Hateful Eight: A Long Day’s Journey


Jennifer Jason Leigh-H8-1-680

At the risk of sounding like the little boy in "The
Emperor’s New Clothes," I feel I must blurt out a few truths about Quentin
Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight:
it’s  ridiculously overlong, needlessly
shot in Ultra Panavision 70, and (dare I say it?) downright boring at times.

But as Tarantino has an accommodating patron in Harvey
Weinstein and no one looking over his shoulder, if he chooses to stretch out a
talky mostly sedentary story past the three-hour mark, and shoot it in a 70mm
widescreen format better suited to outdoor epics, so be it. And if he wants the
great Ennio Morricone to compose a score (including an overture), that also
comes to pass. The fact that it’s one of the maestro’s least memorable or compelling
compositions is just a quibble.

I admire Quentin Tarantino for many reasons, not the least
being his devotion to the medium of motion-picture film, but self-indulgence
has always been his Achilles’ heel. This matters not to his blindly faithful
followers, but too often I find myself frustrated that he can’t, or won’t,
discipline himself. (This has nothing to do with arbitrary length: one of my
favorite of his films is Grindhouse,
which runs three hours long in its original form and hasn’t a dull moment.)

Samuel L. Jackson-H8-680

The Hateful Eight
is perversely reminiscent of John Ford’s landmark Western Stagecoach, in which a group of disparate individuals find
themselves spending time together at a way-station. But in Ford’s film the
segment is the centerpiece of the movie, surrounded by action, and here the
feeling is that of a one-set play that just goes on and on.

Not that there aren’t things to enjoy along the way. Samuel
L. Jackson fans will relish his robust performance as Major Marquis Warren, a
Union soldier-turned-bounty hunter who hitches a ride on a stagecoach
containing another man of his profession (Kurt Russell), who’s bringing in his
latest prey (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and planning to collect $10,000 on delivery
at Red Rock. They’re joined by another stranded individual caught in the
blinding snowstorm: an ornery Southerner (Walton Goggins) who claims that he’s
the new sheriff in Red Rock. But their plans may be overturned by one or more
of the people they encounter at a cabin where they stop during the storm.

That’s where we meet the rest of the ensemble: British
hangman Tim Roth, laconic cowboy Michael Madsen, temporary caretaker of the
stagecoach stop Demian Bichir, and former Confederate officer Bruce Dern. Thus
begins a series of teasing encounters and power plays as the isolated
characters sniff each other out. What’s really going on, and which of these men
aren’t who they seem to be? Tarantino hoards the answers until after
intermission (which comes at the 101-minute mark, and not a moment too soon).
Part Two begins with an unexpected piece of narration summarizing what’s taken
place so far and revealing the backstories of several heretofore inscrutable
figures. There are even flashback scenes to fill in other gaps.

that we know who’s who, and what’s truly at stake, the story begins to
coalesce… and we finally get some action and the kind of violence we’ve come
to expect from Tarantino. It’s about time.

Bruce Dern-H8-1-680Cinematographer Robert Richardson takes advantage of the Ultra Panavision
lenses to frame the cabin-bound characters in interesting and dynamic ways.
Every detail of Yohei Taneda ‘s production design is shown off to advantage in
the super-sharp detail of the widescreen frame. But the question remains as to
how much this really adds to the effectiveness of a chamber piece such as this.

actors clearly relish their roles, with Russell in his element and Leigh a
standout as the comically manhandled prisoner (if you can get past the idea of
a woman being treated in such a cartoonishly violent manner), and Channing
Tatum quite effective in a revealing flashback. My main complaint is that Dern
has so little to do.

Tarantino followers will
certainly flock to see what he identifies onscreen as his eighth feature film;
I was as curious as anyone to see what he had in store, and how the movie would
look in 70mm. But I have to classify The
Hateful Eight
as a disappointment on all counts. Any Quentin Tarantino film
is an Event, but this is one I’d just as soon forget


  1. Terry Bigham says:

    Jackson’s character is no doubt named for Charles Marquis Warren, writer-director of such oaters as "Trooper Hook" and the Elvis Presley vehicle "Charro!"

