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The Hateful Eight

I won’t say much about The Hateful Eight for a number of reasons. Anyone who knows the work of Quentin Tarantino, its writer and director, will not find anything new here, except a new story in which to embed his common themes of revenge, anger, mystery and brutal, brutal punishment. Eight has characteristically well-written dialogue and plot design, and it has its share of surprises, a welcome truth since it is almost three hours long in its most widely released version. Tarantino fans will like it; Tarantino haters will find much to increase their distaste.

The Hateful Eight is a western, set mostly in a cabin, which serves as a wayside station on a road through the vast regions of the Old West. A snowstorm requires eight despicable types to stay together in the cabin over the space of several days. They are all related to one another in ways the viewer discovers as the story advances, and none of them are to be trusted to tell the truth or to be on anyone’s side but their own. Each character is distinctive, though one will see elements in many of them from other Tarantino films, especially Django Unchained and Inglorious Basterds. The performances are solid, but Kurt Russell and Samuel L. Jackson stand out among them, though it is Jennifer Jason Leigh, who was nominated for the Oscar for her portrayal of the disgusting Daisy Domergue.

Tarantino has said himself that he is not sure how many more films he has in him. Eight demonstrates the same high quality of writing, directing, acting and production that his other films have shown. But the nastiness of human nature, when it is almost the only theme one ever displays in one’s films, grows wearisome after awhile.

Drew Trotter

December 30, 2015

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