Entertainment Movies Tarantino talks musicals, Aussies and his new movie
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Tarantino talks musicals, Aussies and his new movie

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the hateful eight reviewIn the realm of regular cinemagoers, there are two definitive camps: Quentin Tarantino fans, and non-Quentin Tarantino fans.

While it’s likely most lovers of cinema fall into the former category, there are many who bemoan the extreme violence in his movies, the elaborate dialogue and the indulgent running times.

Those people should not go see The Hateful Eight.

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At more than three hours long, with a 15-minute intermission and an overture, it’s a feast for Tarantino lovers and a nightmare for Tarantino haters.

However, the thing about the 52-year-old director is that he doesn’t care what you think. That’s a big part of his appeal.

In shirking the expected norms of movie-making, Tarantino has cultivated a series of surprising box office hits, from Pulp Fiction to Inglourious Basterds.

Some of his trademarks include a thirst for comical amounts of blood, a killer soundtrack and a cast list that features names often unheard of in more than 10 years.

All of these defining features are present in The Hateful Eight, the story of an eclectic band of renegades in post-Civil War America who hole up in a small house during a blizzard and must each determine who to trust and who to kill.

An elaborate “whodunnit”-style mystery, the film spends most of its first hour-and-a-half building tension, which can be somewhat tedious at points. After the intermission, however, all hell breaks loose.

To bring the chaos to life, Tarantino brought a handful of under-appreciated actors back into the spotlight – ageing action hero Kurt Russell and 80s icon Jennifer Jason Leigh to name a couple.

Leigh is an absolute standout as Daisy Domergue, the lone female lead who is a vitriol-spitting, bloody-faced firecracker around whom most of the film is centred.

Speaking to The New Daily, Tarantino said he wasn’t trying to gift Leigh with a comeback when he cast her.

“I didn’t bring Jennifer back to help Jennifer,” he said during a visit to Melbourne to promote the film.

“I brought her back because I thought she was the perfect person to play Daisy. As time has gone on now I care more about my characters.”

(L-R): Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Bruce Dern. Photo: Roadshow
(L-R): Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Bruce Dern. Photo: Roadshow

His casting decisions for the seriously wordy screenplay – which he hopes one day to turn into a stage play – are impeccable.

Samuel L. Jackson is magnetic as a cool-headed bounty hunter (a particular scene involving an incredibly graphic soliloquy is hard to tear your eyes from), while Tim Roth is deliciously creepy as a mysterious traveller and Bruce Dern is in his element as a racist retired general.

Of course, there’s plenty of violence. A scene soon after the intermission elicits a mixture of shocked guffaws and disgusted yelps.

The violence against Leigh’s character can also be hard to stomach and has prompted many to describe the film as “misogynistic”.

Although challenging, it does somewhat add to the lawlessness that pervades the entire film – with no man, woman or animal spared regardless of their innocence or merit.

So too does the constant use of the n-word, another element many viewers may struggle with.

The cinematography in the film is a refreshing break from the bloodshed.
The cinematography in the film is a refreshing break from the bloodshed. Photo: Roadshow

Balancing out the foul language and gruelling physical power play is Tarantino’s usual stunning cinematography (courtesy of Robert Richardson) and a bewitching original score composed by the legendary Ennio Morricone.

These two things, combined with Tarantino’s old-school approach to filmmaking and obvious passion for the project, have transformed The Hateful Eight from an overlong Western movie to an exercise in event cinema.

While it’s not his best effort (not necessarily an insult given the man has won two Oscars), The Hateful Eight‘s only flaw is that it tries too hard, gives too much and is almost too much value for money.

However, if you’ve ever danced along with Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction or lost yourself in the bloody intensity of Inglourious Basterds, grab a strong-stomached friend and a whole lot of snacks and settle in for three hours of Tarantino-isms. You won’t regret it.

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