Hateful Eight (2015)

Mitchell

The Hateful Eight (2015)
Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Damian Bilchir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern. Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino.

(I’m writing this so as not to spoil anything about what I think is a film worth avoiding spoilers for, even though I don’t recommend the film)

Eight men (and one woman) are trapped in a haberdashery in a violent blizzard. Some of them are bounty hunters. Some of them claim to be lawmen. Some fought for the Confederacy; some fought for the union. One of them is black. This is the perfect setting for Quentin Tarantino’s love of storytelling, dialogue, and suspense, and The Hateful Eight is some of the director’s best film-making. You know that Christopher Walken scene in Pulp Fiction, where Walken’s character gives the young Butch character his father’s watch? There are a few scenes like that, extended monlogues that take the viewer out of the cabin and into whatever tale is being told, and although some of it gets long (and even boring), most of it is quite well done.

Ennio Morricone, my favorite movie soundtrack composer ever (he did all those Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns, and the unforgettable soundtrack for The Mission), composed the film’s score, and it’s beautiful and magnificent, and probably destined to lose out to John Williams for Star Wars in the Oscar race this year. That score is fantastic, but this one’s just as good.

This being a Tarantino flick, there are also generous doses of violence and blood, and here is where the film is kind of ruined for me. I have a feeling I’m going to have to see it again in order to see it better, but I was made very uncomfortable by some of the violence done to one of the characters. The character has done some terrible things (it seems they all have), probably much worse than what he or she receives during parts of this movie. At first, it looks like some kind of torture porn, one use of the medium I think is inherently evil, but Tarantino’s a better (and more enlightened) writer than that. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I believe he’s trying to make a statement about people’s attitudes toward violence, possibly about violence in his movies in particular. If just one aspect of the character were different, I think, my discomfort with the violence would nearly be eliminated. Is this one of Tarantino’s points? If it is, it’s effective, and I think I’m convinced, but that doesn’t change the fact that I was horrified by what I saw, so uncomfortable that my horror outweighed all the other good stuff put together.

Roger Ebert wrote that if you’re trying to make a parody of porn, even just to make a statement, you’re still pretty much making porn. Tarantino made me endure something I was very uncomfortable with, then held up a mirror, and gave me something to think about. But I still resent having to endure, and unless I can get over that with a second viewing, I can’t like this movie.

7/10

13 Responses to “Hateful Eight (2015)”


  1. Reid

    I’m not motivated to right a proper review, and I’m anxious to read Mitchell’s review, so I’m going to just give some quick thoughts:

    1. I liked this. I’d say it’s one of my favorites; after Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, this might be the Tarantino flick I enjoyed the most. I think it has one of the strongest, more entertaining stories of his films–or at least one of the most satisfying for me.

    I should mention that I went into this with low expectations–partly because of comments from others and because of the previous film.

    2. The film covers similar terrain and issues as Django, but I thought this film handled them much better. It would be worth time analyzing some of this, particularly on matters of race, but I’m too lazy.

    3. I liked the look of the film, which surprised. Initially, I thought the use of 70mm film seemed gratuitous, especially since I assumed the film would take place in one one. Yet, for whatever reason, I liked the look of this movie. I’m not sure the extent to which the 70mm film affected this, though.

  2. Reid

    Spoilers

    The character has done some terrible things (it seems they all have), probably much worse than what he or she receives during parts of this movie.

    I assume you mean the character who played the guitar? If you’re up to it, I wouldn’t mind hearing you expand on what you left opaque in your review about this aspect of the film.

    How’d you like the dialogue in this film? I thought it was fine, but’s it. It didn’t really sparkle and entertain like in his other films. I thought the best part of the film was the plot structure.

    Oh, how’d you like Kurt Russell in this? I thought he didn’t quite fit, but that’s probably more of a quibble.

  3. Mitchell

    SPOILERS

    Which character played the guitar? I don’t remember that.

  4. Reid

    The character that John Ruth was escorting.

