The Hateful Eight

I’ve been absent from the film review world as of late. So I figured after seeing QT’s latest this would be as good of a time as any to jump back in. I’m writing this less than 24 hours after viewing The Hateful Eight, so I’m sure my take will change somewhat..

The Hateful Eight is Tarantino’s love letter to himself as much as it is to the western genre. Rather than take a step back to exercise any restraint or nuance, he has blazed forward, continuing on a path escalating the seemingly impossible-to-match absurdities of his prior films. Filled with the usual colorful characters, tight dialogue, and  energetic pacing, the film also exhibits an uncanny self awareness.

Only by the time the film’s mystery unravels itself, is it possible to witness the full extent of this aforementioned self awareness. Tim Roth in a hilarious turn essentially plays Christoph Waltz; The various characters’ colorful dialogue, despite being super entertaining, equates to nothing ultimately, which left me somewhat wanting more out of these colorful fellows.

The film itself, which plays like a re-imagining of John Carpenter’s The Thing set in the dusty Minnie’s Haberdashery in the midst of a blizzard, features a simple premise turned complex by various twists, turns, and subversions. With masterful control of the camera  (as usual) and a brilliant manipulation of the audience’s focus, Tarantino fills the cabin with a tangible sense of paranoia. The characters are sketchy, hiding mixed intentions, secrets, and all a sense of individuality that define them as characters. From this spawns an insatiable tension, one that derives itself heavily on the spontaneity and the aliveness that each character possesses. Each actor gives a convincing performance, bringing their character to life. Walton Goggins as the new sheriff with a dubious past and Jennifer Jason Leigh as the repulsive Daisy Domergue both stand out.

Despite being almost entirely dialogue-driven, it is hard not to be completely enthralled. Occasionally, scenes are filled with raw tension, only to immediately be defused by the film’s great sense of humor. It really is amazing entertainment, enough so for its 3 hour run time and its execution to not feel as indulgent or drawn out as it really is.

An overture immediately captivates, effectively creating an atmosphere well before the producer’s slides get their chance to grace the screen. Initially, the 70mm felt like another unnecessary flourish – even now, it does not resonate as fundamental to the film’s beauty – but it certainly did help. Heavily stylized and, when paired with Enrico Morricone’s orchestral score, The Hateful Eight is a veritable epic, imbued with a sense of grandeur.

Watching the The Hateful Eight something hit me, this wasn’t so much a Tarantino film as much as it was heading in Alfred Hitchcock direction. Of course I say that with only the two thirds finished, but it felt true. Unfortunately (for me) anyone who has seen this can testify on the final third and Tarantino making it his own.

The violence is fairly brutal, even comically outrageous especially when contrasted with the film’s white, snowy backdrop, but still it remains fairly intimate. It’s themes, of trust, of unity, and of dealing with an era’s mixed up political ideals, resonate maybe more now then back when.

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