Thursday, December 24, 2015

Movie with Abe: The Hateful Eight

The Hateful Eight
Directed by Quentin Tarantino
Released December 25, 2015

Quentin Tarantino is one of those filmmakers whose name is the reason that most people go to see his movies. It hardly seems like a coincidence that his eighth film would be titled “The Hateful Eight,” and that’s not the only recognizable trait of his latest effort. This expectedly violent opus is best compared with his two previous films, “Inglourious Basterds” and “Django Unchained,” a wild period piece with many colorful characters played by Tarantino regulars and first-timers alike prone to occasional anachronistic tendencies and laced with as much brutal language as bloody violence. Those eager for such things won’t be disappointed.

“The Hateful Eight” begins in snowy Wyoming sometime after the Civil War, with Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson), also known as “The Bounty Hunter,” stranded with no horse to take him to shelter. He stops an approaching carriage which has been chartered by John Ruth (Kurt Russell), better known as “The Hangman,” a bounty hunter who has captured Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and is transporting her to the town of Red Rock to claim his reward and see her hang. Their next pickup is Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), a Confederate hooligan who purports to be the new sheriff of Red Rock, and the odd bunch make their way together to a stagecoach stopover, where they meet a few more eccentric players, including Tim Roth’s Oswaldo Mobray, an English hangman, and Bruce Dern’s General Sanford Smithers, a former Confederate general.

It’s no surprise that the summary of this film’s plot is populated mostly by creative character names and the wacky ways in which they meet. As usual, Tarantino has fashioned a story with temperamental personalities with itchy trigger fingers just waiting to blow each other away after they hurl vicious insults and slurs at each other with a smile on their faces. The avalanche of snow falling outside and the one-room inside setting are very effective to help hasten the antics and interactions of these characters, though this film still clocks in at over three hours, including an overture and an intermission, marking Tarantino’s longest film yet.

Tarantino’s script is full of witty and entertaining comments, and it won’t be a surprise if the two-time Oscar-winning screenwriter earns another nomination for this screenplay. The ensemble is a formidable assembly of talent, all so well cast for their roles. Leigh seems to be earning the most praise for her portrayal of Domergue, who goes toe-to-toe with the vile men around her for the most despicable of the bunch. Roth, a Tarantino favorite who returns to work with the director for the first time in twenty years, is especially entertaining, and Goggins, making an important transition from TV excellence to standout film work, is the best of the bunch as the giddy, racist rebel-turned-lawman Mannix, dominating a number of his scenes with his singular charm. This film is an improvement of “Django Unchained” but doesn’t come anywhere near reaching the excellence of “Inglourious Basterds.” It takes a considerable plunge following its intermission, fulfilling its function as a bloody, stylized Quarantino feature in every possible way.


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