Thursday, 21 January 2016

Film Review: "The Hateful Eight" (2015).

"Eight strangers. One deadly connection", "No one to trust. Everyone to hate", "Spend the holidays with someone you hate" and "The 8th film by Quentin Tarantino". All these taglines come to form The Hateful Eight. This Western mystery film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. The film centres on eight nefarious trangers who seek refuge from a blizzard, in the dead of a Wyoming, in a stagecoach stopover some time after the American Civil War.

Tarantino announced the film in November 2013, originally as a sequel to Django Unchained (2013). But he quickly realized that Django's character did not fit the story. After the script leaked online in January 2014, Tarantino did not want to make the film. But after a brief live script reading at the United Artists Theater in L.A., Tarantino changed his mind. The cast were stunned and got excited for the film and with Samuel L. Jackson persuading him to do this film, Tarantino accepted. According to Quentin Tarantino his two primary cinematic influences on the film were The Thing (1982) and Reservoir Dogs (1992). Tarantino expressed that film was his metaphoric way of breaking down his feelings about The Thing, i.e. the way he felt watching it for the first time in a movie theater. Before filming commenced, Tarantino showed The Thing to the cast. The film was also inspired by 1960s Western TV shows including Bonanza, The Virginian and The High Chaparral. Tarantino said: "Twice per season, those shows would have an episode where a bunch of outlaws would take the lead characters hostage. They would come to the Ponderosa and hold everybody hostage, or go to Judge Garth's place and take hostages. There would be a guest star like David Carradine, Darren McGavin, Claude Akins, Robert Culp, Charles Bronson, or James Coburn. I don't like that storyline in a modern context, but I love it in a Western, where you would pass halfway through the show to find out if they were good or bad guys, and they all had a past that was revealed. I thought, 'What if I did a movie starring nothing but those characters? No heroes, no Michael Landons. Just a bunch of nefarious guys in a room, all telling backstories that may or may not be true. Trap those guys together in a room with a blizzard outside, give them guns, and see what happens." Principal photography began in December 2014 near Telluride, Colorado. In October 2014, Jennifer Jason Leigh was cast to play Daisy Domergue. In November 2014, it was announced that Channing Tatum was eyeing a major role in the film. Later the same day, The Weinstein Company confirmed the cast in a press release, which would include Samuel L. Jackson, Leigh, Kurt Russell, Tim Roth, Demián Bichir, Walton Goggins, Michael Madsen, and Bruce Dern. Tatum's casting was also confirmed. Later on January 23, 2015, TWC announced an ensemble cast of supporting members, including James Parks, Dana Gourrier, Zoë Bell, Gene Jones, Keith Jefferson, Lee Horsley, Craig Stark, and Belinda Owino.

The Hateful Eight is the eleventh film to be shot in the Ultra Panavision 70 process (65mm film with 1.25x squeeze anamorphic lenses, for an aspect ratio of 2.76:1), an ultra wide aspect ratio that was used on a few movies in the 1950s and 60s, such as Raintree County (1957), Ben-Hur (1959), Mutiny on the Bounty (1962), It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) and The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965). The film to use this extremely rare process was Khartoum (1966) nearly 50 years before. To accomodate Tarantino's filming style, Panavision made a 2000 foot film magazine (double the standard size) for the film's Ultra Panavision 70 cameras. Panavision collaborated with Schneider Optics to design and produce 100 Ultra Panavision projection lenses which would ultimately be needed for the retrofitted roadshow theaters across the USA and Canada. The filmmakers also avoided any use of a digital intermediate; the film was color-timed photochemically by FotoKem, and the dailies were screened in 70mm. At the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con, Tarantino announced that Ennio Morricone would compose the score for the film. Tarantino remarked that it would be the first western scored by Morricone in 40 years since Buddy Goes West (1981). Tarantino edited two versions of the film, one for the roadshow version and the other for general release. The roadshow version runs for 182 minutes, and includes an overture and intermission, while the general release is six minutes shorter and contains alternate takes of some scenes. Tarantino stated that the general release cut was created as he felt that some of the footage he shot for 70mm would not play well on smaller screens. As of 2015, almost all movie theaters worldwide had their film projectors replaced with digital projectors, as traditional film stock was no longer in favor. As a great fan and supporter of celluloid, Tarantino aggressively fought with global distributors for the film to be shown in its original Ultra Panavision 70 presentation. As a result, 50 theaters internationally were retrofitted with anamorphic lensed 70mm analog film projectors to display the film as he intended it to be seen. The film was released on December 25, 2015 as a roadshow presentation in 70mm analog film format theaters exclusively before being widely released in digital theaters on December 30, 2015.

It stars Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demián Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, and Bruce Dern. The cast gave spectacular performances, especially to Jackson, Leigh and Goggins, who all gave the wildest Tarantino performances yet.

A brash, brutal western-mystery film, The Hateful Eight has the same raw energy from Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs (1992) and more than enough rough stuff to traumatize the sensitive. But not only does it have sheer hate, it has brains. Tarantino's palpable enthusiasm, his unapologetic passion for what he's created, reinvigorates this venerable genre and, mayhem aside, makes it involving for longer than you might suspect. Tarantino has made a nihilist western about how human nature will always something to hide and how we all are so full of hate for one another. This is a must-see. Even though this movie is not for everybody, it will be held by the promise of a resolution as outlandish and as the rest of the picture. One of the best films of the year!

Simon says The Hateful Eight receives:

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