In the dead of a Wyoming winter, a bounty hunter and his prisoner find shelter in a cabin currently inhabited by a collection of nefarious characters.
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, Zoe Bell
Rated: R (strong bloody violence, a scene of violent sexual content, language and some graphic nudity)
The Hateful Eight
By Cole Schneider
Quentin Tarantino (“Inglourious Basterds”, “Django Unchained”) has always worn his interests on his sleeve. The author of “Pulp Fiction” obviously liked Jean-Luc Godard; the man who penned “Kill Bill” was clearly a Kung-Fu fanboy. Yet there’s been no more consistent interest than the Sergio Leone-Italian Western. “The Hateful Eight” is the perfect synthesis of what Tarantino and Leone have each brought to movies, and it’s Tarantino’s darkest, most incisive take on the America Leone was fascinated with.
As violent and intimate as “Reservoir Dogs”, but also as sprawling in myth and history as “Once Upon a Time In the West”, Tarantino somehow dissolves familiar Reconstruction politics into complex modern ethics while keeping his audience on the edge of their seat for a three-hour smirk. Like all the great American westerns from the 40s (“Red River”), 50s (“The Searchers”), and 60s (“The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”) through the 90s (“Unforgiven”) and into 2015 (“Slow West”) have done, “The Hateful Eight” is indeed a sharply constructed take on present America through the lens of the old west.
However, it is also a thrilling mystery and eventually a riveting shoot-em-up. Every moment and every scene is stretched out to absurd lengths (it’s at least two hours longer than it needs to be), maximizing tension and comedic effect. And though everything is written more like a stage-play, the film is intensely cinematic. The snowy vistas loom massively outside of the confines of the one big room where the eight vermin are stuck, shot and staged with impressive precision. Movies this fun are almost never as cynical, or ummm, honest.
5 out of 5 Stars
The Hateful Eight
By Matt Greene
Since his groundbreaking debut Reservoir Dogs, Hateful Eight is Tarantino’s first film that’s readymade to be performed on stage. Less cinematic than anything the blockbuster-auteur has done in two decades, Hateful Eight spends its lengthy runtime focusing on its characters…and what characters they are. Lovingly written with a clear grasp on its densely layered story, Tarantino passionately unravels and unhinges the levels of his tale, while maintaining his signature eye for geeky detail and meticulous backstory. The end product is an immersive chamber western that worms its way into your brain long after the bloody and hilarious affair has ended.
As with each of Tarantino’s films, it’s bursting with capital ‘C’ Character, making it a breeze to spend 3 hours in this world. The small-ish cast is packed full of giant performances, each one bringing a different level of craze to their character. Leigh, in particular, quietly steals every moment as a grown-up and deeply disturbed murderess version of Ally Sheedy from Breakfast Club. Not that she’s the only standout; in fact, there really isn’t a hate-able role in the bunch, as a palpable sense of danger underscores every character beat and interaction.
Above all, we get Tarantino’s calling cards: vibrant dialogue and devilish violence. It may as well have been called “The Bloody Eight”, as it’s among his most demented films. However, the Christ imagery and thematic focus on America’s racial history reminds us that there is more on this movie’s mind than simple blood-and-guts. Full of surprises, The Hateful Eight is a darkly delightful mystery that makes us ponder the things we’re willing to die for.
4.5 out of 5 Stars