HATEFUL EIGHT, THE
A few years after the Civil War, a stagecoach hurtles through the wintry Wyoming landscape. The passengers, bounty hunter John Ruth (Kurt Russell) and his fugitive Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), race towards the town of Red Rock where Ruth, known in these parts as "The Hangman," will bring Domergue to justice. Along the road, they encounter two strangers: Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson), a black former union soldier turned infamous bounty hunter, and Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), a southern renegade who claims to be the town's new Sheriff. In the blizzard, Ruth, Domergue, Warren and Mannix seek refuge at Minnie's Haberdashery, a stagecoach stopover on a mountain pass. When they arrive at Minnie's, they are greeted not by the proprietor but by four unfamiliar faces. Bob (Demián Bichir), who's taking care of the place while Minnie is visiting her mother. He's sharing the place with Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), who claims to be the hangman of Red Rock; cow-puncher Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), and Confederate General Sanford Smithers (Bruce Dern). As the storm overtakes the mountainside stopover, our eight travelers realise they may not make it to Red Rock after all...
Review by Louise Keller:
The weather is not the only thing that is chilling, in this epic, cinematic Tarantino western, as a disparate group of trigger-happy degenerates meet in the incongruous surrounds of Minnie's Haberdashery during a blizzard. Set some time after the Civil War, the film is big, bold and beautiful and true to Quentin Tarantino's distinctive style, the action is a mix of explosive confrontations, explicit violence, colourful language and bleak humour. The unforgiving, remote snowy backdrop is breathtakingly beautiful, the cast hand-picked and the film (in glorious 70 mm) is every bit the spectacle we have been waiting for.
Tarantino takes his time to establish the wintry white setting in which a lonely stage coach drawn by six horses makes its way through the freezing conditions on its way to Red Rock. It does not escape our notice that the two lead horses are black and white, echoing the contentious racial issues at the story's forefront. While the first two chapters (of six) concentrate on introducing four key characters - two bounty hunters (one black; one white), a murderer/prisoner and the new sheriff - the real action does not begin until we reach Minnie's Haberdashery. The joys of this lengthy chapter include the development of the relationships as tempers flare, passions ignite and all hell breaks loose.
Samuel L. Jackson and Kurt Russell are beautifully cast as bounty hunters with different agendas. Major Marquis Warren (Jackson in fine form) aims to claim his bounties from the dead bodies tossed on the top of the stagecoach, whereas John Ruth (Russell, perfectly cast) is intent on ensuring Daisy Domergue, his tough-as-hell prisoner (Jennifer Jason Leigh in a gruelling performance) meets her fate in the hangman's noose. Leigh is a punching bag throughout - she has a black eye, is regularly punched, thrown out of the stagecoach while handcuffed and gets lashings of hot stew and blood spewed onto her face. The characters are all as colourful as the language they use. There is Tim Roth and Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs' Mr Orange and Mr Blonde respectively), Walton Goggins as the new sheriff, Demian Bichir as the rugged up Mexican and Bruce Dern as the chess-playing general. Ruth's auspicious driver O.B (James Parks) makes nine - but who's counting?
The blood letting begins after intermission, when triggers are cocked and anything goes as questions like who poisoned the coffee and who made the stew are raised. There are shocks, gunshots and surprises; it might be safer in the blizzard than by the fire in Minnie's Haberdashery. Watch for the gripping scene in which Jackson's Major makes a shocking revelation to Dern's General.
Tarantino is a filmmaker who injects a joyousness into his films - whether it is through gratuitous violence, outrageous language or simply through the juxtaposition of the elements of his flamboyant characters and their relationships. It is cinema, after all.
After seeing the film in 70mm - complete with an overture by Ennio Morricone, 20 minute interval and 187 minute running time - you feel as though you have seen A Movie. Little of the actual content is said to be missing in the 168 minute version, but there is no denying the power of 70 mm.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
It embraces you in its bear hug, this film, and doesn't let go til the end. The big, 70 mm version, complete with overture and intermission, is a time trip back to the grand old days of BIG movies; you even get a gorgeous colour program on the way in. It's an event, not just a movie, as Tarantino intended, something to savour, not to rush. 'Old fashioned' is the wrong term; it's more of an homage to cinema as large-frame entertainment.
The story is told in chapters, and after the intermission, there is even a narrated sequence, and near the end, a flashback ... and then there are the eight hateful but colourful characters. Kurt Russell seems to be channelling John Wayne as ruthless bounty hunter John Ruth, and sure, The Duke would have had this role in his heyday. Jennifer Jason Leigh delivers a terrific, blood soaked, bashed up Daisy, the murderous prisoner Ruth is taking to Red Rock for hanging.
Samuel L. Jackson is the centre of the drama as Major Marquis Warren, another bounty hunter, who believes that bringing guilty men in alive is a good way to get yourself killed. It's a juicy performance, decorated with Jackson's trademark authority and dry, dark humour. As an anti hero, they don't come much bigger than these two characters, and we catch ourselves barracking for them on this lawless wintry mountain.
Walton Goggins manages to portray Chris Mannix, the new Sheriff, with a well judged blend of bravado and ignorance, while Demian Bichir is wonderfully sleazy as Mexican Bob. As usual, Tim Roth gives a swaggering performance perfectly suited to his character, a role I can imagine could have gone to Christoph Waltz perhaps. Bruce Dern is tangibly authentic as the old Confederate General Smithers, who faces extreme mental cruelty at the hands of Warren in one of the film's handful of excesses. They include sudden, bloody violence. Michael Madsen completes the hateful eight with a taciturn performance as Joe the cow puncher ...
The minor supports are all memorable and beautifully, carefully cast; the care also shows up in the detailed production design, superb cinematography and Ennio Morricone's score - notably the overture.
It's a movie made with deep respect for the audience and the whole cinema experience. Strong storytelling and touches of bravura, risk taking and a disregard for political correctness that suits its setting. And it is R18+ for a reason.
NB: Tarantino cut two versions of the film. The 'Roadshow' version (not a reference to the Australian distributor) runs for over three hours and includes an overture and intermission, while the general release is six minutes shorter and contains alternate takes of some scenes. Tarantino stated that the general release cut was created as he felt that some of the footage he shot for 70mm would not play well on smaller screens.
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HATEFUL EIGHT, THE (R18+)
CAST: Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Samuel L. Jackson, Channing Tatum, Walton Goggins, Demián Bichir, Tim Roth Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, Zoe Bell
PRODUCER: Richard N. Gladstein, Shannon McIntosh, Stacey Sher
DIRECTOR: Quentin Tarantino
SCRIPT: Quentin Tarantino
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Robert Richardson
EDITOR: Fred Raskin
MUSIC: Enno Morricone
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Yohei Taneda
RUNNING TIME: General release version: 168 minutes / Roadshow version 187 minutes (incl intermission)
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: 70 mm roadshow version: January 14, general release version: January 21, 2016