The Hateful Eight

This is one of the first Tarantino films I have liked in a very long time. I’m not generally a fan, and I went to see this not because I really wanted to but because I felt I ought to, I found it very entertaining, though not without flaws. With the exception of the odd snowy landscape, this plays more like a chamber piece, and I could really imagine going to the theatre to see it performed by an ensemble or repertory cast. And this is great as – although perhaps a tad too long – the first half sets everything up and had pulled me in entirely by the time the ‘intermission’ came around (although my screening didn’t actually pause and I wish it had, as it would have underlined the theatricality). And because the setting is locked in to more or less one location, the storytelling really comes to the fore – not just the overall story, which gradually uncovers the mystery of who these people are and why they are there, but also the couple of other stories that people tell each other – a snowy walk, a letter, for example.

There are some good performances too: Samuel L Jackson, Walton Goggins, Tim Roth’s layered character, and above all Kurt Russell actually made me forget I was watching a Tarantino film, which can only be a good thing.

I totally get that if I’m going to see a QT film then I should expect splatter violence, and this is no exception. But on this occasion, I managed to get beyond this – usually I can’t. It still does seem a little excessive though. To the point of immaturity – hasn’t he got over that yet? He’s also a provocateur; I think he is now deliberately courting controversy with his use of racist language, and for me there’s still an impasse between how he views the use of this language and how it is received by portions of his audience.

I’m also still considering the treatment of women in this film. Yes, it is made clear that Daisy’s crimes are no different than if a man had committed them, and therefore her treatment should be exactly the same. But the violence doled out to her seems worse because it is so sudden, it’s with actual male force rather than a gun or other implement, and she’s in chains all the time it is being administered. Add into this the way the other three female characters are treated (yep, just three, yet a dozen men) and I’m not convinced that this isn’t actually an issue.

I was disappointed that Tarantino saw the need to insert himself into the narrative just when I was looking forward to seeing how things played out. It was entirely unnecessary, and took me out of the film.

But overall, a very pleasant surprise.

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