January 14, 2016

Anything but Lovely: “The Hateful Eight”

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New Year’s Day brought the world Quentin Tarantino’s latest bacchanal, The Hateful Eight. The bloody and suspenseful events of this character piece keeps audiences on the edge of their seats. It is a traditional western with the all the Tarantino flair we know and love. Originally, the script was leaked in January 2014 and Tarantino called it off, however, after a successful reading in LA of the script and persuasion from his muse, Samuel L Jackson, he changed his mind. The result: the eighth film Tarantino has directed, named for just that occasion.

The film is broken down into six chapters, narrated by Tarantino himself.  This division of the film makes it easier to process the layers of detail and the built up suspense.

The Hateful Eight takes place over the course of a single day. A bounty hunter and his captive (Kurt Russell and Jennifer Jason-Leigh, respectively) are on their way to the captive’s hanging in the town of Red Rock. On their way, they pick up another bounty hunter (Samuel L. Jackson), and the alleged sheriff of Red Rock himself (Walton Goggins) in their carriage. As an ongoing blizzard exacerbates their journey, they stop at a haberdashery and meet four others (Bruce Dern, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen and Demian Bichir) who have ulterior motives that may not be so distant from those of the weary travelers they encounter.

COURTESY OF THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY

COURTESY OF THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY

The Hateful Eight delivers. Its typical Tarantino quirkiness is evident throughout, even with its slower start.  Though the exposition drags on, it creates a stronger sense of anticipation once things got interesting about an hour in. Not a words is wasted, and I could not help but to laugh, despite the raised stakes and morbid moments throughout.  Jackson runs the show and it is captivating from start to finish.

The cinematography of the film is incredible.  The intense winter backdrop sucks you in, and as the wind whistles you feel as though you are no longer in your local cinema. Some of the sets were refrigerated at 30 degrees, so the chills were a mutual feeling on and off the silver screen.  There is also immense detail put into the sets and costumes, which further draws audiences in.  His two major cinematic influences for this film were The Thing (1982, which he showed to the cast for filming) and his very own Reservoir Dogs (1992).

Tarantino was also inspired by the Western television shows Bonanza, The Virginian and The High Chaparral.  According to Deadline Hollywood, Tarantino pays homage to the way that during the seasons of such shows, characters would reveal their true identities and intentions. He says that, similar to the sitcoms in The Hateful Eight, there are “a bunch of nefarious guys in a room, all telling backstories that may or may not be true. Trap those guys together in a room with a blizzard outside, give them guns, and see what happens.”

Of Tarantino’s films, The Hateful Eight is the first film to use its own original score, composed by Ennio Morricone. Previously, Tarantino’s films would include original score and other music for its soundtrack.  It received a Golden Globe this January.

As per usual, Tarantino delivers intense gore that is as artistic as it is nauseating.  It wouldn’t be a Tarantino film without the occasional wincing through violence that lasts for about three hours. The brutal force the characters use on each other shows how Tarantino’s utter lack of limits or boundaries. As much as you want the three hours to be over, you also cannot wait to see what will happen next, and what the next scene to make your stomach churn will be. Originally, the film was planned to include a complete overture and intermission. Either way, it is the longest of Tarantino’s films (unless you combine both parts of Kill Bill).

Rumors formed prior to the release of the movie that it was the sequel to Django Unchained. Originally, Tarantino was working on a sequel to that film called Django in White Hell. He abandoned the idea, since audiences would already know of Django’s disposition and start guessing the film’s outcome. Even though the film does occur in historical time similar to that of Django, there is no connection between the two.  In this film, the timeframe is the 1870s (a few years after the Civil War) in Wyoming, according to the script.  Overall, there is a similar feel between the two films.

A gorgeous character piece that will keep you guessing until the end, The Hateful Eight is probably the fastest three hours you will ever experience.

Marina Watts is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at mcw236@cornell.edu.

3 thoughts on “Anything but Lovely: “The Hateful Eight”

  1. If you watch it in 70mm it does include the intermission and overture. The mainstream release for digital projectors at most theaters has cut those, but the handful of places showing it on 70mm film kept it.

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