When it comes to Quentin Tarantino movies, there’s no middle ground. Either you enjoy them or you think that they do nothing but glorify violence. I have actually been a fan of his for as long as I can remember. There are a lot of great filmmakers that I admire but there are only 4 whose movies I have to watch every time a new one comes out.
Martin Scorsese. Christopher Nolan. Wong Kar Wai.
(The guy wrote the screenplay of his critically-acclaimed movie, Reservoir Dogs, while working a dead-end job as a video rental clerk. Tindi diba? Sabi na nga ba hindi masamang mag petiks at maglaro ng Minesweeper sa trabaho paminsan minsan e!)
So when I heard that he had a new movie coming out called The Hateful Eight (not to be confused with Adam Sandler’s latest Netflix crapfest The Ridiculous 6), I eagerly waited with anticipation. Sadly, the movie failed to reach our side of the planet. “Nako, Rey! Bakit naman?” is probably the question that you are not asking but I shall answer anyway. Well, it had the great misfortune of going against a commercial juggernaut in the form of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. According to Tarantino, Disney forced theaters in the US to drop his movie in favor of Star Wars. I loved The Force Awakens as much as the next person but if what Tarantino said is true, it’s such a shame because The Hateful Eight is an absolutely terrific movie.
Here’s the synopsis according to Google kasi para saan pa ang internet kung hindi padaliin ang mga buhay natin diba?
“While racing toward the town of Red Rock in post-Civil War Wyoming, bounty hunter John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell) and his fugitive prisoner (Jennifer Jason Leigh) encounter another bounty hunter (Samuel L. Jackson) and a man who claims to be a sheriff. Hoping to find shelter from a blizzard, the group travels to a stagecoach stopover located on a mountain pass. Greeted there by four strangers, the eight travelers soon learn that they may not make it to their destination after all.”
Like any Tarantino movie, The Hateful Eight is dialogue-driven. And like any Tarantino movie, the dialogue happens to be very very well-written. During his interviews, Tarantino said that his inspiration comes from his own movie, and my personal favorite, Reservoir Dogs. Like Reservoir Dogs, most of the movie takes place inside an enclosed space. With all 8 hateful characters being forced to stay together inside a cramped shelter and not knowing who among themselves to trust, tensions begin to run high very quickly. It doesn’t take long before this explodes into violence.
And that’s when Tarantino’s genius come in full effect. Quentin Tarantino is a master when it comes to using violence as a storytelling device. He hooks you in with clever dialogue and leaves you floored with scenes of violence so brutal that even if you saw it coming from miles away, you’re still not ready for it. His use of these scenes are so masterful that they never come off as cheap tricks but as essential parts of the story. Although that throws other people off because some just don’t have the stomach for it. Ganun talaga iba iba tayo ng kayang sikmurain.
Performances of actors from an ensemble often get overlooked. The bigger the group, the harder it is for a performance to stand out. In this movie, only Jennifer Jason Leigh was recognized with an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. But the whole cast from Sam Jackson, to Kurt Russell, to Bruce Dern, to Tarantino-regulars Tim Roth and Michael Madsen, and to relative unknown Walton Goggins give terrific performances. You get the feeling that you’re watching a stage play the way these actors bounce lines of dialogue off of each other. The sad reality of this movie however is that it lacks A-listers like Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt from previous Tarantino films. When you go against something as big as The Force Awakens, you need that kind of star power. Hindi kakayanin ng bigote lang ni Kurt Russell si BB-8.
It’s also worth noting that this is the movie that finally won legendary composer Ennio Morricone his first Oscar award at the age of 87 after being nominated for 7 times. Morricone’s score was one of the highlights of the movie for me and once you watch The Hateful Eight, I’m sure you’ll agree. There’s a feeling of dread for the audience throughout the movie, a feeling that things are going to go south very shortly. Tarantino was able to make us feel this way because of his directing. The strongest attribute to Tarantino’s directing is that he can tell an engaging story using unconventional methods. That includes using the score to set the tone, not telling the story sequentially, and his way of using a narrator only for scenes that will benefit from it. This could have been a very boring film in the hands of another director.
The movie also succeeds in breeding distrust. Like the characters in the movie that are second guessing one another, the audience also doesn’t know which stories to believe in. Walang bida at kontrabida, just a group of characters na hindi mo alam kung mabuti o masama. And even your notion of who is good and who is evil changes throughout the film. Para kang nanunuod ng Game of Thrones. Alam mong lahat sila somehow someway masamang tao. Ang tanong na lang ay kung sino yung pinakapaborito mong masamang tao. Movies are a form of entertainment, sure. But when a movie makes you think and makes you feel something, that’s when it becomes a work of art.
Someone once told me that the problem with Tarantino’s filmmaking is that he has just one style. But that’s not exactly a bad thing because it’s a style so unique that he’s the only one who can do it the right way. And if you happen to like how he writes and directs movies, then you’re sure to enjoy all 8 films in his filmography. I personally believe that it’s a shame that he’s only made 8 movies so far. Watching a Tarantino movie is always such an experience. But if you never cared much for his style, then no amount of convincing will change your mind about him. Whether you like it or not, Tarantino will always be Tarantino.