Tuesday, December 29, 2015

THE HATEFUL EIGHT: My review

This is sort of movie review week since so many people are seeing movies this week.   Today: THE HATEFUL EIGHT.  This will be the only review of a Quentin Tarantino film that ever begins with a Neil Simon reference.

After Simon’s first few plays all were smash hits he wrote THE STAR SPANGLED GIRL. It closed in eight months. Walter Kerr, the NY Times critic wrote this about the show: "Neil Simon, your friendly neighborhood gagman, hasn't had an idea for a play this season, but he's gone ahead and written one anyway."

That’s how I felt about THE HATEFUL EIGHT. And I’m a big fan of Quentin Tarantino (as a filmmaker, not a social commentator). His latest effort had all the signature Tarantino touches – the florid, sometimes hilarious dialogue, over-the-top violence, Samuel L. Jackson, beauty shots, gore, non-linear sequencing, his reliable psycho players, and tense moments, but in the end the story gun was filled with blanks.  It all amounts to a big nothing. 

And it takes almost three hours to tell this shaggy (mangy) dog story. Do directors ever cut anything anymore? This isn’t LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. This is eight galdarned polecats mind-fucking with each other in a claustrophobic Western. An hour-and-a-half would be plenty. This would be a much better movie if it were THE HATEFUL FIVE. We get it!

I kept thinking while watching – the screenplay of THIS leaking out to the world is what drove Tarantino to near madness? THIS was the masterpiece he threatened to abort? I just wish whoever got a hold of it had made some trims.

As always though, the cast was fun. Sam Jackson, wearing his DJANGO make up, delivers Quentin-speak to perfection. Jennifer Jason-Leigh is another one of those actors who can play anything. And Walton Goggins was Boyd Crowder again, so no complaints there. Tim Roth, Kurt Russell, Bruce Dern, Michael Masden – you know what you’re going to get with those sidewinders.

This was a much talkier movie than usual from Mr. T. To tell the truth, it might work better as a play if you could figure how to blow peoples’ heads off in a live theater.

If you’re a casual Tarantino fan this has NETFLIX written all over it. If you’re a major Tarantino fan or gonzo cinebuff I’m curious as to whether you felt he delivered the goods on this one.

For the next one, my recommendation: Concentrate more on making a good movie rather than a cool movie.

Neil Simon followed up THE STAR SPANGLED GIRL with PLAZA SUITE.

PROGRAMMING NOTE:  GREAT BIG RADIO is doing a week-long salute to the music and events of 1976.  Check 'em out here or on iTunes.  At 5:00 PST/8:00 EST I will be on with Howard Hoffman introducing an aircheck of me as Beaver Cleaver on B100 San Diego, recorded in 1976.   You'll see why I was always fired and am no longer in radio.  

23 comments:

slgc said...

I am a MAJOR Tarantino fan, and I felt let down by The Hateful Eight. We saw the 70 mm "roadshow" version, which included an intermission. Virtually everything leading up to the intermission was a yawn, although the post-intermission hour was much more of what one comes to expect from a Tarantino film.

The biggest thing in this film's favor is that this is a particularly weak year for films, so The Hateful Eight might wind up receiving Oscar consideration despite itself. But this was no Kill Bill or Pulp Fiction; it simply wasn't as much fun as most of Tarantino's films.

William said...

Tarantino used to really tell a story, but ever since Jackie Browne all he has done is string together a bunch of cool moments. When was the last time he presented an engaging plot like we got with Reservoir Dogs or Pulp Fiction? Nobody makes better scenes than Tarantino in top-form, it's juts his movies that keep on disappointing

Bill Avena said...

I'm delighted you're reviewing films here but isn't choosing "Star Wars" and this Tarantino what-have-you a kind of trolling, where you know you're going to incite movie geeks? This geek wanted you to review "Inherent Vice" so I could launch my long impassioned response.

Peter said...

Hateful Eight hasn't opened in the UK yet but Tarantino, who I'm also a big fan of, already committed the crime of putting out a movie which had no ideas except crap ones when he made the unwatchably awful Death Proof. It was the first time I got seriously bored watching one of his films. He said it was his take on the slasher genre. It was nothing of the sort. Instead it was a self-indulgent pile of shit with endless pretentious dialogue and a hamfisted and unconvincing attempt by him to appear a feminist filmmaker.

But he redeemed himself with Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained. I'll be there opening weekend to see this at a cinema screening it in 70mm. At least I know it'll be better than Death Proof.

Will you be reviewing Spectre? Would like to know what you think. I loved it and preferred it to Skyfall, but others have really laid into it.

CamrioKid said...

Listening now to GreatBigRadio...thanks for the tip, Ken...great station - especially today (1976). Brings back awesome memories of Junior year in HS.

Dana King said...

