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The Hateful Eight

Updated: Mar 21, 2023

Quentin Tarantino has said that he is only going to make ten films. If he keeps turning out intelligent, riveting movies like his eighth, THE HATEFUL 8, it would be a travesty to see him quit at such an early age.

Tarantino unwinds an intimate story here, opening with Samuel L Jackson's Major Warren standing in the middle of a snowy road, looking for a ride in the lone stagecoach approaching. On board is bounty hunter John "The Hangman" Ruth, headed for the town of Red Rock with his prisoner Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) in tow.

Along the road, they also meet shady character Chris Mannix, who proclaims he is the new sheriff of Red Rock on his way there to claim the job.

As a blizzard approaches, these four and their driver know they must spend a few snowbound nights at Minnie's Haberdashery.

Already there and locked down for the storm are Bob The Mexican (Demian Bichir) who Minnie has left in charge, Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), Englishman Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth) and Confederate General Smithers (Bruce Dern).

As the snow rolls in and we become visually trapped in Minnie's with this sordid bunch, Bounty Hunter Ruth begins to suspect everyone may have a different agenda.

Allegiances shift, loyalties flip and we are immersed in a three hour very profane and violent take on a traditional Agatha Christie mystery, shaken through the visceral prism of Tarantino's lens.

The cast is superb.

Kurt Russell is all Snake Plissken and RJ MacReady as Ruth, smacking around his female murderer prisoner with abandon and oozing hair trigger danger. For all you film fans of Russell as MacReady in John Carpenter's "The Thing" you will be very happy with all the references to that film here. When he orders two gentlemen to string staked ropes from the haberdashery to the barn and outhouse, it perfectly recalls those same staked ropes in the blizzard of "The Thing". Layer on top of that Ennio Morricone's original music score, along with the placement of a track FROM The Thing and you know QT is referencing one of his (and my) favorite films from the eighties.

Samuel L Jackson is definitely Tarantino's muse, as he continues to deliver performance after performance in QT's films, springing his dialogue off the page in a way no one else can.

After Jackson's fantastic performances in Jackie Brown, Pulp Fiction and Django, he may top them all here as Major Warren, facing the challenges of being an African-American in the US less than a decade after the Civil War and facing the in-your-face racism spouted by Confederate General Smithers (Dern) and Mannix (Goggins).

Jackson's dialogue has plenty to say as he spins yarns, often shown in flashbacks, that are built more to motivate behavior than recall the truth.

Leigh will likely get a best supporting actress nomination for her role here as the disgusting, vile Domergue, who gives as good as she gets. It's a punishing, bloody role and she's excellent.

Dern delivers another great performance, showing more reserve than you expect some of the time, and delivering the verbal fireworks of some of his much earlier work.

Goggins is the funniest character in the film as Mannix and Roth, Madsen and Bichir are all strong.

We saw the film in the 70mm Roadshow version, with ultra widescreen, souvenir programs, an overture and intermission. QT shot the film in Ultra Panavision 70, the first film to be photographed in this format since 1966.

The outdoor scenes are beautiful and the widescreen vistas are amazing. The widescreen format has less impact inside the haberdashery, but I'm anxious to see it again to watch the edges of the screen for what clues to the mystery I catch on a second viewing.

Movie music legend Ennio Morricone came out of retirement to write a new score for The Hateful 8 and its excellent. Morricone also manages to sneak in "Regan's Theme" from his music score for "Exorcist II:The Heretic", which was about the only highlight of that 1977 misfire.

Tarantino's "Inglorious Basterds" is my favorite film of all time. The HATEFUL 8 climbs to the top of my favorite films of 2015. I haven't had a more suspenseful, riveting experience at the movies this year.

It's violent, gory, very adult and filled with detestable characters. Just the way I love my Tarantino. A+

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