Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Hateful Eight (2015)

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Writer:    Quentin Tarantino
Cast:       Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, Demian Bichir

I just wrote the names of eight main characters to make sure that there were indeed eight. The IMDB synopsis is: In the dead of a Wyoming winter, a bounty hunter and his prisoner find shelter in a cabin currently inhabited by a collection of nefarious characters. 

Film is billed as Quentin's eighth film, which is factually correct if you ignore Four Rooms and consider both volumes of Kill Bill as one film, and he has already declared that he will stop at 10. I hope that is as truthful as his statement was about not making 'The Hateful Eight' after the script got leaked. I am generally considered as a Tarantino fanboy and some of my friends have even given me a nickname of 'Tomantino', but I have been kind of falling out of love with his latest offerings. I thought 'Inglourious Basterds' was a glourious return to form but his followup to that, 'Django Unchained' was ultimately a disappointment. I did gave it a 4 but that was more because of me being in denial. His longtime collaborator and editor, Sally Menke, had died before he made Django and based on his two films after her death, it seems his films really misses her especially when it comes to reigning him in and keep in check the running time. I love both Pulp Fiction and the Basterds and both were really long films but you really don't feel it when you are watching them. You do feel it for both Django and Hateful Eight. That said, it might have been different if I had watched The Hateful Eight at the cinemas because you don't have the option of pausing it and take a break. Even the format of it being a mystery also would have suited more if you are watching it at the cinemas. 

From what I have written above, you might think that I didn't enjoy it. That is not true because it is a very enjoyable watch but just that the standards we expect is just too high. I haven't seen 'The Thing' and they use Ennio Morricone's unused theme that he made for that film titled 'Bestiality'. Going by the IMDB synopsis of The Thing, there are plenty of nods to that film especially with the ice-cold winter setting and nobody trusting anybody aspect. Apart from that, you can also compare it to Taraninino's first film 'Reservoir Dogs' with regards to the setting and relationship between the various characters. You also get a long speech just before the interval which would remind you of that Christopher Walken-Dennis Hopper sequence from 'True Romance'. Like this speech is inferior to that one from True Romance, the film is also a lesser version of Tarantino's best works. I just wish he would come out of this 'Period films' phase of his career which started with the Basterds. Performances are great from all concerned, except maybe Madsen, in a very screen chewing manner. There are plenty of great sequences but you just think the sum is not as good as the parts. There is this whole racial politics discussions in it which is also very relevant to the current politics and reality of America. I also liked the aspect that the Black characters in it are portrayed as people who don't like Mexicans. I also loved Tim Roth's speech regarding true justice and mob justice which is also very relevant to the current politics of India.

Overall it is a very good watch but that is just not good enough when you are watching a Tarantino film. His films are meant to be great for re-watches but I don't think it will be so for this one. Ennio Morricone finally won a deserved Oscar for his work on this film. Samuel L. Jackson was great till just about the last act of the film where he kind of loses his dignity (TBF, that would happen if you get shot in the nuts). There is also a delightful cameo from a certain actor. Unlike his last two films, which had major stars and were financially his most successful, this film had an ensemble cast without any stars. The $144 million that it manged to collect is truly remarkable and proves his stature as a superstar director.

Trivia: The guitar that Kurt Russell smashes to smithereens is an 1870 antique piece and he was meant to use a fake replacement during that scene. Jennifer Jason Leigh's reaction to that is genuine.

Rating: 3.5/5