The Hateful Eight **
Writer/director Quentin Tarantino, who is capable of moviemaking genius, has finally done it...badly. His eighth movie, a fact proudly displayed in the opening credits of “The Hateful Eight,” is a caricature of other, better Tarantino films. Instead of building real tension, as he did so brilliantly in “Inglorious Basterds, “The Hateful Eight” degenerates from a promising start into a campy horror flick set in a blizzard-bound Wyoming cabin in the 1870s. About halfway into the overly long three-hour film, it becomes obvious that his fake epic western is really just a vehicle for gore and multiple attempts at shocking an audience with fake blood. The gratuitous violence, buckets of blood and brain matter become boring after a while, and it’s a shame, as Tarantino’s story, a real whodunit, has merit. The cast, too has plenty to offer with a few standout individual performances. Kurt Russel, Samuel L Jackson, and the deliciously layered character Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), as the bounty hunter’s prize, are all compelling. The disappointment comes in much of dialog written for them by Tarantino; it was sub-par, especially so in a painfully graphic and out-of-place retelling of a rape perpetrated by Jackson’s character. The filming “in glorious 70mm Panavision” is superb; I would have gladly watched stage coaches navigate the snowy birch forests set just in front of the spectacular Rocky Mountains for three hours. Tarantino fans will have to see it, after all he gave us “Pulp Fiction,” “Kill Bill,” “Deathproof,” “Inglorious Basterds,” and “Django Unchained,” but even diehard fans may have trouble swallowing this one.
When Saturday Night Live pals come together to act silly in a feature-length film, you’ll get what might be expected; a series of extended sketches woven into a loosely-knit movie whose plot is less important than its funny lines and situations. Co-producer and star, Tina Fey (30 Rock, Saturday Night Live), teams up with equally funny co-star Amy Poehler (Saturday Night Live, Parks and Recreation) as sisters forced to deal with the sale of their childhood home. A farewell party is planned and predictable mayhem ensues. The scenario gives opportunity to enjoy the comedic talents of Ike Barinholtz (MADtv, The Mindy Project), Maya Rudolph (Saturday Night Live, Bridesmaids), and lesser, but very funny supporting roles by John Leguizamo, James Brolin, John Cena and Bobby Moynihan (Saturday Night Live). It’s a rowdy, crude, perfectly funny film and a decent showcase for a talented cast.
What do those stars mean?