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Categories: Movie Reviews

Why Quentin Tarantino’s momentous new film deserves its Oscar nominations.

KurtRussellSamuelLJacksonHatefulEightEvery new film directed, written, and produced by Tarantino is a priori a big event for those who find violence aesthetically entertaining and satisfying as a movie-going experience. His style is immediately recognisable, although differing slightly from film to film. Tarantino’s recent works, starting from Inglorious Basterds, tend to tackle historical and political themes as well as the issue of race. His latest movie, The Hateful Eight, is no exception.

Just as with all Tarantino-directed films, The Hateful Eight has been talked about long before its release in the cinemas. Among cinephiles, the director’s decision to shoot on 70mm film was certainly very attractive and unusual. In the cinemas where the format is supported, a slightly longer cut was shown, including a 3-minute prologue and intermission in the middle of the movie. In his interviews, Tarantino mentions that this structure was adopted in order to make cinema-going a big event similar to evening musicals or theatre plays. Those who attended the 70mm screenings also received a colourful booklet with key information about the film and photos from the shoot. This approach is not surprising considering Tarantino’s obsession with the art of cinema and undoubtedly adds an extra dimension to the experience of the movie.

The Hateful Eight takes place in Wyoming, several years after the Civil War. Eight characters have to wait through a blizzard at Minnie’s Haberdashery, a stopover on the way to the town of Red Rock where they are all heading. None of them provide the moral guidance for the viewer, yet they somehow still engage empathy. Tarantino reveals his characters slowly throughout the film, hence making them likable or unlikeable to individual viewers over time.

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The absence of one main protagonist and a role model for the others is one of the most engaging aspects of The Hateful Eight. We finds ourselves in a position to identify with one of the characters and (considering how most Tarantino films resolve) wish for the chosen character to stay alive. The experience of watching this movie essentially consists of playing a roulette of who is going to survive and who is going to be killed next in the mass bloodbath. The impressive acting choices, including Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kurt Russell, Tim Roth and Michael Madsen, among others, make the movie an essential event for cinema lovers.

The Hateful Eight certainly appears to be Tarantino’s most mature work. In the first half of the film there is barely enough violence or shocking imagery to even call it a Tarantino movie. Instead, he pays extra attention to conversations and interactions between the characters, thus revealing their true nature. The screen aspect ratio of 2.76:1 contributes to this special attention to the protagonists – during the conversations there is a sense of physical and mental alienation between them, perhaps conveying that not everything they say should be trusted and taken for granted.

The cinematography by Robert Richardson undoubtedly deserves a special merit: long landscape shots, visually-created tension and exceptional frame composition are reminiscent of the cult Spaghetti Westerns whose influence Tarantino talks of all the time. It is not surprising that The Hateful Eight has been nominated for an Oscar in the cinematography category, as it is certainly a good candidate to compete with the likes of The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road.

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Talking of the Italian Westerns of the 1960s such as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Tarantino’s choice to use the original music by Ennio Morricone is not coincidental, as his scores for Westerns are iconic and widely well known in association with the genre. As always, the use of music in Tarantino movies deserves special attention, as he is known for creating a very unique mood with a choice of soundtrack for his films. Morricone’s score is also nominated for an Oscar for a very good reason. It would be impossible to think of more atmospheric and at the same time alienating music for this movie.

The Hateful Eight is guaranteed to entertain and inspire, and it’s also one to help escape from the day-to-day routine. This movie should not be subject to in-depth reading and analysis as this would eliminate some of its charm and attractiveness, yet some basic knowledge of Tarantino’s references and inspirations is sure to enhance your Hateful Eight experience.

The Hateful Eight is up for Best Original Score, Best Cinematography and Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Jason Leigh) at this week’s Oscars.

After recently graduating from the University of Brighton, I am currently doing an MA Film Studies course at UCL. I am very passionate about cinema and have directed a few short films and a feature, which is currently being screened at various festivals. Above all, I am keen on experimental arts, such as avant-garde or minimalist music and underground film.

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Posted on Feb 23, 2016

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