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The Hateful Eight (18)

Tarantino on top form in film without heroes

Samuel L JacksonQuentin Tarantino is a man who, when it comes to making movies, has rarely put a foot wrong. Even his least regarded work has more positives than the works of other popular filmmakers. He is a man who is often copied, but never equalled and certainly never bettered at what he does.

And what he does is pay attention to story, to characters and to dialogue, which is a rare thing in this CGI-infested, explosion, spectacle-over-story, age.

Assembling a talented cast, including gruff, silver-haired Kurt Russell, frequent Tarantino star Samuel L. Jackson (pictured), crazy and criminally underrated Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, and even Channing Tatum, The Hateful Eight offers each character a moment to shine and the audience can never be sure who is on who’s side, or even who will make it ’til the end.

The story is seemingly simple: bounty hunter John Ruth (Russell) is transporting his captive, Daisy Domergue (Jason Leigh) to Red Rock to collect the $10,000 price on her head. Due to a blizzard they end up spending the night in Millie’s Haberdashery, a remote cabin, together with several men who may not be who they claim to be.

The film starts out slow, showcasing some beautiful, snowy, cinematography and Ennio Morricone’s evocative score, and continues this way up until the interval, after which all hell breaks loose. The restraint of the first act gives way to unflinching violence and bloodshed as all secrets are revealed.

Performances are universally excellent, with Jackson being the standout. But great kudos must go to Leigh who is possibly the only actress unconcerned enough with her looks to spend the whole film covered in bruises, sporting horrible teeth, and covered in various  disgusting substances. She has never been afraid to be ugly or to take on edgier roles.

No doubt the bleakest of Tarantino’s works, there is no real hero to survive the story, as all characters are indeed ‘hateful’. Every one of them deserves to die. If there is any criticism to be made here it is that the denouement leaves the viewer with a slightly empty feeling. Still, this is Quentin Tarantino at the top of his game, and let’s hope he stays there.

General release: 3 hours 7 mins (10 mins intermission)

Rating: ***** 

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