Film Review by Jon E Clist
Sometime after the Civil War, a stagecoach hurtles through the wintry Wyoming landscape. Bounty hunter John Ruth (Russell) and his fugitive captive Daisy Domergue (Jason Leigh) race towards the town of Red Rock, where Ruth will bring Daisy to justice. Along the road, they encounter Major Marquis Warren (Jackson) and Chris Mannix (Goggins) Lost in a blizzard, the bunch seeks refuge at Minnie's Haberdashery. When they arrive they are greeted by unfamiliar faces: Bob, who claims to be taking care of the place while Minnie is gone; Oswaldo Mobray (Roth), the hangman of Red Rock; Joe Gage (Madson), a cow puncher; and confederate general Sanford Smithers (Dern). As the storm overtakes the mountainside, the eight travelers come to learn that they might not make it to Red Rock after all.
I think that I can honestly say that having Quentin Tarantino introduce his latest film in person was a very apt and supercool way to start the cinematic experience. That might sound as though there’s a boast going on in regards to having that opportunity however it is something more than that. In my time in the media there have been plenty of movies and songs that on first watch or listen, I didn’t love and yet when I found out a little more of the “behind the art” story, the films and songs have endeared themselves onto me in a deeper and more intriguing manner. To hear Tarantino talk about his love for the classic western TV shows and the inspiration for this story, it helped to put it more into context. I am sure that I would have still loved and enjoyed the film without this explanation but it certainly did connect the characters and their stories to me in a more interesting manner.
Quentin Tarantino explained in interviews only after the film was released that the very earliest concept of what became this story was a sequel to Django Unchained he began as a novel called 'Django in White Hell'. However, he did not get far with the novel before he realized that it didn't work to have a character whose morals were known to the audience beforehand, nor a character you felt was fairly sure to survive. Tarantino withheld this trivia from interviews until after the film's release because he was already contesting false reports that the movie would be a sequel to Django Unchained and didn't want to further muddle early public expectations. This is also why, in the wake of the script's leaking online, he was considering taking the story back to novel form when he considered cancelling production. While this film shares many elements to the Django Unchained story, it works so much better as a standalone that brings new characters to the fray.
This is a film that consists of eight characters that are all a bit on the dark side of the spectrum. Each has their faults and as the name of the film alludes, they are all hateable to varying degrees and for an assortment of reasons. The casting has been beautifully assembled in order to bring these complex and darkly alluring characters to life. Each actor delivers a stunning performance that brings vast amounts of humour to the story. My favourite character is that of the Sherriff as played by the wonderful Walton Goggins. Coming from a brilliant run and Boyd Crowder on the television show Justified, here Goggins brings the menace, the redneck and laughs tighter for a role that will likely become the one that he is known for.
For the most part, the roles of Major Warren, John Ruth, Oswaldo and Joe Gage were written with Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Tim Roth and Michael Madsen in mind. The role of Daisy Domergue was less specific and many actresses were considered, before Jennifer Jason Leigh was cast. Quentin Tarantino said: "Daisy became one of the most interesting characters because she's on the page, but she's not on the page; an actress literally needs to invest in playing that character from beginning to end. They have to get you to that last chapter. It had to be an actress I could trust, and also a performer you enjoy watching her character work. When Jennifer came in she was very impressive in the reading, but what really got me was I'd just starting watching a bunch of her movies. I had a whole Jennifer Jason Leigh film festival. I watched one and I couldn't wait to put the next one in, she was such an entertaining actress, especially about that time in the 90s, like eXistenZ, Georgia, and especially Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle. Those movies were built around her. Her performance was the center of the movie, and everything was built around that, and that's what was needed for Daisy."
This attention to detail is so apt for this central role within the film and Scott Leigh is so weird, quirky and perfect in the role. She spends most of her screen time either bleeding, covered in blood and laughing like a crazy cat lady.
The film's score is something rather amazing and certainly brings the tension and levity at exactly the right moments. This is the first western scored by Morricone in 40 years. On a side note, Quentin Tarantino has said that some of the Ennio Morricone's compositions for the film are the unused scores for the 1982 film The Thing.
Then there is the song sung by Daisy in a pivotal moment within the story. This was performed by Jennifer Jason Leigh live on set. The soundtrack for the film features the song along with the sounds of the wood being hammered into the door and dialogue by Kurt Russell.
