The Hateful Eight – A Review

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If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, it’s pretty clear that I’m totally in the tank for Quentin Tarantino. He’s one of my favorite directors and Pulp Fiction is easily one of my favorite movies of all time. I look forward to the release of a Tarantino film like most people look forward to Christmas, which has worked out for me recently since his last two movies have been released on Christmas. People think I’m happy and giddy about the holiday, when really I’m looking forward to some violence and stylized dialogue. You have your thing, I have mine. I was tremendously disappointed that The Hateful Eight roadshow wasn’t coming to a city by me on Christmas day, so I wasn’t able to see the movie on opening night, breaking my streak that started with Kill Bill Vol. 1. For some reason my family didn’t love the idea of me blowing off Christmas to go to the city to see The Hateful Eight; we all have our crosses to bear. I had to wait a whole week to see the movie. The horror!

Compared to a lot of Tarantino movies, the scale of The Hateful Eight is relatively small. This is another genre pick, this time in the style of a Western. Most of the action in the film takes place in a one room lodge where a snowstorm has stranded eight colorful characters: bounty hunter O. B. (Kurt Russell) and his fugitive Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh); former Civil War Major turned bounty hunter Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson); a sheriff (Walton Goggins); a hangman (Tim Roth); a cowboy (Michael Madsen); a former Confederate general (Bruce Dern) and “the Mexican” (Demián Bichir). Forced to interact with one another given the limited confines, tensions begins to bubble up to the surface. There is a sizable bounty on Daisy’s head and O.B. wants to make sure that he is the only one that collects it, by any means necessary. Though the Civil War has ended, a lot of the tension and animosity from the conflict is still very much alive. Preexisting relationships come to the surface. Violence ensues in a spectacular fashion. People die.

The Hateful Eight is perhaps the most violent and challenging of all of Tarantino’s films, which if you are a fan you know is saying a lot. Though everyone gets part of the abuse, the lion share of the violence is directed at Jennifer Jason Leigh’s character, which brings its own set of issues. The pacing is very slow and deliberate; The Hateful Eight clocks in at close to three hours and Tarantino has no interest in rushing his story. There is liberal use of the N-word throughout the film, predominantly used by the white characters. While there are definitely elements of revenge in The Hateful Eight, the heroes are not as clear cut as they were in Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained. In fact, there really aren’t any obvious heroes in this movie – when Tarantino titled this movie The Hateful Eight, he wasn’t joking. There are some pretty terrible people populating this movie. All of these elements make the movie something of a challenge. Immediately after finishing the movie, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it; I liked it, but didn’t immediately fall in love with it. But as the days passed, I found that I couldn’t stop thinking about The Hateful Eight and my admiration for what Tarantino had pulled off continued to grow. Now I’m just trying to carve out another three-hour block of time to watch the movie again. That being said, this movie is absolutely not for everyone; if you’ve struggled with Tarantino movies in the past because of the violence and use of language, The Hateful Eight is most definitely not a film that you’ll enjoy or appreciate. There are scenes in Django Unchained that are difficult to watch; there are more of those scenes in The Hateful Eight. Some have accused the film of misogyny, given the brutality directed at Daisy, and though I don’t necessarily agree with that interpretation, it is very uncomfortable to see her battered the way that she is (though that’s kind of the point). This is a divisive film and while it absolutely worked for me, your personal preferences will dictate a lot of how you feel about The Hateful Eight. So proceed with some caution (and for the love of God, leave the kids at home if you see this. The R rating is legit.)

Given the time period and setting, Tarantino’s trademark banter about pop culture is completely absent; there are no monologues about tipping or burgers and there is also no surface commentary about slavery or Nazis. The Hateful Eight definitely has some things to say, particularly about racism, law enforcement and justice, but it presented differently than in other Tarantino films. Some might suspect that parts of The Hateful Eight were written in reaction to recent events involving police shootings and the Black Lives Matter movement, but thanks to the script being leaked prior to production we know that Tarantino was dealing with these issue well before any of these issues came to the forefront of the American conscious. The timing is fortuitous and I think gives even more meaning to some of the idea that Tarantino is wrestling with. The Hateful Eight isn’t limited to being a political statement; the film is also an interesting character study as he slowly turns these characters, who could easily have been just caricatures, into fully realized and complex individuals. When you first meet Goggins’ Chris Mannix, you think you have him all figured out. But Tarantino is not one who is satisfied with black and white, preferring to wallow in shades of grey, so the more you learn about Mannix, the less you can pin down how exactly you are supposed to feel about him. This applies to all the characters, who are a study in contrasts. Depending on the other character that they interact with, new facets of their personality emerge and the viewer is constantly reevaluating their perceptions. Tarantino’s occasionally frenetic style is completely neutered in The Hateful Eight. He takes his time, slowly revealing information and peeling back the layers of these characters. At its heart, this film is a mystery that shares some common DNA with works from Alfred Hitchcock and Agatha Christie – with a lot more blood and cussing. As people start dying, you are continually asked to adjust your perceptions of what this movie is. Where The Hateful Eight ends up is at a very different location than I would have expected when the film began. I really enjoyed that unpredictability and I look forward to watching the film again, knowing now what I didn’t know then. I think it will put a whole different spin on the experience.

