Directed by Quentin Tarantino. Starring Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Bruce Dern, Walter Goggins, Demián Bichir, James Parks, Dana Gourrier, Zoe Bell, Michael Madsen, Tim Roth.
THE PLOT: In the middle of a bitterly cold Wyoming winter, and with a blizzard on the way, two bounty hunters and a wanted woman take shelter in a cabin in the mountains. When they get there, however, they find the place already filled with travellers hiding out and, although the bounty hunters have a shaky alliance, this is about to be tested in a room full of opinionated, dangerous and reprehensible people.
THE VERDICT: The eighth film by Quentin Tarantino – seemingly he counts the two ‘Kill Bill’ films as one – has been dogged with trouble since before shooting even began. An early version of the script was leaked in January 2014 causing Tarantino to temporarily drop the project before a live reading of the script convinced him to go ahead. Now that the film’s release date approaches, The Guardian reports that three UK cinema chains – Picturehouses, Cineworld and Curzon – will not be showing the film. Sigh. All of this before we even get to the film.
‘The Hateful Eight’ is populated with wonderful actors; some of whom have worked with Tarantino before – Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Goggins, Tim Roth, Kurt Russell, James Parks, Zoe Bell, Michael Madsen – and others who have not, including Demián Bichir and Channing Tatum. Most are given the chance to act the crap out of the movie and seem to have a whale of a time doing it, notably Tatum, Jackson and Goggins – but others have less of a chance, being reduced to nothing more than vessels for dialogue. Oh and Tim Roth sadly seems to be doing an impersonation of Christoph Waltz in ‘Inglourious Basterds’.
The screenplay for ‘The Hateful Eight’ is laden down under what must be hundreds and hundreds of pages of dialogue. This starts the film off well, with exposition being handled carefully and plenty of backstory to the main characters being given. By the second and third time we hear the same stories however, The Hateful Eight becomes repetitive, puerile and rather boring. Add to this the fact that it is difficult to root for any of the main characters – I know, I know; ‘hateful’ – and the audience begins wondering why we are watching this film at all. By the time the final shootout eventually happens, it is difficult to care whether any of the characters survive. The final half hour of the film strays close to Tarantino’s smart, slick and quick style of filmmaking, only for the bloated script to overwhelm proceedings once more.
As director, Tarantino seems to have been influenced by the Westerns of both small and big screen in the 60s and 70s, and wants to pay homage to a genre that he loved. The trouble is that The Hateful Eight so obviously was created by a filmmaker who stubbornly insists on paying homage to the greats of the past that his film feels egotistical and backward looking, while trying to be contemporary and fun. A combination that does not work, and that’s before we add in the racism and repeated and unnecessary use of over the top violence for the sake of gore, and the oft-repeated use of one of the most offensive terms for African American people.
In all, ‘The Hateful Eight’ is bloated, overly long and self-indulgent. Tarantino seems determined to bring back a style of filmmaking that has long since died out, without wondering why this change happened in the first place. Showing film company logos from the 70s is one thing, but there is little understanding here of what made these over the top Westerns great in the first place, and there seems to be no-one able to reign Tarantino in, edit the film tightly and cut the self-indulgent homage that feels more like pastiche. ‘The Hateful Eight’ feels like a vanity project from a 15-year-old boy who was told once that he writes great dialogue.
Review by Brogen Hayes

The Hateful Eight
Review by Brogen Hayes
  • filmbuff2011

    8 films in 24 years… That’s not exactly prolific, working at the rate of one film every 3 years. Woody Allen works a steady rate of one film per year. However, there’s something undeniably exciting about a new Quentin Tarantino film. His deep love of cinema and liberal, respectful borrowing from other directors is a reminder what cinema is all about. His 8th venture, proudly proclaimed in the old-school opening titles, is The Hateful Eight. Now that the initial hassle over the leak of the script and subsequent suspicion cast upon a number of actors (it’s not Tim Roth, according to QT) has settled, we can judge the film for itself. And it’s pure, unadulterated Tarantino from start to finish.

