The Hateful Eight – a movie review by Roz Tarszisz

January 13, 2016 by Roz Tarszisz
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Despite the likelihood of people getting shot and me being a bit squeamish, I enjoy a good western.

When asked if the latest Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained) was an homage to The Magnificent Seven (my firm favourite) I replied it was more like The Wild Bunch with nastier characters.

The Hateful Eight is presented as an epic and its 70mm Cinemascope presentation, overture and intermission hark back to the blockbusters of yesteryear such as Lawrence of Arabia or Gone with the Wind.  But it is not epic in scope and takes place in just two locations – stagecoach and mountain hut.

None of the characters are worth caring about but I still got caught up in the narrative, presented in chapters as a mystery.  The mystery is that it required three hours to unravel the plot.

It’s about a decade after the Civil War. A stagecoach hurtles through the stark and wintry Wyoming landscape. Its two passengers, bounty hunter John Ruth (an unrecognisable Kurt Russell) and his prisoner, Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) are racing towards the town of Red Rock where Ruth will bring her to hang.

Along the way they encounter two stranded strangers, Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson), a black former union soldier turned bounty hunter and Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), a southerner who claims to be Red Rock’s new Sheriff.

With a blizzard fast approaching the stagecoach arrives at Minnie’s Haberdashery, a mountain pass stopover.  They are greeted, not by Minnie, but Bob (Demian Bichir) who says he is running the place for Minnie, Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth) about to take up his duties as hangman in Red Rock, cowboy Joe Gage (Michael Madsen) and Confederate General Sanford Smithers (Bruce Dern).

As the storm hits the mountain hut, the eight travellers are stuck together and it takes a long time to get to the truth.  Is one traveller there to break Daisy free?

I wondered about the practicalities of a woman being handcuffed to her captor for so long but then Ruth is so tough, he would probably have made her pee where she stood.  We are spared that but not much else. Ruth is as violent towards her as if she was a man but then she doesn’t seem to expect anything else.

The performances are powerful, the escalating violence over-the-top but then it is Tarantino and we wouldn’t want him going soft.  The soundtrack by Ennio Morricone is stirring and the stark vistas well captured.

Life was probably was very rough in the Old West, but I prefer my westerns with a little sugar.

3/5 Rated R18+ high impact violence 187mins  2015

Limited release January 14 at 70mm locations, General digital release January 21

Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demian Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern

Directed and written by Quentin Tarantino

Music by Ennio Morricone

 

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