by Matthew Soall
Okay, let me be upfront about this. If you are not a Quentin Tarantino fan, then this movie will not convert you. In fact, I think it will increase your hatred. All the little Tino-isims are amped up to the ninth degree in this film. There is loads of blood, violence and cursing, so much so that I think Tarentino was trying to compensate for something. Maybe he thought that the only way to reach the hearts and minds of the YouTube generation was to graphically show the audience every death and maiming in extreme detail. Maybe he was hoping that after viewing the film, audience members would rush forth into the world, and the internet, to decry and vividly describe his film to the torture porn junkies craving their next fix. Luckily for an audience member like myself, there is enough story throughout to keep me engaged.
What this film really has going for it is the Old West setting. Considering there aren’t too many films these days trying to tackle this genre, it makes the movie feel fresh, even if it’s just by virtue of that fact. This setting allows Tarantino to film in a very different visual style compared to modern day films. For example, the film has long, slow shots of scenery that don’t play too often in modern film, but were a staple of the Western genre. Some say these scenes go on for far too long, while others contend that it has more to do with their attention spans. I felt that, although these scenery shots were nice, they could have been trimmed down just a little, to improve the pacing of the film.
Even Tarantino’s detractors will have to admit that the Hateful Eight has great casting. Samuel L. Jackson is on point, as always. Even when he’s in a bad film, I still love the guy. So when he has great dialogue to work with—such as this movie—he really commands the audience to give him their full attention. One monologue of his is so good that I don’t know whether to be horrified at his dialogue and what it describes, or overcome with laughter at the situation it presents. As of this review, I am still undecided.
Our leading lady, Jeniffer Jason Leigh, is fantastic. Her character drops all pretence of femineity. This is a woman who will spit and curse at whoever she deems fit. Towards the end of the film, I was desperately hoping for some sort of comeuppance for all of her deeds. This is a character you love to hate. Leigh exercises her acting muscles in this film and gives a performance that any aspiring actress should take note of.
The rest of the cast is fine and they all serve a purpose in moving the film forward. I wouldn’t say that supporting cast members had really stand-out moments, but they were all competent. It’s just that Leigh and Jackson steal the show.
Hateful Eight is not a film for the faint of heart. Everything in this film is in your face, brutally so. The film could have been served by one more edit to speed up the pacing. Otherwise, it’s an interest mystery film with enough Tartano-isims to keep his fans happy. If you’ve never seen a Tarantino film before, you might want to check out some of his earlier work before you throw yourself into this one, as it is the deep end of the pool.