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The Hateful Eight

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The Hateful Eight

Tarantino's eighth movie is long, moving inevitably toward an expected, brutally violent climax -- but along the way the colorful characters and playful dialogue provide a twisted good time. The one-room pressure-cooker setting, plus the presence of Michael Madsen and Tim Roth, may remind viewers of Reservoir Dogs, which can be both good and bad. That film's clever, sinister structure left audiences wanting more, whereas the lengthy, bonkers THE HATEFUL EIGHT gives up everything (and the kitchen sink).

Which isn't to say that it's not a lot of fun; it has surprises up its sleeve, and, as simple as the premise/set-up all seems, the characters' motivations are often deliberately deceptive. Long dialogue sequences exist for the sheer joy of their sound and rhythm but are also sometimes used as sleight-of-hand. Tarantino also uses music (by Ennio Morricone) and silence to brilliant effect; that, plus the infectious character performances makes this truly killer entertainment.

The Hateful Eight, the appropriately titled eighth film by Quentin Tarantino, was released in late 2015 to much fanfare as the first Ultra Panavision 70 film released since 1966. The gory post-Civil War tale was also the first Western film in nearly 40 years scored by composer Ennio Morricone, who popularized the classic spaghetti Western sound in the '60s and '70s. The film itself is a typically brutal Tarantino affair, full of dialogue, blood, and brain matter, and Morricone's score sets an ominous and deliciously over the top tone throughout the nearly three hours of action. Soundtrack and film opener "L'Ultima Diligenza di Red Rock" ("The Last Stage[coach] of Red Rock") creeps and swells to a grand climax before bleeding into the "Overture" (which was heard first, before the film began, in the roadhouse film event). The tension created by the horns, pounding drums, and stirring strings permeates the soundtrack, with the "L'Ultima Diligenza" motif repeated again and again. A quartet of less aggressive but still creepy "Neve" ("Snow") tracks produce an icy chill to balance the bombast of the main theme. A trio of songs from other musicians is peppered in amongst the Morricone grandeur: the White Stripes pop in with "Apple Blossom"; David Hess reminds us that "Now You're All Alone"; and Roy Orbison puts a final nail in the Hateful coffin with the presciently titled "There Won't Be Many Coming Home." For all of Morricone's great score work, some listeners may be distracted by the dialogue interludes peppered into the proceedings. Like the conversations from the movie itself, these snippets are loaded with uses of the n-word, which threaten to derail the flow of the music and are, arguably, unnecessary. However, like anything from Tarantino, fans should know what they are getting into and listeners are likewise warned. The movie and score are fun and entertaining, but at the same time, the ugly bits of hate speech are jarring and take away from the sheer pleasure of it all. Listen (and watch) at your own discretion.

Set six or eight or twelve years after the Civil War, a stagecoach hurtles through the wintry Wyoming landscape. The passengers, bounty hunter John Ruth (Kurt Russell) and his fugitive Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) race towards the town of Red Rock where Ruth, known in these parts as "The Hangman", will bring Domergue to justice. Along the road they encounter two strangers Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) a black former Union soldier turned infamous bounty hunter and Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins) a southern renegade who claims to to be the town's new sheriff. Losing their lead on the blizzard, Ruth, Domergue, Warren and Mannix seek refuge at Minnie's Haberdashery, a stagecoach stopover on a mountain pass. When they arrive at Minnie's they are greeted not by the proprietor but by four unfamiliar faces. Bob (Demian Bichir) who's taking care of Minnie's while she's visiting her mother, is holed up with Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth) the hangman of Red Rock, cow-puncher Joe Gage (Michael Madsen) and Confederate General Sanford Smithers (Bruce Dern). As the storm overtakes the mountainside stopover, our eight travelers come to learn they might not make it to Red Rock after all...

Ruth says that Mannix has no right to talk, given the atrocities that his father inflicted on black people. Mannix says not to talk about his father, who was fighting for the dignity in defeat that southern white men, as the "brothers" of those in the north, deserved. Warren asks how many black towns Mannix raided in this struggle for dignity. Mannix says many, and that when black people are scared, white people are safe. Warren immediately points the gun straight at Mannix's temple, cocking it, and says that if he speaks so hatefully, Warren will force him to ride at the exposed front of the carriage with O. B. Mannix drops the subject claiming that the issue of "talking politics" (which he claims he didn't want to talk about) was caused by the others in the carriage, and goes to sleep counting himself lucky to simply have found the carriage. Mannix uncocks and holsters his gun.

Hateful Eight brings eight people together in a snowed-in waypoint in the Wyoming wilderness, where they face a few days' worth of enforced togetherness. The Civil War isn't far in the rear-view mirror, and disagreements over North vs. South, black vs. white, and Lincoln vs. Davis are still raw. As with that opening Basterds scene, violence seems inevitable, since it hangs over every terse exchange and coy pretense of courtesy. But Tarantino takes his time in getting to the fallout. First, he wants to work through his respect for classic westerns, his joy over obscure formats, and his longtime love affair with verbal fencing. 041b061a72


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