Review: The Hateful Eight – Blood, Nigger and Samuel L Jackson

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I’m currently having dinner with my family and strangers that I just met. After staring at my phone for an hour or two – scrolling through the news feed from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram a thousands times, I thought it would be a good time to write a quick review for Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, The Hateful Eight.

When I saw the film a while ago, I left the theater happy but exhausted. The film is a bit longer than three hours and I left the theater unsure on why I didn’t love the film. Quentin Tarantino is definitely an amazing film director that has a very distinct voice that’s derived from his love for cinema. However, the longer I thought about this film, the more I realised that this film has quite a few flaws that’s making me dislike the film more and more.

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Some say The Hateful Eight is “Classic Tarantino”. If by classic, they mean self-indulgent, self-satisfied, obnoxiously verbose, convoluted and trying too hard, then they’re right, it’s very classic Tarantino. Halfway through, I was waiting for the film to be over, and of the 9 films of his I’ve seen, I have no reservations about saying this is my least favourite Tarantino film. Of course, not all of it was terrible. Walton Goggins? Spectacular. Jennifer Jason Leigh? So unhinged and amazing. Bruce Dern? Fucking legend. Ennio Morricone’s score? Fantastic. Sound design and effects? On point. Unfortunately the redeeming parts of the film were greatly overshadowed by the flaws of the film.

For one, I could not stand the dialogue in this film. In interviews, Quentin said his films are progressing to be more and more literary. While I applaud this because currently film dialogues  are becoming more simplistic, it’s refreshing to know a director hasn’t forgotten to use soliloquies, consonants, enjambments etc. However, Tarantino is one of those writers who loves the sound of his own voice, and in this case, the sound of his own dialogue and because of this it creates one of the problems that I found from the film: His characters don’t shut up. His dialogue is so overbearing that it actually takes the viewer out of the movie instead of immersing them in the story or its characters. He’s practically mastered the art of belaboring the point. hateful_eight_twc_1-0-0

Don’t even get me started on his overuse of the slur “nigger”, which seemed to be in every goddamn line in this movie. And I don’t have an issue with the word itself, because context is always key. But to use it flippantly,overbearingly, for no reason other than to stylize a film, is to me distasteful. And I don’t think Tarantino should get to hide behind the subgenre of blaxploitation and his chumminess with Samuel L Jackson. It’s like being around someone who uses the word “faggot” in every sentence, only to defend its use by saying “Hey it’s okay, I’m not a bigot. I’ve got a gay friend.” Context is key, but using these slurs is tactless when you’re just using it as window dressing for your movie. If the intention is to establish a setting, or to emphasize a character’s irreverence or sheer bigotry, then one can accomplish that with very little, and sometimes (surprise!) without even resorting to using slurs.

What made me love Tarantino’s past films was his ability to balance everything. For example, if you look at his past film, Reservoir Dogs, I think the biggest difference between the two films is that Reservoir Dogs had at least a bit of suspense and tension in its plot around ferreting out the traitor, and we cared about the characters enough to invest in their fates. In The Hateful Eight, there was so much posturing that it was hard to really take the characters seriously. Oh, and the length! I forgot to mention how ridiculous the length of that movie was. It did not need to be 3 hours long. It reminded me of The Wolf of Wall Street a bit in that they were both drawn out a bit too long.

At the end of the day, I just didn’t find it very entertaining. I was bored thirty minutes into the film and found everything to be very tiresome.


Lin Yang

 

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