At The Movies: The Hateful Eight

Quentin Tarantino goes west for his eighth film. “The Hateful Eight” is a western that only the talented, eccentric director would make — full of his usual blend of humor, sharp dialogue and extreme violence.

Set in Wyoming sometime after the Civil War, the film stars Kurt Russell as John Ruth, a bounty hunter known as “the hangman” because he likes to bring his charges back alive so they can hang. He’s rented a private stagecoach to escort his latest catch, Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), to the town or Red Rock for trial and hanging. There’s a brutal snowstorm hot on their heels.

The_Hateful_EightAlong the way they pick up two men stranded along the road — fellow bounty hunter Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) and Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), who claims to be the new sheriff of Red Rock.

The blizzard catches up to them before they reach town, so they are forced to find shelter at Minnie’s Haberdashery, a general store out in the middle of nowhere.

Inside the store are four other men — Bob “the Mexican” (Demian Bichar), who’s taking care of the place while Minnie’s away; Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), Red Rock’s actual hangman; Joe Gage (Michael Masden), a cow puncher: and  Sanford Smithers (Bruce Dern), a former Confederate general.

With the storm raging outside, these eight strangers are going to be spending a long time in each other’s company. Unless they kill each other.

“The Hateful Eight” is another strong showing by Tarantino, but as is usually the case you’ll need a pretty strong stomach to sit through it. The violence is graphic and some of the storytelling many people would find disturbing. Not recommended to anyone whose only exposure to Kurt Russell is “The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes.”

The movie runs a little over three hours, in part due to Tarantino’s love of olde tyme theater. It opens with an overture by Ennio Morricone (known for his work on the Italian westerns of the 1960-70s) and stops at the halfway point for a 15-minute intermission. We all know my position on intermissions (if you’ve forgotten: I hate them) but it seemed strangely appropriate in this case. The first act and second act are significantly different in tone.

The first act is about introducing the characters and setting up their relationships. In short, it’s all talk. Entertaining Tarantino-written talk, but still…it’s a lot of talking. Let’s just say Act One can be slow and ponderous at times.

Things change pretty quickly in the second act as different people make their moves and secret alliances are uncovered and the major begins doing some rather shrewd detective work. Here is where the movie really comes alive.

Like all Tarantino movies “The Hateful Eight” isn’t for everyone. But if you’re a fan of the man you’ll probably enjoy this latest adventure.

 

 

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