    Divided into six chapters, the story starts in post-Civil War Wyoming. In the dead of winter, a stagecoach works its way through the snowy, desolate landscape. Inside is ‘Hangman’ John Ruth (Kurt Russell), a bounty hunter on his way to the town of Red Rock with his ‘customer’, Daisy (Jennifer Jason Leigh). The stagecoach stops to allow Major Marquis (Samuel L. Jackson) to board, although both Bob and Daisy are reluctant to have company at first. More company arrives in the form of soon-to-be Red Rock sheriff Chris (Walton Goggins). They head for Minnie’s Haberdashery, a trading post that will serve as a stop-over. Upon arrival, they find a number of other strangers staying over: Englishman Oswaldo (Tim Roth), cowboy Joe (Michael Madsen), former Confederate General Smithers (Bruce Dern) and Bob, The Mexican (Demian Bichir). John doesn’t take too kindly to strangers, considering that they all pose a threat to Daisy, who is worth a mighty bounty. As a vicious snowstorm hits the cabin, these eight not-exactly-nice characters will all bounce off each other, causing friction – and then start to bump each other off…

    The Hateful Eight – puerile? No. This is classic Tarantino, wonderfully written, brilliantly acted and expertly constructed. He always has a way of making something fresh and exciting, with characters that jump off the screen. At 168 minutes, Tarantino is not in a rush. The leisurely pacing of the first half is deliberate – allowing the audience time to hang with the characters and understand their motivations. In an age of fast-moving Bayhem, it’s a pleasure to just bask in Tarantino’s world. It’s a shame that Irish viewers are currently unable to see the 70mm version. You can see exactly where the intermission is placed after a death, allowing the audience to take a breather and come back for more. He even narrates a catch-up for the audience. Instead, we just have to deal with the digital version – which is fine, but not exactly what Tarantino intended. It’s a story that gradually builds up, with one helluva pay-off where the blood flows with glee and a knowing sense of nudge-nudge humour. Violence has always played a part in Tarantino’s work and here he uses it as an illustration of just how mean and treacherous these nefarious characters are. They all get what’s coming to them though.

    The acting throughout is well-crafted, with Tarantino teasing out performances from his ensemble cast that range from outrageous (Goggins) to dangerous (Leigh) to unexpectedly quiet (Madsen, playing it down with skill). Russell’s no-nonsense bounty hunter is a stand-out, but there are no false notes here. If some characters are kept in the background initially, then there’s a reason for that. It’s a joy to watch these actors go head-to-toe with each other (even if the head is missing sometimes). Tarantino often writes parts for specific actors, playing to their strengths and his films are all the better for it.

    Tarantino has said that to be considered as a great director of westerns, he has to make three of them. Unlike Django Unchained, this is what’s called an indoor western – like the classic Rio Bravo. He also mixes in some elements of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None – not so much a whodunit, but a whydunit? But the biggest influence on the film is clearly John Carpenter’s masterpiece, The Thing. Whether it’s in the casting of Carpenter’s muse Russell, working with Ennio Morricone or even the borrowing of Morricone’s music for The Thing in a crucial scene, there are more than a few nods here. He even gets that sense of paranoia, distrust and sudden explosions of unexpected violence. But with that unique Tarantino twist of course. Tarantino fans like this reviewer will lap it up with glee. The Hateful Eight is another knock ’em dead winner from one of contemporary cinema’s most consistently inventive directors. ****

  • emerb

    “The Hateful Eight” is Tarantino’s latest three-hour, suspenseful, comedy-horror Western. Shot in 70mm, but largely set in the cramped interiors of one room, Tarantino remains as adventurous, brave, unapologetic and experimental as he always was. He wants this to be an honest film about America and his movie certainly gives us a few painful truths about politics, racial prejudice and discrimination. Events are set some years after the Civil War in the mountains of Wyoming, at a stagecoach stop called Minnie’s Haberdashery, where a group of stock Western types are waiting out a snowstorm. These “Hateful Eight” detest
    one another on grounds of race, region, and politics and the claustrophobic
    set-up brings out the worst in the ugly bunch. The hatred comes out slowly at first, in slurs and pointed fingers, and then, in typical Tarantino style, it erupts into violent mayhem with sprays of bloody, vomit and gunshots.

