The Hateful Eight

Two bounty hunters, a sheriff, and a prisoner walk into a haberdashery store… Such is the rambling setup of this old-dark-house-in-a-storm whodunit shaggy-dog story that writer-director Quentin Tarantino has turned into his meta-Western, The Hateful Eight. The colorful, gabby characters have been thrown together on a stagecoach heading for Red Rock, Wyoming, but are forced to take refuge from a raging blizzard in a log-cabin abode, stuck waiting it out with a rogue’s gallery of grizzled ragamuffins trustworthy as far as you can spit. The basic structure is taken from Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians (adapted into the film And Then There Were None). Tarantino flirts with the novel’s focus on the meaning of justice, but ultimately, Eight is his excuse to playfully inspire his likely suspect cast into acting up and acting out, orating arch, highfalutin, mouth-off monologues. It’s fun, as far as it goes, but it ultimately disappoints—speeches lack the crackle and set pieces the dazzle we expect from Tarantino.

Shot on 70mm film, the wide 2.76:1 compositions present striking, barren snowscapes with tiny figures distinct against bright white backgrounds and moodily composed interiors filled with small pools of light in stagey, location-locked claustrophobia. Colors are limited to browns, greens, grays, and blacks of nature, cabin, and careworn clothes, but all are distinct in a wide range of tones. Despite dimness, detail is good.

The soundtrack is all about creating tension and an atmosphere of mystery, horror, and suspense. Wind never stops whooshing all around, occasionally blasting in with full force when a character busts in through the door. Effects are accurately panned. Even among furious atmospherics, the all-important, racial- slurring, wise-ass dialogue is always clear. Ennio Morricone’s Oscar-winning score is similarly full, resonant, and clean, immersing you in a vortex of singing, electronica, and orchestral instruments well separated into each channel. With a wide dynamic range, high-register strings and rumbling woodwinds coexist with no distortion at either end. Pounding hooves and wagon wheels boom bassily, guns resonate like cannons, and elbows slam into faces with resounding thump.

Extras consist of a blah talking-heads promo and roadshow releases presented by the always-enthused Tarantino and the endlessly entertaining Samuel L. Jackson.

STUDIO: Starz/Anchor Bay, 2015
AUDIO: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
LENGTH: 167 mins.
DIRECTOR: Quentin Tarantino
STARRING: Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Dern

Scottyb09's picture

I saw this movie in 70mm and absolutely loved it. It's actually my favorite QT movie aside from Pulp Fiction (and maybe Dogs).