“The only time black folks are safe is when white folks are disarmed. This letter had the desired effect of disarming white folks.” We won’t tell you what that letter is, except that it is a through line of sorts from beginning to end of The Hateful Eight, a bold and beautiful exploitation movie by Quentin Tarantino. Shortly after the Civil War, a fugitive, two bounty hunters, a sheriff, a hangman, a retired Confederate general, and a mysterious writer are forced, by a Wyoming blizzard, into sharing tight quarters run by a Mexican named Bob. Not everyone is who he says he is. And chicanery lights the fuse of a bomb that explodes in the second half of the movie. Yet The Hateful Eight is a slow-burn funny thriller: Tarantino takes over an hour just to set up his pieces. A literary film, The Hateful Eight doesn’t conform to movie conventions: There is no inciting incident, there are digressions, dialogue goes on and on but is never boring. With fake teeth and an ugly beat up mug, Jennifer Jason Leigh is fearsome; she is the best supporting actress this year. Captured in Super Panavision 70mm by DP Robert Richardson, Tarantino’s vision is often breathtaking. The score by Ennio Morricone is creepy and suspenseful and not overused. The violence is gleefully rendered. Masterfully crafted yet deliberately over-engineered, The Hateful Eight, at times, feels like a Rube Goldberg device. One that works just right.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White