Posted Dec 14 2015

The Hateful Eight - This Roadshow Rocks

Dir: Quentin Tarantino

Starring Samuel L Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer jason Leigh, Tim Roth, Walton Goggins, Michael Madsen. Damien Bashir, Bruce Dern, Channing Tatum

Lastword were at the European premiere of The Hateful Eight a couple of nights back, where Quentin came out beforehand to do his rock star bit, managing to break one microphone whilst introducing Kurt Russell, Tim Roth and Walton Goggins. And then doing his mic drop bit on the replacement before running off through the middle of the crowd, high-fives all round. Then it turns out he skipped out on a major TV interview (The Graham Norton Show) to stay and watch the print and the audience reaction. And then at the end he got the audience to applaud the projectionist.

It was a performance much like his film – big, excessive, and really remarkably good.

The Hateful Eight, divided in several chapters, but clearly a film of two halves was given the full roadshow treatment here. Glorious 70mm with its Morricone Overture beforehand (accompanied by a title card that said “Overture”) and a full intermission. And it really is the best way to experience what is – as it says on screen – “The 8th Film By Quentin Tarantino.” 

The first half (at 100 mins, practically a full film in itself) sets up the central players and the film’s location – basically snow-trapped stagecoaches and Minnie’s Haberdashery, a beautifully designed isolated outpost, where the eight – an enigmatic combination of bounty hunters, desperate criminals, Civil War holdovers and those to be discovered later, convene. It is for this first half very much a Ten Little Indians-esque, Agatha Christie western. Then – just before the intermission – Sam Jackson gets all medieval on us and we’re shocked into that breathing space.

When the film returns for its slightly shorter second act, it’s almost a different beast. Tarantino himself starts narrating (we knew he’d get himself in there somehow), completely shifting how the narrative is being unveiled. Then we all stop for three minutes while Jennifer Jason Leigh sings a song. Then we’re in flashback/alternative timeline territory – another QT motif. And then the bullets and – once again, as ever – copious amounts of blood start flying.  It almost unbalances the movie and borders on the self-parodic. Except for the fact – this is a Tarantino movie. And nobody does this stuff, this way.

Eight films in (as he’s keen to remind us) and QT is still ploughing the same field. Do the blood soaked floors of Minnie’s ultimately resemble the warehouse of Reservoir Dogs? Yes, but that’s what the man wants. And here he does it as well as he ever has.

Quentin Tarantino may be a singular beast, but, after eight movie, he has become a master of the filmmaking he chooses to deliver. As ever his (often anachronistic) dialogue bristles and is full of wit – he even compliments himself towards the end as Goggins reads a letter and adds “That’s a nice touch.” And it is. The cast to a man and a one woman excel. Shocks occur. Heads explode. The N-bomb is dropped copiously. But, for such a lengthy exercise, the movie never outstays its welcome.

This is very much Tarantino’s world. But, when it’s this accomplished and compelling, we should be grateful we get to visit it every now and then.


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