Continuing my tsunami of movie reviews, I’d like to discuss the recent Quentin
Tarantino film, the Hateful Eight. Coincidentally, it is also his eighth movie. I can’t help but wonder if he had planned to make a film about these eight characters and withheld it until the numbers coincided, or if the inspiration of the film was drawn from its place in his filmography. It’s more than a little self-aggrandizing, but I’ll overlook that since the film fused the worlds of pulp and gore with character development and dialog as only Tarantino can.
Hateful Eight, or as my friend called it, Western Reservoir Dogs, bears many similarities with others in his portfolio. Here lies the dangers of having such a specific style that all of one’s films are drawn from similar source material. Despite this familiarity, the film does offer a new take on his formula Tarantino film. A simple plot, the drama is found in the suspenseful, claustrophobic setting of a Minnie’s Haberdashery, both a safe haven and prison. The characters are trapped, and the tension is palpable, as each of the eight are obscuring their true selves. Because of this complexity, they deconstruct the caricatures upon which they are based. Samuel Jackson’s character lies so so effectively and frequently, specifically about his alleged letter from Lincoln, that all of his stories become suspect. A great storyteller, he uses them to manipulate others to do what he wants. There’s reason to believe that all of the stories he tells are lies meant only as self-preservation, or to justify his actions.
The visuals are monumental yet subtle. Endless fields of undisturbed snow may seem boring, but it serves to illustrate a wilderness that makes man minuscule, with white blanketing everything until land and sky coalesce. The juxtaposition between the close quarters of Minnie’s Haberdashery and the unending wilderness serves to highlight the aspects of both. In the haberdashery, some shots included groups of characters clustered in random groups, instead of focusing only on those speaking or acting. This made the room feel authentically cramped and exposed reactions from ancillary characters. With such wide shots, it didn’t seem like .
I had the good fortune to see this in “glorious” 70mm in the limited-edition run of this version of the film. While it was an experience I was happy to have, it’s not necessary to truly enjoy the film. I haven’t seen the digital version, but I’ve been told that there are few differences. There were occasional splotches and lines on the screen of the 70mm version, which were a charming reminder that I was watching film. The intermission was well-placed, it marked a shift in tone and plot in the movie, and I think it enhanced the story to pause for a while before moving on. The 70mm certainly allowed for the settings to shine through, but I’m not sure if they wouldn’t in a regular setting. I’m happy to have seen this piece of art as the artist intended, but i know that Quienten Tarantino is a film romanticist, who loves film and the history of the cinema and for him, it would be worth it just to pay respect to that history.
As with all Tarantino films, the violence was brutal, but rather than glorifying gore as critics claim, it does quite the opposite. If you shoot someone, it’s gross. Blood and brains go everywhere, and it’s pretty horrifying. Because so many people are disconnected from that reality, it’s easy to misconstrue action films to real life, and think that a gun can turn an ordinary citizen into Jason Bourne. It’s films like this that show that shooting a person doesn’t make them disappear, it leaves you with either a moaning person slowly bleeding to death or a horrifically mutilated corpse, and though some fanboys go not for the characters but for the gratuitous violence (as if it’s somehow more engaging), I appreciate that hyperbolic violence counteracts its sanitized cousin.
Overall, I give this movie a 7/10. On the scale of Tarintino films, I like it less than Pulp Fiction, but more than Jango Unchained.