film reel image

film reel image

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Hateful Eight 2015 * * Stars

The Hateful EightDirector: Quentin Tarantino
Year: 2015
Rated R
Rating: * * Stars
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh

"Got room for one 'mo?" quips Sam Jackson's character in The Hateful Eight. Director Quentin Tarantino has got room for more movies and along with Django Unchained, this is his second Western in three years. In "Eight", Tarantino bludgeons us with the n-word, overindulges the audience with splattered blood and guts, brings in a cast of regulars/relative newbies (Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Channing Tatum), and provides no aura or mystery to something that's at least forty-five minutes too long. Registering in just under three hours, The Hateful Eight slightly reminded me of Quentin's earlier work in Reservoir Dogs. This is especially inherit during the flick's last act. However, "Dogs" is one of my favorite endeavors of his whereas The Hateful Eight falls into a set of his movies that I could care less about (that would be Inglorious Basterds, "Django", and Kill Bill: Volume 2). Granted, this isn't a disdain for Tarantino's latest mind you, it's just pure disappointment.

Anyway, his direction here is adequate if not unflashy, his main lead (Kurt Russell) does a great John Wayne impersonation a la Big Trouble in Little China, and Quentin even narrates certain parts of "Eight" which feel completely out of place. This thing is kind of a forced whodunit whose time setting is right after the Civil War. The story begins in snowy Wyoming where a blizzard is heavily approaching the town of Red Rock (an actual place in the Cowboy state). John Ruth (Russell) dubbed "The Hangman", is transferring a fugitive to "Rock" named Daisy Domergue (played by Jennifer Jason Leigh). He wants to see her hang but his carriage is diverted (because of overwhelmingly heavy snowfall) to a stagecoach lodge called Minnie's Haberdashery. On the way, he picks up a bounty hunter named Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) and a local sheriff named Chris Mannix (played by up-and-comer Walton Goggins). When they get to Minnie's, other strangers await their presence (Bruce Dern as a former war general is one of them). Ruth is suspicious that some of these random gentlemen are trying to help Daisy escape. He thinks that quote unquote, "one of those fellas is not what he says he is". As the proceedings barrel along, gunfights, stabbings, and poisonings ensue. Murder is unforgiving and unsentimental. Tarantino style!

Now "Eight" moves briskly in certain spots and really drags its feet in others. Most of its scenes happen in one room so it felt as if I was watching a savage version of What Love Is (2007) combined with a life-and-death variant of 2001's Tape. I was expecting to experience an intermission but I guess that was only for the film's roadshow release (we're talking about screenings in cities like L.A. and New York with the whole 70mm treatment tacked on). I was also expecting to see the Band Apart logo which seems to pop up at the beginning of every Tarantino venture. Oh well. So much for bantered tradition.

All in all, just like in the Kill Bill exercises, Quentin inserts The Hateful Eight with title cards that say "Chapter 1", "Chapter 2", "Chapter 3", and so on and so on. This doesn't hold much burden because what's on screen is such a straightforward eventuality. There are long stretches of dialogue where the actors explain everything to the audience. And Tarantino himself explains things too with his clunky narration plus a flashback sequence that although similar, doesn't quite equal the import of his finest hour, Pulp Fiction. In truth, there's no enigma to "Eight". And as for its grisly violence, well it's over exaggerated because humans don't contain that much plasma (sorry). With most of the troupers equaling the adjective by which this 2015 release got its title (you end up detesting almost everybody expect for Bruce Dern), well you can just call Tarantino's 8th vehicle The Good, the Bad and the Fugly. A bloody, messy, and obvious affair. Rating: 2 Stars.

Of note: Samuel L. Jackson was brilliant in Pulp Fiction. It was new, fresh, and exciting the way he spewed soliloquies about Big Kahuna burgers, Ezekiel 25:17, and Caine in Kung Fu. Twenty-one years later and within the span of 50+ movies, he's still tiredly doing the same old shtick. In The Hateful Eight, it has reached an all-time peak of annoyance. Also of note: Ennio Morricone's film score is nifty. But what's up with Tarantino adding songs that came out in the year 2000 (The White Stripes) and the year 1972 (David Hess). Didn't this flick take place in the 1800's. Just a random thought.

Written by Jesse Burleson

No comments:

Post a Comment