I smell a third Best Original Screenplay Oscar for one Mr. Quentin Tarantino and that’s no exaggeration. Q.T. gives us the much anticipated 8th film to his catalog that he claims will only go to ten – pray he’s bluffing – which has his dear friend Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and a few staple actors Tarantino has brought on in the past. The Hateful Eight brings a frigidly comedic “who done it” type western on the much discussed 70mm film, which I got a chance to see, and it didn’t disappoint. With the wide shots and the constantly sharp dialogue that Q.T. is famous for, The Hateful Eight proves the man is only getting better and that actors are always in good hands when working with him.
Throwing us back to a time when lengthy films reigned supreme in Hollywood, we are treated to not just the 70mm film style, but an overture and even an intermission to cut the three hour run-time for soda filled audiences. Set during a blizzard in the mountains of Wyoming, eight strangers collide unintentionally as they attempt to survive the winter storm, but little did they know there was going to be something far more ice-like in the works at Minnie’s Haberdashery. What immediately sweeps you off your feet is the energetic score by acclaimed composer Ennio Morricone whose work span to the classic spaghetti westerns of the Sergio Leone era while bringing us one of the most recognizable scores of all time from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
Samuel L. Jackson never seems to miss the marks when he takes on his roles. He is a classic film actor whose charisma and knack for adding drama and humor all at once is astounding. He and Tarantino are clearly the match made in heaven with their styles and it proves to be a winner yet again. Unlike his last role in Django Jackson proves to be the most likable character of the bunch one way or another and allows his co-stars to do what they have all been able to do for their respective careers. It’s great to see actors like Tim Roth, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Michael Madsen return to prominent roles in film because they are too good to ignore or have be under our radars. With every throat cutting punchline and all the build up from scene to scene, you feel as confined as the characters while the setting evolves into an engulfing surrounding that holds as many mysteries are there are the use of the N-word. Yes, there is tons of use of the N-word in this film, but as the classic Tarantino films go, there is likely to be the word N**** and N*****, but you guys already knew that.
Not that Tarantino is becoming Hitchcock but the man knows how to make suspense and mystery. For the whole run-time, you are peering at each individual character thinking you can unmask the person with the deep seeded motives, but you can’t do it because Tarantino won’t let you, and that’s where this film should get a pat on the back. Normally in films with mystery or suspense, you can get a hint as to who it might be sooner or later, but you are hilariously taken by surprise by all the twists and turns in the style of Tarantino. Blood, violence, visceral monologues, and unflinching humor, the film almost feels more like a comedy than a western without it becoming Blazing Saddles. The shots of snowy mountains and fires burning as the eight hateful characters continue to ruffle each others feathers immerses you into the experiences. I know the world enjoys coffee, but you’ve never wanted a cup of Joe as bad as you’ll want it during this movie.
Where this ranks in his films list is uncertain for now, but it will quickly find its place as do all films. People are going to stay for the simple fact that it’s Quentin Tarantino working with a stupid talented group of actors and they will get hooked by the Morricone score which happens to be the only real score Q.T. has had in his films – rather than hit songs – and it makes you wonder why Morricone and Tarantino haven’t brought us more combinations of their talents. The intermission is placed perfectly in the film and once you come back you will be taken into a whole style of mystery for this cabin fever inducing set and plot. Walter Goggins has got to get the award for most surprisingly hilarious portrayals of a character ever, fictional or not, because the man hits every mark like Dr. King Schultz and Django before him. If you aren’t familiar with Walter Goggins, you can see him in Django as the hillbilly who antagonizes Django on the way to Candyland.
Though the film is long, it is filled with plenty of gripping and bitey story and dialogue that make The Hateful Eight more than entertaining for the Q.T. fans and will shock non fanatical audience members with it’s less prevalent violence – though there is plenty – and the amount of comedy that naturally slips into the scenes every few seconds. The performances are top notch and prove that Tarantino can work with any actor he so wishes and find roles for them. At times, the film feels like a play, and that can be good with the pacing it ends up running at while not giving us the dry pieces a normal play could sometimes deliver. This was worth the extra money for the 70mm experience (though I hate how expensive it is) and gives you your money’s worth as well as one of the more intriguing winter westerns of the modern era.