The Hateful Eight
January 18, 2016
By now, twenty-plus years into Tarantino’s career as a filmmaker, most people should know whether or not they like his movies. If you like his movies, you should absolutely go see The Hateful Eight. If you don’t, you should not. I feel like I shouldn’t have to explain this, but every time a new Tarantino movie comes out I see all this commentary about how grossly violent it is, how weirdly paced it is, and how retro it is — with an air of surprise, as if this has never happened before. Goodness, people, just stop it. Tarantino is never going to make a movie that looks like a normal movie, and thank God for that. (Although I admit I’m now suddenly deeply curious about what a Tarantino Transformers movie would look like.)
I really liked The Hateful Eight, even as I was frustrated by it. It’s long and leisurely — too long, really, but I don’t think I’d cut out a single second, because moment by moment it’s all so good. The whole middle section has the stately air of a classic stage play — it all takes place in one room, and does that thing where the narrative flow is all about the shifting dynamic among a group of people who are trying to suss out lies, truth, and secrets. Like in stage adaptations of Agatha Christie, of all things. It works and it’s riveting because the acting is so high caliber, you can’t look away.
And then the guns come out and heads start exploding, and part of the fun of a Tarantino movie is admiring the classic seriousness of it all while wondering anxiously when the bloodbath is going to start.
This is a spiritual sequel to Django Unchained, which I appreciated. It’s a Western — with a great Ennio Morricone score, even. The main characters are bounty hunters; one of them is black, and he forces the room full of white people — including a couple of former Confederate soldiers — to confront realities of race and bigotry. There is an arc. It’s very nearly a cliche arc, the one you expect with that kind of setup. But it’s also deeply satisfying because it’s so well done. I don’t mind that the whole movie felt long. It was worth it.
Also? Tim Roth is back in a Tarantino movie. Squee!