The Hate­ful Eight

THE HATE­FUL EIGHT, com­edy/drama/mystery, rated R; Re­gal Sta­dium 14, Jean Cocteau Cin­ema, Vi­o­let Crown, and Dream­Catcher; 3.5 chiles

Pasatiempo - - PASATIEMPOS -

This, the poster tells us, is the eighth film from Quentin Tarantino. If you’ve seen any of the oth­ers, you know what to be pre­pared for. There will be blood.

Tarantino has a lot of the naughty boy in him, and his urge to shock and gross out is ir­re­press­ible. He does it with im­ages, and he does it with words. The thing is, he is a con­sum­mate film­maker, and his words and his im­ages are burst­ing with imag­i­na­tion, in­ven­tion, and even beauty, al­though you may want to look be­yond the blown-off heads, sev­ered limbs, pro­jec­tile vom­it­ing, re­pel­lent tales, and a more abun­dant use than you will find north of a cheap dive in Mis­sis­sippi of what we choose to call the “n” word.

He does this in the ser­vice of some­thing that com­bines a clas­sic Western with el­e­ments of The Can­ter­bury Tales, a lit­tle draw­ing-room de­tec­tive story, and a slaugh­ter­house. He sets most of it in one room, af­ter an ex­tended open­ing that is con­fined to a stage­coach. All of this is set against the smothering, claus­tro­pho­bic em­brace of a rag­ing, tear­ing bliz­zard. And it’s all shot on 70-mm film with an Ul­tra Panav­i­sion lens, some­thing that hasn’t been done in a very long time.

Tarantino’s hate­ful eighth fea­ture un­folds in chap­ters, and at its cen­ter are a couple of bounty hun­ters bring­ing their scores into the lit­tle Wy­oming town of Red Rock to col­lect their re­wards. Sa­muel L. Jackson is Maj. Mar­quis War­ren, late of the Union Army, who car­ries with him a per­sonal let­ter from Abra­ham Lin­coln. His boun­ties are of the dead per­sua­sion (“dead or alive” are the op­er­a­tive cri­te­ria). When he flags down a stage­coach head­ing for Red Rock, he’s haul­ing a stack of corpses and his horse is dead, so he cadges a ride. The coach is char­tered by a col­league named John Ruth (Kurt Rus­sell), known as “the Hang­man” be­cause he al­ways brings his charges in to be hanged rather than choos­ing the sim­pler ex­pe­di­ent of shoot­ing them. Ruth is hand­cuffed to a nasty piece of work named Daisy Domer­gue, played with ven­omous glee by Jen­nifer Ja­son Leigh, whom he is es­cort­ing to a date with the hang­man in Red Rock. And fill­ing out the stage­coach party are the driver, O.B. Jackson ( James Parks), and an­other hitch­hiker, Chris Man­nix (Wal­ton Gog­gins), who claims to be on his way to be­come the new sher­iff of Red Rock.

As the win­ter storm bears down, they stop at a way sta­tion called Min­nie’s Hab­er­dash­ery, where they take shel­ter and en­counter the rest of the cast of du­bi­ous char­ac­ters. I’ll leave you to meet them there and to un­cover their se­crets and lies. Suf­fice it to say that there is plenty more to un­fold, then an in­ter­mis­sion (a sen­ti­men­tal nod to old-fash­ioned epics), and then much more of the story and the gory to fol­low.

Lead­ing the pack of swag­ger­ing, full-throated per­for­mances is Jackson, who is about as tough and smooth and venge­ful as a man can be. And driv­ing it all is Tarantino’s ter­rific sto­ry­telling, loaded with clever, nasty, ex­u­ber­ant di­a­logue and his love of movies. — Jonathan Richards

Pulp fric­tion: Kurt Rus­sell and Sa­muel L. Jackson

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