The Hateful Eight
Running Time: 187 Minutes
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Tim Roth, Demián Bichir, Bruce Dern, Michael Madsen, and James Parks
Plot: A couple of bounty hunters cross paths in Wyoming as a blizzard hits. Marquis Warren (Samuel L.) is transporting three dead bounties, and John Ruth (Russell) is transporting one live one (Leigh). They, along with Ruth’s driver and another passenger they pick up along the way end up at a haberdashery where they must ride out the storm with a handful of other inhabitants. As the storm rages outside, the group must face conflicting ideologies, personal quarrels, and growing distrust. Oh, and a lot of white people saying ‘nigger.’
Review: Tarantino takes another foray into the western genre hot on the heels of Django Unchained. The Hateful Eight still feels like a departure of sorts, since Tarantino decided not to touch any of the comedy or action elements that made Django so enjoyable. I’m half joking. While I wouldn’t say this movie is boring, it’s definitely more of a static story than most his other ventures. The focus is on the characters, not the plot. I went into this movie having heard a number of things, one of which was that it’s very much like Reservoir Dogs reimagined as a western, and it is, but longer (so much longer).
A big deal was made about this being filmed in Ultra Panavision 70. I’m not an expert when it comes to the technical aspects of filmmaking (or honestly any aspect other than viewing…which just means I can park my ass in a chair at a three-hour stretch) but I got the impression that filming in UP70 is supposed to be more visually impressive than other alternatives. None of that came across when I was watching the movie. That’s not to say it didn’t look good; it was beautifully shot, but the quality wasn’t noticeably better than any other film I’ve seen in recent memory. After the movie ended I did learn that the theater I was in was using a digital projector, so I didn’t see a 70mm print. I have no idea what change, if any, this would have had on what I was seeing on the screen (I do, however, know that it would have provided me and my coffee-filled bladder with a much appreciated intermission). Even if the difference is as big as I have been led to suppose, it seemed like it might be a wasted effort since the last two and a half hours of the film take place in a one-room cabin.
Most people I’ve spoken to say that while they liked The Hateful Eight, that it is their least favorite Tarantino film. I didn’t find that to be true for myself. It wasn’t my favorite, but the acting, cinematography, and score are all top-notch. I found it to be slower and more deliberate than any of his other movies, and the violence, while present, was toned down (that is, for Tarantino. It’s a sliding scale). I liked seeing something new from a director that everyone has come to expect a very specific product from. If you’re looking for an action-filled western, this ain’t it, but if you’re like me and don’t mind sitting through a three-hour picture, this one does its job (…albeit while saying the n-word more than my relatives at Christmas).