The film opens with engaging music and a captivating image. Seeing as I’ve never been the most auditorily inclined, I’ll only discuss the latter. The camera lingers (not loiters) on a naturalistic and decrepit crucifix: a decaying Jesus is less on a cross than a frozen tree. It is grotesque and our mind is given time to wonder and wander as to its significance.
“Is this a Jesus in the middle of nowhere?” “A Jesus in wintertime…outdoors…that’s weird” “so what’s going to be our Christ figure today?”
For most of us, of course, it’s just gently entertaining, a preparatory breathing exercise before the meditation.
The camera then drifts along the mountainous snowdrifts to our opening scene with SamJack and Kurt Russell (who always reminds me of a cancerfree Patrick Swayzee). But before we get into that let me remind you of Tarantino’s other openers: Reservoir Dogs -- the breakfast “should I tip” “touched like a virgin” convo. Next, Pulp Fiction’s “Honey boney” “transition of evil from lower class immigrant gas stations to middle class diners.” Then Kill Bill’s “this is me at my most masochistic” “Bill it’s your babANG” And finally, I.Basterds “milk, milk, milk. Such delicious milk. Yummy yummy in my tummy.” “what is in a name, that which we call a rat.” (I don’t mention Jackie Brown or Django because quite frankly these movies can shove off.)
All of the above intros offer a bouquet of zaps to the viewer and they rock. SO, unfortunately for the Hateful 8, we view it in the shadows of its predecessors - does it reach the same height?
In short, no, although we are introduced to some interesting stuffs. Like: “Post civil war bounty hunters: oh that’s dope I want.to.go.to.there. these guys are worth x,y,z amountof $ and you salivate cause it’s almost like video game pleasure and also there’s a metaphor-much blizzard right behind them.
But the interestingness of the characters we meet relies too heavily on the backdrop of who they are, as opposed to how Tarantino tells it. We learn that Samuel L and Kurt Russell are both post-civil war bounty Hunters and that Russell is escorting a racist confederate femme NOT out of any sort of deduction, but because they simply tell us. I would’ve got the same amount of enjoyment from reading 2-4 lines of back-story StarWarsian text than watching this go about.
Life is life. We know life. But there are Moments that sneak in, where the screen saver ball hits the corner, and something awesome naturally - NOTE: not calculatedly or heavy-handedly - emerges, surprises us. Tarantino’s other openings all had this to some degree. Not here.
And there’s this argument I’ve heard: Tarantino is trying to make a modern Western and is following stylistic constraints. So when Russell boinks the girl on the head with his pistol and then the camera zooms in on the girl’s “vengeance-predicting face,” one is supposed to get a “classic” feel, a nostalgic smirk (as opposed to say the earned facial zoom-ins of Kill Bill).
But I don’t. And maybe it’s just because I don’t care for Westerns or it’s the decade I was raised in, but I’m bored and feel almost instantly a disconnect. This movie is meant for people, and many will love it, but judging from the first 15 minutes, I doubt it was meant for me. And that my friends is ok - disappointing but OK.
And that’s one of my favorite redeeming points: I hate calling movies bad, but I will vent my spleen as to the emotions and distastes a film gave me. It’s my attempt at a critical high-road…(how noble)
Awwwww screw it. I want Inglourious Basterds 2, Tarantino, you past your prime, slowly gaining irrelevance, glory days director.
(I still love you T)
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