Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight is Very Special, by Not Being Special
The Hateful Eight
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Written by: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demián Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, James Parks, Channing Tatum
Running time 187 minutes (Roadshow version), 167 minutes (Theatrical version)
Rated R for strong bloody violence, a scene of violent sexual content, language and some graphic nudity
Six or eight or twelve years after the Civil War, a stagecoach hurtles through the wintry Wyoming landscape. The passengers, bounty hunter John Ruth (Kurt Russell) and his fugitive Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), race towards the town of Red Rock where Ruth, known in these parts as “The Hangman,” will bring Domergue to justice. Along the road, they encounter two strangers: Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson), a black former union soldier turned infamous bounty hunter, and Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), a southern renegade who claims to be the town’s new Sheriff. Losing their lead on the blizzard, Ruth, Domergue, Warren and Mannix seek refuge at Minnie’s Haberdashery, a stagecoach stopover on a mountain pass. When they arrive at Minnie’s, they are greeted not by the proprietor but by four unfamiliar faces. Bob (Demian Bichir), who’s taking care of Minnie’s while she’s visiting her mother, is holed up with Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), the hangman of Red Rock, cow-puncher Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), and Confederate General Sanford Smithers (Bruce Dern). As the storm overtakes the mountainside stopover, our eight travelers come to learn they may not make it to Red Rock after all… – Courtesy The Weinstein Company
After seven films when Quentin Tarantino announces he will be writing and directing another feature film critics and audiences take notice. Every one of his films thus far has been remarkably unique, even from each other, while all holding incredible similarities. Of all his previous, seven films his eighth, appropriately titled The Hateful Eight, is likely the most unique, but not because Tarantino used new techniques, or did something bordering on the avant-garde, but because he used some very traditional storytelling, and filmmaking techniques. Right up to a very traditional presentation with an overture, and intermission, in the Roadshow version of the film, which the theatrical release lacks. In the first two hours of the film, Tarantino sticks to linear storytelling, and overall the film contains very little action, now a film driven by dialogue is not unusual for Tarantino, but to be almost entirely driven by dialogue is.
The dialogue is terrific, witty back and forth conversation, insults and semi-obscure references dot the linguistic landscape. The cinematography is, much like everything else in this film, masterful and beautiful to watch. I was not only reminded of classic westerns’ but films from a “golden age” of cinema that are considered the gold standard of film.
Aside from The Hateful Eight being undeniably entertaining to watch and listen to, it is also overly long, and unfortunately contrived. While I was being consistently entertained, I was also aware of how I was being toyed with as an audience member, and not in a good way. The audience is trapped in that cabin just as much as each character; we are victims just as they are, and who really wants to be victimized by a film. The answer to that very silly question should be, everyone, when Quentin Tarantino’s name is on the top of the poster.