by Patrick Bromley
Note: This review refers to the 70mm "Roadshow" version of The Hateful Eight. It opens in a limited engagement beginning Christmas day. See this version if you can.
From the moment the lights went down and Ennio Morricone's haunting theme began as part of The Hateful Eight's overture, Quentin Tarantino had me again. For the eighth time in a row, he has made the exact movie I never realized I always wanted to see. No other filmmaker has quite the same hold on me. Part western, part mystery, part chamber drama, part black comedy, part polemic on racism, The Hateful Eight is another sprawling, ambitious and completely wonderful stopover in Tarantinoland, where the blood flows freely and every character speaks with his or her own kind of poetry.
Adorned with one of cinema's greatest mustaches, Kurt Russell is John Ruth, aka "The Hangman," a bounty hunter in post-Civil War Wyoming who is bringing his latest charge, Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), to the town of Red Rock to see her hanged and collect his $10,000. They get caught in a blizzard en route and proceed to Minnie's Haberdashery to hole up for a few days until the storm passes, but not before picking up two more passengers: Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson), former Union soldier and now bounty hunter, and Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), who fought for the South even after the war ended and is now being named sheriff of Red Rock. The wagon makes its way to Minnie's, where the party encounters a few more guests: British dandy Oswald Mobray (a very funny Tim Roth), cowboy Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), Bob, a Mexican man running the haberdashery (played by Demián Bichir), and former Confederate general Sanford Smithers (Bruce Dern). With the history of the war close behind them and a lot of money at stake thanks to Domergue's bounty, none of the men quite trusts one another. They're right to feel that way.
You'll notice that much of that plot description is given over to describing the characters more than what happens in the film. That's because once again Tarantino has made a movie exploding with great characters and, rather than conspire to rush them to this event or that, has simply chosen to put them all in a room together and watch what happens. The irony, of course, is that he has also shot the movie in Ultra Panavision 70mm and the super-wide 2.76:1 "Cinerama" format not seen since the '50s and early '60s (in films like Ben-Hur and It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World). It would typically be reserved for oversized epics -- which The Hateful Eight is of sorts, but it's an interior epic, one of conversation and character. Tarantino has said that in writing the script he was influenced by episodes of Bonanza and The Virginian. That would make this the most expensive, best-looking episode of Bonanza we've ever seen.
And it does look great. Collaborating once again with cinematographer Robert Richardson, Tarantino has put meticulous care into every inch of the frame without ever seeming overly fussy (Wes Anderson he is not). The opening act has the sweep of an old-fashioned widescreen epic, set against the snowy Wyoming landscape and capturing not just the cold but also how small these people are against the vastness of nature -- I was reminded of Vilmos Zsigmond's brilliant work in McCabe & Mrs. Miller. Then Tarantino moves inside Minnie's Haberdashery and, with few exceptions, really doesn't leave that location. It's here that the 70mm photography pays off in a different way altogether, not providing sweep or scope but rather every intimate detail of the set design: we get to know the textures of the clothing or a blanket hanging over a chair. The wideness of the frame lets us see the entire room even when two characters are just sitting at a table together, enjoying some stew and coffee. It's so like Tarantino to try to revive 70mm film (or just film in general) but using the confines of an Agatha Christie chamber mystery to do it. But if his goal is to showcase what film can show us that digital still cannot, he is successful.
Demián Bichir is also very funny, a stock character transported right out of a '60s spaghetti western, while Walton Goggins plays another variation on his slightly dopey redneck character but adds surprising depth and nuance. I've said before that Tarantino's legacy is going to be the enormous stable of great characters he has created over the last 20 years. Here he adds eight more.
Despite his reputation for writing scripts that are "talky" (which is, of course, their greatest strength), there are moments inside of nearly every Tarantino movie that reach a kind of giddy delirium -- like Brian De Palma, he doesn't subscribe to the notion of going over the top when it comes to certain elements of his work. There are beats in The Hateful Eight that would be disturbing and horrifying if they weren't also funny. This is, without a doubt, Tarantino's nastiest film, but that doesn't mean it is without any kind of moral center. There are characters in the film who, in the great western tradition, live by a specific code, and the movie eventually gives way to reveal some considerable and profound statements about race and American progress. Tarantino isn't credited enough with what a thoughtful and often political filmmaker he can be, particularly in his last three efforts. The coda to The Hateful Eight is disarmingly moving, all the more impressive considering what immediately precedes it.
