Thursday, 7 January 2016


Contemporary Media seen from the Right

I hate to say this about The Hateful Eight, but my initial response to Quentin Tarantino’s latest offering is that it's just OK. I should say upfront that I am usually a fan and supporter of QT’s work. Maybe it's his weakest film, barring the self acknowledged failure of Death Proof.

It's a bit like John Carpenter’s The Thing transposed to a cabin setting. No monsters, just a villains, say. Tarantino even uses some of The Thing soundtrack by Morricone to make the point. The movie is over two-and-a-half hours of people in one room, basically like a play, which is what it is really. It's seems over-long given that. And did it really need to be shot entirely in 70mm as only the intro, outro, and some connecting scenes are fully cinematic?

It feels a bit like a vanity piece as some have pointed out, but, hey, if he wants to do it that way, let him, in my view. More of a problem is his treatment of race. In the past his films, like Django, have riffed on race hatred, but it sort of worked there, counter-intuitively, as a slavery revenge piece.

There is also a lot of race hatred in The Hateful Eight. That's most of the hate that is in it. But it feels purely sadistic here, as if QT simply enjoys riling up race hatred on both sides – both Black and White. There's lots of anti-White talk, anti-Black talk; there's even some very colourful anti-Mexican talk in this one. But strangely – or not so strangely – there is no anti-Jewish talk! Given his recent political statements, this "appetite for destruction," to borrow a Gunner’s phrase, may also be true of him as a person.

Weinstein brothers, rubbing their hands. 
This all makes this work seem far more trite and nasty, which it certainly can be, at times, and also willfully destructive in a social and artistic sense; all with the Weinstein Brothers smiling on approvingly, while rubbing their hands at the box office receipts.

There is also some rather explicit misogyny, where poor ol’ Jennifer Jason Leigh is beat on endlessly and cruelly by Kurt Russell and others in a rather vile display of female hatred. This is something that the story dynamic does not exactly require.

So, QT’s eighth film is as hateful as its title suggests – and a bit of a mixed bag overall. The performances admittedly are all great to very good, and for about two hours it fully holds you, but again it could have been edited a bit, and you can't help but feel that QT needs to be given a talking to by someone he respects.

I will see it in 70mm – just to see how it looks that way. But I'll be in no mad rush to do so, as, on some level, this is a truly nasty and hateful piece of work. Especially noteworthy is the monologue, where Sam Jackson describes the homosexual rape and murder of his son to Bruce Dern’s character, a retired Confederate General. That will certainly rile a few people on this site and on the Alt-Right in general. No doubt that’s the intention. So, you have been warned.

Addendum to the above review:

Just back from seeing the 70mm Roadshow of The Hateful Eight and I’d like to add this: I might have been a tad harsh on this film. It improves with a second viewing – and also the whole Roadshow thing had me drifting back to watching 70mm films in the Glorious 70s with my Nan and other family and friends as a young kid. So that event feel that he brings to this film is to QT’s credit.

Also, the sub plot of the Lincoln Letter is central. There is a great review around that focuses on that, and there is a transcendent moment at the end, where the two most hateful characters are brought together by a fiction. That’s an important scene that has lifted the film and its preceding mayhem in my eyes as a work of art.

Regarding his politics and that of the film – Tarantino is still transgressive in my view, open to interpretation and edgy in his overt use of racist speech and portraying the world as deeply divided and at conflict over race. I think there can indeed be a Right Wing reading of Tarantino – and the Alt-Right should be open to embrace him, perhaps as a long lost Southern cousin.

The 70mm Roadshow I went to, was filled with 800 arty types, no doubt mostly left-wing and around 98% White with a few Asians and other foreign students. Leftists have few actual multicultural pals. After the show, everyone was like "Ni**er" this and "Ni**er" that, leftist Whites throwing the word around like it was a song. So, don't write off the Alt Right potential of Tarantino just yet. Tally Ho folks!

The Hateful Eight
Directed by Quentin Tarantino
The Weinstein Company

Richard Wolstencroft is a filmmaker, writer, events promoter, and founder and festival Director of the Melbourne Underground Film Festival. He has an interest in Right Wing, Conservative, and Fascist philosophy, politics, and history.

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