Film Review: The Hateful Eight
Director: Quentin Tarantino
With: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demian Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern
18, 168 minutes
The Hateful Eight is another Tarantino masterpiece.
Directed and written by Quentin Tarantino, it is his eighth film and it premiered in the UK on Friday 8th January 2016.
The Hateful Eight is Tarantino's second western that is set 15 years after the American Civil War in the frozen state of Wyoming. The film opens with Bounty Hunter Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) sitting on three dead bodies and hitchhiking a ride on a stagecoach heading to the town of Red Rock. On board the stagecoach, Warren encounters fellow bounty hunter John Ruth 'The Hangman' (Kurt Russell) who is transporting the wanted female criminal Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to Red Rock to hang her and collect his prize money of $10,000.
Both men acknowledge each other's reputation and Ruth grudgingly agrees to take Major Warren and his bounty to Red Rock on condition of keeping his distance from Domergue. It is not long into their journey that they encounter the stranded Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins) who is also making his way to Red Rock to become the new Sheriff. Both Ruth and Warren decide to join forces and look after each other's bounties with the newcomer on board the stagecoach.
All the characters gradually make their way to Minnie's Haberdashery, a stagecoach lodge, since the snow blizzard intensifies and their route to Red Rock had to be postponed for a few days. As they arrive at Minnie's, they meet an ensemble of untrustworthy characters such as Bob the Mexican (Demian Bichir), British hangman Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), quiet cowboy Joe Gage (Michael Madsen) and retired racist Confederate General Sanford Smithers (Bruce Dern). They have to spend a few days together until the blizzard dies down. With the strange absence of Minnie, the unsettling atmosphere leads John Ruth to take control of the situation and disarm everyone with the exception of Warren in order to protect his bounty.
Spending a few nights in small cabin with a couple of mysterious strangers what could be worse? As the plot thickens, we witness betrayal, murder and the uncovering of disturbing events in Tarantino style.
Unlike the rest of Tarantino's films, The Hateful Eight is unique in many ways as it was shot using the classic Ultra Panavision 70 lenses for the purpose of capturing the ratio of 2.76:1 on the widest screen of 70mm and projects the best definition to the image quality. The last film to use the Panavision 70 lenses was the 1966 film Khartoum starring the late Charlton Heston. The 70mm were traditionally popular back in the 1950s and 1960s used for films like the classic films Ben Hur (1959) and Lawrence Of Arabia (1962).
However the 70mm technology is notoriously expensive to use and it fell out of fashion by the 1970s. For Tarantino, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to use this historic heritage thanks to his cinematographer Robert Richardson who discovered the equipment whilst visiting Panavision HQ in California. This film was an opportunity to celebrate the history of cinema.
The Box Office
Despite the success the film has managed to achieve in Academy nominations and high praise from film critics, it was box office flop due to Star Wars: The Force Awakens storming the box office since December 2015 making $1.9 billion and counting. Furthermore, there was the scandal of Tarantino's involvement in the Black Lives Matter protest in New York City back in October 2015. He publicly accused the police of being "murderers" and "responsible" which caused huge outrage.
Consequently, police unions throughout the USA boycotted watching The Hateful Eight as a reaction against Tarantino's open criticisms of the police brutality. Apart from this particular controversy, this not the first time Tarantino has challenged media, ethnic, social and authority organisations through his previous films and he still continues to engage people's attention wherever he goes.
Moving away from the criticisms, The Hateful Eight is from my perspective a breath of fresh air and the screenplay is very rich and original. Spectators should go and watch the film and enjoy the filming genius of Quentin Tarantino.
Another wonderful surprise was Tarantino's collaboration with legendary music composer Ennio Morricone (The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (1966), The Mission (1980)). At the age of 87, this veteran maestro had previously worked with Tarantino on Django Unchained (2013), but this is Tarantino's first full original music score film.
For Morricone this is the first Western score he wrote in 34 years, since Buddy Goes West. Recently he has won a Golden Globe for best score for The Hateful Eight. And he was able to receive it in person in a special ceremony in Rome on the 29th January 2016. Morricone has more than 500 films and TV credits to his name and had been dedicated to his music work for more than 60 years. He has recently announced that he has "no plans for retirement anytime soon" as he still continue to work.
The Hateful Eight has also been nominated for Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Score and Best Cinematography for the 88th Oscar Awards. It is already out in UK cinemas so go and watch it if you still haven't seen it!
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