Saturday, December 26, 2015
The Hateful Eight, a western stocked with some of the most unlovable misanthropes of the year
Still, I found myself longing for the emotional content of Tarantino’s earlier work. Be it the unrequited romance of Vincent Vega and Mia Wallace, Mr. White’s paternal relationship with Mr. Orange, or The Bride’s reunion with her daughter, Tarantino demonstrated a real affection for his characters that counterbalanced the lurid material. No such love is evident in The Hateful Eight, a western stocked with some of the most unlovable misanthropes of the year. With a title like that, this should come as no surprise. Still even the artsiest of features usually give the audience one somewhat sympathetic character. If the characters are remotely tolerable, it is due to the actors that inhabit them. Jennifer Jason Leigh, in particular, delivers a stand-out performance as Daisy Domergue, the coarse captive of bounty hunter John Ruth (Kurt Russell). Although she is shushed by Ruth for the better part of the film, she conveys impressive range with body language, blowing a big wad of snot out of her nose in one memorable moment. Her irascible charm, however, makes it harder to stomach all the beatings she takes. In the first act alone, she is punched in the face, pistol-whipped, and thrown from a carriage. As with his profuse deployment of N-words, Tarantino is clearly trying to induce discomfort here, but it feels too much like shock for shock’s sake. Unlike in Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs, there is no sense of a nobler purpose. When people start vomiting buckets of blood, the film feels like nothing more than an edgeless remake of a South Park episode.
Tarantino’s greatest strength remains his dialogue. Although the historical setting means no pithy dissections of Madonna or McDonald’s, it’s impressive how he can muster so much tension from ruminative, ornate conversations. His dialogue possesses a pleasing deliberateness that harkens back to the golden age of cinema and reveals by contrast the absence of wit in most modern films. The "Hateful Eight" is Tarantino’s most conspicuously old-fashioned release. It was filmed using 70 mm negative stock, in the style of Lawrence of Arabia and Ben-Hur. But where those films employed the wider breadth of screen to depict stunning desert vistas and chariot races, Tarantino’s film rarely leaves the confines of a bar called Minnie’s Haberdashery. Consequently the pores of Samuel L. Jackson, Tim Roth, and others receive epic treatment. If you see the “Roadhouse” version in theaters this weekend, you’ll also get an overture, an intermission, and six minutes of extra footage.
Bottom line: If you’re a die-hard Tarantino fan, this is a must-see. However, anyone hankering for the old Tarantino to reemerge will probably regard The Hateful Eight as another nail in the coffin.
Revlock LAMB Score: 3 outta 5
***Quick Aside by Le Anne - I agree, not sure there were enough panoramic vistas to warrant the 70mm wide lens filmmaking, but I'm sure Tarantino got a kick outta shooting old school. And I got my usual kick out of all the senseless violence and black humor. However, it has no business being 3 hours long, since there's no way it can be deemed a saga. And because we don't have a group to hate like Nazis or Plantation Owners, it's not as much fun, but it's still a delightful ride!
Mikhail Revlock is a freelance journalist and fiction writer. His hobbies include bicycles, books, and food. A Philadelphia native, he lives in University City with his girlfriend and two cats. Be sure to check out past contributions: Reviews: The Secret in their Eyes, Room Sicario "American Sniper", "Beyond the Reach", "Run All Night", "Horrible Bosses" "Jupiter Ascending"Interviews: "Dear White People" director Justin Simien and Kevin MacDonald "Black Sea". Event: Insidious Chapter 3 4 D Experience
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