Walton Goggins Shines In Tarantino's THE HATEFUL EIGHT

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THE HATEFUL EIGHT opens 12//25/15 in 70mm, 12/31/15 everywhere.

It’s the season the season for forgiving and forgiveness, so let’s leave our politics and political correctness and 21st century tendency towards anger at the door for a minute and talk about Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, THE HATEFUL EIGHT. I know it’s going to be hard for some folks to be objective about this but let’s be honest; Tarantino’s comment about police earlier this summer probably didn’t cost him a lot of his core audience. Tarantino’s movies have always been a love/hate proposition. If you loved PULP FICTION and INGLORIOUS BASTERDS you’re probably going to see THE HATEFUL EIGHT regardless of what Tarantino or I have to say about anything. If you don’t generally care for his films, you’ll head on down to the next theater and watch that quirky little art film everyone’s been talking about, Star…something.

So who or what is THE HATEFUL EIGHT? It’s Tarantino’s eighth film (haters rejoice, he’s only planning to do two more films, ever) and second western (FROM DUSK TO DAWN doesn’t officially count). It stars Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Bruce Dern, Demián Bichir, James Parks, Zoe Bell and Channing Tatum. Tarantino weaves an intricate web of misdirection and chicanery so I am loathe to say much about the characters these fine actors portray for fear of spoiling anything. Instead, I’ll champion this film for what it really is: a celebration of the underappreciated talent of Walton Goggins. With star power in Jackson, Russell and Tatum, and Tarantino veterans in Roth, Madsen, Parks and Bell (stuntwoman in Kill Bill 1 & 2) you might think that Goggins would be just a bit player here. Not so, amigos! Goggins was a regular scene-stealer in the heavy cop dram THE SHIELD and the stellar hit JUSTIFIED, but he hasn’t had a lot of major film roles. That should change after this. His performance here is Oscar worthy, as is Samuel L. Jackson’s performance, which is never better than when it is for Tarantino. Goggins is at times allied and opposed to with Jackson and gets the kind of screen time usually granted to the top star. Kurt Russell gets the top billing and certainly doesn’t disappoint, seeming relishing the chance to get a little crazy. Goggins isn’t the only upstart here, as Zoe Bell and James Parks get a chance to play with the big boys, and Mexican star Demián Bichir gets introduced to America in a big way. I will always watch Tim Roth in pretty much anything, and always enjoy him. In the end, though, this is Goggins’ movie, and I couldn’t be happier for that.

The set consists mostly of a shack in the wilds of Wyoming where these eight people happen to converge. The constant proximity of the cast to one another lends a hefty dose of Alfred Hitchcock to the presentation, while the score by spaghetti western veteran Ennio Morricone sets the mood throughout. I couldn’t help but wonder if this film couldn’t be fairly easily adapted to the live stage? The first act is largely just eight strangers telling their stories through witty banter. The second act is where all the action is. Between acts, Tarantino wisely gives his fans an intermission between acts, just like a theater production. According to IMDB.com, the film clocks in at a robust 2 hours and 48 minutes. I really thought it was longer, though not in a bad way. Tarantino’s dialogue is as razor sharp as ever, but if you have a delicate constitution for racial slurs and graphic violence you probably should pass on this one. If you can tolerate it, and Tarantino’s trademark non-linear storytelling, THE HATEFUL EIGHTH will make wish you were the hateful ninth.

THE HATEFUL EIGHT opens on Christmas in select theatres, shown in gorgeous 70 millimeter film before the digital film goes into wide release on New Year’s Eve.  

4.5 / 5.0