Quentin Tarantino has never made a bad film, and this one is no exception. This time it’s The Hateful Eight, the spiritual successor to Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five. After lashings of ginger beer, egg sandwiches and cheerful teasing, the eight trot down to Smuggler’s Cove to search for treasure in a mysterious briefcase owned by a gangster with anger-issues. Only it turns ugly and they all proceed to lop each other’s heads off and engage in a gory, cranium-spattering shoot-out that makes drenches the island in cherry-syrup. And of course the dog dies. The end.
Oh wait, wrong movie. My bad.
I got the opportunity to see the film in 70mm. For those of you who are unfamiliar with what that is – it’s a rare film format usually reserved for epics. Look up the specifics if you want to know more, but basically it’s just better. The film also had an overture and an intermission – which was a perfectly timed split in the narrative. It almost works like a stageplay, with most of the film taking place in a single haberdashery. There’s a lot, and I mean a lot of dialogue, which isn’t unusual for Tarantino, but dialogue consists of at least 80% of the film (don’t be worried, there’s still plenty o’ action to be found). It’s just as well that the dialogue is phenomenal.
The man loves language, loves words, and loves people using language to interact with each other. It’s obvious in a film like Inglorious Basterds where at least four languages are being thrown around on screen simultaneously (and some chapters not having a word in English). So of course the dialogue here – and the characters who voice them – are abundantly rich and more importantly; authentic. The characters themselves are “character” characters, larger than life and verging on pantomime – but like the dialogue they’re all completely believable and a joy to watch. The man is able to say and do the most outrageous things and make them sound so darkly delightful.
As for the plot, it’s deceptively straightforward. If Agatha Christie and Sergio Leone had a baby together, it would make this film. It’s a 3 hour whodunit that’s stuffed with plenty of “a-ha” moments by way of at least a dozen Chekhov guns, surprise twists and tension that just keeps piling on thick. I’m not going to spoil it for you, but by the end of the film you’re going to pretty much have all your expectations flipped.
Now it’s not Tarantino’s best, certainly not, and it’s tempting to say the insane three-hour running time was not deserved. But it’s easily one of his better films (and that’s saying something). Go see it. Take the kids, take grandma, they’ll love it.
And finally, it turns out that Tarantino and Samuel L. Jackson crashed a local cinema for the screening. It even made the news. I’d seen the film in that exact cinema less than 48 hours ago, and I’d literally walked past the threate at the time. They’d crashed another threate down in the city on Wednesday, and I knew there was no way it would happen again. My friend even told me (jokingly) that we should look out for them when we went to see it. 2 days later they show up. What are the odds?
And they actually stayed and watched the film with the audience.
Now it’s not unusual for directors to attend premieres (obviously) but independent cinemas need all the help they can get, and it’s great for stars of this caliber to support them like that. And come on, it’s a beach suburb in Australia. Again, what are the odds?
Anyway, wherever you are, go see it. We don’t get many Tarantino films made, and when one does come out it’s hella worth it.