By Bill Wine
KYW Newsradio 1060

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Is it hateful? Not exactly.

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Are we grateful? Not exactly.

So, yes, here we sit, on the fence, disappointed after getting our hopes way up.

We’re processing The Hateful Eight, the eighth film (depending on what counts for what) from audacious auteur Quentin Tarantino that starts off so promisingly, its director’s love of pure cinema dripping from every frame in the early reels.


(2 stars out of 4)

(2 stars out of 4)


Alas, there’s just not enough good will and bad blood generated to sustain us when the film starts chasing its own tail, which it does and then some in the late going.

We’re in scenic wintry Wyoming shortly after the Civil War. A stagecoach racing toward the town of Red Rock carries a bounty hunter, played by Kurt Russell, and his accused-murderess prisoner, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh. On the way, they encounter a former Union soldier turned bounty hunter, played by
Samuel L. Jackson, and a newly appointed sheriff, played by Walton Goggins.

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With a blizzard headed their way, they all find refuge in Minnie’s Haberdashery, a way station on a mountain pass in which are four other suspicious-looking characters, played by Bruce Dern, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, and Demian Bichir. Who they really are and what if anything each of them is up to we’ll know soon enough.

A western this may be, but before long we realize that it is also essentially an indoor, even claustrophobic, Agatha Christie mystery.

Tarantino’s extravagantly idiosyncratic dialogue is always fun for the actors (none more so than Russell, who heats up his trademark riff on John Wayne) and for us. At least for a while. But in this case, the director employs too long a leash on his talented octet of players and his rat-a-tat-conversation piece – which runs over three hours, and in some theaters includes an overture and an intermission – absolutely cries out for some judicious editing.

Tarantino’s (Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds, Jackie Brown, Django Unchained) justifiable pride in the words he puts in people’s mouths, as well as the fondness he has for his ensemble, work against him and at about the halfway point stop doing service to the story being told and start seeming like a seminar in unadulterated Showin’ Off.

Then there’s the violence and the race-baiting, two more Tarantino trademarks.

Given the time and place, both are appropriate. But both are dished out in blizzard-like frequencies so far over the top that the law of diminishing returns surrounds Minnie’s and refuses to leave. And the mystery to be solved doesn’t matter enough to distract us from our disapproval of the priorities on display.

So we’ll point a revolver at 2 stars out of 4 for The Hateful Eight, a western omelet served up by Quentin Tarantino with all the trimmings, about half of which we didn’t order and don’t want.

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