Saturday, January 02, 2016

"The Hateful Eight" (2015)

Someday when the Critical Establishment stops crying into their beers about The Death of Film Criticism....they are gonna wake up and realize that improbably enough Quentin Tarantino was and is, Samuel L. Jackson's very Muse. Because somehow Jackson seems incapable of turning in a bad performance in any capacity in a Tarantino even if it's a featured cameo or a voice over....the wonders just issue from the Man. Granted at the end of the day, Tarantino is what they used to call "An Actor's Director", ergo an auteur with the dual gift for casting the right artists and then extracting their very best on film. And Tarantino can do that miracle with established players like Jackson, aging icons like Bruce Dern, he even has a special talent for rescuing the once celebrated from obscurity (John Travolta, Jennifer Jason Leigh)...hell the man came within an ace of making Stunt Woman Zoe Bell into a legit movie star....and he may yet push her into the ranks yet! AND THAT is my experience with "The Hateful Eight" in a nutshell it's a superbly cast carefully paced cinema experience lovingly shot on 70mm panavision...its currently playing in a "RoadShow" capacity with an intermission and no previews at the Somerville Theatre, SEEK OUT that configuration for the maximum enjoyment. This is a bracing return to form, a real performance driven western action-drama and real step up after the plateau experience of "The Inglorious Bastards" & "Django Unchained"....both were good films but neither broke any creative grounds at least as far as Tarantino is concerned as an artist. There is a lot of palaver out there about the too free use of "The N Word" especially in this film and in "Django Unchained" but in both cases Tarantino is revisiting racist cultures and doesn't ask us to forgive or overlook any of their particular sins....physical or rhetorical. Which is funny to me in a grim way because "The Hateful Eight" seems mired in female-abuse Jennifer Jason Leigh is repeatedly beaten thrown out of stage coaches, shot at, roughed up, verbally harangued and otherwise traumatized....but then 1878 was a sexist ugly time and Tarantino is not celebrating that aspect of the culture, he seems fairly horrified by it quite frankly. My other big takeaway is the really explicit amount of gore, in truth Tarantino has never been a gore hound (despite an undeserved reputation in this area). Nevertheless this time where the entire cast is trapped in a Wyoming Road House during a blizzard the sheer confines literally compel a classically Hershel Gordon Lewisian approach to gunshot trauma. Score one for Tarantino for figuring out that unpleasant little fact. In short I loved it, I loved the presentation the whole seemingly languid exercise, Tarantino is a friend to cinema my only complaint is that he seems hell bent on composing bookends to vanished genres ("Epic Blacksploitation, "Panavision Color Westerns", "ShitHouse Americans Kicking Ass War Movies")...I'm starting to wish he'd try to work his way back to a contemporary context. On the other hand....if he has more like "The Hateful Eight" up his sleeve, then Quentin stay in the past, don't come back take a second look at Biker Movies and Beach Party Musicals!! Have At It!

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