Friday, July 26, 2019

Top 56 Things I Love About The Hateful Eight (that no one talks about)

I’m fresh off a first viewing of Quentin Tarantino’s masterful new film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and while I wait until I can marvel at that film again, I thought it’d be fun to highlight a few things I love about Tarantino’s previous film, The Hateful Eight.

There are three versions of this film: The Roadshow Version that Tarantino displayed in 70mm in select cinemas, the somewhat shorter Standard Cut that was widely released in theaters and on Blu-Ray, and the Extended Version currently on Netflix. I’ll be covering the Standard Cut for this post, but if you’re a fan of this film, check out the Extended Version on Netflix. Tarantino oversaw the assembly of it, and it’s a really cool narrative experiment.

When I think back to the progression of Tarantino’s movie openings, it’s interesting how they’ve slowly evolved to become longer. The Hateful Eight is a long way from the punchy opening banters of Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. It’s different, but I dig it.

I love that this is the Tarantino film to feature the least amount of pop music, and it is also the first Tarantino film to win an Oscar for its music.

James Parks as O.B. is the unsung hero of this movie. He never got the credit he deserved for his work here. Everything from his pragmatic observations to his thoughtful costume design – the jacket that looks too thin, the before-their-time sunglasses, the silly hat – helps inform us who O.B. is.

Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) blowing out a snot rocket, then wiping the leftover snot on the door. Leigh is always on in this movie. She is Daisy Domergue from first frame to last.

Kurt Russell, as John Ruth, giving this classic line delivery. Off screen, no less.

Daisy’s perfect black eye. It’s too neat, too clean, too perfect. It is deliberately artificial in that precise Quentin Tarantino way.

The lens flares in this shot cutting through the bottom third of the frame like a knife. All praise owed to cinematographer Robert Richardson.

O.B. plugging away outside with the horses. It’s so funny every time we hear him chime in.

John’s transition from defeated to ecstatic when Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) decides to share his Lincoln letter with John.

John getting so much damn enjoyment out of reading the letter. You can tell it means so much to him.

Sherriff Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins) hilariously screaming for attention right as Chapter One comes to an end.

I love Goggins’ delivery of, “Well, Mr. Face…”

It feels like Tarantino wrote Chris to be a scene-stealing part, what with all the character’s simple, profane, and funny dialogue, and Goggins absolutely seizes it.

Daisy begging for food like a dog. She’s definitely been in situations like this before.

I genuinely appreciate that The Hateful Eight makes such deliberate room for time, as if Tarantino lets his film play out like a novel. I can’t say The Hateful Eight is Tarantino’s most rewatchable film, but every time I sit down with this movie, I know I’m in for an authentic cinema experience.

The camera cutting inside Minnie’s Haberdashery before John enters the building. That’s a very bold narrative choice, to enter somewhere new before an established character sees it.

My favorite part of John and Daisy trying to close the door is Joe Gage (Michael Madsen) hollering from the back of the room. His instructions usually mirror exactly what Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth) has already said, which just adds to the hilarity.

Once you know where the movie is going, it’s so fun to watch Daisy try to figure things out. For example, watch how quickly she takes in the room after she turns around here. She’s clocking who came for her, without indicating that she knows who these men are.

This flawless shot composition. Look how the light hits the base of the table so starkly. It’s a great shot aesthetically, but it also helps convey that some time has passed, and it’ll be dark soon. You gotta love when such a gorgeous shot also propels the narrative.

I love how you can hear the harsh whispers of the wind raging outside.

Look how the light beams off the table, casting that faint wood haze into the air. Signature Robert Richardson shot right there.

I love that this is all Bob (Demian Bichir) has to offer at O.B.’s suggestion that they tie lines up outside. Bob clearly has no idea what he’s gotten himself into.

Ennio Morricone’s score peaking and then stopping abruptly when the shot cuts.

The slow reveal of Joe Gage.

What a line.

Another great contribution from Joe.

Chris scurrying over to help himself to a blanket.

