News this week that three of the UK's main cinema chains will not be showing the Reservoir Dogs director's latest film 'due to projection disputes with the distributors' will mean that many Tarantino fans may be forced to watch The Hateful Eight online instead: unfortunate news for its UK box office figures. We'd recommend, though, that you catch Tarantino's latest at the cinema if you can (and in 70mm) as this vintage, high-octane blood bath needs to be seen – and heard – in the setting for which it was made.
Set in Wyoming just after the civil war, the film opens with vast shots of snow-swept landscapes, as a cadaver-loaded carriage trundles along through dense forest to a glorious, mounting overture. Tarantino's film combines the theatre of the old fashioned Western with modern political self-awareness, all delivered with unapologetic brutality by the master of on-screen violence.
Typically macabre with political bite
The story follows a hardened bounty hunter (Russell) and his foul-mouthed prisoner Daisy (Jennifer Jason Leigh) as they are slowly making their way to "Red Rock" for the latter's trial. On the way, they run into another Bounty Hunter, Warren, played by a typically loquacious Samuel L. Jackson. These opening sequences, like the carriage, trundle along with mounting tension, and the interactions become more than anything a rally of words as each passengers size one another up, attempting to assert their own authority in these isolated mountains.
When they meet the self-professed "new sheriff of Red Rock", a southerner with strong opinions played with garrulous energy by Walton Goggins, their journey becomes rife with danger.
Tarantino's typical dark wit peppers the film, as the group arrive at "Minnie's" – inexplicably named – "Haberdashery", they soon meet a host of other untrustworthy strangers. When the group find themselves hemmed in by the blizzard, they, by now making up the titular "Hateful Eight" – come to intimate blows, slowly realising that not all will make it out alive.
Comic touch meets unprecedented violence – Tarantino's on home turf
The sense of macabre grows as each chapter becomes faster-paced and bloodier: like a conductor Tarantino combines Morricone's emotional score with effusive verbal back-and-forth between his characters, as each grow increasingly suspicious of double-cross. At one point Tarantino himself takes to the stage with a slightly out-of-kilter narration that manages somehow to enhance the suspense. This is territory he owns, and he wants us to know it.
After his last two films, Django Unchained and Inglourious Basterds, it seems Tarantino is choosing to address more overtly political themes, and here there's an uncomfortable degree of casual racism, sexism and sexual violence. There's the typically tactility and messiness of Tarantino's work here reaches unprecedented degrees of grisliness.
Kurt Russell is nuanced as the bounty hunter with heart, and Jackson reprises his role as pitiless avenger from the days of Pulp Fiction. Yet there's much novelty too: though perhaps the most violent, it's also one of the funniest Tarantino films, from Tim Roth's Coen-esque performance to an unending supply of quips and one-liners.
Does Ennio Morricone's score deserve the Oscar?
Yet it's the music that lingers long after the credits roll. The Hateful Eight score was composed by legend of the Spaghetti Western, Ennio Morricone (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly): the first original score ever to be commissioned by Tarantino, and the first that Morricone has written in over forty years. And original it certainly is: from loud overtures to tinkling piano renditions of 'Silent Night' and saloon door twangs, it often complements the film's more shocking scenes of violence: Morricone deftly providing the calm before the storm.
Whether this is enough to follow through on the Oscar buzz surrounded The Hateful Eight remains to be seen, but for fans of Tarantino, Morricone and classics of Western Cinema, it's well worth keeping an eye on. If you do anything this weekend, then, watch The Hateful Eight, and revel in the latest from the master of violence – not one for the faint-hearted.
UK release date 8 January.
|What||The Hateful Eight film review|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
08 Jan 16 – 29 Feb 16, 12:00 PM – 12:00 AM
|Price||£ determined by cinema|
|Website||Click here to go to the Hateful Eight official film website.|