From Dusk Till Dawn
With his own brand of hyper-violence and sharp yet natural script-writing Quentin Tarantino has not only changed the filmic landscape but also pushed the boundaries of modern popular films can be ever since the early 90’s.
More recently Tarantino appears to be focused on re-imagining fringe movie genres. Death Proof is an homage to 1970’s muscle car movies for example while Kill Bill holds moments of pastiche for Japanese martial arts films and even aspects that would feel at home in a Anime series.
I was really excited to see The Hateful Eight. A homage/pastiche of western movies seems like a perfect fit for Tarantino yet for some reason it only seems to have been given a limited release.
As it turns out the film has been shot in Super Panavision 70. I realise that probably means as much to you as a Shakespeare verse does to a raccoon but basically it’s a format that hasn’t been used since we may or may not have landed on the moon. This is important because it meant that cinemas had to dick around with their projectors – hence the limited release.
Super Panavision 70 utilises an extremely wide screen format which means you get to see big, beautiful, sweeping scenery shots in their full glory… or at least you would if 90% of the film weren’t shot inside or in a blizzard. Without truly utilising what this format has to offer feels as wasted as the resources needed for a court case about whether a monkey has IP right to selfie. Yes… that really happened.
If your local cinema does show the film then you’ll need to bring a wash-bag, towel, change of clothes and something to trim your leg or face hair because this is the longest film I think I’ve ever seen in the cinema.
The film is broken up into 6 distinct chapters to tell the tale of the bounty hunter John Ruth (Kurt Russell) taking Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to be hanged in Red Rock.
The first 2 acts focus on John Ruth picking up hitch-hikers: the bounty hunter Marquis Warren (Samuel L Jackson) and Red Rock’s newly appointed Sheriff Chris Mannix (Walter Goggins). Due to the blizzard they have to stop at an inn where 4 other guests are staying but are any of them there to save Daisy?
These 2 chapters are really well scripted introducing us to Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth) who is brilliant as the polite British hang man of Red Rock but fail to makes interesting rounded characters out of the rest.
The script poses questions of human rights, racial hatred and, of course, a heavy doses of ‘the N word’ which are clearly meant to shock and offend.
The 3rd act holds some exceptional dialogue between Warren and the other guests at the inn and utilises the racial tension to his own gain amidst an unravelling and intriguing ‘who done it’ type plot.
Things then turned. There was an intermission. No… really.
The second half sees farcical elements of dialogue, similar to a Coen brothers film, give way to farcical violence. Whilst some of these are indeed fun it feels to the detriment of the story.
Act 5 lays out, in painstaking detail, everything that has happened and why leaving absolutely no room for your own interpretation. All the earlier intrigue and possibility is absolutely blown out of the water.
The final act holds violence for nothing more than spectacle. Whilst it doesn’t necessarily detract from the overall experience, it does leave a predictable and unsatisfying ending.
Overall this could have been one of my favourite Tarantino films but I found it lost it’s way after my nap and shave in the intermission partly because it’s just too long. I mean we went in to the screening at just gone 6 and left at just before 10 – I guess I’m hateful it didn’t finish at 8.
The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:
+ Great dialogue
+ Samuel L Jackson and Tim Roth
+ Excellent production value
– Too long
– Act 5
– Act 6