If you were to make a list of indisputably great filmmakers, Quentin Tarantino would find his way to the top. After owning the 1990s with exploitation classics such as Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, Tarantino has continued to baffle, challenge and often disgust movie goers. From Kill Bill to Jackie Brown, Tarantino’s films have gathered an intense following thanks to their pure entertainment value, Tarentino’s own distinctive style and perhaps most importantly his own brand of commentary. Namely, a very brash form of commentary. A total of 110–that would be the number of times the “n-word” was used in his tale of Southern revenge, Django Unchained. Controversy surrounding his movies can be found across the industry, beginning with his use of violence and language, and including his portrayal of race relations. The last point of contention has become increasingly relevant. Tarantino’s most recent films, Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight (at Dartmouth Feb. 27), are all perfect storms of Tarantino brilliance. Combining violence, wit and satire, all three are set in politically charged eras and pit ideologies or races against one another. The Hateful Eight, his 2015 contribution, is also his entry into a national debate involving race, police brutality and free speech.
The film, set in post Civil War Wyoming, is a classic “whodunnit” with fantastic performances by Samuel L. Jackson and Jennifer Jason Leigh, and an award-winning score from Ennio Morricone. Tarantino shot the movie with 70mm Pana-vision film (Ben Hur, Lawrence of Arabia), but more importantly, allowed for controversial dialogue.
Leading up to a Christmas Day release, his highly anticipated eighth film was followed by more questions regarding violence and language, but also by threats of police boycotts. These threats came after the Oscar-winning director told the crowd at a Manhattan protest of police violence that if anything were actually being done about the issue, “murdering cops” would be in jail. He later clarified on Real Time with Bill Maher that he did not view all police officers in this light, but rather that it was a “bad apple” problem, and that the “thin blue line” was becoming a major constraint upon justice.
The Hateful Eight is yet another masterfully complex addition to the Tarantino canon. A biting script, ingenious pacing and breathtaking cinematography all combine to create a truly unique movie going experience. Not to mention that The Weinstein Company spent millions to outfit theaters with 70mm film projection equipment, increasing the aura of the experience. Whether you are a true Tarantino fan, a movie lover or are drawn in by our current climate of conflict, The Hateful Eight will not disappoint. Make sure not to miss it when it comes to Dartmouth!
Updated 3/24/16: The Hateful Eight screened on Saturday, Feb. 27, 7 pm, in the Loew Auditorium of Dartmouth’s Black Family Visual Arts Center. For information about upcoming films at the Hop, go here.