From a visual side of things, this is a stunning film and has been delicately crafted to bring something rather special to the big screen. Tarantino’s choice to film in Ultra Panavision 70 comes across superbly and although before seeing the film I thought I came across as a bit of a self-indulgent move, it has certainly paid off visually in not only fitting the western style, but also being just plain amazing visually. This is only the eleventh film to be shot in this Ultra Panavision process. A film has not used this extremely rare process since nearly 50 years before The Hateful 8 for the film Khartoum back in 1966 This also makes it Quentin Tarantino's second film, after Jackie Brown, to not be filmed in the 2.35 format. He is certainly about trying new things and it can come at a cost financially but also emotionally I would guess.
Unfortunately for the production of the film, during the scheduled shooting dates on location in Telluride, Colorado, there was a long streak of nice weather. Large fans and starch, and large overhead sunblocks were used in many of the outdoors blizzard shots to try to recreate a blizzard. A large amount of the much-needed snow melted away and production was placed on hiatus. As a fun attempt to try to get more snow, many of the cast and crew members including Quentin Tarantino, Samuel L. Jackson, and Kurt Russell participated in a local "ski burn", making an offering to the "snow gods" to try to get it to snow. Coincidentally (or not...) a couple days later, a large storm came in and dropped a large amount of snow so filming could continue.
Very cool... Super funny, rather bloody... Beautifully filmed, slightly too long but still paced well... and of course full of delectable dialogue that is spectacularly delivered in a way that only Tarantino can produce.
Releases: 21st January 2016
Rating: R18 – Contains graphic violence, sexual violence & offensive language
Duration: 187 minutes
Rating: R18 – Contains graphic violence, sexual violence & offensive language
Duration: 187 minutes
Starring: Channing Tatum, Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michael Madson, Bruce Dern, Tim Roth, Demian Bichir, Walton Goggins and Zoe Ball
Director: Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained)
Quentin Tarantino announced in 2015's Comic-Con that Ennio Morricone would compose the score for the film. Tarantino remarked that it would be the first western scored by Morricone in 40 years. Tarantino had previously used Morricone's music in Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004), Death Proof (2007), Inglourious Basterds (2009) and Django Unchained (2012). Morricone also wrote a brand new song, Ancora Qui, for the latter. Despite alleged tensions between the two, Tarantino decided to have Morricone on board to write new and original music for the movie. This will be the first film by Tarantino to use mainly an original musical score. Most of Tarantino's previous films have used mainly source music, with only a few cues of original score written for the film.
After the script leaked online, Quentin Tarantino did not want to make the film. But after they did a brief reading of the script in L.A. the cast were stunned and got excited for the film and with Samuel L. Jackson persuading him to do this film, Tarantino accepted.
According to Quentin Tarantino his two primary cinematic influences on the film were The Thing (1982) and Reservoir Dogs (1992).
As of 2015, almost all movie theaters worldwide had their film projectors replaced with digital projectors, as traditional film stock was no longer in favor. As a great fan and supporter of celluloid, Quentin Tarantino aggressively fought with global distributors for the film to be shown in its original Ultra Panavision 70 presentation. As a result, 50 theaters internationally were retrofitted with anamorphic lensed 70mm analog film projectors to display the film as he intended it to be seen. The film was released on December 25, 2015 as a roadshow presentation in 70mm analog film format theaters exclusively before being widely released in digital theaters on December 30, 2015. The Weinstein Company spent $8-10 million to find, procure, rebuild, and install 70mm analog film projectors and to train the 200 projectionists needed to operate them in the 96 US theaters ($80,000+ per location) that showed the roadshow version of this film.
There are three subtle references to Django Unchained (2012) in the film. First, when we meet Major Warren, he is sitting on top of 3 corpses and a saddle. This saddle was previously owned by Django and the second is in Minnie's Haberdashery. Sitting on the floor of the haberdashery is Django's green corduroy jacket. Both of these references have been confirmed by Samuel L. Jackson. Also, Walton Goggins' character is called a 'hillbilly' in both films.
At one point, Michael Madsen's character says the line, "a bastard's work is never done" which was the tagline on the poster for Inglourious Basterds (2009).
This will be Quentin Tarantino and Samuel L. Jackson's sixth collaboration. Jackson made a cameo in Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004) and was a Narrator in Inglourious Basterds (2009).
Early test screenings had a runtime of over 3 hours and included an intermission.