I’ll probably write a sort of ‘official’ paper of some variety on this movie at some point in the next couple of years, but I’ll lay out some thoughts here because, well, that’s what a blog is for, right?
[That being said, this post comes after 2 viewings of the 70mm ‘Roadshow’ format]
First off, I’d like to preface the post with: if you aren’t a fan of any of Tarantino’s past films, there is almost no chance you would enjoy any of ‘The Hateful Eight.’ It is essentially as if the producers told Tarantino to do whatever he liked, and boy, did he do just that. Self-indulgent, even masturbatory dialogue, make up most of the film’s text, and it’s certainly the most violent (“hateful” if you will, hardyharhar) Tarantino film to date. Not in terms of body count, but instead, in the violent “gross-out” factor. Jennifer Jason Leigh is never seen without some sort of injury/deformation, starting with a massive black-eye and ending with literal blood, guts, and brains splattered across her face and hair. The ‘Family-Guy’-esque vomiting scene (except this time with blood, and no prize), showing multiple heads being blown to bits (in glorious 70mm), and the writhing pain that the spectator experiences when Sam Jackson’s cahones get blown off by Magic Mike all contribute to an intensely violent film (Affective Realism, anyone?).
Tarantino himself has said that the point of the movie is for the spectator to respect each character’s individual “hatefulness,” and that viewers will come away with vastly different opinions (in terms of morals – if those are still in play, that is) depending on which character(s) their views most align with. Though there are some viewers who will be upset at the fact there are no clear “good guys v. bad guys,” the characters each stand up for their own personal moral codes. I will say, personally, I was upset that the ending does contain a slight moral, as most Tarantino films don’t end so “happily-ever-after” as this one does (Granted, this is a very, VERY, different version of a happy ending than most people are used to). The fact that Major Marquis Warren and “Sheriff” Chris Mannix are able to push their political views to the side in order to defeat the Domingray gang is a bit cheesy, to be honest, but it does tie up the film quite nicely (In an interview, Walton Goggins said that the cast talked about what could possibly happen after the film’s closing, and Goggins suggested having Bill Murray walk into Minnie’s Haberdashery, just having a close-up shot of his reaction to witnessing the hell that occupies the room).
Tarantino aspects aside, I think his choice of resurrecting the classic Roadshow screening format was fantastic (see Wikipedia), and he includes a masterful Ennio Morricone Overture (as well as the rest of the soundtrack), an intermission, and a full-color oversized program (well worth the $20 price of admission). The 70mm format looked fantastic, I mean, really, it was out of this world, especially for someone who had never witnessed its glory. But here’s a video explaining all of that stuff:
There is certainly something to be said regarding Tarantino’s careful consideration when he decided to shoot this in 70mm. Leaving any theoretical/philosophical arguments for the ‘Death of Cinema’ or if ‘film’ should really be called film anymore aside, I think it’s important that modern audiences see the difference between not only just this Ultra Wide format, but actual celluloid film projection when they watch movies. Conveniently, I saw a 70mm screening of ‘The Wild Bunch’ the day after I saw ‘The Hateful Eight,’ and both films just LOOKED so much better than any of the digital projection movies that come out today. At first I thought “Oh well that’s just some douchey thing that film nerds say.” Taking into account I think technically I am one of those said nerds, 70mm really does look different. Besides that, you can’t help but appreciate how much work went into shooting, developing, and making 100 prints in this format for theaters across the U.S., as well as buying up dozens of projectors and setting them up in these theaters.
I believe, at this point in time, it’s only playing at a very limited number of theaters still in the Roadshow format (70mm, Overture, Intermission, etc), but if you haven’t seen it, this should certainly be one of your first visits to the theater in 2016. Though do be warned! If you cringe at the sight of blood/vomit/extreme cruelty, bring along someone to hide behind, and definitely don’t have a large meal before viewing. Enjoy!
Sidenote – I was equally impressed (childishly, mostly) by how many varieties of the word ‘penis’ Major Warren uses when baiting General Sandy Smithers into reaching for his pistol, without ever using ‘penis’ – Johnson, pecker, dingus (feel free to add if I missed any). How could you not love the dialogue Tarantino writes for Sam Jackson?!
8.7/10 – Easily Worth 1 Viewing at Current $$ Rates, If Not Two.
Tarantino at his Finest.