Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Hateful Eight (Rhoades)

Front Row at the Movies

“The Hateful Eight” Populated by Villains
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

You might think Quentin Tarantino’s not very good at math, in that his new movie “The Hateful Eight” is divided into six chapters. But never fear, this bloodthirsty western is populated by eight (at least) bad guys and gals.
Each of the Hateful Eight have colorful handles:  The Bounty Hunter, The Hangman, The Sheriff, The Confederate, The Cow Puncher, The Mexican, The Little Man, and The Prisoner. Tags that happen to describe their roles in this drama.

The familiar faces behind these characters are (respectively) Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Walton Goggins, Bruce Dern, Michael Madsen, Demián Bichir, Tim Roth, and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Most of them have appeared in previous Tarantino films.

You can find “The Hateful Eight” shooting-‘em-up at Tropic Cinema.

Back before Quentin Tarantino became a famous director, he worked as a clerk in a video store, apparently watching more B-movies than renting them out. His films often echo those old videos, resonating with psychotronic themes and populated by once-famous faces.

“Psychotronic Movies” are defined as videos “traditionally ignored or ridiculed by mainstream critics at the time of their release: horror, exploitation, action, science fiction, and movies that used to play in drive-ins or inner city grindhouses.”

Tarantino took psychotronics mainstream. You see this reflected in his films “Pulp Fiction,” “Jackie Brown,” “Django Unchained,” his “Death Proof” segment of “Grindhouse” -- and now “The Hateful Eight.”

But the director credits old television programs -- like “Bonanza,” “The High Chaparral, and “The Virginian” -- for this latest film.

“Twice per season, those shows would have an episode where a bunch of outlaws would take the lead characters hostage,” he recalls. “They would come to the Ponderosa and hold everybody hostage, or go to Judge Garth’s place … and take hostages.”

That’s pretty much the plot of “The Hateful Eight.” A bounty hunter with a female prisoner, a second bounty hunter with three dead bodies, and a new sheriff are on their way to Red Rock, but a blizzard forces them to hold up in a stagecoach stop with a bunch of other miscreants. Who are the hostages and who are captors?

“I don’t like that storyline in a modern context,” says Tarantino, “but I love it in a Western, where you would pass halfway through the show to find out if they were good or bad guys, and they all had a past that was revealed. I thought, ‘What if I did a movie starring nothing but those characters? No heroes, no Michael Landons. Just a bunch of nefarious guys in a room, all telling backstories that may or may not be true. Trap those guys together in a room with a blizzard outside, give them guns, and see what happens.’”

Don’t expect any heroes to be left standing.

As Quentin Tarantino says, “I normally like my villains no matter how bad they are. I see their point of view."

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