The Hateful Eight (2015)

(On Cable TV, November 2016) As a confirmed Quentin Tarantino fan, I was expecting The Hateful Eight with a bit of cinephile glee, curious to see what he had in mind. After all, each of his movie is usually an event, doing thing with cinema that other filmmakers usually don’t try. His newest offering makes the unusual bet to transform itself in practically a theatre piece by putting eight characters in a snowbound lodge. The suspense is notable, as most of these characters have backstories and plenty of secrets to reveal in the film’s lengthy running time. By the end, the film becomes graphically violent as tensions erupt in all-out shootouts, poisoning and hanging. The dialogues are good and the performances terrific (with particular applause for Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Goggins and Jennifer Jason Leigh), with some assured direction from Tarantino. And yet, and yet… The Hateful Eight doesn’t quite amount to something as good as it could have been. For all of the dialogue’s deliciousness, the film does feel overlong and far too busy for its own good. As the complex plotting and counterplotting accumulates, it’s easy to disengage from the experience of the film. The conclusion is also particularly grim, which doesn’t help. As a result, it feels less interesting than (say) Django Unchained and not quite as meaningful either. Still, even a lesser Tarantino film can feel far more fascinating than other films by more pedestrian authors, so let’s count our blessings that the film exists and wait for Tarantino to come up with something new.

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