alongside their stagecoach driver, are forced to seek shelter at Minnie’s Habberdashery, where they meet the other four titular characters: Mexican Bob (Demián Bichir) who’s apparently been left in charge of the place while Minnie and her husband tend to some personal business outside of town; British hangman Oswaldo Mobrey (Tim Roth, a “Reservoir Dogs” veteran); taciturn cowhand Joe Gage (Michael Madsen, another “Reservoir Dogs” veteran); and Confederate general Sanford Smithers (Bruce Dern). Nothing much happens as the characters not so quietly settle in and take the measure of each other—well, except for poor Daisy who is the subject of much physical abuse from her captor anytime she tries to get a word in. As the only black man in the room, Warren becomes the agent provocateur, taunting his former Confederate enemies while trying to make sure that nobody shoots him in the back. After an hour and 40 minutes of film, a bullet is finally shot and someone dies.

The story doesn’t truly kick in until the second act when, in a self-indulgent ploy, Tarantino explains in voiceover what happened during the intermission: someone in the group has poisoned the coffee. “The Hateful Eight” then turns into a whodunit after two people die drinking it and, gun in hand, Warren interrogates the remaining suspects. However, instead of Hercule Poirot slowly revealing the assassin’s identity, brutal mayhem ensues. The violence here may not be as cartoonish or over the top as the final hour of “Django Unchained” but it does push a lot of buttons as characters are emasculated or heads are turned into a bloody pulp by bullets.

Actors flock to a Quentin Tarantino movie for the same reason they stand in line for Woody Allen: for the dialogue. And even though a good chunk of the dialogue and monologues in “The Hateful Eight” are characteristically self-indulgent and provocative —and in some cases contribute very little to plot or story— it still is a joy to see the likes of Russell and Jackson spit and declaim these lines as if they were on a theater stage and not on the big screen. But it’s the supporting cast who is clearly having a blast, keeping the proceedings from derailing: Tim Roth efficiently playing for laughs his mannered, dandy-esque British hangman, Bruce Dern bringing a good amount of not giving a damn to his role and, most of all, Bichir, who made me smile every time he entered the scene in the role of a man who says a lot with few words (in English and Spanish) and the tone of his voice.

As in “Django Unchained,” Tarantino is unable to edit himself, creating scenes that are so deliberately uncomfortable and that seem to come out of left field (one of them featuring oral sex that is truly cringe worthy) that you can’t help but feel that they come from a very different film. The abuse heaped upon Daisy Domergue is excessive and played for cruel laughs (in one scene, Jason Leigh’s face is so bloody that she resembles Sissy Spacek’s Carrie towards the end of that 1976 film). Not that I expect a woman to be treated with kid gloves in the Wild West but her treatment here seems gratuitous at best and as close to torture porn as you can get in a Tarantino film.

And therein lies the rub. As much as you can appreciate the film’s technique, the acting, Ennio Morricone’s fantastic rules-breaking original score (the first time Tarantino depends on an original score for his film), “The Hateful Eight” is, in the end, a clever but soulless film. One that turns its 70mm photography into a gimmick. As much as one can admire Tarantino’s defense of celluloid over digital, “The Hateful Eight” lacks the visual poetry and storytelling chops of similar big screen efforts from the likes of Christopher Nolan and Paul Thomas Anderson. Next to other, better Tarantino films like “Inglourious Basterds,” “Pulp Fiction” and “Jackie Brown,” storytelling masterpieces all, “The Hateful Eight” provides no actual return to your more than three hour investment in its nihilistic worldview.

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originally posted: 12/24/15 07:00:00
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User Comments

4/23/18 Mark Louis Baumgart Minor league, and too damn long, and all of the characters sucked. 3 stars
9/26/17 Joe Smaltz Gave up, couldn't stand anymore was like getting a root canal, put me out please 1 stars
2/13/17 morris campbell one of Tarantinos best IMO 5 stars
9/21/16 FireWithFire Quentin:Make all the films like this you want - Blacks will never worship you!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
4/10/16 the truth three hours... for this?? 2 stars
4/01/16 Aj wales enjoyed it. But all his movies seem the same kind of. Needs to cut off the fat. 4 stars
3/31/16 Jacob Goranson Best film of the year. Absolutely loved the writing/suspense with the cartoonish violence. 5 stars
2/04/16 Louise Disappointing and lacking the flair of his earlier work 3 stars
1/17/16 FireWithFire QT,read REAL history books about the South, slavery,the civil war,the Reconstruction,et al 1 stars
1/08/16 John Not Tarantino's best as a writer, but brilliantly directed / acted 4 stars
1/03/16 FireWithFire Quentin Tarantino is a fucking ludicrous and pathetic joke. 1 stars
1/03/16 mr.mike Is "no bad", 3.5 stars. 3 stars
1/02/16 The South Shalll Quack Again Seems Warren's story made FireWithPee upset LOL - great movie 5 stars
12/31/15 FireWithFire More pro-Black,anti-White propaganda-revisionism by Queertin the Coward 1 stars
12/28/15 mr.mike 70mm gives a truly astounding picture quality. 5 stars
12/27/15 Langano Vintage Tarantino. 4 stars
12/26/15 Tony Brubaker I want to bugger Jennifer Jason Leigh 5 stars
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  25-Dec-2015 (R)
  DVD: 29-Mar-2016


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