Some other thoughts:

  • While a certain famous movie star does in fact have a role in The Hateful Eight, I think it’s better if you know as little as possible about his involvement. His role is minor in screen time, but pivotal. I kind of wish that they had used a less famous person, as when he finally shows up, it kind of takes you out of the movie experience briefly.
  • Jennifer Lawrence was reportedly approached to play the role of Daisy, and though I think Lawrence makes everything better I’m kind of glad that she ultimately didn’t take the role. Jennifer Jason Leigh does an amazing job and I think that the character works better played by a slightly older woman. Plus there is no way Lawrence’s agents would have let her take this role, given the level of brutality and venom involved.
  • Also largely missing from The Hateful Eight is the use of obscure or reimagined pop songs. For the most part, the soundtrack is that of a traditional Western.
  • Tim Roth does a fine job and it’s good to see him resurface in the Tarantino universe, but it’s hard not to imagine that his role was written for Christoph Waltz (who would have KILLED IT).
  • Speaking of killing it – there is no situation in life that Walton Goggins does not make better. He is spectacular in everything and The Hateful Eight is no different.
  • Samuel L. Jackson is also brilliant. Hell, the whole cast knocks this one right out of the park.
  • Though there is a lot of awful stuff going on in this movie, it is also occasionally very funny.

The Hateful Eight is not Tarantino’s most accessible film, but it may be one of his best. The cinematography is gorgeous and this is a film that idles in the back of your brain long after the final credits have rolled. He has assembled an amazing cast that manages to bring these hateful characters to life in such a way that there is nuance and layers to their performances. This is a classic Tarantino film, minus some of the trappings and trademarks of his previous movies. While the violence and language will presumably turn some people off, The Hateful Eight may in fact be Tarantino’s most mature movie to date. The pacing is slow, but if you are willing to sit back and let Tarantino and his merry band of sociopaths take you on their journey, you ultimately won’t be disappointed.

Pop Culture Odds and Ends – Christmas Eve Edition

Tis the season of giving and I could think of nothing better to give my dear readers than an extra jam packed stocking of pop culture links. There is a lot in here, which will hopefully keep you entertained as the blog takes a mini-holiday hiatus for a couple of days. If all goes according to plan, I should be back Friday with a Wolf of Wall Street review.

And now, my gift to you: more pop culture knowledge than you can shake a stick at:

  • You can now watch Metallica’s entire concert in Antarctica:

 

  • Lifetime has also announced dates for their Flowers in the Attic and Lizzie Borden movies.
  • Kate Winslet has picked a name for her newborn son and yes, it’s unusual (though kudos for NOT giving the kid his father’s last name of Rocknroll).
  • STOP THE PRESSES – a Tom Hiddleston/Benedict Cumberbatch dance-off:

I think the Internet just exploded.

  • I do love me some touchdown celebrations, so I appreciate the Wall Street Journal analyzing all 1,150 in the 2013 season:

They also created this fancy chart.

  • Watch Ron Burgundy perform “Ride Like the Wind” on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

 

  • Paul Rudd told Letterman about the time he tried to break up a drag queen fight while in his Anchorman 2 costume:

THAT should have been added to the movie!

  • Put Conan, Ice Cube and Kevin Hart together and watch the magic happen:

 

  • Conan also visited The American Doll store.

I think Conan has just earned his way to a season pass on my DVR. He’s killing it lately.

  • Watch a Jeopardy! contestant do his best Bane impression:

 

  • I enjoyed this Cougar Town ad created from thousands of corks. The Cul-de-sac crew loves its vino!

