Listen up. Let me tell you a story. I say ‘story’, well, this is more likely going to be something not resembling a story at all. I’m not even sure why the fuck I used the term ‘story’, at least, not to begin with. And yet, the word story, in an introduction to a piece of writing, seems goddamn relevant here somehow. And it sure as hell is a good way to start. Don’t you think? Like once upon a time, or once there was this man, or whatever the fuck happened. So, no, this is not a story in the brutal, blatant definition of the word. Fuck, I guess I ought to start again, except, well, I have come this far so why stop now?
in a piece of writing not so important enough to warrant such scrutiny, using the incorrect or improper terminology is, in the eyes of the author, not a legitimate enough reason to start from the very beginning. Fuck that. Like I said, we have come this far. I understand you haven’t learnt a whole lot in the time it has taken you to read this, and for that I sincerely apologize. Really, I do. I’m sorry with a big black fucking cherry on top. So for those of you still reading, you lucky motherfuckers, I sure do hope you’re able and willing to keep reading a while longer.
What I am about to embark on is, then, as we have already broadly alluded to, not a story at all. What the fuck is it then, you ask? Well, my own inclinations to write actual formulaic film reviews is rather limited. I love writing about films, that’s right. You ought to know that by now. But allow me to cease my own digression, and get straight onto the matter in hand. That is to say, what you are reading now, and are about to read furthermore, is not a story, nor a review. Hell no. Not in the general acclaimed sense of the word. No, what follows might be described as a ramble, a random outpour of film criticism. Whoa, whoa, hold it, not random, no, I am being unfair to the author again. The author being me, of course. And random being the redundant word this time around. No, this piece was actually well thought out in fact.
So to correct myself, and in turn illuminate the fuck out of my current audience, and those that may well be visiting these words at a later date, let me tell you what I think about The Hateful Eight. The Hateful Eight? That’s right, The Hateful Eight. The Hateful Eight, well, fuck me, that wasn’t so hard after all, was it? The Hateful Eight, huh. If you’ve come this far, hell, I would bet a nickel you’re willing to go even further.
Although I wanted to be excited many months ago, seeing the trailer for The Hateful Eight I could not help but think that Quentin Tarantino may well be regurgitating his own style and flavor. I suspected this and didn’t want to be right. There was a whiff of this with Django Unchained, sure, but more so with this. “Has Tarantino become a parody of himself?”, my wife remarked. I wanted some reassurance or affirmation about the lingering doubts I have had about Tarantino over the years. Or at least since the Kill Bill double bill. Inglorious Basterds salvaged a perhaps far too overwhelming amount of faith and fanship in the writer / director. For me, the early explosive marvels of Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction (and many would arguably add to that Jackie Brown) were and are going to be difficult to top.
Let’s not beat around the bravo bush then. Without any doubt, Quentin Tarantino is an effective, talented film-maker; he knows how to make movies. Fact. Ennio Morricone composes an original score for the movie (even Quentin pissed his pants at that honor) – and it is some fine music indeed. Robert Richardson’s vast cinematography is so grand it practically envelopes you in glory. Some usual suspects return, like Walton Goggins, TIm Roth, Michael Madsen, Kurt Russell, and Samuel L. Jackson Of Course. All stupendous to varying degrees given the film-maker and material they have chose to work with. And let me say now, and remind you to remember this when you reach the end, I do not hate the movie.
I remember a certain UK film critic slating the second chapter of the Kill Bill film – that basically Tarantino was executing style over substance. It’s a general term, but fits there and here. The drawn out lackluster dialogue about the poison in the coffee pot as well as the post-dingus-sucking demise of a General’s son is frankly more tiresome than smart. Tarantino has obviously worked his brain hard, I suspect he always does, but the end product is mindless for the most part. He is usually known for surpassing what he promises, but here it falls a little flat. He misses with highlights, including a blood-vomit sequence ludicrously reminiscent of Team America: World Police or Family Guy, as well as a pointless shot of a Mexican’s face blown into a crater.
The dialogue in the final act reveals the small-minded lies of his characters, but also the weakness of Tarantino’s unraveling story. Sudden deaths and plot twists are just mere tasteless splatter-feasts and thinly spread developments. In fact, not much has developed at all. The dialogue is neither particularly engaging nor plot-driven; he got away with it in Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, when it was refreshing and exciting and compelling. The “black johnson” in the white man’s mouth is a lurid side-step, Tarantino may well be showing off his ability to shock. But it is very old news – a bit like an 11 year-old child bouncing up and down with joy over the fact he is out of diapers.
The use of the N word (yes, N word, because I can’t write that word here can I?) is gratuitous, and over-used. So ridiculously so it is distracting to hear the same word over and over, but not nearly as relevant as it is that the N word actually loses all meaning – which it should not. I don’t believe Tarantino is a misogynist or a racist or values death. His love and devotion to cinema is evident always, but you can’t help feeling he has misled himself along the way as to what kind of cinema and society he is paying homage or mimicking.
Jennifer Jason Leigh is terrific, I will add, and the only blood put to chillingly compelling use is that staining her face. Though the notion that a couple of the dumb-ass characters try to question the moral of a woman being a killer and deserving of a punishment just as a man would, seems not to breed any equality but rather an ignorance towards the treatment of the sexes and our perception of it. A physically battered woman allowed to call men names and survive (almost) the longest is still a physically battered woman. When Tarantino was a boy and his mother would ask why he was cussing while playing with his toys, he would respond that it was not him but the characters. With The Hateful Eight I became so detached during the movie that when Daisy utters racial slurs for the umpteenth time I was feeling disdain towards the writer rather than the character.
Regardless of what Tarantino blurts out in interviews or any controversy he lugs around (it’s controversial to not love his films, right?), The Hateful Eight has a certain merciless arrogance itself in its execution, like a spur-jingling cowboy that believes can not be killed – but you can’t wait for him to take a bullet. That mid-point recap voice over is Quentin himself, don’t you know. The final sequence, too, has no moral compass or redemption at all, dragging out the hanging of Daisy while two despicable characters share sentiments over a fake letter from an American president. I suspect the real-life, non-fiction Abraham Lincoln would be palpitating in his grave.