Whiskey Says: Whiskey Goes to the Movies entries are supposed to be a single, pithy paragraph. But 3-plus hours of Tarantino? Yeah, no.
The Hateful Eight is the bastard child of Agatha Christie and Sam Peckinpah. The 70mm Roadshow version is like watching Quentin Tarantino masturbate to the idea of Agatha Christie and Sam Peckinpah in a three-way with Lawrence of Arabia. But I mean that all in a mostly positive way. If you’re a Tarantino aficionado, you’ll probably walk out of The Hateful Eight placing the film in the top-half of the QT pantheon. If you’re not a fan, you’ll probably walk out wondering what kind of sick fuck would enjoy such a thing. Well, Whiskey Leavins is just that kind of sick fuck. When it comes to Tarantino films, at least.
The strongest suit of the film is its casting. Every performance, with one exception, is top-drawer stuff. Tim Roth puts in a more-than-convincing performance as Christoph Waltz playing a cheeky Englishman in a Tarantino western. Michael Madsen is at his absolute Michael Madsen-iest. Bruce Dern is every bit as hateful as he’s supposed to be. And, of course the four MAIN, main characters carry the film: Tarantino mainstay, Samuel L. Jackson, finally getting top billing as Civil War veteran Major Marquis Warren goes motherfucking Poirot on their ass. Kurt Russell as an impressively mustachioed bounty hunter, John Ruth, also called The Hangman. Jennifer Jason Leigh as the increasingly gore-spattered, and exceedingly hateful bounty, Daisy Domergue. And a Whiskey all-time favorite as Boyd Crowder in Justified, Walton Goggins cements his place as a Tarantino player as Chris Mannix who may or may not be a sheriff. Demian Bichir, James Parks, Zoe Bell and others all pull their weight. The only bit of casting I thought to be a little off was Channing Tatum – can’t really tell you why without a bit of spoilering. Just saying, I don’t think he pulled off being nearly hateful enough. The only chapter that was truly disappointing was the one his character was supposed to carry.
And there’s the thing. There are more than eight characters who move in and out of the cabin known as Minnie’s Haberdashery in this film and we are left to puzzle out which are THE hateful eight. Notably, our allegiances shift and bend throughout the film. Each character by turns is sympathetic and completely despicable. Or, hateful rather. Every character you start to root for, five minutes later, you hope will die. Painfully. Odds are good they will.
Other than the Tatum-tainted chapter, the pacing of the film is Tarantino at the peak of his powers. The characters are introduced slowly, the tension leisurely but inexorably built, through Tarantino-esque dialogue. Not a single gun will be fired in anger for a long, long while. But once the violence begins? Well, by the end of the film it looks like a dozen kettles full of borscht have been exploded throughout the interior of Minnie’s Haberdashery.
Again, if you have an aversion to blood-spatter, spare yourself the discomfort. If, however, Tarantino films are your thing, I give it:
4 out of 5 Manhattans
The Whiskey Leavins Ranking of the QT Pantheon:
1. Pulp Fiction
2. Kill Bill I & II
3. Inglourious Basterds
4. The Hateful Eight
5. Reservoir Dogs
6. Django Unchained
7. Jackie Brown
8. Death Proof