“The Hateful Eight” gets billed as writer-director Quentin Tarantino’s eighth feature film.
Arguably, it’s his least-gratifying effort yet. Once again, Tarantino reheats his all-too familiar leftovers that were once tasty and original, but with each heaping pile of pointless provocation and gratuitous violence have become increasingly stale and way too predictable.
Clocking in at an excruciating running time of 2 hours and 47 minutes, but which seems unnecessarily longer at various stages, Tarantino’s second straight western following “Django Unchained” (2012) plays out like a garish ripoff of Sergio Leone. Not content with taking inspiration and building upon what’s been done previously by the late Italian film icon who introduced “Spaghetti Westerns” in the 1960’s, Tarantino’s self-admitted reverence for this hallowed cinematic territory is little more than a fruitless imitation of far better reincarnates of the same genre made earlier. Likely, his intentions were noble. However, Tarantino is severely lacking in both subtlety and nuance. The script, which he wrote, also could have used a few more drafts. Like every character onscreen, the audience too ends up getting bludgeoned with scenes and dialogue which are clearly intended for shock value, but which leave us numb and unresponsive by the time this senseless exercise has ended.
Maybe it was watching “The Big Short” here in Las Vegas, where the housing crash hit so hard and caused so much pain, which not only made the movie pertinent, but intensely personal.
An evening showing of the film last night in Downtown Summerlin drew nervous laughter, moments of spontaneous clapping, audible gasps, and above all else — visible anger from the packed audience riveted by a cinematic re-creation of the most grotesque national scandal of our lifetimes, the events leading up to the global financial crisis of 2008.
“Star Wars” comes out tomorrow. Everywhere you look, it’s “Star Wars” this and “Star Wars” that. The movie isn’t even out yet, and I’m already sick of fucking “Star Wars.” I think most other people are sick of it, too.
So, let’s do something. Let’s all band together and boycott “Star Wars.” Let refuse to buy tickets to “Star Wars,” then the movie theaters will end up with a shitload of empty seats and lose a ton of money. That will teach Hollywood a lesson that we need more foreign-language documentaries, instead of space ship movies. What a statement that would make! So, who’s with me on this?
“Trumbo” reminds us that tyranny doesn’t produce any heroes or villains. There are only victims.
Nobody wins. Everybody loses.
But some victims lose far more than others, and arguably no collective group of artists suffered more hardships during the fear-ridden Red Scare of the mid-1950’s than the famed or infamous “Hollywood Ten” — the adjective depending upon one’s political leanings. Those receiving subpoenas to testify in front of the House Un-American Activities and later convicted of “Contempt of Congress” charges included successful screenwriters and film directors who were not just blacklisted, but later imprisoned in some cases. Guilty of thought crimes for once allegedly being members of Communist Party USA, or suspected sympathizers who refused to name their so-called conspirators, the Hollywood Blacklist imposed by all the major movie studios for more than a decade ruined careers, caused bankruptcies, broke up families, and even instigated suicides.
Most mornings between 1993 and 2000, I walked uptown from the metro to my workplace on Massachusetts Avenue, along what’s fashionably referred to as “Embassy Row.”
A few blocks from DuPont Circle, a lonely-looking man used to stand outside on the sidewalk and silently protest. Rain, shine, or snow, he came every morning. He usually held a sign up, sometimes two — one in each hand. Occasionally, he handed out flyers on which something was printed and written, although few if any people on the sidewalk stopped long enough to take one. I passed him by frequently. I never took one.