Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

The Hateful 8

You would have had to be living on another planet for the past couple of decades not to know that all the movies made by filmmaker Quentin Tarantino contain some of the most excruciating gratuitous violence ever seen on the screen. However you will also know, and hopefully appreciate, that at the same time they are also some of the most wickedly funny ones and this somehow makes all the excessively gruesome bloodiness a tad more tolerable. It’s probably OK to assume then that the fact that you are considering even going to see this his eighth movie, that you are either a Tarantino fan, or the very fact that there will be uncontrollable carnage is not going to put you off.  However you probably have two very important questions about The Hateful Eight before you finally decide to buy tickets and these will be a) is this one of his best movies and b) does it contain even more violence than useful. So before we go any further, we can answer with a very categorically ‘yes’ to both of them.

This Western tale has eight gun-toting ruffians holed up in a remote Haberdashery Store in the backcountry of Wyoming in the middle of a fierce winter blizzard. At first it seems like they are all strangers before some of them will even admit to be acquainted, but after time when this complicated yarn starts to unravel, we realize that none of these fellows (and the one lone female prisoner enroute to be hung) are who they said they are.  There is the effete British hangman (Tim Roth) and black-hatted cowboy Joe Gage (Michael Madsen) who have been joined by two bounty hunters taking shelter from the storm. Bushy faced John Roth (Kurt Russell) is escorting his lady outlaw Daisy Domergue (a marvellous Jennifer Jason Leigh) wary that his rival the smooth talking Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L Jackson) would happily relieve him of his charge, so that he could claim the reward himself.  They encounter the town’s most unlikely replacement sheriff (played by Walton Coggins), a very bitter and surly rebel General (Bruce Dern) and an oddball quiet Mexican (Demian Bichir) complete this bunch of strange strangers.

There is no sign of the missing proprietress of the store but hints abound as to what may have happened to her before all is revealed. In fact Tarantino builds up the tension very slowly and keeps us in complete suspense as to the true nature of all these restless gunmen who all think that anyone may take a pot-shot at them any minute. In fact he waits way beyond the half-way mark of the movie to have the first bullet riddled corpse hit the floor, but he makes up for it in the remaining 70 mins of the film. Much has been made of the fact that Tarantino chose to shoot the movie in 70mm which is considered an old fashioned format these days, but it so suited the whole epic nature of the movie with it’s sweeping vistas and lush Ennio Morricone soundtrack (in the longer versions of the movie, the overture lasts an entire 8 minutes).

What does make each Tarantino movie such a joy is his regular ensemble of such wonderful actors who he uses time after time : none so more than Samuel L Jackson who has now appeared in seven on his movies. They are all required, this time more than usual, to give such hammy performances playing such exaggerated characters, and you cannot fail to sympathise with Jennifer Jason Leigh who has to combine that with some very nasty man-handling and some heavy blows to her face.   This is no way to treat a lady, but this is a Tarantino movie after all so that is really of little consequence.

Tarantino is a cinematic genius.  For example asides from all this brutal mayhem and comedy  he is not afraid to tackle serious issues like racial politics. His movies are however, very much an acquired taste, and as it is one that we revel in, we are more than happy to recommend this one. That’s as long as you are not feint hearted about the thought of all that blood.

Posted by queerguru  at  20:04

Genres:  drama

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