This shot reminds me how insanely competitive this year’s Best Cinematography Oscar race was. Richardson, Edward Lachman (Carol), John Seale (Mad Max: Fury Road), and Roger Deakins (Sicario) all lost to Emmanuel Lubezki for The Revenant.

This is exactly what a close-up should be used for. Warren settles into Minnie’s Haberdashery and quietly takes in the room. Then something registers with him, as if he knows this situation is off, and that this is going to be one long damn night.

“Yeah, Warren, that’s the problem with old men. You can kick ‘em down the stairs and say it’s an accident, but you can’t just shoot ‘em.” 
I love this damn line. Like… how many old men has John Ruth kicked down the stairs in his life?

I love Tarantino’s stealth oners (a single take that doesn’t draw attention to the fact that it’s a single take). Here’s a cool 70 second shot that circles around John, Warren, O.B., and Daisy as they speak. Death Proof vibes.

Of course, this has been talked about a lot, but the way Leigh plays Daisy is remarkable. Her sarcasm suggests an ease, as if she’s certain her crew is going to save her anyway. Or maybe she’s just insane. Likely, it’s both, which is what makes Daisy so much fun.

Warren sneaking up behind Joe so that John can retrieve Joe’s gun.

I’ve always felt that The Hateful Eight got screwed by the Academy, but seriously, where the hell were this film’s nominations for Sound Mixing and Sound Editing? It wouldn’t have beat Mad Max: Fury Road, but still.

O.B. rushing inside, madder than hell, stripping a bear skin off the wall, and collapsing in front of the fire.

Daisy laughing hysterically when she finds out Warren’s Lincoln letter is a hoax.

I love how sincerely General Sandy Smithers (Bruce Dern) asks Warren this question.

Bob gently closing the piano after Warren shoots Smithers, thereby ending Chapter Three.

I absolutely love Tarantino’s brief narration that introduces Chapter Four. Tarantino is on his best behavior here, speaking with a polished and clear voice that is void of his usual vocal tics. And I dig it.

Furthermore, I love this scene because Tarantino is involving us in the story, as opposed to just asking us to watch it. We’re an active participant, because we are now privy to new information that most of the characters don’t know. It’s the Hitchcock theory on suspense: if you clue the audience into something bad that’s about to happen, then it creates an unbearable amount of tension. Kind of like the camera panning down to the Dreyfus family hiding under the floorboards in Inglourious Basterds.

Daisy’s quiet resolve as she watches O.B. and John drink the poisoned coffee. For soon, it shall begin.

Daisy smiling as John takes a sip of coffee. For now, she waits.

Obviously, Kurt Russell smashing this priceless guitar by mistake has been discussed plenty. But go back and watch Leigh’s reaction to it. It is 100 percent Jennifer Jason Leigh, and zero percent Daisy. The way she says “Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!” while looking off camera, I like to think she’s looking right at Tarantino himself and wanting to say, “Oh shit! Was that supposed to happen?!”

At first, you think Daisy is begging John to not handcuff her again because she’s enjoying her freedom. But actually, she just doesn’t want to be chained to a dead man, as she very soon will be.

Pretty rare to make it 1 hour and 43 minutes into a Quentin Tarantino film before any significant gory violence begins. I love how long he holds out here, before unleashing absolute carnage.

The little sigh John lets out right before Daisy shoots him. He knows he’s done.

Chris’ delight that he gets to be on the offense of this situation.

Some guys can play on a wall, but Michael Madsen can fucking play on a wall. Look how much he uses the wall as a prop. The way he really leans into it, or just casually has one hand on it, is priceless.

“Or, we go by my theory, which is the ugliest guy did it. Which makes it you, Joe Gage.” 
I’m not sure why Chris hates Joe Gage so much, but my god is it hilarious.

There is no end to the enjoyment I get from Bichir’s delivery of this line.

Joe’s calm admission that he doesn’t have a gun. Great touch making it slow motion and distorting the sound.

The jelly beans exploding everywhere remind me of the Kaboom cereal from Kill Bill: Vol. 1.

Joe and Oswaldo calmly anticipating John Ruth walking into Minnie’s. Tarantino often does so well with these quiet moments before a storm.

