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Tarantino’s Western Yawnfest
The Hateful Eight

Hateful8969 words 

First things first, here’s the basic outline of the plot. The plot is, in any case, pretty basic. Spoiler warning: the following review reveals plot content that will save you wasting time and money. A bounty hunter named John Ruth (played by Kurt Russell) is on his way to Red Rock by stagecoach and handcuffed to his prisoner Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), part of the Domergue Gang, who will be sentenced to hang there.

On the journey, they pick up another bounty hunter, Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) and later ex-Confederate soldier and apparently soon-to-be sheriff of Red Rock Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins). Due to a blizzard, they hole up at Minnie’s Haberdashery, where they are met by Oswaldo Mowbray (Tim Roth), Bob the Mexican (Demián Bichir), Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), and General Sanford Smithers (Bruce Dern).

Here, Ruth informs Warren that he suspects someone will try to rescue his prisoner and so confiscates the others’ firearms, with the exception of Warren’s, whom he trusts. The rest of the film is concerned with who will attempt to free Daisy and how, with a crudely inserted overly extended flashback to events at Minnie’s Haberdashery before Ruth and co’s arrival.

Let us get the obvious out of the way first: the expected foregrounding of racial “issues” in the film. Any film starring Samuel L. Jackson and produced by the Weinstein brothers is going to push the racial agenda. It is a foregone conclusion. Sure enough, we are treated to the two heroic archetypes in the film being a black former slave and Union army officer, Warren, and the white “enlightened” bounty hunter, John Ruth, who, after a few affected grumblings, is only too happy to help a black guy out. The bad guys, of course, are the ex-Confederates, especially General Sanford Smithers, who loves nothing better than to say how much he “hates niggers” –repeatedly.

There is a vague attempt at giving depth and complexity to these two-dimensional characters, but again it is all race-based. Jackson’s character, Major Marquis Warren, turns out to be a liar, breaking Ruth’s trust in him, who then begins to use the word nigger. The other ex-Confederate Mannix later befriends Warren for some unknown reason. Warren himself shows complete disdain for Whites in general and is given several long anti-White monologues, which I’m sure Jackson, the Weinsteins, and Tarantino relished.

One of these monologues is a gratuitous tale told to Smithers in which he claims to have killed the General’s son after marching him naked in the snow and forcing him to perform fellatio on him, which is all not only told, but shown. It ends with Warren/Jackson laughing long and hard and the audience is meant to laugh with him, as indeed the audience I was with did. Smithers then picks up the gun Warren has laid out for him, which gives Warren the excuse to shoot him so that the audience can cheer that the evil racist dies at the hands of a black man.

Okay then, at least there is a thread of reason for Warren’s tale within the film’s denouement. Yet where the film really falls flat as a film is there are also areas of complete incoherency and about as much consistency between plot development and characterisation as a WWE storyline. For example, the other overt and unashamed racist ex-Confederate, Mannix, strangely ends up on Warren’s side towards the end of the film. The plotline here is that one of the guests at Minnie’s Haberdashery has poisoned the coffee, resulting in the deaths of Ruth and his stagecoach driver O. B. Jackson (James Parks). Warren decides he can trust Mannix, as he was just about to drink the coffee himself, and gives him a gun to cover the other guests. But why would he trust someone who hates blacks, particularly when he has killed a fellow Confederate? Equally, why does Mannix then begin taking orders from a black man? Do we know? Do we care? Why should or can we care when Tarantino has not cared to create three-dimensional characters?

Perhaps this is all part of a live-action cartoon, and these are mere cartoon characters. Certainly, the violence is cartoonish, with Warren’s gun inexplicably becoming supercharged later in the film and suddenly able to blow people’s heads and faces clean off. Yet if this is so, then why are we being served this as high art for the contemporary age? Is it because culture has degenerated to such a level in the mass age that a schlock western is worthy of the highest praise? Is it because the critics are now a clique without taste or knowledge? Or is it just because it’s Tarantino?

The Tarantino characteristics are all there — Tarantino by numbers. Ultraviolence. Check. Pastiches of earlier works in the genre. Check. Lots of swearing and over-the-top dialogue. Check. Intertextuality. Check. Castration scene. Check. In the latter case, we are perhaps surprised that Jackson’s black supremacist character is the one who loses his manhood. As an old pool hustler friend of mine used to say, “Always let ’em win one every now and again; it keeps ’em interested.”

It is, however, getting more and more difficult to keep interested in Hollywood — and I’m not even referring to the propagandistic aspect of the films it churns out. Hollywood’s films have become increasingly tedious and unoriginal. The latest Star Wars is a prime example. The main problem with The Hateful Eight is that the dialogue is largely uninteresting, with no depth to it whatsoever. Jennifer Jason Leigh’s character, Daisy Domergue is particularly annoying, her dialogue vacuous, and seems to be a dull caricature of Robin Weigert’s rather good portrayal of Calamity Jane in Deadwood. In all then, two and three quarter hours is a long time to be bored.


