Dog’s Movie House: “The Hateful Eight” Very Good Tarantino!
Howdy Folks! It’s The Kendog!
I love Quentin Tarantino as a filmmaker, but I’m most enamored of him as a writer. The dialogue he writes for his films is profanity-laced poetry that rolls off the tongues of his actors like water over Niagra Falls. It’s the wonderful originality in his scripts that allows me to overlook the fact the most of his films are homages of the classic films he watched in his youth. Tarantino’s latest, “The Hateful Eight” is a nearly three-hour potboiler of a film that doesn’t really pick up from the action standpoint until about two-thirds of the way through, but the wonderfully written characters and terrific performances will keep you riveted the entire way through.
“The Hateful Eight” concerns the fate of one Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a vicious murderer being brought to the town of Red Rock, Wyoming by a bounty hunter named John Ruth (Kurt Russell). On the stagecoach ride to Red Rock, Ruth and Domergue are joined by Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson), a fellow bounty hunter, and Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), a man with an unsavory past now claiming to be the new sheriff of Red Rock. Unable to outrun an approaching blizzard, the quartet are forced to hold up at an frontier outpost known as Minnie’s Haberdashery, where they meet the rest of the “Eight”: a hangman named Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), the cowboy Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), Minnie’s Mexican employee Bob (Demian Bechir), and a former Confederate general named Sandy Smithers (Bruce Dern). It soon becomes apparent to both Ruth and Warren that everyone is not who they say they are and at least one of them has the intention of freeing Domergue.
The mystery isn’t really much of a mystery when it’s revealed, but getting there is a whole lot of fun. Like all Tarantino films, the characters and the dialogue make the story. Russell’s Ruth, known as “the Hangman” is one of the most colorful characters in Russell’s long and varied repertoire, and it’s good to see him get his teeth into a Tarantino script. Jackson, of course, is excellent as Warren, a fellow who uses a letter from Abraham Lincoln with as much lethality as the pistols he carries. Of the Eight, Jackson is the man who gets the lion’s share of the quotable dialogue, and his Warren may be his most colorful character since Jules in “Pulp Fiction.”
As for the other players, the most valuable has got to be Walton Goggins as Chris Mannix. Goggins has been around for years, but most of his best work has been in television, in shows such as “Justified” and “The Shield.” This is the first time he’s received a chance to shine on the big screen and finally Goggins has a role that matches his massive talent. There’s a sly intelligence to Mannix that belies his somewhat uncouth demeanor and Goggins plays it for all he’s worth. Hopefully this film will lead to more juicy film roles for the talented actor. As for Jennifer Jason Leigh, it’s nice to see her back in the spotlight after many years away. Almost completely unrecognizable underneath a greasy mop of hair and blood and bruise makeup, Leigh managers to be humorous, vicious, and sympathetic, sometimes all in the same scene. It’s a fine return to form for one of Hollywood’s more underrated performers.
The rest of the cast don’t get quite as much to do, but they all get their moments to shine. Bruce Dern’s Smithers gets the least to do, but he’s part of one of the more quotable scenes between Smithers and Jackson’s Warren. (Trust me: you’ll know it when you see it.) As an unabashed Dern fan I wanted more from this wonderful actor, but it wasn’t meant to be. As for Roth and Madsen, it’s nice to see Mr. Blonde and Mr. Orange back together again, even if it’s just for a short while, and Bechir does the most he can with the somewhat underwritten role of Bob, although it’s his story that really gets things rolling in film’s second half. Channing Tatum shows up later in the film’s proceedings, but his role is best discovered for yourselves.
Another plus is Ennio Morricone’s haunting score. The legendary composer put together a soundtrack that heightens the tension very effectively, giving Minnie’s Haberdashery a more claustrophobic feel than it has already. I also enjoyed the portion of the film which uses Morricone’s score from John Carpenter’s “The Thing.” If you’re a fan of the 1982 horror classic you’ll know it when you hear it.
Tarantino’s decision to shoot “Eight” in 70 mm is a puzzling one as only the opening sequence with the stagecoach and a flashback sequence involving Warren truly take advantage of the format. The rest of the film takes place on a single set that could have been just as easily filmed as a play. It’s not a bad choice; just a puzzling one that doesn’t really add to the viewing experience.
The violence is bloody and brutal, but not as much as you might think (certainly not to the extent of “Django Unchained”). It’s still shocking if you’re not used to it, so be warned. The movie is also almost three hours, so if you suffer from fanny fatigue or a hyperactive bladder, your best bet is to wait for home video. But if you’re a Tarantino fan and you like incredibly rich dialogue combined with bouts of hyperactive violence involving a set of truly reprehensible (yet entertaining) characters, then “The Hateful Eight” is the movie for you! 4 Out Of 5 On Kendog’s Barkometer! So Sayeth The Kendog!
“The Hateful Eight” is Rated R for strong bloody violence, a scene of violent sexual content, language and some graphic nudity.