- Score: 4/5
- Genre: 4/5
- Did I enjoy it: Very much so.
- Did it move me: Yes.
- Rewatch: Without a doubt.
- Art/Pop: Both, baby!
- Noteworthy/Significant: The Tarantino Western.
Some directors have such a distinctive and strong hand, the joy of being brought into their world can overshadow the individual faults of any particular trip. The Hateful Eight is not a perfect movie, but it is oh-so-fun to watch, with a wonderful collection of actors interacting in what is functionally a play.
I say that because despite some beautiful scenes shot in Colorado, the whole film (barring one or two quick scenes) takes place either inside a stage coach or in the main location: “Minnie’s Haberdashery,” a one-giant-room trading post. This is a film that could easily be staged in a theatre. The focus remaining squarely on the tension of the character interactions and the unraveling of the mystery, the hallmark of this kind of approach, was a wonderful change from most of the recent films I have seen.
A bunch of dark individuals on seemingly separate paths end up stranded in a Rocky Mountain retreat (the aforementioned Haberdashery) by a blizzard in what appears to be the late 1800s (post Civil War). Weird coincidences, unexpected connections, and hidden plot machinations abound as they interact. It is, in a way, Tarantino’s version of Deathtrap, or Murder on the Orient Express, by way of Sergio Leone, with extra blood and violence, bien sûr!
Kurt Russell chews up lots of scenery in what appears to be a partial, twisted-but-loving homage to the Duke. And what can one say about Jennifer Jason Leigh, who deserved to end up a superstar actress but never quite broke through into that sphere, yet is markedly more talented than so many of her peers who did? She’s a joy. Period. (If you have never seen Ms. Parker and the Vicious Circle, make it next on your viewing list and thank me later). I can’t even judge Samuel L Jackson anymore, because he is so familiar, dependable, and easy to watch.
In fact, everyone does a great job, and they even don’t all sound like Quentin Tarantino for once! That, of course, is one of my biggest pet peeves about Tarantino: there are too many scenes in too many movies where you can actually hear his voice in the delivery of the actors, as if they’ve been coached to the point where they are (unconsciously, probably) emulating his cadence. Not that that actually happens (the coaching), perhaps it is just unavoidably implicit in the dialog itself. Who knows. But here, that negative is almost unseen, with rich individual voices for so many of the characters.
Yes, it is violent – his films always are, but this one is mostly tame except for everyone taking a shot at Jason Leigh’s character at one point or another, and then the final lots-of-people-getting-killed-at-the-end, which is Episode 4 in the Extended edition.
Speaking of which, I honestly could not spot what specifically was added: there were no cut subplots that I could detect (I did not watch them back to back). It felt like there were just extensions on many of the scenes, particularly in the beginning. Yes, there are diminishing returns on that extra slice of pie, but if it is good pie, who can resist?
If you hate Tarantino, this will not sway you over, but it is definitely on the more accessible side of the spectrum for his films, with less of the hyper violence that so many have. It’s a lame way to end a review, but simply put: Damn, I really liked it.
Review Date: 05/22/2019