The Hateful Eight is yet another great film in a body of work consisting of only great films. In its Road Show incarnation, it is a totally unique and vital moviegoing experience -- one that feels like a real event and won't ever be replicated on VOD or Blu-ray. Tarantino isn't just making movies that demand to be seen in theaters, he's making movies that demand to be seen period because they're fucking incredible. The Hateful Eight is incredible.
Well said Patrick, you took the words right out of my Mouth. This movie is Fucking incredible. Qt's writing while always amazing (imo maybe the best writer in the last 20 years) really shines here so much so that it almost feels like he's showing off. Everytyime a new QT film comes out I leave the theater saying "this is my favorite QT movie" ...Well I think Hateful 8 is my new FavoriteReplyDelete
I haven't been this excited for Christmas Day since I was a kid!ReplyDelete
Great review! I was worried for this one after the script leaking and the drama that followed that unfortunate happening of a few years past. Thankfully my fears have been subsided and I am greatly looking forward to attending the 70mm showing.ReplyDelete
I don't live anywhere near a place that's screening the roadshow cut, but I'm very excited to see the wide-release cut on January 1st. I really hope that both cuts are on the blu-ray because I'd hate to miss the preferred version solely because of geography.ReplyDelete
Good point! I hadn't thought about the home video release yet. I hope both cuts are released.Delete
I have no idea if the roadshow is coming to the Uk, if it does I will certainly make sure I see it. CheersReplyDelete
Great review - it's gotten to the point where I don't even worry about whether or not I'm going to like the new Tarantino movie. Sadly, the Roadshow isn't going to make it up to Nova Scotia. :(ReplyDelete
I'm just jealous you got to see the film so early.ReplyDelete
You can see it right now. The DVD screener leaked, along with literally every awards contender from this year. You can find it anywhere, it's headline news.Delete
In fact - I find it interesting that Patrick's review came on the same day of the DVD screener leak - and yet, he's talking about seeing the "Road Show" version. Interesting.Delete
Thats not interesting or coincidental at all, I can guarantee to you that Patrick saw it at the movies, please dont come here Annoymously with these false accusations, its not nice, and this is a friendly community, Patrick gets to see movies early being part of the Chicago film Critics Association, and Real movie fans want to watch movies at the cinemas and support film making, The Hatefull 8 cost 44 Million pounds to make and probably more to supply cinemas with 70mm projectors for the roadshow, its not a film, its an experience, read the review! See the film how it should be seenDelete
It's funny how people named "Anonymous" are almost always dickheads - they should do a Freakonomics article on that...Delete
You're barking up the wrong tree on this one, pal - I can't say I've NEVER done it (particularly in situations of extreme inaccessibility), but people who love movies PAY for movies (or gather enough critic cred to have them sent to them like my man, Patrick) and the people who run and frequent this site aren't ambiguous about whether downloading movie torrents equates to stealing. It does. Don't do it.
It's obvious this idiot doesn't listen to the podcast or read this site at all. Patrick is so against watching bootlegs, he is discouraged whenever the only option to watch something is on Youtube. He'd rather pay for the best viewing possible than ever see it for free.Delete
Maybe we can block anyone from commenting anonymously?Delete
We are the Fthismovie police and we come out in force, Don't mess with us Mr Anonymous ;)
Yeah I wouldn't be jealous about watching some leaked, pirated version online. I'm sure there's websites for people like that, this isn't one of them.Delete
Do you guys think Anonymous is actually Steven Avery?Delete
Good point Brent, made me laughDelete
Spoilers for Making a Murderer!
