Review: Quentin Tarantino’s ‘The Hateful Eight’ Blends Verbiage and Violence
Quentin Tarantino is a scholar of old movies with a particular antiquarian fetish for the ways they used to be made and consumed. His eighth feature, “The Hateful Eight,” was shot on film with antique lenses and is being projected at some theaters in sumptuous, wide-screen 70-millimeter Panavision.
Mr. Tarantino and his director of photography, the three-time Oscar winner Robert Richardson, revel in the tonal and compositional possibilities of the format. The dense colors and clever shifts in focus hold your attention when the dialogue starts to sputter. There is quite a lot to see and hear. Almost three hours long, “The Hateful Eight” has an overture at the beginning — a static title card accompanied by a sinister and swaggering Ennio Morricone score — and an intermission a little past the midpoint.
The movie is a western, a tale of vengeance and double-dealing set in a frontier outpost some time after the Civil War. In spite of the vast screen, the sprawling length and the larger-than-life genre archetypes, it’s a curiously small-scale entertainment. After a preliminary stagecoach ride through snow-lashed mountains, the ragged story settles into a confined space, where the main characters (a motley crew of outlaws and bounty hunters) drink coffee, warm themselves by the fire, and talk about this and that until it’s time for them to start killing one another.