January 3, 2016

Movie Review: The Hateful Eight

When is a Quentin Tarantino simultaneously like a Quentin Tarantino movie and not like a Quentin Tarantino movie? When it is the eighth movie by Quentin Tarantino. It is a movie that is also known as The Hateful Eight. I am sure you are wondering what that opening statement means. I will get to that. Let me start by saying one of my first thoughts was wondering when I am going to see a Broadway billboard advertising the first play by Quentin Tarantino. That is what that opening alludes to. This movie feels a lot like a play, the limited locale, the focus on dialogue, but it still feels very cinematic at the same time. Rather contradictory, I know, but it fits.

Some people love him, many others hate him. Whoever you are, you likely have some manner of reaction to the man. I love him. I am not deluded to think he is the most original filmmaker ever, but the man is still a genius. He is a student of the art who likes strange and eclectic things and knows how to take these influences and mash them into new concoctions that are familiar, fresh, and original, all at the same time. Kung fu, drama, thriller, action, blaxploitation, exploitation, spaghetti western, you name it, he has taken something from it. The best part is that it never feels like he is trying to rip something off and present it as his own. He feels very much like a guy that would gladly sit down and geek out about movies, influences, and whatever.

Now, what he has done with The Hateful Eight is turn it into an event. He shot in 70mm Panavision, which is unheard of these days, plus he managed to get a special engagement 100 theater run to show the film from 70mm film prints, not bad, not bad at all. However, he takes it a step further with a movie program with set stills and behind the scenes photos. Nice touch. Now, take that and top it off with an overture and intermission, with accompanying music to finish the spectacle. Writing that makes me sad that I was unable to see it like that. A nice digital presentation had to do.

As I sat in that theater and watched the movie unfold in front of me, I felt like I am seeing QT at the top of his game. This western set thriller sets an ominous tone early with a carriage being pulled through the leading edge of a blizzard while the foreboding music of Ennio Morricone plays. Oh, did I fail to mention that Mr. Tarantino was able to get legendary Mr Morricone out of retirement and supply some utterly gorgeous music for the film.

The film, itself, begins with John Ruth (Kurt Russell) escorting his prize criminal, Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) into town to be hung. Along the way, they pick up Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson), who has had a little misfortune and is in need of a ride. They end up at Minnie’s Haberdashery, a cabin with a few guests already. Trapped by a blizzard, the strangers get real cozy as histories, alignments, and murder come into play.

The Hateful Eight crackles with a very stylized energy. There is dark humor, bloody violence, drama, thrills, some great acting, and a rumination on justice, among other things. The dialogue sparkles, and the cast he has gathered to deliver it is a force to be reckoned with. Running the better part of three hours, I was never bored and the time just flew by.

Granted, I have not really really told you much about the film. I would rather you see it, let it speak for itself. That may be me taking the easy way out, but so be it. I love the movie, the way it moves, flows, shifts directions, makes me laugh, cringe, whatever. I suspect it will reveal more layers with another viewing or three. For now, I just want to soak in the experience.

Highly Recommended.

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