The Hateful Eight (2015), billed as the eighth film from Quentin Tarantino, is a Western set in the post-Civil War years on the American frontier. The movie stars Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kurt Russell, Bruce Dern, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Walton Goggins, and others. Ennio Morricone, who wrote great music for many of the classic spaghetti Westerns, provides the musical score for The Hateful Eight (although the song that Jennifer Jason Leigh sings is an old Australian folk song).
Whether or not you like the three-hour film may largely depend on how you feel about the violence and other aspects of Tarantino’s films. While most regard Pulp Fiction (1994) as a masterpiece (and I agree), his movies since Jackie Brown (1997) have delved into brutal areas that divide viewers. So, instead of a regular review, below are “8 Things About The Hateful Eight.”
1. Tarantino remains a master at building tension by featuring conversations inevitably leading up to an explosion of violence.
2. I liked Tarantino’s decision about showing the movie in Ultra Panavision 70mm. I like the format for films, although because the movie was a Western I expected more outdoor shots. Instead it was set largely indoors (“four-fifths” of the film, by one count), arguably somewhat wasting the beauty of the format.
3. But the indoor setting highlighted similarities between the approach of The Hateful Eight to Tarantino’s classic Reservoir Dogs (1992), focusing on the interactions between characters with flashbacks to solve mysteries.
4. Depending on your point of view, The Hateful Eight comments on America’s brutality, racism, and misogyny both today and in the post-Civil War frontier. Or Tarantino unnecessarily overuses the n-word and imposes violence against a woman as a sort of running joke. Or maybe it is a little of both, but the film certainly goes over the top at points.
5. Some folks loved the movie. The Guardian headlines “Tarantino triumphs with a western of wonder.” There is some talk of a Best Picture Academy Award nomination. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 75% Critics rating and a 79% Audience rating.
6. Some folks hated the movie, arguing that the movie is not about big American themes but instead is just a bunch of talk as an excuse to lead to violent killings. Matt Zoller Seitz on RogerEbert.com concludes that “there’s no detectable moral framework to speak of.” Similarly, The Atlantic calls it a “Gory Epic in Search of Meaning.” In an insightful conclusion, Seitz raises an interesting question about Tarantino: “It’s hard to shake the suspicion that, deep down, he believes in nothing but sensation, and that he’s spent the last decade or so stridently identifying with oppressed groups so that he can get a gold star for making the kinds of films he’d be making anyway.”
7. Samuel L. Jackson is a great actor who should have won an Academy Award by now.
8. The movie kept me entertained and some of it was brilliant, but some of the language and violence were unnecessarily distracting. One killing near the end was ridiculous and overly cruel, although the final scene was great. After watching the film, I felt like I needed to do something to wash my brain of all the nastiness. I went home and watched an Anthony Mann Western.
What did you think of “The Hateful Eight”? Leave your two cents in the comments.
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