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  • Cracker Barrel pulled, then restocked, their Duck Dynasty merchandise after Phil Robertson’s controversial GQ interview.
  • Justin Timberlake photobombed some people at his concert:

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  • Ha! Watch Michael K. Williams (OMAR!) promote the Chalky White line of children’s books:

 

  • I’ll be on the market for a new car within a year; perhaps I should look into this LEGO car.

For your holiday perusal – a tone of trailers:

  • A new teaser for Community (January 2! Can’t wait!)

 

  • A teaser trailer for the new season of Orphan Black:

 

  • Anne Hathaway and Jamie Foxx in Rio 2:

 

  • A promo for Patton Oswalt’s new standup special:

 

  • A longer look at HBO’s Looking:

 

  • An animated trailer for Community:

 

  • Did the Oscars always have trailers?

 

  • Ha! Netflix did a trailer for their streaming Yule Log:

 

  • A trailer for Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel:

 

  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes:

 

 

  • A red band trailer for 22 Jump Street:

 

  • The Other Woman starring Cameron Diaz and Kate Upton:

 

  • The Expendables 3 teaser trailer:

 

  • Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore team up for what I’m already predicting will be one of the worst movies of 2014:

 

  • Jon Hamm + Baseball = Heather’s wheelhouse. I will see Million Dollar Arm 100 times.

 

  • A third season trailer for Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee:

 

  • I have never seen Kanye as happy as he is in this photo, eating ice cream:

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There has been a sudden proliferation of oral histories;

A few quick Mashups and Supercuts

  • Check out this illustrated mashup of memorable pop culture events in 2013:

 

 

  • I try to keep you guys up to date, but if you want a real crash course, here’s a three minute video on 2013 pop culture:

 

  • Watch Jeff Winger and Dean Pelton’s relationship on Community reimagined as a psychological thriller:

 

And finally, we end with a bunch of holiday stuff:

  • A holiday themed Billy on the Street featuring Amy Poehler:

 

  • For those of you who feel a little grinchy, an “I hate Christmas” supercut:

 

  • This never gets old – the Happy Endings Hip Hop Santa dance-off:

 

  • A Peanuts flashmob? Outstanding!

 

  • Watch Elf re-enacted with pugs:

 

  •  Whoa – check out this gingerbread Optimus Prime:

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  • A song made only from Christmas tree ornaments:

 

  • Some guy named Paul inserted himself into Home Alone:

 

  • In honor of Festivus, a supercut of Seinfeld characters airing their grievances:

I’ve got a lot of problems with you people.

  • “Defying Gravity” as sung by Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer:

 

  • And finally…..Conan reveals a terrifying twist for Elf on the Shelf:

 

Wishing you all a very happy holidays – however you choose to celebrate, I hope you are smiling.

Pop Culture Odds and Ends – Getting Old Edition

It’s my birthday this weekend, which is usually cause for celebration, at least in my eyes. Everyone else just kind of humors me. This year, however, I’m just not feeling it and am kind of dreading having to say that I am a year older. There is not legitimate reason for this apathy – it isn’t a “milestone” birthday or anything – and I know turning a year older beats the alternative, but I’m just not in a celebratory mood at all this year. Perhaps I’ve finally gotten over the excitement for my birthday that everyone else got over when they were a kid. Perhaps it is because this year a lot of people have yet to respond to my unofficial party or can’t come. Perhaps it is because I do so many awesome things throughout the year that I don’t really need this excuse to make a big deal out of one particular day. Whatever the reason, as Saturday approaches, instead of my usual giddiness, it’s being greeted with a shrug. I’m happy to see my friends, but that’s about it.

Pop culture, on the other hand, still makes me excited and I had a lot of fun compiling your biweekly roundup of all the pop culture goodness that you might have missed. I just kept finding all sort of cool things to include. So while I attempt to determine what exactly is bumming me out, kick back and enjoy:

  •  Congrats to Bob Newhart for winning his first Emmy! The full list of Creative Arts Emmy winners can be found here. The Primetime Emmys will air on September 22. There may be a live blog.
  • The West Wing fans – Allison Janney performed “The Jackal” last night on the newly revived The Arsenio Hall Show.