    The film stars Samuel L. Jackson as Major Marquis Warren, a bounty hunter, who hitches a ride on the stagecoach of a fellow bounty hunter, John Ruth (Kurt Russell), who has in tow a dangerous wanted murderer named Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Though both men are headed to Red Rock to collect their reward money, a snowstorm forces them to take shelter in a local shop in the middle of nowhere. As they all make their way to the local shop, the memorably named Minnie’s Haberdashery, “The Hateful Eight” exudes a foreboding sense of general unease which keeps us on edge. At the shop, they encounter such strange characters as Red Rock’s hangman (Tim Roth) and an aged, racist Confederate general (Bruce Dern) who shares a secret past with Warren, a Mexican (Demian Bichir) and a near-mute cowboy (Michael Madsen). As the title suggests, some of these characters are not who they seem, and none of them can be trusted. With the exception of Ruth and the stagecoach driver, everybody in “The Hateful Eight” has some kind of secret that they’re hiding, some part of their back story that doesn’t check out, and some reason to hate all the other characters. The men (and one woman) have all seen their share of killing — a few were in the Civil War, on opposite sides of the conflict
    — and Minnie’s gives the characters the opportunity to air a number of very different and clashing viewpoints with lengthy exchanges of dialogue. What follows can only be described as a sort of whodunit where the tension builds as one by one, they begin to drop by various means. There are no “good guys” in “The Hateful Eight”, all the characters are miserable scoundrels capable of shocking brutality and Tarantino delights in prolonging the tension until the only way it can be released is through a climatic crescendo of violence.

    The film boasts a fine cast with Jennifer Jason Leigh a standout as the sadistic, racist, brutal and surprisingly hilarious Daisy. Samuel L. Jackson gets plenty of verbal opportunity and shows us his effortless command of lengthy dialogue but we also get a tremendous mix of other Tarantino players (including Roth, Madsen and Russell). The film looks great and bears much similarity to “Django Unchained” – mountainous landscapes of snowfall or a six horse stage coach making its way through a Wyoming storm.

    Tarantino’s hallmarks are everywhere to be seen in “The Hateful Eight” such as over-the-top gratuitous violence, a quirky soundtrack and snippets of fine dialogue but one big difference is that this film could work on stage. We get a traditional play’s pacing and structure, with the dialogue shifting among the main characters and with the other members of the ensemble left to sit there looking on while the others have their big speeches. You might think cowboys are men of
    few words but no, not here. The dialogue is elaborate, profane and at times
    funny but for me, the movie is too protracted, takes far too long to get going and becomes tedious to watch. While some might love the idea of a talky Western set in one room, it was too much for me and not to my taste. While not as action packed as his previous films, undoubtedly hardcore Tarantino fans will turn out in droves and relish every word but I think that the wider public may not be ready to greet this movie with open arms.

  • filmbuff2011

    After a 2-month wait, I finally got see The Hateful Eight as Quentin Tarantino intended last night – in the 70mm Roadshow Release. It was like going back to the 1960s, when seeing an epic film was an experience, with an overture and an intermission like Lawrence Of Arabia and 2001: A Space Odyssey. The Ultra Panavision 70 cinematography is gorgeous and looks great on film – it has that natural celluloid quality that digital cinema can’t quite reproduce. The intermission and Tarantino’s narrated catch-up makes sense now. Catch it quick though – it finishes in the IFI on Thursday.