*the fourth of six very short reviews, in an attempt to catch up on 2015 film journalism before the 2016 movie season really kicks in*
There is no other filmmaker quite like Quentin Tarantino. The writer/director is an idiosyncratic genius, famous for extravagant amounts of blood and shocking new life into tired genres. He shook up the traditional narrative format forever with Pulp Fiction, made revenge an art form with Inglourious Basterds (my personal favorite of his), and with The Hateful Eight he continues his foray into Westerns.
Though this film is far from a straightforward Western, like Django Unchained turned out to be- for better and for worse. Tarantino stretches his penchant for indulgent, well-written dialogue and malicious imagery into a strenuous exercise. In fact, the film is almost structured into a dialogue half and a violence half- 70 mm Roadshow showings of the movie feature an intermission directly between the two.
The looong expository first act stretches into half a movie, showcasing the smartest of Tarantino's rapport and witty character interplay. The conversations at first seem to start saying something about issues of racial politics and nihilistic antagonism, but after a while devolve into not much more than the writer showing off.
The second act- introduced by an entirely out of place bit of narration from an over-confident Tarantino- erupts into his signature comical violence, but after a while devolves into excessively awful punishments received by characters that did not earn our animosity. The climax is borderline sinister in its gleeful sadism.
The cast is top notch though, and every performer is having a visible amount of fun. If you manage to see the film in glorious 70 mm, the visuals are incredibly detailed- an attractive addition to the already natural cinematography and effective soundtrack.
The Hateful Eight is one of Tarantino's weaker films, but from this filmmaker, that's a compliment in its own right.