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article imageReview: ‘The Hateful Eight’ takes its unique Western on the road Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Dec 24, 2015 in Entertainment
Quentin Tarantino’s ‘The Hateful Eight’ Super 70 Roadshow is not only a unique movie-going experience, but also a distinctive take on a classic genre.
Before brick and mortar cinemas became popular, movies and their projectionists used to travel from town to town like the circus. Going to see a film was a special event rather than something to do when you’re bored. This tradition of distinction was renewed with the creation of large-scale productions and the allure of movie stars. Moreover, people didn’t sit in the dark for three-plus hours without a bathroom, snack or cigarette break so they were built into the screening. These are the experiences writer/director Quentin Tarantino is attempting to replicate with the 70 mm roadshow version of The Hateful Eight.
Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is a wanted murderer and John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell) is the bounty hunter that’s taking her to justice. But a blizzard forces his stage coach to detour and his sliver of humanity insists he pick up two stranded travellers before they freeze to death: Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) and soon-to-be sheriff Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins). When they arrive at Minnie’s Haberdashery, they’re greeted by another group of travellers — Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), Joe Gage (Michael Madsen) and General Sandy Smithers (Bruce Dern) — and Bob the Mexican (Demian Bichir), temporary keeper of the inn. As they pass the time, John becomes convinced at least one of these men is there to help Daisy escape… but which one?
There could be little doubt that this is a Tarantino film as even those not fond of his work must admit he is an auteur with a particular style of filmmaking. The first half of the picture is dominated by extensive verbal exchanges between the characters. The dialogue ranges from their respective pasts and reputations to their plans once the storm blows over. In spite of the limited scope of their conversations, it’s characteristically wordy and energetic. Each man has his own distinct speech pattern to match his personality in spite of the similarities between their backgrounds and occupations.
Another element as inherent to Tarantino’s films as the discourse is the bloodshed. John is only interested in getting Daisy to town alive — not unharmed; so whenever he disagrees with her behaviour, he has no qualms about responding with an elbow to the face. In this way, he treats her like any other prisoner regardless of her gender; yet it appears crueler because she’s a woman. Otherwise the first half of the film is relatively violence-free, save for some biting comments and insults. However the situation takes an explosive turn after the intermission, resulting in shooting, stabbing and a few people literally losing their heads. The effects are exceptionally exaggerated, more reminiscent of the over-the-top carnage in Kill Bill Vol. 2 than any real brutality as blood packs burst over the scene and gush toward the ceiling.
Kurt Russell  Jennifer Jason Leigh and Bruce Dern in a scene from Quentin Tarantino s  The Hateful E...
Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Bruce Dern in a scene from Quentin Tarantino's 'The Hateful Eight'
eOne Films
The movie begins with an overture by legendary composer Ennio Morricone, which plays with increasing intensity over a motionless red and black silhouette of a stage coach led by a team of six horses past looming mountains and across a flat plain. The sound is innocuous at first, but it grows more powerful and demanding of the audience’s attention as it draws closer to the start of the narrative. In spite of being a Western, the soundtrack is still populated with contemporary music, including The White Stripes' "Apple Blossom," David Hess' "Now You're All Alone" and Roy Orbison's "There Won’t Be Many Coming Home," which complements the action while feeling simultaneously out of place.
Tarantino’s decision to shoot and present on 70 mm film gives the movie some distinct qualities. Firstly, the aspect ratio is wider than the typical 16:9. Therefore, viewers are always privy to more of the scene than is usually possible. While there is not constantly something occurring in these expanded sidelines, it does generate a stage-like quality fitting of the genre. The celluloid also produces vivid colours with a realistic texture still not possible with digital, which Tarantino highlights with the outdoor settings and rich costume choices for some of the characters.
Moreover, the backlash regarding his use of the N-word in Django Unchained definitely didn’t deter him from employing it in this film as it’s possible it’s said even more often and surely the most in a single exchange. But it’s still period appropriate since several of the characters are survivors from both sides of the Civil War.
The cast is mostly a who’s who of actors the director has worked with previously, which allowed him to write the parts specifically to their strengths. Thus Goggins’ character talks a lot and uses a lot of ornate language as does Roth who conversely sounds more educated. Russell’s bounty hunter is very direct, while Jackson’s part expectedly includes long speeches… though the topic of his monologue is certainly different. They are all excellent and unsurprisingly fit their roles perfectly, which is normally one more thing that can be relied upon in a Tarantino picture.
Fans of the filmmaker will not be disappointed as it carries all his signature traits, while also allowing him to broach a new genre about which he’s obviously passionate.
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell and Jennifer Jason Leigh
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