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Tarantino tries to hard to please in "The Hateful Eight'
What's in with Justin
Kurt Russell plays a hangman taking a woman to her execution in The Hateful Eight. - photo by Studio photo

“The Hateful Eight” is Quentin Tarantino’s eighth film and, like the master filmmaker’s previous outing, “Django Unchained,” he’s tackling the spaghetti Western genre once again.

Let’s see here. Witty dialogue? Check. Outrageous humor? Check. Over-the-top violence? Check. Great film. Half-checked.

The movie takes place years after the Civil War and centers on a shady group of characters. Samuel L. Jackson as a bounty hunter on his way to deliver a series of bodies to the town of Red Rock, Wyoming. Along the way, he encounters a hangman named John Ruth (Kurt Russell). Ruth is transporting his own bounty to be hanged, a fugitive named Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh).

The three of them arrive at a haberdashery during a blizzard and together, they are introduced to more shady characters. Tim Roth plays the Red Rock hangman; Michael Madsen is a cowboy, Walton Goggins is a newly appointed sheriff, and Bruce Dern plays a former Confederate general.

Because of the blizzard, the group has no choice but to wait it out and, in the meantime, they find out about each other and why they are on the paths they are on. However, it doesn’t take long before their hidden agendas and ulterior motives become front and center.

Tarantino filmed this movie using 70 mm cameras, and you can immediately recognized the aspect ratio. The shots are gorgeous, including moments that will play very nicely on screens.

As for the rest of the film, I already mentioned that it’s pretty much standard Tarantino. The dialogue is written with panache, and the actors certainly have flairs for showmanship when it comes to the execution. The humor is self-conscious, as is to be expected. And as a filmmaker, Tarantino is able to get away with certain taboos while winking.

The reason I think this is a very good film and not great is mainly that I think Tarantino tried too hard to appease every kind of fan of his films. It is very much dialogue-driven, funny and even incredibly violent on occasion. But it seems like a mishmash that ends up having less impact than it should. The result can be occasionally uneven and as a fan of his, I find it’s a little disappointing.

Even though I don’t think the film works like it wants, I’m still recommending it on the basis of Tarantino’s craft and the performances. “The Hateful Eight” is not his best film. That honor still belongs to “Pulp Fiction.” It’s also not his most entertaining. That honor still belongs to “Django Unchained.” Despite its flaws, it’s also got more than its fair share of brilliance. If only Tarantino could’ve honed his skills to the maximized effect.

Grade: A-

(Rated R for strong, bloody violence; a scene of violent sexual content; language; and some graphic nudity.)

Hall is a syndicated columnist in South Georgia.

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