Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Hateful Eight

             A group of strangers are forced to wait out a  Colorado blizzard at a stagecoach stopover called Minnie's Haberdashery. The majority of this three hour film takes place in this singular location where alliances are made and broken, secrets are revealed and much blood is eventually spilled. Writer/director Quentin Tarantino's new western plays like "Ten Little Indians" meets "Reservoir Dogs".  It is inflammatory, ultra violent and immensely entertaining ...everything you would expect from Mr. Tarantino.

             The cast is a mix of Tarantino favorites as well as some new faces and everyone is terrific. Kurt Russell is John Ruth, a bounty hunter on his way to Red Rock with his prisoner, Daisy Domergue, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh. The rest of the ensemble is Samuel Jackson as Major Warren, Demian Bichir as Bob, Michael Madsen as Joe Gage, Walton Goggins as Chris Mannix, Tim Roth as Oswaldo Mobray and Bruce Dern as General Smithers. There are other characters but I don't want to spoil any surprises. Mr. Russell is tough as hardened leather doing his best John Wayne impression. Walton Goggins is terrific as the racist "sheriff" and Mr. Jackson is outstanding as Major Warren. A Tarantino regular, his chameleon-like ability to inhabit his parts so completely, makes him unique with every film. Ms. Leigh steals the film as Daisy. Only a daring actress like Ms. Leigh would tackle this difficult role. During the course of the film, she is physically put through the ringer, leaving her bloodied, bruised and battered pretty much from the onset.

             This is a character driven story and watching this great cast go through their paces with Mr. Tarantino's dialog and direction never leaves a dull moment. Like many of his films, the story is divided up into chapters and the first few take their time setting up an insane second half. A throw back to the "event" films of the '50's and '60's, "The Hateful Eight" comes complete with an overture, an intermission and even a souvenir booklet.  It is after the intermission that things move very rapidly to it's bloody conclusion. The film itself is also shot in 70 millimeter with a wide angle lens giving it a pristine full screen appearance that can't be recreated with today's digital projection. Mr. Tarantino is calling this limited release the "Roadshow Engagement" and if you have the chance, this is the way you should see the film before it goes wide.

            Mr. Tarantino does not shy away from hot button dialog or brutally misogynistic treatment of his female characters. Along with the visceral violence, this may turn many away from the film, but if you consider the time period and setting (a few years after the Civil War), you can appreciate the authenticity Mr. Tarantino is looking to deliver. This film, like the seven before it is quintessential Quentin Tarantino. 

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