Sunday, 17 January 2016

The Hateful Eight (18)

Oh, Quentin. Quentin Quentin Quentin. When's it going to stop, eh?

Not content with bringing us a film "about slavery" (Django Unchained wasn't about slavery), we continue down the Western trail with this little three-hour fun and games.

With an intermission. And boy, do you need the intermission.

Did we mention it's three hours long?

We've already seen some of the reaction to Tarantino's latest outing, and to call it mixed would be an understatement.

People either love this, or have taken against it very, very badly.

The truth is actually somewhere in the middle.

The story is, for Tarantino, a simple one. Man is taking wanted woman to town to be hanged.

On the way, said man (Kurt Russell hamming it up as John Ruth) picks up a bounty hunter (Samuel L Jackson) and the town's new sheriff (Walton Goggins).

The unlikely band of folks rock up at Minnie's Haberdashery and are forced to wait out a blizzard, getting to know a group of strangers in the process.

A bunch of strangers? Gathered in a remote building? And then people start dying? It seems Quentin has taken a liking to Agatha Christie...

For reasons best known to himself, Quentin breaks the story up into chapters, which adds nothing to the overall feel of the piece but does bring some respite from the more tedious bits.

And at times, it is tedious.

The opening chapter is basically a huge set up, with sweeping vistas and endless amounts of dialogue - which serves, essentially, to remind you that dialogue has never been Quentin's strong suit.

There's also a wonderfully pointed moment right at the start when John Ruth explains why Jennifer Jason Leigh's Daisy Domergue can't use the N word when referring to Mr Jackson.

Anyone would think he copped a load of flack after Django.

It would also seem he didn't give a shit, because having explained why that word can't be used he then sets out to set some sort of record in the number of times it gets used in a film.

There are two problems with this.

One, if we're setting a film in the wild west, that explanation wouldn't have taken place.

Having taken place, and so having set up a world where people are more sensitive to the use of language, it wouldn't be used half as much as it is.

Certainly not without someone mentioning again that it shouldn't be used.

Oh Quentin.

That aside, the whole of the first half is a bit of a drag.

It looks stunning, and I suspect those of you lucky to clap your eyes on a 70mm print will be blown away, but the stunning cinematography can't disguise the fact that nothing is actually happening.

And what is happening could have been sorted out in half the time.

Still, no matter, there's a break where we can stretch our legs. Hopefully things will pick up in the second half.

Oh they pick up alright.

They're picked up, shaken down, shot, poisoned, shot again, thrown down a well, shot some more and then, just to be on the safe side, shot again. And then stabbed.

The second half is like a whole different film.

And this is actually a good thing, because it's what saves this from being a totally indulgent piece of tosh.

Once we're back in our seats, the fun begins.

People are killed off left, right and centre - and all with a big grin on Tarantino's face.

This is the fun he's used to having.

Blood is vomited, heads explode, limbs are hacked off - this is what you want and expect when sitting down with a Tarantino flick,

And this half is great.

From sweeping long shots were are treated to everything being tight and close up, and this is what brings the film alive.

There's tension, suspense, mystery and laughs.

It's just a shame he felt compelled to pen an open love letter to the whole of the wild west in the first half.

To be fair, you can't fault how the film looks, but it only serves to show up the scripts flaws.

Some of the characters are so badly drawn as to be caricatures, while others are so well rounded they steal the show.

And he also tries to further emulate Christie's And Then There Were None by leaving subtle clues as to what may have happened.

Clues which don't work, because we're not aware of what they're alluding to.

It also can't go unmentioned that And Then There Were None had an original title. Go look it up. It's not a coincidence that this is why he chose it.

Oh Quentin.

But issues with his addiction to That Word aside, The Hateful Eight is OK.

Trudge through the first half - and admire the lovely scenery, and you'll be rewarded with some lovely mindless violence.

Hopefully he's got Westerns out of his system now, though.

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