Hateful Eight Not Great But Will Satiate

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Hateful Eight Blu-ray Dennis Russo Critical Blast

THE HATEFUL EIGHT on Blu Ray/DVD and Digital copy is Quentin Tarantino’s Eighth movie. It takes place in Wyoming 6 or 8 or 12 years after the civil war. It tells the story of 8 people…8 hateful, untrusting, uncouth, belligerent individuals thrown together by fate into a one room haberdashery in the middle of a blizzard. Somehow these 8 individuals have more in common than we are first led to believe, and as they all antagonize each other and “stir the pot,” we find out just how hateful these individuals are.

If you can say the story centers around a particular character, it would be Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a woman we are first introduced to while she is handcuffed to bounty hunter John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell) who is bringing her to the town of Red Rock to be hanged for murder -- and to collect the $10,000 bounty on her. As the movie plays along, we are introduced to the other six main characters on their way to Minnie’s Haberdashery before the blizzard sets in.

There is Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson), a black former Union soldier turned infamous bounty hunter in his own right; Chris Mannix (Walter Goggins), a southern renegade who claims to be the new Sheriff of Red Rock; Mexican Bob (Demian Bichir), who supposedly is taking care of Minnie’s while she is visiting her mother; Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), allegedly the official hangman of Red Rock; Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), a lowly cow-puncher going back to Red Rock to spend Christmas with his momma; and Confederate General Sanford Smithers (Bruce Dern), who is going to Red Rock to find out what happened to his son.

Needless to say (but I will anyway), this movie is vintage Tarantino. Done in the vein of PULP FICTION, RESERVOIR DOGS, KILL BILL, etc., we are given some information here, some background there, as Tarantino leads us through the story.

Tarantino is nothing if not a supreme storyteller. Not just a storyteller though; he’s a movie maker in the truest, purest tradition.

This movie is a western in the manner of the old spaghetti westerns, full of action, violence, gore, humor, cinematography and musical score in ways that bear the greatest homage to the likes of Sam Peckinpah, Sergio Leone and even some of the great Chinese directors from the Shaw Brothers Kung Fu movies of the 70’s.

Tarantino films his movie not just as the director, but as the audience. He has the audience’s utmost interest at heart, and delivers to them a true movie experience the likes of which has not been seen in decades. In fact, this movie was shot in 65mm and shown in 70mm; the last movie to be shot this way was KHARTOUM in 1965. It allows the movie to be shown in larger scale with utmost clarity that, in the hands of an artist, allows the senses to be awed by what they are seeing. It may be just a scene of a stagecoach driving through a snowstorm, but the sense of wonder this format evokes is a true movie going experience. There is a close up of the lead stage coach horse’s legs in slow motion, and the plodding through the deep snow that is visually stunning to see. I could almost see that scene as something directed by Akira Kurosawa, it’s that good.

Now, on DVD, viewed on a television set, this scale is of course lost. But the beauty of the cinematography and the widths of the scenes are still all there, and the clarity in 4K UHD is awesome.

The movie itself is great fun, and I loved the way the story plays out. It is in many ways reminiscent to me of a good Agatha Christie who-done-it mystery--but with cussing, extreme violence and bloodshed that at times dabbles on the side of gore. While I had heard that it was supposed to be Tarantino’s most violent movie yet, I was somewhat let down at that because I did not see it as such. I found it no more violent than any of his other movies, but I can’t really blame the movie for that.

I will say the use of language was more “shocking” if you will in terms of the use of the “N” word, than that of the violence. It was used in fluency to help put over the fact that several of the characters in Minnie’s still did not like or respect black people so soon after the civil war.

I found the acting to be very good. And why not? With a cast of proven actors and a Hollywood legend in Bruce Dern, how could it be anything but unless it was just a bad script or poorly directed--and neither was the case here. I did find it strange that Jennifer Jason Leigh was nominated for an Oscar for her role; not that she is not a good actress, but the role itself was just not that spectacular. In fact, dialogue-wise, I think she spoke less than probably everyone else. She did caterwaul a bit, and was able to take a couple of good punches and elbows from Kurt Russell, but other than that I didn’t hear or see anything that special in the performance. It was good, but just not great.

The same could be said for all of the actors: good performances but not great. Now the same case could be said for the actors in THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY, probably the all-time greatest spaghetti western ever made: great cast--Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach--but not the greatest performances.

Using the latter as comparison for the musical score too, I was let down by it somewhat because it was not as memorable as that from GB&U. To this day, someone only has to whistle that one movement and everyone instantly knows what movie it was from. I didn’t get that here, and that was disappointing. Oh I did catch glimpses of that magic, but it was never quite realized.

At roughly 2 hours and 48 minutes in length, you would think that a western would get pretty boring by the 2-hour mark, let alone going almost another hour longer. But not here, and that is a testament to how enjoyable the movie really is. It is in constant motion, and even though most of it is filmed in basically one room, the movie never feels confined. There is constant turmoil between characters and events, and Tarantino breaks it up in chapters so that each one tells a little more before bring it to fruition. I loved the narration he does before a couple of the chapters begin.

There is also a great balance for me between seriousness and humor. I love Tarantino’s use of humor to make even the most serious violent and visually repulsive images funny. The poisoning scene where John Roth vomits blood in the face of Daisy Domergue, while disgusting, was filmed (and acted) in such a way that yes it was funny! Okay maybe that says a lot about me, but that’s okay. Suffice it to say there is a good amount of humor to compliment the hate, violence and action.

This movie flew by, and perhaps done by someone else it wouldn’t have. But Tarantino gets what it is to be the audience, and strives to give them what they want: a chance to suspend reality and be taken not only away to the movies but into the movie itself--and that is why the time flew by. I was taken into the movie. My only  regret is that I did not get a chance to see it in the 70mm on the big screen. Perhaps I will get a chance another time.

I recommend this DVD for any Tarantino fan as a must-have. Only time will tell if THE HATEFUL EIGHT will become a classic in the same realm as the other great western movies he pays homage. It will be thought of as different because it should be, given what is permissible now and was not then, but still I think it will be thought of as good as the best of them. I can only dream of what part Tarantino would have written if Lee Van Cleef were still alive. But he has some regulars in his six gun saga that he uses with pinpoint accuracy.

Extras included in this DVD:


Beyond The Eight: A Behind the scenes look at the Hateful 8 -- Says it all, really, with interviews from the actors.

Sam Jackson’s Guide To Glorious 70mm --This was really neat in that Sam gives us detail into what 70mm is, how it was used then, and how it was used now. Short, but pretty enlightening.

4.5 / 5.0