But did he actually do it? Why didn't he crush the jeep? Why would he store it on his own land? He isn't that stupid? And the Key that appeared days later after the 4th search by police who weren't supposed to be there? And the volunteer that found the car within 20 mins in that massive compound, she walked right to it, it could of taken hours? "The lord guided me!" And most importantly where was all her blood in the bedroom? He isn't that clever to clean blood permanantly from a mattress and walls without a trace. Unless he used plastic sheeting everywhere like Dexter? This guy ain't stupid but he isn't clever enough to do that! Clever enough to hide any blood or Dna but not to hide the car
I wanted answers but I just ended up with more questions....
Im still think we never got to the truth!Delete
Great, great film.ReplyDelete
Unfortunately the intermission is a bit crucial since a narrator explains afterwards what's been happening in the fifteen minutes we've been gone. It's a bit jarring otherwise.
The use of one of the "Last House on the Left" songs is wonderfully incorporated.
I'll want to see the uninterrupted theatrical version just to see how that piece of exposition is handled.Delete
It's handled jarringly. Out of nowhere we suddenly get Quentin Tarantino doing narration on events we've just watched play out. There is no indication there was supposed to be an intermission preceding the narration and we're left scratching our heads as to why this narrative device is suddenly introduced halfway through the picture and then abandoned.Delete
I really question why he didn't edit it out for the non-intermission runs of the film, as many critical articles about the Hateful Eight list the sudden narration as one of their problems with the movie, again, not realizing the circumstances for why it was employed.
I have to disagree. I watched the non-road show version (Calgary) and when the fade to prolonged black happened, and was NOT followed by a chapter title card, it just gave the impression of a time passage. QT's narration indicating that 15 minutes has passed didn't make me feel like I'd just missed the intermission. Instead, it told me that there was a messy bit of dead-body manhandling inside the bar we didn't need to watch. It also gave legitimacy to the narrator being able to tell us about why Daisy Domergue's got a secret.Delete
The movie really blew my mind. I came out not really know if I loved it, or not. I know now that I really need to see it again. Like all the cinematic 1st viewings of QT's films have been for me, it was incredible .
That's an interesting and just as valid perception of the sudden narration. For me, it should have been left out and Quentin continue to show, not tell us where the character motivations lie. But I respect your take on it as well.Delete
Sadly, I did not get my mind blown by the film. The whole endeavor kind of blew up in my face as I took my girlfriend's parents to go see it with us, hoping it would blast them off into outerspace as they watched an innovative filmmaker test limits and boundaries in a rollercoaster ride of a movie.
About halfway through however, right after Sam Jackson gives a stale soliquoly that maybe would have shocked me in an episode of Oz in the 90s, but certainly not in 2015, I got the sinking feeling I had banked on the wrong Tarantino picture to wow her parents. And what followed in the latter half was just as plodding, interminable and derivative as my heart feared.
Im not surprised the film received such a lukewarm response by many devout Tarantino fans. They most likely went in with every expectation of embracing the film as another masterpiece in the filmmakers ouvere, and experienced the same dreadful feeling as I did that what we were witnessing was actually not up to par with the rest of this master's filmography.
Got my tickets for Sunday. It's gonna cost me 18 bucks and over an hour drive to the nearest theater, but if Patrick Bromley says it's worth it then I'll by-God be there.ReplyDelete
Just watched this last night. I had the choice between a $25 ticket at the biggest 70mm theater in the East Coast (the AMC at 68th St.) or $20 for a smaller venue closer to my home on 86th St., and I chose the latter. BIG MISTAKE! When the movie was five minutes away from ending (which of course none of us knew) the film broke and we were told it'd take 20 minutes to fix it... at 1AM on Christmas day! After 15 minutes they fixed the projector and played the finale and credits, then gave us a free pass for another showing. So I got to see "The Hateful Eight" in 70mm for free, but had the experience nearly ruined by one of the things I won't miss when film projectors are finally replaced by all-digital projectors.ReplyDelete
Click on my name to read my full review, but overall it's a strong Tarantino film that walks a comfortable wide path between tribute to westerns and being its own movie. My heart literally soared above my body and started clapping heartily when 'Regan's Theme' from "Exorcist II: The Heretic" (another Ennio Morricone composition) started playing as the horses galloped in slow motion. :-) Everywhere you look at there's a bad-ass character, bad-ass actor (even Walton Goggins emerges as more than the caricature he starts as) or bad-ass situation. I wasn't expecting the final two thirds of "The Hateful Eight" to essentially become an Ultra 70 version of John Frankenheimer's "The Iceman Cometh", a chamber drama for eight that does away with the outdoor photography that's beautifully used for the first third. Like Carpenter's "The Thing" (another movie with Russell sporting a frozen stache that was scored by Morricone), "The Hateful Eight" is one of the best movies showing how cold the outside is contrasted with the warm and death within Minnie's Haberdashery's walls.
