SARAH GOEGAN & TOM MONOTTI
Volume 9, Issue 7
This week we review The Hateful Eight, the eighth film by Quentin Tarantino.
Sarah: Tarantino is my favourite director, so of course I booked advance tickets to see The Hateful Eight in glorious 70mm Ultra Panavision.
I wish I could say it was everything I had hoped for, but it wasn’t. That’s not to say it wasn’t good - I still saw someone’s head explode and fake blood being used in ways I never dreamt of. But there were two major problems. First, though Tarantino’s violence could never be considered proportionate to the circumstances, I feel it has always tied in well with the plot. Here, it felt like somewhat of a cop-out to cut through the long running time. The cast originally read the script at a theatre, and The Hateful Eight does feel like it would have done well as a play. The tension-building dialogue, written and performed excellently, and the dominant setting of a single room (which at times negated the effect of the widescreen film), made me wonder what it would have been like as a theatre performance.
Second, the plot didn’t deliver the final punch the way it should have. Unlike Tom, I felt the third act was anticlimactic. His ending did not satisfy; the film’s resolution was over all too quickly, and felt like little payoff after having taken viewers on such a long ride. However, the first two thirds of the film were excellent - Tarantino takes his time to establish each of his characters’ personalities, and build the mystery. This was complemented by Ennio Morricone’s wonderful score.
Overall, The Hateful Eight shows a director refining his skill, in an homage to the spaghetti western. Despite its flaws, I still enjoyed it, and really, there must be some applause given to anyone in Hollywood nowadays who actually creates original work, so it gets a 3.5/5 from me.
Tom: Quentin Tarantino relishes slow burn thrills. In every scene he establishes an ensemble of eccentric characters, and with meticulous use of plot devices creates conflicts which often result in a crescendo of staccato-burst violence. His latest film throws Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson, Tim Roth and five others into Minnie’s Haberdashery and lets their personalities fester into confrontation, evolving around bounty hunter Kurt Russell and his prisoner, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh.
The original film, presented in 70mm Panavision, has a length of about three hours, including an overture (composed by famous spaghetti western composer Ennio Morricone) and an interlude. The film is shouting “epic” from the get-go, yet this is probably Tarantino’s least accomplished work. I agree with Sarah that there is good dialogue, but the use of over-the-top violence which so often complements his films jars with the subtlety which makes the character interactions so ominous. In addition, the buildup is dampened by a flashback scene which would have enhanced the tension of the film if it was removed. The Hateful Eight feels more like a play than a film, and sometimes implying.
While Quentin Tarantino often brings out amazing performances from his actors and actresses, I felt Jennifer Jason Leigh’s performance is overstated, Samuel L. Jackson is playing Samuel L. Jackson, and Walton Goggins’ turn as a hillbilly sheriff is very similar to that of another performance in the underrated TV show, Justified.
Still, there is much to like in this film, particularly in the second half. I give it three out of five stars.
Sarah & Tom are third-year JD students
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