Sometimes I play a game so that I don’t eat my popcorn at the movies all at once – wait for a certain word to be said or an actor to appear. Going into The Hateful Eight, I decided I wouldn’t eat until the first gunshot; fortunately, my self control was pitiful and I caved after 20 minutes or so because Eight is a slow burn. And I mean that positively. Quentin Tarantino’s eighth film (as if that hasn’t been stressed enough) is a whodunit set in post-Civil War Wyoming. In a single “day” nearly all inside Minnie’s Haberdashery, two bounty hunters, one’s captive, a Confederate general, a sheriff, a hangman, a cowboy, and a Mexican (phew) find themselves stuck together in a snowstorm. Various tensions, like race and gender and class and roots, build throughout this 187 minute masterpiece, and being Tarantino of course it’s violent (eventually) and excessive but it’s also remarkably theatrical, hilarious, and stunning.
Shown in 70mm film, hearing the projector clicking behind me and seeing a ridiculously large, crisp picture felt more submersing than any film experience I could have imagined. The limited time roadshow came complete with a beautiful program and plenty of “ooh”s and “ah”s. Whether or not one appreciates the viewing experience, the amount of work that went into the cinemas using such dated (and arguably forgotten) equipment is thrilling. Pair this with its sheer attention to detail and Eight easily becomes the most beautiful film of the year. The (few) locations are astounding, and the refrigerated set allows the intimate feel of Minnie’s to be exaggerated to a point of reality, in which each spoken word comes with visible breath. Chalk-full of dialogue (but using silence wisely), Eight is a story of each character telling stories. Getting to learn about each individual provides momentum to the mysteries until a wild few minutes before intermission. From theatrical to cinematic extreme, Tarantino keeps the second half of the film bloody, tense, and absolutely hysterical.
As soon as it ended I wanted to see Eight again. Stefon would maybe go far as to say, this film has everything – an interesting plot, dynamic cast, tense drama, laugh out loud humor, gore and guts, and it looks good to boot.