“When you get to hell, John, tell them Daisy sent you…”
Racist, misogynistic, offensive, graphically violent. Would you expect anything less from writer/director Quentin Tarantino?
Tarantino’s eighth film, to no surprise, is receiving it’s fair share of backlash from critics for going too far and being too Tarantino. Although I cringed, felt uncomfortable and covered my eyes at times, this is everything I expected it to be.
David Edelstein at Vulture writes: “But when the violence comes, it’s more graphic and nausea-inducing than even a hardened Tarantino viewer could have reason to expect.” I thought Django was worse.
And Ann Hornaday at The Washington Post writes: “The climactic bloodletting may make for merry times for fanboys and fetishists, but it’s difficult to reconcile Tarantino’s infectious joie de vivre with the scorched-earth nihilism he uses it to celebrate.” I get where you’re going.
If you don’t expect to be offended by Quentin Tarantino’s new Roadshow Western, than don’t sign up for this bloody wild ride.
The exclusive 70mm Roadshow engagement of The Hateful Eight pays homage to and recreates the grand film exhibition style popularized in the 1950s and ‘60s that brought audiences to theaters with the promise of a special event. Taking place in the nation’s largest cities and grandest theaters, Roadshows presented a longer version of the film that would be shown in the film’s subsequent wider release, included a musical overture to start the show, an intermission between acts and a souvenir program. Roadshows became the gold standard for exhibiting pictures like Lawrence of Arabia, Gone with the Wind, Cleopatra, Battle of the Bulge, The Ten Commandments and Ben Hur.
The post-Civil War story follows bounty hunter Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) and John Ruth (Kurt Russell), another bounty hunter looking to claim the reward on the head of criminal Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh). The trio cross paths with the Southern renegade Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins) who claims he’s the new sheriff of the town Warren and Ruth are en route to. A treacherous blizzard drives the bunch to a nearby haberdashery where they meet an assortment of characters, and that’s where the story slowly unfolds.
The Hateful Eight dips into Western territory, but don’t expect a classic Western genre flick; it’s got more Agatha Christie mystery to it than a true Western with all the blood and profanity you can expect from Tarantino.
But a particularly interesting word is being used to describe Tarantino with this film–misogynist.
Daisy Domergue, the only female character, is the film’s punching bag. Literally. Introduced with a black eye, she only gets bloodier and bloodier and more toothless as the film progresses. But while she’s allegedly the nastiest criminal (part of an elusive gang), the script barely portrays her as a villain worthy of torture or beating. She wasn’t as noticeably evil as say Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) in Inglourious Basterds or Calvin Candie (Leonardo Dicaprio) in Django Unchained. All she’s portrayed as is a captured outlaw with a sassy mouth.
Tarantino points out that “Violence is hanging over every one of those characters like a cloak of night,” he said. “So I’m not going to go, ‘OK, that’s the case for seven of the characters, but because one is a woman, I have to treat her differently.’ I’m not going to do that.”
How Jennifer Jason Leigh described it: “She’s a leader. And she’s tough. And she’s hateful and a survivor and scrappy. I thought it was funny, but I didn’t think it was misogynistic for a second. [Tarantino] doesn’t have an ounce of misogyny in him. It’s not in his writing. It’s not in his being.”
There’s been a lot of mixed reception following the release of the film, but one thing remains unanimous–it’s Tarantino. It’s got all the violence, profanity and OMG-moments to keep you engaged and then some. But for true fans of the shock-value director, there’s been a noticeable shift in his films that’s undeniable, and The Hateful Eight is no exception to that shift in direction.
Margaret from Cinematic Corner summarizes it eloquently–there’s the 90’s Tarantino and there’s the present day Tarantino; both maintain similarities, but the latter doesn’t quite live up to the director of the 90’s.
Here’s the thing, though – for me Tarantino peaked with Jackie Brown. Pulp Fiction may be my favorite of his, but Jackie Brown is by far the most mature movie and script. After Jackie Brown Tarantino descended into a pit of making a movies he would probably love to watch himself, movies filled with him fanboying over lots of stuff and paying homages as often as he can. So we got two parts of Kill Bill, Death Proof, Tarantino rewriting history in Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained.
Tarantino’s films post-Jackie feel different. They don’t even feel like movies but a spectacle of Tarantino having fun for 2-3 hours. They are filled with caricatures, gimmicks and lack emotional impact Tarantino’s previous films had. They feel less real, the characters being larger than life and the stories resembling something you can find in comic books. I’m not saying these films aren’t awesome – I adore Inglourious Basterds and Kill Bill films and at the very least Django brought with it terrific work from Waltz. But I miss 90’s Tarantino.
Don’t let me dissuade you. The Hateful Eight is great Tarantino, but it’s lacking that something special that his earlier works possessed.
As in most Tarantino films, the cast performs at their best and is probably the best ensemble cast I’ve seen this year. This is a dialogue-heavy film, and if you catch the roadshow, you’re going to be sitting for over three hours. But with performances from Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Lee, Walton Goggins and Samuel L. Jackson, you won’t feel the weight of the run-time.
Although the entire ensemble cast should receive recognition for their brilliance, the breakthrough star of this film is Jennifer Jason Leigh. While you have some actresses, like Meryl Streep, who have been nominated 19 times by the Academy, Leigh has neither won nor been nominated for a film, but has always remained in conversation. Especially now. She’s the only female presence in the movie, and she dominates the screen every time the camera is on her bloody face. She’s recently been nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance (a sure win), and I’m positive she’ll receive recognition once Oscar nominations are released.
So it should go without saying…be prepared for this one before you see it, but believe me, it’s worth watching.