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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

The Hateful Eight | Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Bruce Dern, Demian Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Channing Tatum | Review

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Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
http://www.lasvegasroundtheclock.com
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for Lasvegasroundtheclock.com
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The Hateful Eight | Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Bruce Dern, Demian Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Channing Tatum | Review

Writer-director Quentin Tarantino’s (Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds) eighth film is a big one, a long one, a violent one.  At 182 minutes, it has an orchestral Overture and a ten-minute Intermission (I haven’t seen one of those since Maria bid farewell to the von Trapp villa in The Sound of Music).  The entire big, long, violent story is shot in 70mm, although most of it takes place in a small, one-room outpost during a blizzard in post-Civil War Wyoming.
 
The titular eight arrive, four at a time via stagecoach, hours apart.  They all have something in common, but it will take a little more than two hours to discover what that is.  In the meantime, believe everything you are told; that will make it so much more surprising later on.
 
“Hangman” John Ruth (Kurt Russell) is a bounty hunter escorting prisoner Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to her own hanging in a town called Red Rock.  The devious Domergue is worth a $10,000 reward.  Along the way, Ruth allows fellow bounty hunter and slight acquaintance Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) and alleged new Red Rock sheriff Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins) to join the handcuffed Ruth-to-Domergue in the stagecoach.  A blizzard’s on the way.

The quarrelsome quartet stops at Minnie’s Haberdashery, a place that’s part restaurant, part lodge, and has nothing to do with hats.  There, they meet four men (Bruce Dern, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, and Demian Bichir) and a tense banter ensues, the kind that occurs when amenities are exchanged while everyone struggles to remain civil.

Only three of these guys are part of the H8; one has yet to be revealed.
In fact, most things have yet to be revealed in Tarantino’s tale, chock-full of back story and bloodshed, deceit, greed, and murder.  When the blood eventually flows, it actually erupts and explodes with vicious ferocity as the cabin’s occupants turn on each other, forming unlikely alliances that can go adversarial in an instant.

Tarantino has a knack for exposing his narrative’s secrets slowly, hinting and teasing with mounting clues during the first ninety minutes before opening a nasty vein of violence post-intermission.

Fact or fiction:  Is a letter from President Lincoln authentic?  Is Mannix really a sheriff?  Is Minnie (the lodge’s proprietor) actually away on a trip?  Is Warren’s oral story about an oral encounter factual?
In Tarantino’s simmering stew of lies and ulterior motives, you can never be sure, even when he allows you to find out.

Amid the brutal banter and hail of conversational darts, Domergue takes a lot of punches to the face to make her shut up.  Those blood-red lips are real, but manage to sing a soothing guitar ballad amid the venom in a brief oasis of peace.  Jennifer Jason Leigh’s chilling portrayal of the baleful Daisy D. is the one you’ll remember.

Impressive and excessive, the Hateful Eight crams humor, horror, and Western onto the same plate and then force feeds the viewer, leaving an aftertaste as bitter as bad coffee on the boil.  Yet we all keep drinking the hot brew of menacing, melancholy, and malicious deeds.

There is much more to discover in Tarantino’s talky tale of tragedy, which could easily be adapted for the stage.

Just be sure to designate a splatter zone.

Channing Tatum co-stars.

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