About the only flaw in the movie, in my humble opinion, is the ending. Patrick says he admires the poetry of the moment, but to me it's repeating a beat that's already been repeated too many times and winds down the film to a sudden stop rather than feeling it's going somewhere. Contrasted with the ending of chapter three before the intermission (a jaw-dropping moment that is savage, brutal and insanely hilarious), which had me and the packed house counting the seconds to the movie's 2nd half non-stop payoffs, the ending of "The Hateful Eight" just doesn't have the goods to support the freight train of awesome that preceded it. Great flick, though, a strong year-ender candidate for Best of 2015 inclusion.
I liked it a lot but more so in the second half than the first. I agree that the intermission is a problem. It relieves the tension too much I think. Looking forward to seeing it again tonight at the Music Box.ReplyDelete
Well, I guess I'll be the first. I thought it was boring. I agree QT's scripts are his greatest strength - not this one though. I felt the acting was good all around but honestly, nothing that blew me away. I attribute that to the dialogue which I thought was mostly uninteresting and weak. It felt empty and showy without that "punch" that QT usually delivers. I loved the long, opening pullout shot. I loved the exterior shots during the first couple chapters. I also liked that almost every character was a larger than life force on screen. That's about all I liked. The story drags on and on and when things got interesting it felt like a cheap, mystery movie of the week. Even Morricone's score, as great as it was, was completely underused.ReplyDelete
This film was probably the biggest disappointment of the year for me, unfortunately. Please keep in mind that I do not generally like the Western genre and I have little interest in Civil War political films, especially coming from QT, so my dislike of the film is probably simply based on my taste, although I expected more from one of the best filmmakers and writers of this time, regardless of genre. This is simply my opinion, but it's my least favorite of his films and not one I can see myself making the investment of time to revisit.
I've got nothing against Westerns and have long idolized Tarantino, but this was also the biggest disappointment of my movie year. This was a make-or-break movie for me regarding Tarantino; I was also very disappointed by Django, and the obvious explanation for that one being disappointing was the unfortunate loss of his career-long editing partner, Sally Menke. I knew that if Hateful wasn't a return to form, it meant that Menke truly was at least 50% of what made every great Tarantino film actually great, and that now sadly seems to have been confirmed. Menke's background was in documentary filmmaking, and I now believe that all the Tarantino films before her death were in fact a type of document on the mental state of the obsessive movie fan, with Tarantino as its subject. Now that she's gone, his movies seem far less intelligent, and as a fan of his, I feel somehow cut adrift.ReplyDelete
And here I thought I was the only one. Take the "western" out of it, I've had days to let it marinate and think about it and I just don't think it's a good movie, especially for QT standards.Delete
Django was phenomenal, especially when compared to this movie. And Tim Roth should be ashamed for basically coopting Christoph Waltz's entire character and demeanor for this filmDelete
Sorry, I meant his dentist character in Django. Osley was nearly a carbon copy in his every mannerism and affectation. And the less said about the law of diminishing returns in regards to Michael Madsen's return to yet another Quentin movie when, whatever presence he once held on screen completely vaporized by the years, the better.Delete
I can't agree more with your comment on Quentin losing his esteemed editor. If ever a movie screamed for her discerning touch, it was this plodding chore of a movie.
