Published on January 8th, 2016 | by Dan Nicholls


The Hateful Eight (Roadshow Cut)

Fan favourite Quentin Tarantino is back with The Hateful Eight, a story of a haberdashery in hell. We look at the 70 mm Roadshow cut.

When that verbose old cowpuncher Quentin Tarantino rolls into town trailing a new attraction in his wagon, it’s bound to be a special experience. We all know this by now, of course, as the growing acclaim and box office receipts beginning with 2009’s Inglourious Basterds and continuing on to Django Unchained (2012) show. Despite all the buzz and hoopla about the 70mm release of The Hateful Eight (and all the questions from non-film nerds about what is so special about the format), general audiences might not care enough to react the way the auteur’s most fervent fanboys have towards his latest opus. It doesn’t swing quite as widely for acceptance as Django or Basterds did, and it’s more difficult to immediately embrace. Lovers of Jackie Brown (1997) are going to be quick to dig The Hateful Eight, I believe, but it eventually gives way to a pseudo-Django 2 ending that will either frustrate or titillate you. No matter how it eventually sits with you, this film is nearly the epitome of all QT’s essence to its full extent. That alone makes the film a worthy trip to the theater.

I have seen The Hateful Eight twice and I can safely say that I dug the hell out of it equally on both viewings. Both of my experiences included the Roadshow cut of the film, but only once was it available in glorious 70mm. No self-respecting cinegeek would pass up the chance to see that! Real-ass celluloid ready to breathe and pulse in a place where ones and zeroes more frequently inhabit these days. Film – actual film itself – is a living thing and to see it projected as wide as possible is a beautiful experience. With that being said, I can’t speak for the more common digitally projected, slightly shorter version that you’ll find at any multiplex. But for a pure cinematic viewing experience, it’s worth seeking out any 70mm screening you come near. Even a digital presentation of the Roadshow cut is worth the extra mileage for the bonus content.

The Roadshow cut of the film is approximately 20 minutes longer than the standard theatrical cut. Of those added minutes, most are reserved for the Overture and Intermission (which is 12 minutes in itself). As with any Tarantino work, it isn’t hard to imagine where some trimming could benefit the flow of the film. But part of the joy in watching any of QT’s movies is taking the opportunity to relish in the symphony of dialogue that the man writes. Each and every one of his characters is distinct in his or her appearance, speaking patterns, and mannerisms. It’s a temperamental gathering where no one’s motives are ever fully clear. These eight loaded personalities are powder kegs waiting to go off and they’re extremely enjoyable to observe. The film zooms in on these personalities as they weather a blizzard in Minnie’s Haberdashery and cold-blooded true intent slowly reveals itself.

Amongst the stacked roster of star players in the cast, Samuel L. Jackson and Walton Goggins manage to leave the most lasting impressions. We’ve known for over 20 years that Jackson was simply born to speak Tarantino’s words, but Goggins is the surprising revelation of the film. Fans of TV’s The Shield and Justified have known for quite some time that Goggins is an eclectic and electric actor. He popped up briefly in Django Unchained but he’s given a real chance to steal the spotlight here. Goggins is a delight to watch, and I hope his prominence here only serves to raise his profile higher.

There isn’t much to complain about when it comes the casting decisions here; Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, Demian Bachir, and Kurt Russell are all expertly chosen for their respective roles. And who could go without mentioning Jennifer Jason Leigh? Her Daisy Domergue drives the action at all times, even when it would appear like you’ve got her under your thumb. Daisy remains the smartest person in the room even under the nastiest of circumstances, and you eventually realize there are no limits to her depravity.

With The Hateful Eight, Tarantino doesn’t give us anyone to cheer for. There’s no Bride, slashing and gashing her way to a vengeance we still want to see her achieve, even after all the bloodshed she’s caused. The Hateful Eight finds Tarantino throwing the dice and assigning random and repulsive attributes to his characters. Even the one guy we think might not be a horrible human eventually reveals his malevolent side in a jaw dropping monologue replete with flashbacks that will scar your retinas while his words make your ears bleed. As audience members, we’re not hoping that anyone makes it out of this ugly gathering alive. We’re all just waiting to see which one of these sons of bitches gets to hell the fastest.

When the film thinks it’s at its most clever, that’s when it disappoints. The revelation of whose loyalties lay with who and what the real plot is isn’t all that exciting or unique. It ensures that every character has a dog in the eventual fight that’s built up, but it feels a bit lacking on a satisfactory level. Mystery, as it turns out, isn’t exactly Tarantino’s strongest suit. But when his characters let loose and drop all pretensions, it’s incendiary.

Living cinematic legend Ennio Morricone provides a score that – particularly in the film’s opening moments – sets an underlying tone of dread that belies some of the more humorous sections of character interactions. The soundtrack has been on constant rotation in my headphones since first seeing the film. It isn’t hard to picture the master collecting some Academy Award love for his work in a couple months.

Allegations of misogyny have been levied against the film since its release, and those claims aren’t completely unfounded. The Hateful Eight seems to position women in place of the Nazis and slave owners that Tarantino’s torn to shred in his past two films. But I don’t believe it’s as cut and dry as that, and it’s important to remember that the woman who receives the highest amount of scorn on screen has sort of earned her punishments for being just as horrible as everyone else. In that sense, QT is just keeping the field as even-keeled as possible for all his players. The man also famously indulges in usage of the N-word whenever he likes. I’m about convinced that Tarantino is as much a misogynist as he is a racist. Which is to say, not at all. He’s presenting these characters in this setting and letting them behave unpredictably, which all makes for great drama. He’s maybe not reaching for his goals in a way that’s particularly pleasant to endure, but he is aiming for some sort of legitimacy with his characters’ behaviors.

The spectrum is wide in regards to the range of reactions The Hateful Eight is going to elicit. His eighth feature, at once his most relaxed, yet urgent work to date, and the film is essential viewing for any film lover. Some may be turned off by the long wait to get to any bloodshed, and some may be turned off by every last frame of the film. But The Hateful Eight feels almost something like vintage Tarantino. It’s a slow burn in the sense that Reservoir Dogs also took its time doling out information about its characters and their motives. When everyone is so rushed and half-watching media with one eye busy on something else, being forced to be a little patient isn’t a bad thing at all. As a wholly immersive cinematic experience, The Hateful Eight is highly recommended.

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is a Vancouver-based, lifelong movie geek who's been a projectionist, critic, director, (accidental) actor, and writer in the industry since E.T. phoned home. @dannicholls

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