movie: The Hateful Eight (2015)

hateful eight

In a word: not Tarantino’s best. I felt pretty quickly bombarded with heavy-handed racial slurs (Tarantino loves the n-word) and racial conflict – not that this stuff is not rich source material for drama and social critique, but that’s not really what’s going on here. No, this felt gratuitous. As in, tapping straight in to such grotesque subjects is an easy and direct route to the kind of shock value that Tarantino is known for. I prefer when he writes it into the script, though, rather than access it via well-established societal pain pathways.

Husband’s less convoluted criticism was that this movie never got exciting in the way that Tarantino’s best work does. There were few-to-none of those gasp-and-jump moments. The gore was slightly less well done, more cartoonish, and less prodigious than his best (I’m remembering a few key scenes from Pulp Fiction). Almost all the action takes place in closed-room settings, which as we know can be highly effective, but here contributed to a feeling Husband and I shared, that not much happened. And finally, the classic Tarantino dialog – wordy and long-winded, sarcastic and highly explicative – felt a little timeworn here. I can’t account for this feeling: am I just getting sick of hearing this kind of hot air? (I think not, as the Tarantino classics still appeal, even after many viewings.) I suspect this script is simply less well-written.

Graphic violence, rampant obscenity, and discomfiting racism are among Tarantino’s best-known themes. And I’m no Puritan when it comes to that stuff (for example, I loved Django Unchained). But here – and with the added misogyny, which he is not so well-known for – it felt like he was merely wielding those tools (violence, racism, etc.) for their own inherent powers to harm, rather than contributing the wisdom and humor in interpretation that I come for.

Rating: 5 blood spatters.

3 Responses

  1. I just saw this, and I agree that it wasn’t his best. I wasn’t bored at any point, but neither was I excited (agreeing with your husband). I want to see it again, though, to see if I can get a better idea of what he was after.

    I do wonder if, on some level, it was technical challenge to himself: to make a three-hour movie with almost no action, no likable characters, no stakes for the viewer, almost all in enclosed spaces.

    Also, as an attempt at a classical Agatha Christie-type mystery, it was not a real success.

    • Anthony, I knew I could count on you & was waiting for your response. I’m relieved you found vaguely the same thing we did. You’ve got a good point, that it would be interesting to know how Tarantino saw this challenge. How much that changes the viewer’s perception or experience or opinion will vary; but it would inform it in some way. You’ve also got a good point about the Christie idea. Different strengths.

      I don’t need to see this one again, but I’d love to know what you think on a second viewing.

  2. […] but no action, and has no sympathetic characters. And he pulls it off, but (as was pointed out at Pages of Julia), it lacks the level of thrill of some of Tarantino’s other movies. I can remember camera […]

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