 

  • Everyone that I know that watched the Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Canelo Alvarez fight last weekend was disappointed. Snoop Dogg Lion, however, won over a pound of weed on that fight.
  • After a lackluster performance at the box office, the planned sequel to The Mortal Instruments has been delayed indefinitely.
  • A new season of Key and Peele debuts tonight:

 

  • Best. Parents. Ever.
  • Doctor Sleep, Stephen King’s sequel to The Shining, will be released next Tuesday.
  • People keep making Breaking Bad musicals. Check out Walter White and the Mazing Blue Crystal Meth:

 

  • This is probably NOT a good sign: Pirates of the Caribbean 5 has been shut down indefinitely for script maintenance. Probably for the best; this movie is wholly unnecessary.
  • Eddie Murphy did a reggae song with Snoop Lion. I have no idea if this is supposed to be a joke or not:

 

  • The O.C.’s Sandy Cohen and Ryan Atwood (Peter Gallagher and Ben McKenzie in real life) reunited at Gallagher’s daughter’s concert.
From @petergallagher

From @petergallagher

  • The O.C. is getting a a remake – in Turkey.
  • I am a fan of both Metallica and bluegrass, so I really enjoyed this cover of “Enter Sandman:”

 

  • The first three hosts for SNL have been announced; Tina Fey kicks the season off, followed my Miley Cyrus and Bruce Willis.
  • Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” video is greatly improved with the addition of Nicolas Cage:

 

  • Watch this guy do 13 Muppet impressions in a minute:

 

  • Speaking of Muppets, they did all sorts of great stuff since the last round up. Cookie Monster spoofed some movies:

 

  • Elmo (or a reasonable facsimile) hung out with Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen:
@SirPatStew

@SirPatStew

  • Grover sang with Dave Matthews:

 

  • Cookie Monster also found some time to hang out with Loki:

 

  •  UC Irvine is offering a free online course on The Walking Dead. I’m not a huge fan of the show, but I may have to take this just for kicks. I’m thinking that could really spruce up my resume.
  • Ha! Watch Todd from Breaking Bad gun down Justin Bieber:

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No Biebers were harmed in the creation of this GIF

No Biebers were harmed in the creation of this GIF

  • He’s still really good looking, but I’m not digging Joe Manganiello as much without his beard.
  • Eminem turned up during the Michigan/Notre Dame game. It was awkward, to say the least.

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  • Michael Jackson’s Thriller recreated with LEGOs:

 

  • Britney Spears is rumored to be earning $15 million per year for her Vegas residency. Seems as good a reason as any to finally plan my first trip to Vegas.

 

  • This local sports anchor worked 41 Seinfeld references into his segment:

 

He also did a segment full of old school rap references and wrestling references. I think this guy and I could be fast friends.

  • Also announcing tours: Robin Thicke, Jay Z and Kanye (the latter who I am going to see in Madison Square Garden!)
  • Cecily Strong is joining the soon departing Seth Myers at the SNL Weekend Update desk. The last few people to sit at the desk (Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Jimmy Fallon) have gone on to some pretty great things.
  • A writer at UPROXX wrote a tribute to one of the greatest episodes of It’s Always SunnyChardee MacDennis. I wholeheartedly concur.
  • The Ohio University marching band preformed a rendition of Ylvis’ viral sensation The Fox during their game against Marshall.

 

Haven’t see the video for The Fox yet? Here it is, in all it’s weirdness. Watch it now, thank me later.

  • Breaking Bad fans are the best. Los Pollos Hermanos now has its own Yelp page, full of reviews.
  • Fiona Apple covered “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka for a Chipotle ad:

 

Trailers! Get your trailers here:

  • Nicole Kidman in Grace of Monaco:

 

  • National Geographic’s Killing Kennedy, starring Rob Lowe and Ginnifer Goodwin:

 

  • Kill Your Darlings with Daniel Radcliffe and Michael C. Hall (that’s kind of a weird combo):

 

  • Will Forte and Bruce Dern star in Nebraska, the latest from director Alexander Payne:

 

  • James Franco and Jason Statham are in a movie together. Yes, I’m serious.

 

  • A photo of Justin Bieber holding a script for the upcoming Batman vs. Superman movie almost broke the Internet.
@justinbieber

@justinbieber

No – he isn’t playing Robin.

As always, we end with the supercuts and mashups:

  • Who knew that Marty McFly was such a screamer?

 

  • A Billy Joel/Kanye mashup sounds way better than you would think:

 

  • Blurred Sanford mashes up Blurred Lines and the Sanford and Son theme song:

 

  • This supercut proves Bill Murray is an awkward kisser.

 

  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail gets a modern trailer remix:

 

  • Les Miserables…..with light sabers:

 

  • Good Will Batman (NSFW):

 

  • It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia gets the Cheers opening credit treatment:

 

  • And finally……The Dukes of Heisenberg:

 

Have a great Wednesday!