I was a fan of early Tarantino (RESERVOIR DOGS, PULP FICIOTNM JACKIE BROWN, TRUE ROMANCE) but what I've seen of him since leads me to believe he's less interested in making good movies than he is in making Quentin Tarantino movies. DJANGO UNCHAINED was a perfect example. About 20 minutes too long, and up till those 20 minutes he had me riveted. Then it was as it he remembered who he was and decided to a bunch of his "trademarks" in it and took the edge right off it for me.

I'll watch this for the cast alone. On Netflix.

Zappa the Unholy said...

I think you all saw a different movie than I did. Loved it!

blinky said...

The Indulgent Eight, now with gratuitous blood vomiting!

First of all, what was the deal with the voice-over out of nowhere that sounded like it was the pizza delivery kid who happened to walk in when the actual VO guy drank poison?

Second: Just because you are using THE ACTUAL LENS they shot all the great westerns with doesn't mean you don't have to have a compelling story.

And third and most importantly: Get an editor. Every word you write is not one of the Ten Commandments carved in stone.

Oh yeah, and what was the 5 minute shot (seriously,
five minutes!) of the wooden Jesus about?

blinky said...

The more I think about it, both Martin Scorsese AND Quentin Tarantino need an editorial intervention.

Craig said...

I think one of the problems with becoming as big and important a film maker as Quentin Tarentino is that no one feels comfortable telling you that you've made a pretty good movie, but it might be an even better one if it was an hour shorter.

That was my take on the movie. I liked it, but man, there sure was a lot of it.

Been listening to GreatBigRadio. Doesn't being back memories of anything, since I wasn't around in 1976. Think my mom and dad would both have been in middle school that year. Still fun to listen to, though.

Astroboy said...

Some fun things in it for sure, but I found myself bored a lot of the time. The only true character moment for me was, after being elbowed by Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh's 'Daisy' stares out the window in pain and so many emotions cross her face in just a few seconds, it almost seems like it was from a different film, where characters actually FEEL something. Another thing, yeah, sure the 70mm shots are impressive looking, but I gotta say, Tarantino should never take a camera outside, he has absolutely no feel for exterior shots, I felt that with Death Trap, (especially in) Django Unchained, and in this film. It was a waste of 70mm film.

wilberfan said...

Yep. What Ken said. A major misfire by one of my favorite directors. As disappointing/infuriating for me as "Inherent Vice" was. (Another favorite director.)

I was trying to explain the fanboy excitement to a non-Tarantino friend of mine a couple of weeks ago ("70mm!"), and she listened patiently. When I finished, she said, "He needs to get over himself."

Yep.

MikeK.Pa. said...

I just caught a handful of THAT GIRL episodes (co-created by your friend in blogosphere, Bill Persky) on Decades TV's binge weekend. In the opening credits THE STAR SPANGLED GIRL can be seen on one of the Broadway marquees Marlo Thomas sashays by.

Peter said...

I saw Daddy's Home today. I wasn't sure what to expect after reading the mixed reviews it's had, but I really enjoyed it. It's not the most original comedy but it's often laugh out loud funny and is a fun fast paced flick. Ken, I think you'd like it, as it's comedy with heart, which you've said before is the kind of comedy you prefer, but it's also got some jokes about recording radio station promos AND there's a MASH reference!

Peter said...

I forgot to add re. Daddy's Home that it's also a reminder of what an absolute goddess Linda Cardellini is.

mmryan314 said...

I watched Django, not really wanting to at the time but for lack of something else-did. It turned out to be my all time favorite movie of the year. Sorry to see this review but I`ll reserve judgement.

Bradley Copper said...

Oh love this movie. really nice review too. Thanks for the sharing.

Mark Fearing said...

I got this feeling from the trailer. I was pretty excited to see the trailer, but it felt almost like someone doing an imitation of a Tarantino film. And I too usually find plenty to enjoy in his films. I'll wait...

Diane D. said...

To name just one example of fraud (a major one): the rating agencies gave triple A ratings to the Mortgage Backed Securities (MDS) when they should have been rated as JUNK. This allowed pension funds and other funds that needed a high degree of safety to invest in them; their by-laws wouldn't have allowed it if they had been rated as junk (which is what they really were). The high ratings also encouraged the flow of global investor funds, affecting the whole world when the inevitable crash came. It was one of the most egregious and blatant frauds ever committed by the financial industry.

Diane D. said...

The above was not intended for this thread but I don't know how to remove it. Sorry.

cadavra said...

Can't recall if I've posted this on another thread, but go to YouTube and watch the "Fair Game" episode of THE REBEL. Same story in 1/7 the time, right down to the female prisoner and the poison.

Erika said...

All I could think after seeing this movie was... Sally Menke, you are missed.

Quentin needs a better editor.

Adrian Fiddy said...

Great as a visual study for film students. Poor for a movie goer expecting a cohesive storey with characters that you can invest your time in.