My new year’s resolution for 2016 was to visit the cinema once a month, yesterday I went to The Island Cinema in St Annes On The Sea for my 3rd visit in as many weeks.
So Quentin, watcha got for us?
A movie, eh? What kind of movie?
Ooh, a western. Any good?
Of course it’s good, it’s a Quentin Tarantino movie.
Actually, it’s not that good. I mean it’s ok but this is a guy who’s back catalogue revitalised the movie industry with classics such as Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill and of course Pulp Fiction. Django Unchained was uncomfortable but ultimately essential viewing and even Inglorious Basterds was a great watch. It’s safe to say that my experience of the man’s movies to date left me perfectly satiated but The Hateful Eight is served like a big fat Christmas pudding that you don’t really have room for yet you masticate your way through it out of politeness before flopping ungracefully in front of the telly and dozing your way through the Queen’s speech.
I mean, it’s over 3 hours long. What do you expect from QT? Great dialogue, a cache of great tunes to add to your BBC Playlister, scintillating characters, ace acting and more twists than a box set of Tales Of The Unexpected.
First off we have Samuel L Jackson (again) and Michael Madsen (again). Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh and a host of other actors – and occasionally actresses – become the rather hateful 14 or so who make up the ensemble. The action is shot almost entirely in the wooden shack that is Minnie’s Haberdashery – a late 19th Century truck stop of sorts where the coffee’s hot and the stew is good. The outdoor shots are set in the snowy wilderness of Wyoming and compete with The Revenant for next year’s Christmas card vistas.
True to QT form there is the expected quota of gore, testicles being shot (a nod to IG) and a touch of nudity. But 3 hours later you leave the cinema thinking there could have been so much more in so much less. None of the cache of characters really develops into anything other than a cardboard cut-out of any number of Tarantino characters we’ve seen already through his back catalogue and maybe that’s the point. We’re so familiar with them we know what they do and why they do it.
In a recent interview in Sight And Sound Magazine, Tarantino argued how the genre of Westerns through the decades reflected the prevailing zeitgeist of American political and social thinking. If The Hateful Eight continues this trend and Tarantino’s brushes with American law enforcement departments over the past 12 months are anything to go by, then this post Civil War picture is a depiction of how the attitudes of post Civil War America are still prevalent in their country today although it is debatable whether Tarantino is doing a better job than Donald Trump of depicting the latter day bigoted American.
This, as you may have gathered is the least loved of Tarantino’s films, by me anyway. The guy is an exceptional talent but this film might be an indication that either his skills are waning or his imagination has been sucked dry. I’ll still await his next production with heightened anticipation but he lost a little of his gloss here. What’s next? Something better, I hope.