  5. Mitchell

    I’m curious about how you’d theorize how this would apply to that character: “If just one aspect of the character were different, I think, my discomfort with the violence would nearly be eliminated.” What was the variable that added to my discomfort?

    I didn’t think the dialogue was especially memorable, really. Like, right now I can’t even think of one memorable line, although maybe if I saw it again some lines would come back to me. I never did give it that second viewing I planned.

    Kurt Russell was fine but I felt there wasn’t enough room for him and Bruce Dern in the same small room for some reason.

    I have a feeling you’d be unimpressed with the score, which was a highlight for me.

  6. Reid

    I’m curious about how you’d theorize how this would apply to that character: “If just one aspect of the character were different, I think, my discomfort with the violence would nearly be eliminated.” What was the variable that added to my discomfort?

    I’m not sure, but everything that preceded that made me think of the character I mentioned above. Who were you referring to? I’m just interested in hearing what bothered you and why.

    (I’m going to speak more openly and specifically about the characters–so spoilers for anyone reading this who hasn’t seen the movie.)

    I was more disturbed by Ruth beating Daisy–it made me think of a Lars von Trier film at times and the way some accuse von Trier of misogyny. I would now guess that you’re thinking of the fate of the Major Warren character, specifically getting shot in the nether regions. For whatever reason, the violence in this film wasn’t as disturbing or problematic as the violence in Django. In that film, I recall feeling like QT tried to mix realism and cartoonish, midnight movie thing, and the results just didn’t work. In Hateful, I think there is some serious social commentary via dialogue and characters, all of which fit more appropriately in a QT pulp movie.

    Kurt Russell was fine but I felt there wasn’t enough room for him and Bruce Dern in the same small room for some reason.

    To me, Russell has an affability that makes him ill-suited to more brutal aspects of the character. (It almost makes him very ill-suited to the silent tough guy in my opinion.) Also, there were moments that sounded like he was channeling Jack Burton, and I thought those allusions weren’t well-suited for the character.

    Dern–and many of the other charcters–didn’t seem particularly well-drawn or interesting, not for drama, anyway. In general, I’d guess that this applies to most of QT’s characters. They’re more like sketches with a certain look and vibe. Add good dialogue and delivery and those characters can be very entertaining. Then again, maybe I’m wrong about that.

    I have a feeling you’d be unimpressed with the score, which was a highlight for me.

    Yeah, it didn’t really stand out for me–maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention. You might not be able to articulate this, but what stood out for you?

  7. Mitchell

    My issues was the violence done to a woman. More later.

  8. Reid

    So I had the right character in mind, initially. I’m confused.

  9. Mitchell

    Now I’m confused. Jennifer Jason Leigh played the guitar in that movie?

  10. Reid

    Yeah. It was a good song and pretty good performance. I’m a little surprised you forgot as it’s the type of song and performance I’d expect you to like. (By the way, you know about the story behind the destruction of that guitar, right?)

  11. Mitchell

    I have no recollection of that, so if I know the story about it, I’ve completely forgotten.

  12. Reid

    After the song, Russell’s character smashes the guitar. Jennifer Jason Leigh says, “Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!”…because it turns out that was an $40,000 guitar on loan from a museum. They forgot to switch out the guitar! (You can read the entire story somewhere on line.)

  13. Mitchell

    Man, I don’t remember that at all. I thought she was tired up the whole time.

    I think Tarantino enjoys taking actors we’re used to seeing a certain way and then either putting them back into familiar types of roles, as with Pam Grier and Robert Forster in Jackie Brown, or putting them in roles we might have had difficulty imagining, as with John Travolta in Pulp Fiction, Brad Pitt in Inglorious Basterds, and Michael Keaton in Jackie Brown. Maybe that’s what he was thinking with Kurt Russell. I haven’t seen Russell in enough movies to think of him in any one way. But isn’t his Snake character something of an antihero, a good guy who does bad guy things? I haven’t seen those films so I don’t know.

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