I’m gonna sound biased here, but Quentin Tarantino is my favorite filmmaker. I love all of his movies, the simple yet complex ideas and premises behind each of them, the “Tarintinoing” dialogue, the violence, the homages to past genres and films while also making certain twists with them, and just about everything else that makes a Tarantino film awesome. I also don’t like it when people call Tarantino a “prima donna” or dismissing him in some way, because a guy like him can be a rarity. He’s probably one of the few people out there that can maintain complete creative control over his films, at least so far from what I know, and manage to be successful at it. With that sentiment in mind, The Hateful Eight, with the emphasis on “eight” because this is Tarantino’s “8th” film and it’s about “eight hateful” characters (yeah I know bad joke), is exemplary of this. Plus I’m glad that this movie was made despite some initial… production problems aka “the script being leaked online and Tarantino momentarily cancelling the film as a result before changing his mind and make it anyway” (again I know bad joke).
After the massive juggernaut that was Django Unchained, helping to reinvigorate the Western genre, how was Tarantino going to follow up on this? Make another Western of course, but like Django Unchained, it’d have a twist. This time it’s a mystery set in a secluded cabin during a snowstorm, in which all manners of Hell break loose. Blood, guts, bullets, and violence galore run rampant in the Western backdrop Tarantino sets this story in along with a compelling mystery filled with intrigue, characters of dubious moralities, and the actions committed by them in the name of survival, justice, or just doing it for the heck of it, and one heck of an ending. All of this playing along to a beautiful musical score, deserving of its Oscar win, by Ennio Morricone. And really, for a movie like this, a Western done by Quentin Tarantino, who else would be fitting to do the music other than the guy who did the scores for The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly as well as John Carpenter’s The Thing, which given this movie’s premise of being a Western about characters stuck in a cabin during a snowstorm and their actions during this time together, makes it feel like a weird yet fitting combination of the two, just without the shape-changing alien of course lol.
Seeing this movie in 70mm widescreen format was well worth it, including the drive to the closest theater I could find that had it. For one, I could actually HEAR the movie projector running while the movie itself was playing. I don’t know how to describe that feeling other than it was both weird and awesome at the same time. There was even an intermission for the halfway point, which felt kind of a relief as I did want to stretch my legs a bit (as well as get some popcorn and drinks) after sitting for so long. It really did seem like I was watching an old-fashioned movie in an old-fashioned movie theater of sorts. There’s also a certain level of sheen and detail for it being presented and shot in this format. Tarantino is known for his advocacy of film over digital, and it shows not just in his other movies, but especially this one as well.
If there’s anything that can be said about the characters in The Hateful Eight, both the titular characters and even some of the supporting characters, is that it does emphasize a bit, or should I say A LOT, on how they’re “hateful”, exactly. Regardless of how they’re presented, even the ones that are kinda ones that you may or may not be rooting for, or even whether they’re male or female, they are probably some of the most vile and vicious people that could ever end up in a cabin in the middle of a snowstorm during the Old West, especially amidst all the racial tensions going on in a post-Civil War setting. Some of the characters, usually the supporting cast and maybe one or two of the titular eight, can be a bit one-note at times, but other times as the story progresses from seemingly being about an exploration about the hard times during the frontier into more of a murder-mystery, they do end up being more than meets the eye, especially with Channing Tatum’s character, I mean holy shit was he a sly devil in this movie. From Samuel L. Jackson to Kurt Russell to Jennifer Jason Leigh to Walton Goggins and everyone else in this movie, their portrayals of these seedy characters, and the actions that they have committed in their respective pasts as well as their current situation towards each other and how it culminates for them in the end, shine through in this visceral tale.
The Hateful Eight is definitely Quentin Tarantino at his absolute best. While at first I thought Django Unchained was his best, but in comparison to this movie, it was really scratching the surface of what he could do with the Western genre. It’s got great characters with great portrayals by the actors playing them, awesome writing (and no Oscar nomination for a Tarantino script at least? that’s just criminal) and directing by Tarantino, a beautiful and vibrant musical score, fantastic cinematography, and just about everything else that makes this one of the best movies of 2015. What else can be said other than I can’t wait for what Tarantino does next…