I really disliked Django and also attribute that to the loss of Sally Menke. However, I really enjoyed Hateful Eight and, except for a few things that rubbed me wrong here and there, I think it is one of the better QT movies. I prefer Tarantino when he restrains himself stylistically. By the end I felt like I'd just heard a classic story. It may not be his funnest movie but I think it is one of his better composed pieces.Delete
I just got back from the theater, and I really loved it. Interestingly enough though, I can totally see why people wouldn't, more than maybe any of his films. The way he plays out the story and how the dialogue is written are not as original and sharp as most of his movies. It seems like this one was geared a little more toward bring generally entertaining and letting the actors and the allegory do all the heavy lifting. It really worked well for me though. I'd watch it again tomorrow if it was playing a little closers to where I live.ReplyDelete
I saw the movie this morning and thought it was delightful. I went into it almost completely blind (I knew Samuel L. Jackson and Kurt Russell were in it), so I had no idea that there would be a mystery element, but I was happy to go along with it.ReplyDelete
It's hard to watch a QT movie and forget that it's a QT movie, which at times were kind of annoying (there's a moment where there's a quick pan from one group to another and then a long shot where we continually shift the focus from the foreground to the background), but others that were just hilarious (the door bit and just the crazy amount of gore). I think the intermission is well observed in theory, but lasted too long. The cabin setting was interesting, upping the stakes since no one could leave, but also made me think this must be the most expensive bottle movie ever made. The score was incredible and so Morricone that I immediately breathed a sigh of relief at the start of the movie knowing that Tarantino hadn't lost it yet. And of course, the characters were all great and memorable and were given their own moments to shine.
In closing: Kurt Russell indeed rules.
The H8ful Eight is forgetful. Just 20 minutes into the movie I wanted to leave, but stuck around to witness truly one of the worst movies of the century; a wasted 3 hours that I’ll never get back. The story line was mind-numbing and the acting was on par with Community Theater, if not worse. I wonder how many well respected actors said no to this piece of dirt movie. Kurt Russell was so bad that it was a relief when his character was finally killed off, even though the scene was farcical. I couldn’t wait for it all to end and I was gr8ful when it did.ReplyDelete
Don't hold back, dude, tell us how you really felt about the movie. ;-)Delete
Disappointing movie despite two great performances by Jennifer Jason Leigh and Sam Jackson. Quentin needs to learn a different tune if he wants to keep pace with some of the more innovative new filmmakers on the scene. I may have had a more positive reaction had the movie not been so internally loooong and plodding. The story is way too scant to justify the running time, and the characters not quite interesting enough to make up the difference.ReplyDelete
With some tighter editing and a better script (Quentin's penchant for dialogue may be at his most drudging and derivative here) this could have really been something excellent. But he indulges his worst instincts each time he is given a choice to surprise us in the film with something truly innovative. And I couldn't help feeling that most of the characters were merely water-downed pastiches of better characters he's introduced to us in his more worthy movies.
As some have said above, this was probably one of the saddest disappointments of 2015 for me. I eat up Quentin's films and was eager to embrace this one with the same aplumb as I have had for each and every one of them upon their release unto the world. Alas, it was not meant to be. Sorry Patrick, but Quentin ran the stagecoach into a ditch with The Hateful Eight. But we can look forward to seeing in what ways he will get back on the horse in the years ahead.
You don't need to apologize to me. I think it's great.Delete
I love love love the Hateful Eight. Spot on review Mr.Bromley.ReplyDelete
Last saturday I saw the 70mm roadshow version at the Zoo-Palast in Berlin, surrounded by a little less than 800 people.ReplyDelete
I had a ton of fun and liked the movie a lot, although I wouldn´t mind it being maybe 10 minutes shorter, especially in the first half before the intermission. There were a few little spots I didn´t thought were that necessary. But this is a minor quibble.
I liked most of the performances. Only Madsen fell a bit short and Roth was too much of an imitation of Christoph Waltz - although a good imitation.
I was totally surprised when Channing Tatum popped up. I didn´t even knew he was in before.
Loved Richardson´s camerawork and Morricone´s score, even if half of the cues came from Exorcist II and the Thing.
And of course I liked the gory parts...
For me this was another very good film by Tarantino and due to the special kind of presentation certainly the best cinematic experience I ever had with one of his movies.