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  1. Scarlet Man
    Posted January 25, 2016 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    The author of this review is 100% correct, it does not make any sense that a-soon-to-be sheriff: Mannix (played by Goggins) would so easily become a docile executor of the arguably horrible character who used to be an assassin of white folks (a war criminal, by today’s definition), who killed a General under his nose, that Mannix admired and respected, who presumably humiliated and abused the general’s son and killed him, too etc. etc. He was the one who spotted the lie about the so-called Lincoln letter, and did not believed Warren for a second. Mannix has a central role in this movie, and he plays a positive, “hero” character, I am surprised that very few people have observed! His character is however partly ruined by the contradictory and uneven roles he is obligated to play: he appears either cartoonishly foolish at times, or clinically observant of the BS that surrounds him and he is the only one that keeps it real. In a normal setting, after Warren would have killed the General, Mannix should have shot him on the spot, at least to incapacitate him or take his guns… so he would not take other lives (including his!). Also, it is very strange and totally implausible that the bounty hunter played by Russell would not have disarmed Warren again, upon their arrival at the “haberdashery”. He takes so much precaution to disarm Warren before he joins the stagecoach ride, and then he lets him have his guns back while the spend a few days and nights in the same crowded space? He is clearly siding or trusting the wrong fellow… He learns later that Warren was pretty much a homicidal maniac, that he lied about the letter, but he is still not concerned that the fellow bounty hunter with a shady past has his guns? He selectively disarms the Joe Gage (Madsen) and goes about his business free of any worries about the clearly menacing “Sam Jackson” character, one of the most dangerous people in the room? The whole story is half-baked and lacks credibility : it would have been so easy to kill bounty hunter played by “Rusell” upon his arrival and free Daisy Domergue, especially he did not expect to find 4 people waiting there to kill him (the Hangman, the Mexican, the cowboy played by Madsen plus a guy hiding in the basement…!). Warren and Mannix enter the room much later, spending some extra time with the Mexican outside to take care of the horses. So basically the burly white bounty hunter enters the room, where there are at least 2 dangerous assassins who could have killed/shot him on the spot. They have killed quickly and un-necessarily many people before, Sweet Dave, another black folk, the women, just to be able to free Daisy and when her captor arrives with her, they prefer to pretend to play nice, and act like they are some travelers caught in the blizzard, for many hours, instead of taking care of business first? It is a ludicrous script, that has no plausibility or cleverness to it. A total shame. A poor, unconvincing set-up. It is also a stretch to believe that the only black man there, which many folks in the room hate or talk down to, using harsh, politically incorrect words has the brteashness and the stupidity to brag about how he allegedly humiliated, sexually assaulted and killed the General’s son, than he actually kills the General and the rest of the folks present, which have their guns, too (Mannix/Goggins and Kurt Rusell’s character) simply have nothing better to do ro other waty to respons but to “debate” – in Tarantino foolishly narrated own words whether this was a crime or Warren acted in self defense? Hey Quentin, who are you kidding ?… There is no way the other -armed- people in the room would have responded to the killing of the General with a “debate”. No way! Cartoonish and infantile scenario.

  2. Lew
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Based on this review, I’m glad I saved my money. I had a choice last night between this and The Big Short. You or Trevor should review The Big Short.

  3. Posted December 30, 2015 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    The perfect part for Jackson would be the title role in yet another Grinch remake. Watch the shiny, bald-headed Jackson snarling in one of his credit card commercials. Watch the original 30 minute Grinch TV special, noting how the cartoonist worked the Grinch’s mouth & teeth during the character’s Jacksonesque rants. Samuel L Jackson IS the Grinch. He was born for it. No digital magic will be needed if he is cast in the part, only a little green face paint…..

  4. DH
    Posted December 28, 2015 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    The hatred of ykw knows no boundaries.

    • Horus
      Posted December 29, 2015 at 7:39 am | Permalink

      We don’t hate the YKW enough but is changing…

  5. Mr Reynard
    Posted December 28, 2015 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    So ?? Like that POS called Star War I’m going to keep my money & avoid seeing that POS as well ??
    Let me know when you are going to discuss a movie style, Garfield… No. Not the President?. I mean the cat Garfield….

  6. cecilhenry
    Posted December 28, 2015 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    Too bad. I really like the only Western movies.

    The genre was true to the old America and proud of it– warts and all.

    I wish there was a good Western out— I was excited but when I saw a black character in the trailer I took a step back and began to wonder if this was another PC film in guise. And it sounds like it is. More poison laced with sugar.

    Whites seriously need to get a media and film industry that produces films in their interest, that tell the truth in narrative and movies. So vital. Its really a question of national security and should be viewed that way.

  7. Peter Quint
    Posted December 28, 2015 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    I can’t believe that Tarantino is still making films; he keeps pushing crap that emasculates and demoralizes white men. Okay, I kinda liked “Reservoir Dogs” and “Kill Bill,” but almost everything he makes is about female and black empowerment. The only contemporary director that is worse is M. Night Shyamalan.

  8. Gordo
    Posted December 28, 2015 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    His films just get worse, not worth watching even though they have been leaked onto the net. As for the fellatio scene I’d imagine that is a fantasy of his.

    Looking forward to Mjolnir III, when is it out?

    • Posted December 29, 2015 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

      Mjolnir III will be out in February. It should have been out now, but had to be postponed due to an interview with Les Brigandes, whom I will interview on Saturday. All the best for the New Year.

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