The Hateful Eight - Opinion
The first Quentin Tarantino film I had ever seen was Django Unchained. Needless to say, I completely fell in love with Tarantino's style of directing. He is the creator of two characters played by Christoph Waltz (Lt. Col. Hans Landa from "Inglourious Basterds" and Dr. King Schultz from Django Unchained) that both won Christoph Waltz Oscars for best supporting actor. Quentin Tarantino has a consistency perhaps unmatched by anyone in the industry and has a reputation for his unique stylistic violence and gore. It suffices to say that The Hateful Eight, the eight film from Mr. Tarantino, is not for anyone who couldn't stomach the violence of "Django Unchained". On that front, Tarantino takes it many notches up, and satisfies fans of his style completely, but there is much more to this film than just its gore and violence.
The Hateful Eight has all things that are quintessential Tarantino trademarks: Slowburn suspense, provocative and intriguing writing, and of course, as mentioned earlier, a beautifully violent and bloody climax. That last bit might not be understood by people unfamiliar with Quentin Tarantino's work, but I highly recommend any of his eight films to anyone who can stomach them. While Django Unchained featured Samuel Jackson in a relatively small role, coming in and exiting only in the third act of the film, The Hateful Eight stars him in the leading role of Major Marquis Warren, which was extremely satisfying (for all of us who loved him in "Pulp Fiction"). The setup of the crux of the film sounds rather uninteresting at first: Eight people with their own individual hatred and motives, and plots, in a room dealing with each other's presence, but Tarantino's writing combined with his own sense of controlling how the viewer sees conversation happen between characters makes nearly every line of dialogue intriguing in some way. He never overuses close-ups, and the lighting in every close-up shot is so cinematic you find yourself completely immersed in whatever the character is saying and is going to do. The most memorable close up in his filmography is that of Leonardo DiCaprio's character, Calvin Candie when he says "Now Bright Boy, I will admit...."
This film is set right after the Civil War, whereas Django Unchained took place two years before the Civil War. Tarantino also repeatedly tries to comment on the racial hostility that existed even after the abolition of slavery in America, almost to comedic satisfaction. Filmed in glorious 70mm Panavision cameras, using the exact same lenses that were used in Ben-Hur, it is of little surprise that Tarantino's landscape shots look gorgeous. They are also markedly different from Alejandro Iñaritu's landscapes of "The Revenant", even though they both shot similar locations, snow covered peaks and valleys.
Technical aspects aside, this movie primarily proceeds via dialogue exposition and plot movement. So many viewers who fell in love with Django Unchained's action combined with witty intriguing dialogue will find that The Hateful Eight moves quite slower than it. As a result, some of the more social commentary on things like the Confederacy that Tarantino makes in the film are probably lost to some viewers. The one who stands out apart from Tarantino's Sam Jackson is Jennifer Jason Leigh who plays the role of Daisy Domergue, a convicted felon on her way to the hangman. She was nominated for an Academy Award for this role. Her screen presence evolves through the course of the film, at first its just the men talking and she is just a sort of annoyance to them (which is resolved through physical violence at the hands of her captor, John Ruth, played by Kurt Russell.), as the film progresses, her importance and more impressively her screen presence increases as time goes on and at the climax... Well, I won't spoil anything but its a classic Tarantino climax based on a tried and true formula he's been using for the past 3 films: Something unplanned inevitably happens that instigates something that by itself would have already transpired if not for some surprise intervention. But it is different for every film and that's why its rather impressive that Tarantino is able to retain a consistency in his filmography without ever being called a rehasher for it.
The payoff for all the lengthy dialogue driven drama between all eight characters on screen is immensely satisfying, only if you understand and/or love Tarantino's filmography. Its all the blood, gunfire, slow motion, weird bullet sound design that makes bullets sound like bombs dropping down like its World War 1, and quick-fire pacing that Tarantino lovers love, and then some. Like the New York Times review says, its a Quentin Tarantino film, and that phrase describes this particular Quentin Tarantino film better than any other one.
The Hateful Eight
Directed By Quentin Tarantino