Movie Review:  The Hateful Eight – A Great Silence From a Big Mouth



Remember when John Travolta got killed in “Pulp Fiction” and your inner voice protested, “He can’t die yet; it’s too early in the movie?”  Well, something similar happens in “The Hateful Eight,”   more than once in fact.  When writer/director Quentin Tarantino flips back the clock to give you additional  information concerning a previously enacted scene, you might think Tarantino is back in his golden saddle. Or you might feel he is just cannibalizing himself because he hasn’t any new ideas.   Whatever you think, you are probably just a little bit of wrong and a little bit of right, and it probably doesn’t matter anyway.  “The Hateful Eight” is the floundering director’s best picture since “Jackie Brown,” but that doesn’t mean I like it.  I did, however, watch it twice and wasn’t for a second bored.


The first chapter, with its empty, snow white vistas,  put me immediately in mind of “The  Great Silence,” but Tarantino is no Corbucci, and none of his bounty hunters are mute.  Quite to the contrary, most of them, like their creator, have big mouths.  And it is precisely those big mouths that bloat what might have been a tense hour-long Western serial on television in the seventies into a secular passion play that bumps along for nearly three hours.  It is also those big mouths and their ridiculous drivel that  fill those three hours with such unlikely entertainment.


Tarantino is one of those guys who, in a sane world, would never be allowed near a movie set.  His writing and directing is so bad that if he tried to be good, he would be hopelessly mediocre. So he lets himself go wild, stealing every idea he can and screwing them up so badly it is as if reality itself  gets twisted in the wind. All this crap comes swirling out of him like a nude astronaut with diarrhea in zero gravity.  He puts on quite a show.   But it is a hateful show.  I felt sick every time Kurt Russell shoved his fist into Jennifer Jason Leigh’s broken face.  This is not the sort of wacky sadism as shocked the world  when James Cagney polished Jean Harlow’s face with a grapefruit in William Wellman’s “The Public Enemy.”  We are not watching a slick director risking a sly transgression of the censor’s rulebook, but a misanthropic pervert acting out his most obscene fantasies. If you close your eyes during such scenes you can almost see the goop dribbling from the director’s hippopotamus jaw in the style of a frame from an EC comic.


“The Hateful Eight” is a maelstrom of bad writing and even worse acting. It is the shit and puke of a pre-adolescent delinquent who thinks he is writing “The Iceman Cometh.”  But I think there might be a little touch of that in all of us, which explains why we find it so god damned entertaining.  Tarantino provides a kind of pornographic geography for the inner racist, the inner misogynist, the inner homophobe, that haunts the collective memory of a genocidal empire that is too deep in denial to ever repent and change its ways.


6 thoughts on “Movie Review:  The Hateful Eight – A Great Silence From a Big Mouth

  1. Even though I think it’s commendable for Mr. T. to bring back the 70mm experience and with an Ennio Morricone score and my reinterest in Kurt Russell, it does have a lot of Samuel Jackson in it and since my job every day is to hang around with adolescents, I don’t feel compelled to rush to the cinema. I’m more curious about Russell’s other western/horror film “Bone Tomahawk” — I wonder if it’s any good. Many bloggers seem to like it.


    1. bone tomahawk was so bad i took it off after half an hour.and kurt russell is so unrecognizable in hateful eight that i wouldnt rush to see him in hateful eight. besides, he was so sickening that seeing it might kill your affection for him. furthermore, what’s the point of at looks like shooting in 70mm if most of the film takes place in what could have been a set from the maverick tv show? also, why shoot on film at all if its all transferred to digital for post?


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