I love a good western and I love movies directed by Quentin Tarantino, so when I had the chance to see The Hateful Eight, my hubby and I scooted over to the Deptford AMC Theatre. Sitting in one of Deptford’s comfy leather recliners with our hot chocolate and popcorn, we were ready for the three hour film and the anticipated action done 70 mm format style. Did Tarantino deliver? Grab a warm horse blanket and follow me.
The Hateful Eight
The film, presented on 70mm format, is a western mystery written and directed by the very talented and brave (I’ll explain later) Quentin Tarantino. It stars Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demian Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen and Bruce Dern. The film is done in chapters with the promise of an intermission for us older folks with weak bladders.
The plot itself is simple. In Chapters One and Two, Bounty hunter John Ruth (Kurt Russell) aka The Hangman, is taking outlaw Daisy Domerque (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to the town of Red Rock to get hanged. Ruth who is paying for a private ride from point A to point B is forced to pick up two strangers. The first stranger is also a bounty hunter and former Union officer, Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson). Warren has three dead bodies to take to Red Rock in order to collect the bounty on their heads. What gets him on that stagecoach is a letter from President Abe Lincoln.
The second stranger to stop the stagecoach that is trying to outrun the blizzard is a man claiming to be the new sheriff of Red Rock. What gets Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins) on the stagecoach is money. Neither John Ruth nor Marquis Warren will get their bounty money unless the new sheriff is there to open the safe.
Chapters Three and Four centers on the arrival of the stagecoach to Minnie’s Haberdashery, a cool name for a lodge and stagecoach stop. John Ruth and Major Marquis Warren are rightfully suspicious of the four guests: Mr. Mobray (Tim Roth), Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), Confederate General Smithers (Bruce Dern) and the Mexican cook (Demian Bichir) who are staying at the lodge. They could be snowbound fellow travelers, as they claim, or bounty hunters. The suspense builds and the film now takes on a more serious tone both in language and violence.
We never do find out what Daisy’s crimes were that earned her that appointment with the gallows, but even though Jennifer Jason Leigh’s character doesn’t get that much to say in the first three chapters, you know that Daisy is familiar with the hard side of life. She’s not easy to like, but we flinch each time John Ruth has had enough of her snide remarks; he wields a heavy fist.
If Jennifer Jason Leigh is not nominated by for best supporting actress for her part as Daisy Domerque, then there is something wrong with the system. No matter how badly Leigh’s Daisy is treated and, I’m talking extreme physical abuse, there is always a twinkle in her eye that brings to mind the image of the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland. She knows something, but we don’t find out until the last chapter.
Chapters four, five, and final, validate that the Hateful Eight is not a film for the faint of heart or for people with sensitive ears because there is a whole lot of shooting and cussing going on in this film especially with the “N” word uttered as rapidly as a Gatling gun.
Mr. Tarantino took a risk with this film by making a political stand on what he feels is wrong with the world. Major Marquis Warren had to deal with prejudice with both a calm demeanor, fluent tongue and a gun. Today we fight prejudice with protests and films that show the ills of the nation. I admire and respect Mr. Tarantino’s bravery.
I’ve read that there was a first draft to this film, until it was leaked online. What we see in the 2015 version includes a few changes, the biggest having to do with the letter from Abraham Lincoln. The legitimacy of that letter does more to reveal Major Warren’s character than anything else in the film. I’ve purposely left out some of the characters and some cool spoilers as not to ruin the surprise.
Presenting the film on 70mm is a treat for the eyes and mind. The first part of the film which deals with the stagecoach making its way through a blizzard is film art at its best. You are there with the actors, horses and landscape in all its CinemaScope and Panavision kick-ass grandeur. I think the reason we don’t see more movies made this way is because of the price.
I’m recommending this film to all my friends and family. I know they’ll like it as much as I did, and so will you, but remember that some theatres do not offer the intermission, so hold off on the large drinks and don’t take the little ones.