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Förening Film i Malmö presents
2015 148´+ intermission
Set in the post-Civil War era, the movie pits a group of criminals and criminally brutal lawmen against each other in a snowbound Wyoming cabin. Tarantino takes his sweet time assembling his core cast. He spends nearly a half-hour on a stagecoach ride that introduces a mustachioed fugitive tracker, John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell, talking like John Wayne); his driver O.B. (James Parks); his prisoner, the treacherous outlaw Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who’s being escorted to Red Rock for hanging; incoming Red Rock sheriff Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), a former outlaw that Ruth can’t accept as a lawman, and Maj. Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson), an ex-slave turned anti-Confederate war hero turned bounty hunter whose record of wartime atrocities makes Ruth distrust him and Mannix hate his guts.
The movie is filled with playful and curious surprises: not just of the plot twist or character-revelation variety, but what might termed “formal violations” that make “The Hateful Eight” feel more experimental than classical. This is a director who hires the Mahler of spaghetti Westerns, Ennio Morricone, whose work he’s sampled many times, to create an original score, then ladles it onto a film that is not a typically sumptuous revenge Western about characters’ relationships to the land they’re battling to claim, but something more like a crisply photographed stage play—think of Tarantino’s debut film “Reservoir Dogs,” most of which took place in a warehouse, but with Stetsons and dropped g’s, or a prairie rat cousin of Eugene O’Neill’s tailbone-busting four-hour barroom fable “The Iceman Cometh” (“The Iceman Curseth”?), but with torture; rape; point-blank gunplay; multiple, possibly false identities, and gallons of blood.
The lyrically brutal “Basterds” was a revenge movie about revenge movies and viewer identification. It was also the ultimate examination of role-playing in both life and art—a concern that runs through all of Tarantino’s movies, starting with “Reservoir Dogs,” about a gang of robbers tearing themselves apart trying to figure out which of them is secretly a cop. “Basterds” aced every set piece, line and shot, giving its orphaned heroine wraithlike revenge against the Nazi war machine, wrapping up with an atrocity that gorily echoed the obscenity of concentration camp tattoos (a swastika carved into flesh with a dagger), and ending with a line that seemed, to this viewer anyway, less a boast than a statement of fact: “I think this just might be my masterpiece.” But despite its closing aura of celebration, the movie was disquieting. It absolved the viewer of nothing. It was not a simple entertainment. It was complicated, and every second was deeply felt.
“Eight,” in contrast, is half-assed, but carries itself like another masterpiece, swaggering and stubbing its toe and swaggering some more. It has superb photography, music, set design and performances (particularly by Russell, Goggins, Leigh and Jackson), but no fervor, no framework, no justification for its nonstop insults, provocations and atrocities. It has a bully’s mentality.
by Matt Zoller Sietz, excerpted from Ebert.com