Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Hateful Eight (USA, 2015)

Nine Things About the Film The Hateful Eight

1. This is Quentin Tarantino's eighth film, and it's his most controlled and focused one.

2. Set shortly after the Civil War, the story is about a group of people headed for a town named Red Rock (the state is never mentioned) but who get stranded at a stagecoach lodge during a blizzard. Everybody has their own agendas for being there, and some of those agendas are at cross purposes.

3. The movie is described as a western (Ennio Morricone even wrote the score, which is his first western score in 40 years), but it would be more accurate to say the movie is a actually a mystery. It just happens to be set in the Old West.

4. A lot of the actors have worked with Tarantino before, so everybody kind of fits together like a glove. They know the mix of comic-seriousness that Tarantino goes for, and how to say the dialogue that is just past the line of real life. They all play off of each other very well.

5. Jennifer Jason Leigh plays Daisy, a captured murderer on her way to being hanged in Red Rock. Daisy says the least, but she is the most interesting character in the movie, She gets beaten by men over and over, but Daisy not only takes it, she seems to draw strength from it. It's a pretty powerful, paradoxical performance by Leigh.

6. Everybody knows that a Tarantino film is often reminiscent of the old violent grindhouse films of decades past. And while this film does have his trademark violence, especially during the last half, there's not as much as some people will want.

7. Some people may be surprised to see that Tarantino's script contains just as much substance as style. Though he has vast mountainous landscapes at his disposal, the movie takes place almost entirely indoors - in either a cramped carriage or an overstuffed lodge. There is less action and more talking than is usual from him. Sure, the talking is full of racist, sexist, foul language (the last time the n-word was used this much in a movie was, well, Tarantino's last film), but it's all to a point. Or rather, several points.

8. Say what you want about Tarantino, but his love of cinema is obvious in every frame of this film, and he needs to be respected for that. He uses the camera to get the most amazing shots, whether it's of a horse on a mountain, or a coffeepot on a stove. Very few directors have that kind vision.

9. Some people will be disappointed that this is not one of his outrageously wild films. But this is Tarantino as a storyteller, not a renegade, telling a tale that is both epic and personal. He uses a snowbound lodge in the past to examine issues facing America today. And even though the movie is three hours long, every minute of it contains something to see or hear.