LIVONIA, MI – For the last ten years I have been hearing about how we are living in a higher age of spiritual consciousness. The new age philosophies from Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra and others have been rammed down our throats. I would almost believe this to be true so imagine my surprise when I walked up to the ticket window to see the new Tarantino film only to find that it was SOLD OUT. In fact, the new Ultra Panavision 70MM Roadshow which opened on Christmas day has been continuously selling out.  I had to grab my ticket at 10:45PM and had to order mine online.

This has to be one of the most gruesome films I have seen in quite a while and yet…. This thing is packing the people in. This kind of reminds me of when, “The Exorcist” first opened. I believe that opened up on Christmas day back in 1973 if you can believe it. Human nature is something that hasn’t changed much over the years no matter how much positive good vibes you throw at it. People like to see something outrageous, gory and insane and it doesn’t get much darker than the, “Hateful Eight”.

Now don’t get me wrong because I was excited to see this film. I have been looking forward to seeing it ever since I heard about the screenplay getting leaked or stolen a few months back.  First, I want to tell you about the whole Roadshow concept. Big Hollywood blockbusters used to offer this kind of fanfare for the audience back in the 50’s and 60’s. Typically you would get a soundtrack overture of the film, extra scenes, an intermission and a take home full color promotional book to show all your friends. It was bragging rights for the fans and it was done for films like “Ben Hur”, “It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World”, “Gone With The Wind”, “Lawrence Of Arabia” and so on. This was Tarantino’s way of also saying thank you to the real fans of his work. After all this was his eighth film so why not give the people something special – right?

It’s tough to love Quentin Tarantino’s characters because they are so ugly on the inside and on the outside. It is hard to imagine these kinds of hateful people in our world but we know they do exist. Tarantino brings us closer to this manic ugliness by shooting the film in a close up range of 70MM. Now the scenes are in your face and you feel claustrophobic with the characters. You really are in tight quarters in the stage coach ride which opens up the film and feel trapped in the wooden shack out in the country. The attention to detail is most disturbing. When I saw the red jelly bean on the floor of the shack known as Minnie's Haberdashery I knew it was placed there intentionally by the director and was one of the main reasons this film ratio was chosen.

The pace of the film was not a problem for me. Yes, it was slow moving but there was plenty to keep you entertained. The characters alone were captivating enough. You had Kurt Russell as John Ruth who was hell bent on taking his bounty hunter prize Daisy Domergue to Red Rock to be hung by the neck. Daisy was played by a barely recognizable Jennifer Jason Leigh whom in the past has played loud mouthed prostitutes and other bottom rung minor characters. This time she shines as being a wretched creature and her true evil persona throughout the film continues to grow in nature. Then you have Samuel L. Jackson who plays Major Marquis Warren who is interesting as another bounty hunter. He has bounty cargo too only his are dead and his intention is to take his corpses back to Red Rock to get paid. Kurt Russell’s character agrees to help and protect his newfound colleague, (Samuel L. Jackson) so they can both get their rewards.

The problem is there are other people along the journey who have bad intentions. There are a lot of unexpected mishaps along the way and really screw up the plans. One character in the cast who plays a major role is a fierce Wyoming winter storm. This complicates the agenda and leads to all of the unlikeable rough house characters to shack up together to brave out the storm.

There was never a date mentioned on when this all took place but we can agree that it was back in the 1800’s. Bruce Dern plays Confederate General Sandy Smithers and Samuel L. Jackson’s character claims to have an authentic letter from Abraham Lincoln. The other characters in the film are affectionately known as, “The Little Man”, “The Sheriff” and “The Mexican”. They are a bunch of roughnecks from the early days of America and their guns do all the talking. This is a common theme with all of Tarantino flims – the man loves guns. You will notice Tim Roth and Michael Madsen in this film who both starred in, “Reservoir Dogs” and this film kind of feels like that at times. There are echoes of Tarantino’s earlier films in this one.

The music is by Ennio Morricone who has written music for some of the greatest westerns ever made. His scorecard includes The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Once Upon a Time in the West, The Untouchables and Days of Heaven. The mood here is tense and on the edge. At one point I busted out laughing because I couldn’t take it anymore. The music had reached this frenzied pitch while two of the rabble rousers would driving in iron stakes and rope into the ground that led to the outhouse. It’s a short scene where the music just abruptly ends and I was actually relieved. It was this kind of artful placement of sound, music and context that led me to believe that something wicked was definitely on the way.

After the Intermission I was convinced that I really had no clue how this plot was going to all come together. But one thing was for certain and that was Daisy Domergue, (played by Jennifer Jason Leigh) was pure evil.  Even though she was small and frail she carried a bravado about her that comes out as the film progresses. We realize that we are dealing with a monster after all.  The plot unfolds so that there are no loose ends and you are trapped along with these hateful people right until the surprise ending.

The movie is broke up into chapters. It is also arranged out of order so you have to mentally put the pieces together before it all makes sense. But it is not as severe as his earlier work in, “Pulp Fiction” but it is a cinematic device that we have seen before. The titles of each chapter feel specially chosen and are very detailed which causes the audience to pay attention. You are hooked into the subtleness of the scenes as they are played out. You get caught up in the articulate nature of how the characters interact with each other.

It will be interesting to see how many of these scenes will be included in the film’s national release. I understand that the Roadshow is a special presentation of the film.


TARANTINO SIDE NOTE: Meeting Up With The Director’s Work For The First Time

ANN ARBOR, MI – Before the web we heard a lot of stories on the street about this guy named Quentin Tarantino. The tips came in from video store clerks, radio show people, on campus film buffs and some mentions in a magazine called, “Film Threat”. At least, that is how I remember it and the deal was that Quentin was supposed to be this new visionary of film. The cool thing was that we found out he was just like the rest of us. He didn’t go to film school but worked in a video rental place and had watched a ton of movies until he learned what kind of things worked and what didn’t. We also knew he was incredibly violent and loved Hong Kong cinema.

This is going back a ways so I remember bits and pieces of this. The deal was me and my buddies were going to watch, “Reservoir Dogs” at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor when it was first released. Nobody was going to get in our way and that was the deal. I used to work in a campus shopping mall as a security guard back in those days. I had the night off. One of my buddies also worked there. He actually skipped work and met us at the theater and we all sat up in the balcony together. We smuggled in bottles of Jack Daniels and we watched the movie together and had a good ol’ time. I distinctly remember looking to my co-worker on my left and seeing his security badge sewed into his work shirt which made me laugh. It also made me wonder, “Who the hell was watching the mall right now? What if some nitwit pulled a fire alarm over as we watched the movie? There could be cops and fire department crawling through the floors looking for one of us… RIGHT NOW… you know?’.

But then I also knew that we were watching a piece of cinematic history and that we were making a significant memory. It’s funny to think I put that thought together back then because film directors, cult flims and sensations come and go.

But there was always something special about Quentin.







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