REVIEW The Hateful Eight: Quentin Tarantino’s Third Bad Film

REVIEW The Hateful Eight: Quentin Tarantino’s Third Bad Film

CW: Racism.

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It should be stated that I am a Quentin Tarantino fan. Not an unrepentant one, an ambivalent one, but a fan nonetheless. I have seen every film in which he earned a credit, I have a Pulp Fiction poster in my room, and the Reservoir Dogs DVD with limited edition packaging so the case LOOKS LIKE A KEROSENE CAN. “How can it be true?” You ask. “Has film school taught you nothing?”

It’s true: Quentin Tarantino’s films seem like an MFA student’s thesis film, with its transparent homages to other films, at best, and are downright racist at worst. Rightfully, he’s become as condemned in academic circles as he is lauded by audiences. I won’t use his aesthetics or meticulous planning to attempt to elevate him; my fave is problematic.

But there are moments, early on in The Hateful Eight, Tarantino’s eighth film, in which rivaling bounty hunters are trapped in a cabin during a snow storm, it seems as if Tarantino will, for once, generate a productive film. Posturing itself as a neo-Western, which assuredly secures Tarantino’s position as the “remix artist” or “post modern filmmaker,” The Hateful Eight evokes everything from John Ford (the first chapter is structured around a stagecoach ride), to McCabe and Mrs. Miller (in large part due simply to the wintry setting, but also because of the insertion of religious icons ritualistically throughout the film and the contemporary folk music choices in the soundtrack, a la The White Stripes’ “Apple Blossom”), to Tarantino’s previous films themselves (the confined who-done-it structure undoubtedly reminds us of Reservoir Dogs, and has just a slight From Dusk ’til Dawn aftertaste. This posturing allows for a wealth of productive commentary–amidst the sentimentalizing of the genre itself–to the extent that it invites a comparison between the modern day and the days of the frontier, or between the modern day and days of Classical Westerns.

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