Tarantino is a true master of his craft. From his earlier cultural commentaries and realism hangout flicks to his more recent genre specific work, Tarantino knows the craft better than almost anyone else. The Hateful Eight, his aptly named eighth movie, showcases the very best of his work, drawing from his band of merry men, the actors and the subsequent characters already feel familiar. The movie itself utilises the chapter structure Tarantino loves so much and in part the soundtrack even harks back to certain movies of past. It's no wonder then that this film feels so at home in the Tarantino catalogue. It is arguably one of his best films and the choice to resurrect an outdated archaic format from the crypt of cinematic history was truly a work of genius. Despite the 70mm format normally being associated with vast landscapes and huge action scenes, Tarantino combines this celluloid format with the panavision anamorphic lenses, the inside of a wooden shack and 9 fearsome characters. The result is truly spectacular; an intimate, yet claustrophobic tension building suspense thriller. The first act comes to a climax with one of the best scenes of the decade. A brilliantly chosen sweet melodic number plays on the piano while the tension builds to boiling point but when the music stops, who knows what is going to happen?! You'll have to watch to find out because I fear I've already said too much. Words could never do this scene justice, and especially not my words.
The 70mm format also provides beautiful visuals with incredibly rich colours and an abundance of detail across the whole screen, something that is needed given that once our titular characters step foot into Minnie's Haberdashery barely a minute goes by where there aren't multiple people in the background. With the way the film looks, in combination with the fantastic original score by Ennio Morricone you can't help but appreciate the work that Tarantino has put in to pay homage to cinematic history and the movies of yesteryear. This was the first time Morricone has scored a western in over forty years and he does the job Tarantino, and the fans, deserve.
The acting is pretty brilliant with Jennifer Jason Leigh, as one of the Tarantino newcomers, stealing the lime light. She is truly fantastic in her portrayal of Daisy Domergue but Walton Goggins, Tim Roth and Demian Birchir also deserve huge credit. The only caveat I would make is Michael Madsen's performance as the one track pony he seems to be. Samuel L Jackson is also great but also a little too familiar. The actors deserve heaps of praise but it would mean nothing without the masterful script. Hotly tipped to pick up a Best Screenplay nod at The Oscars, this script is surprisingly humorous but wonderfully crafted, with Goggins playing a puppy dog confederate, Roth the quintessential Brit and a reoccurring theme of gruff fellows with a lot of love for their mothers, this screenplay is fantastic. It is also deeply relevant with racial tensions rising in America. Even Tarantino himself didn't know how deep the script would cut and for the first time he actually altered his script, albeit ever so slightly, due to recent events and the surprising relevance of one of the lines in it. It is rumoured that Tarantino fancies his hand at writing plays, if so, he is stamping his mark and telling the world to take him seriously because this would be up there with the very best.
Having said all that I still can't decide where this stands in the hierarchy of his back-catalogue. Pulp Fiction is full of iconic scenes and quotable moments, Kill Bill and Inglorious Bastards are a visually stylistic masterpieces and Django Unchained is a rags to riches kickass tale of heroics. So where does The Hateful Eight fit in? Well, only time will tell, but I'm willing to throw my hat in the ring and say it's one of his best. At nearly three hours long it won't be his most rewatched and I doubt it will be instantaneously appreciated as much as the others but in terms of craftsmanship and artistic merit: it sure is one of his greats.
If you get the chance I urge you to see it in all its glory in its original 70mm format.
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