  2. Norm says:

    LM’s cogent and entertaining critique of the "Hateful Eight" is just another example of why people gravitate to his thoughts and writings Intelligent, insightful provoking LM is about as American as it gets. So with another Holiday in full swing All the Best ,continued success, and even though I don’t agree on Star Wars review, Happy Holidays to you and family.

  3. mike schlesinger says:

    I remember at an Academy screening of PULP FICTION a few years ago, Tarantino said it probably wouldn’t be a hit today because it’s so talky. I suspect he made HATEFUL partly to see if that were actually true. I agree with your criticisms, though the performances are so splendid that I was willing to cut it a bit more slack than you do. Also worth noting: There’s an episode of THE REBEL called "Fair Game" (viewable on YouTube) that is the exact same story, right down to two significant plot twists. Never say Tarantino doesn’t steal from the obscure!

  4. Martin Grams says:

    Harvey W. recently announced that his company will be producing money-generating movies rather than Oscar nominated productions for business reasons, going forward, so if Mr. T decides to make lengthy movies, he may be educated in the Hollywood diction of budget, budget, and budget. Tightening good lengthy productions will probably be a blessing.

  5. Michael P Goldenberg says:

    Just saw this with my son in 70 mm at a close to packed house that we drove 50 minutes to reach on Christmas (the closer theater had all but the late show sold out). I guess we folks were all fools, but I wasn’t bored for a second, nor was my son. This film is visually engaging and wryly humorous. Sorry if Mr. Maltin found it to be otherwise, but lame revues are easy to write. Actually thinking about why Tarantino’s movies stay with people long after they walk out of the theater takes time, reflection, and other things that professional reviewers seem not to have the luxury (or ability) to invest. So we get the quick hit, the easy dismissal, the cheap shot. My son and I were talking about the movie all the way home, and we barely scratched the surface of what was going on and how it was going on. Maybe you can quit writing about movies so you can take the time to actually watch some.

    As for "stealing" from other works: I hear some Brit playwright used to do that to good effect. Fellow named Shakespeare. "Originality" in plotting is often overrated.

  6. BIG FAN says:

    I HAD THAT … Really?! reaction when I heard about the movie. The length and basic one location. I am almost never wrong and this movie left me looking at my clock with the seemingly over talky and long running time.

  7. Jeffrey says:

    I saw the film and reached the same conclusion myself. What bothered me was that after three hours of violence and excess, the ending is so pointless.

  8. Ffggt says:

    Come i

  9. @Goldenberg says:

    Lmao. Do you and your son having matching fedoras too?

  10. Jody Morgan says:

    @Michael P. Goldenberg: Feel free to write your own critique that does illustrate why this movie stayed with you and your son so vividly. Failing that, point us in the direction of a review that you think does a fair job of doing so. And this is a sincere suggestion; film criticism works best as a conversation, not a lecture, so I’d welcome differing viewpoints.

  11. NEAL says:

    You had your mind made up before you even saw the goddamn film … You gave "Taxi Driver" a negative review because you were too sensitive. Maybe you should stick to watching butterflies and cum bubbles.

  12. Andrew says:

    Leonard, you took the words right out of my mouth. Bang on with every criticism. Big Tarantino fan, and while I was disappointed with Basterds, Eight is his first film I didn’t like at any level.

  13. D says:

    Success and geek-fan boy adulation has truly inflated his head and especially his ego. Tarantino ‘s artistic approach has developed elephantiasis

  14. Hector says:

    Okay, I’m a Tarantino fan and I admire his film making style. I find that this is one of his best films. No apologies, Tatantino IS Tarantino. Period. Probably you may criticize his excesses, but then, he his genius in his own right. I loved the movie and I fully accept that NOT EVERYBODY can handle Tarantino films. His being doing the same thing for years, and film makers have been trying to imitate him since. Hateful8 is just the product of his refined greatness. Deal with it.

  15. Marty Mascarin says:

    Totally applaud your dismissal of this bloated, indulgent piece of nonsense; yes, one sense how Tarantino is playing with the elements of cinema, but it is overlong, unfunny, and grotesque; I’m becoming quite disenchanted with the director’s self-indulgence.
    I applaud your kind dismissal of the film. My reaction is angrier. One can see Tarantino playing with the trappings of the genre, but it is overlong, unfunny, grotesque, populated by characters we do not believe nor care about.

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