I love that Tarantino captures a genuine moment of intimacy between Daisy and Jody (Channing Tatum) here, especially considering how she looks.

Another great stealth oner (length: 81 seconds), as Daisy frantically tries to make a deal with Chris. I wouldn’t be surprised if this monologue largely contributed to Leigh getting an Oscar nomination.

Much like he did for Django Unchained, I love how much emphasis Tarantino puts on this certification by featuring it so early in the end credits.

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  1. You only saw the standard theatrical version? I saw the 70mm version as it's the only version of the film that I've seen so far as I haven't seen any other version of the film. I fucking loved it as I'm hoping to see Once Upon a Time in Hollywood on Sunday morning as any film by QT is an event. Of course, I'll be seeing the standard theatrical version since there aren't any 35mm or 70mm screenings nearby and I don't want to leave my mother alone for too long at this point.

    1. Ohhh I've seen every version of The Hateful Eight. I only covered the standard version here because it seems like it's the easiest version to track down. Though the extended cut on Netflix was a lot of fun. Can't WAIT to hear your thoughts on Hollywood!

  2. I only saw this in theaters once and didn't love it. The cinematography was gorgeous though and I loved all the JJL moments you pointed out here.

    1. I hear you. It's certainly not my favorite QT (more toward the bottom actually), but I do appreciate a lot about it, particularly JJL. So good.

  3. OUATIH is 'masterful' you say? :D If it wasn't for Pitt I would bail after 30 minutes of this mess. Hateful Eight is slightly more watchable than Djago but I think Tarantino became a really mediocre and self indulgent filmmaker since IB. The actors are still great but the scripts are just not sharp anymore. Tatum was fantastic in this one but his fun performance wasn't enough to jolt this thing back to life.

    1. I saw that you didn't like his latest at all, but I am glad that you liked Pitt in it. I, of course, always respect and value your opinion, but Hollywood did work for me.

      We are aligned in our thoughts on Django and Hateful. I'm more of a fan of his Dogs, Pulp, and Jackie style (which Hollywood felt much more like, to me), then the expansiveness Django and Hateful. I still love all of his movies, but I like his smaller approach more.

  4. So much great stuff in this post. I am a fan of this movie, but it's not one of my faves of his. I thought there was a good deal of fat that needed to be trimmed. There's no denying the cast, however, especially Jennifer Jason Leigh.

    1. Yep, I totally agree. Somehow, even though the extended cut on Netflix is longer, it actually works a bit better. The movie needed to have some fat trimmed, or be fully fleshed out. I do like it, but it's certainly not my favorite QT.

  5. I don't see myself rewatching Hateful Eight as often as QT's other work as I unfortunately didn’t really care who lived or died. I enjoyed reading your observations here and agree the wind was effectively used. The snowy scenes reminded me of the beautiful western The Great Silence (1968) and the 'talky western' aspect QT's might have borrowed from Rio Bravo (1959) which he calls a favorite.

    1. I would say that despite the fact that Hateful is very well made, it is definitely QT's least rewatchable film. It's just too intentionally big and long and verbose to command repeat viewings. And I see so much of Rio Bravo in Hateful, which is always fun,

  6. Man i love your blog. Me as an aspiring filmaker from Argentina this part of the blog teach me a lot about detaills. Detaills are everything in movies. Keep doing it my friend!

    1. Wow thank you so much for this, I really appreciate it! Thanks so much for checking out the site, and please keep creating!

  7. I need to watch this movie again. One of Tarantino's most underrated. I loved it when it first came out, but haven't gotten around to re-watching it since. And as a huge Justified fan i loved that Walton Goggins had such a big part in the movie. He definitely was a scene stealer. He always is in the best way possible. I'm hoping he gets a role is Tarantino's supposedly tenth and last movie as well.

    1. So good. I really enjoyed the expanded Netflix version of this movie, if you have a chance to check that out. And I'm with you on Goggins, I've loved that guy since The Shield. And I really hope he pops up in QT's next film too!