‘The Hateful Eight’ – new Tarantino review
So I finally watched The Hateful Eight – double hurrah! Did I enjoy it? Of course I fucking did. I love Quentin Tarantino and I loved his 8th movie. Though I’m not going to lie to you, this review was a struggle and took me the best part of a week. Why? I don’t know. Writer’s block I guess and it’s not the first time it’s happened. I found it hard even knowing what to say – like, what do I say? What do I even think?!
I thought it might help to break the review up into cool-Quentin-Tarantino-style-chapters and though it didn’t help at all I thought they were groovy and worth keeping.
There are no spoilers in this review, not even tiny weeny ones. Not even a hint. Not even a sign of that annoying person who says “I won’t ruin it for you, but I just have to tell you this one thing…………..”. So if anyone wants to discuss things further – tweet me bro.
Chapter One – Introduction
The Hateful Eight is Tarantino’s first proper Western, that doesn’t actually feel like a Western at all. Mind you the Q-Man did admit its entirely influenced by 80s horror classic The Thing, which was the only movie he let the cast watch before filming. O-Kay then. Makes sense to me…
Actually it does make sense, in the way that the story has an isolated feel and is full of distrust among the characters – I didn’t just mean that Kurt Russell is rocking the hairy-in-the-snow look again.
The premise is simple – eight ‘hateful’ people are snowed up in a tavern, unable to leave during bad weather. Some of them know each other, some of them don’t. But one of them is holding onto precious bounty in the shape of Dasiy Domergue – a wanted criminal with a high price on her head. Revelations, gun shots and dialogue ensues. What will happen before the final credits roll?
The Hateful Eight has a very ‘murder mystery / Agatha Christie’ feel, as well as invariably drawing comparisons to Reservoir Dogs. And The Thing!
Chapter Two – The Ennio Morricone Original Score
I was very, very and extremely excited to hear the main score from The Hateful Eight. I actually bought the soundtrack back in December (bad arse) but of course couldn’t listen to it until I’d seen the film. Fitting a three hour film into my life is never easy (that’s three episodes of Celebrity Big Brother) but somehow, on the 6th February, I did it.
As soon as the score (and the movie) started I was actually quite annoying. Grinning a lot with a ‘knowing’ expression, bobbing up in my chair and looking around for other reactions from people that I clearly wasn’t going to get. I suddenly thought “oh my god I’m about to watch the eighth Quentin Tarantino movie!”.
Ennio Morricone wrote the music, which is why I was acting like a kid on Skittles. Tarantino has been hot for Morricone for years and used many of his old scores but NEVER BEFORE has Morricone written him an original piece of music. He did write a song – which was performed in Django Unchained, but The Hateful Eight is the first Tarantino movie to ever include an original Ennio Morricone score. Cool huh? No wonder QT decided to make a Western (of sorts).
And despite tight deadlines, Morricone did not disappoint. Though I must say it’s not the score I was expecting. Maybe it’s wishful thinking but given the genre I was kind of expecting more ‘cowboy’ and ‘Sergio Leone’. Maybe some whistling or something?
But Morricone’s main score sounds modern, rather creepy and adventurous. It has a very mischievous sound to it – almost malevolent at times, which sets the tone for The ‘Hateful’ (they don’t call them them for nothing) Eight nicely. And because this is an original score there’s a first for a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack – variations of the main theme are played throughout the film.
It’s already won a ton of awards including Best Original Music at the BAFTAs just last night. Listen to it here, but only if you’ve seen the movie okay?
Chapter Three – The Characters and The Actors
The actors are mainly Tarantino regulars (of course) and I think the only two of the actual ‘eight’ who hadn’t worked with him before were Demian Bichir and Jennifer Jason Leigh. And did you know he originally wanted Jennifer Lawrence for the role of Daisy?
It’s annoying but I can’t really go into much detail about any of them – not unless you want to be second-guessing what happens. Obviously they are all hateful, but some are more hateful than others and if I start talking about a fondness for someone well that could give stuff away. I don’t like to say too much about film plots anyway, I think most things are better watched with little knowledge.
But the usual attention-to-detail was present in the shape of cool references and clues. Like you know how Michael Madsen is called Vic Vega in Reservoir Dogs and John Travolta is Vince Vega in Pulp Fiction? Stuff like that. And all the performances good with no complaints from me. Though I must say Michael Madsen – for whatever mental reason – reminded me a bit of a drag queen.
All of the characters are somewhat of a mystery and it feels like our job – as the viewer – to try and work it out as we go along. Nothing much is explained about anyone, save for what you can pick up from the typical-Tarantino-conversational-dialogue. Piece together who you should and shouldn’t trust. Figure out who’s talking straight and who’s spinning the yarn. And most importantly, ask yourself who would you rather be stuck in a lift with.
Chapter Four – The Story and The Script
As previously mentioned The Hateful Eight has a bit of an Agatha Christie feel (gotta be The Mousetrap) but I must say it feels rather like a stage play anyway. Not because of the dialogue exactly, but to me it strongly felt that there were two separate parts to the story. I know the 70mm versions played with an intermission anyway but even on the regular edit you could feel that half-time gap. Even now I can remember exactly when it happened and just as I was starting to feel a fidget in me, the curtain came down and out came the girl with the ice creams. Not literally (boo) but it did feel fresh again.
The dialogue, in my humble opinion, was brilliant. I am biased because I love QT scripts and if you’re anything like me you’re instantly involved, absorbed and the minutes roll by unnoticed. On that front the guy never disappoints and I was shocked, amused and speculating throughout.
I did wonder once or twice about the re-watchability because it’s a rather long, drawn out mystery that surely might lose something when fully aware of twists and conclusion. But in hindsight there is nothing to ponder, in all honesty it will take two or three watches before I even understand everything and I’m looking forward to piecing together some of the early clues. Quentin wrote the script to make us work, he didn’t just ‘give us all the answers’ in a flowery basket (with ice cream), a lot of things are left up to us to decide. There is no real answer – only hints and our imaginations.
Last Chapter – My Verdict
I enjoyed The Hateful Eight a lot. I’m actually pretty excited to watch it again so I can get to know it even better. I know it may not be what some people expect but it’s still one of the best movies I’ve seen it ages. And I queued up for Zoolander 2 on Saturday night so don’t think you’re not dealing with a major connoisseur here.
It may be tad over long. And it is a little odd in places, I think you can tell Tarantino is trying to be mature and clever as well as having control over a much bigger budget than the old days. But it still has his vibe from the yellow title writing to the Red Apple tobacco and you know what, I’m listening to the soundtrack right now and every time a piece of dialogue comes on I’m smiling like the Cheshire Cat.
Apart from another sublime soundtrack and the ‘ultra violence’ he’s known for, the writing has Tarantino written all over it and that’s always a winner for me.
So are him and Tim Roth arguing here or what?