Tarantino’s latest film gets exclusive roadshow release
THE SANTA CLARA
January 7, 2016
Walk into any movie theater today and you’re likely to find the same scene. Dated decor and crappy carpeting are drenched in the smell of stale popcorn and rancid butter. The ticket-rippers are either senior citizens or seniors in high school. And the sticky seats sometimes give you lice.
Going to the movies isn’t what it used to be. People used to dress up to go to the theater. They donned their finest suits, dresses and hats to commemorate the occasion. It was grand. It was an event. Moviegoing was revered.
Now, any slob in a smelly T-shirt can pay their $10.50 and see whatever God-awful Michael Bay production has hit their local theater. The exclusivity has evaporated. Until now.
On Christmas Eve, The Weinstein Company premiered Quentin Tarantino’s new film, “The Hateful Eight,” in a select 100 theaters nationwide. These “roadshow releases” served as a throwback to the moviegoing experiences that were common for grand-scale productions (“Gone with the Wind,” “Ben-Hur”) during the middle part of the 20th Century. Audiences received a souvenir program, and were also treated to an overture and an intermission.
In order to accommodate the Ultra Panavision 70-shot film, The Weinstein Company shelled out millions of dollars to repair or install 70mm projectors in 100 theaters. In a time where moviegoing is falling out of fashion, Tarantino and company decided to bring the panache back to picture houses.
I saw “The Hateful Eight” roadshow release on Christmas Eve at the Tower Theater in Sacramento. A city landmark, the Tower was the perfect place to see the film. Built in the late 1930s, the theater features rickety seats, an old-fashioned marquee and a neon-lit tower that has become synonymous with California’s capital.
The sold-out crowd marveled at their specialty programs and moved their way into the theater as Ennio Morricone’s overture created a brooding atmosphere. The film began, and as soon as the title card reading “the eighth film by Quentin Tarantino” came up, the crowd burst into applause.
Without giving much away (because I want you and everyone else to see this movie), “The Hateful Eight” tells the story of eight strangers who find themselves snowed into a haberdashery during a Wyoming blizzard.
Part slow-boil thriller, part parlor room whodunit, it is a violent and funny Western with a cast that includes Tarantino regulars Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Walton Goggins, Tim Roth and Michael Madsen, as well as newcomers Bruce Dern, Demian Bichir and Jennifer Jason Leigh, who delivers a Best Supporting Actress-worthy performance as the conniving and frightful outlaw, Daisy Domergue.
The film is unmistakably Tarantino. The violence is extreme and sudden, the language is coarse and vulgar, the monologues are sprawling and colorful and the runtime is just over three hours.
Director of photography Robert Richardson does excellent work using the Ultra Panavision 70 cameras. The landscape shots are gorgeous and the close-ups reveal all the intriguing nuances of the aged faces of the actors.
Granted, the movie is not for everyone. Most will find it over-the-top, indulgent, esoteric or some combination of the three. As is the case with all Tarantino movies, the film has drawn some controversy. “The Hateful Eight’s” frequent use of the b-word and n-word, has offended some audiences and critics and made them believe that the film is misogynistic and racist. But they couldn’t be more wrong.
Beneath it’s bloody surface, the film grapples with gender and racial tensions during a post-Civil War society to call to mind the current gender and racial tensions that pollute the modern day. It does not condone misogyny or racism. It condemns it.
As much as Tarantino is a student of film, he is a student of society. His films often include references to the alienation of African-Americans (Jackie Brown, Django Unchained) and women (Jackie Brown, Kill Bill) by the white man. The Hateful Eight is no different. If anything, it is Tarantino at his most aggressively political. He’s a progressive, liberal guy. All of his films would suggest so. To think that he is a misogynist or racist is knee-jerk, lazy and frankly, ignorant.
Tarantino has his own style. His movies contain violence and language that makes the more timid among us queasy. And that’s understandable, but if you find his violence objectionable, odds are decent that you also agree “Racism is Bad” and “Women are Equal.”
But rather than preach to the choir, Tarantino chooses to speak about the past and future of American race relations in a way that attracts his predominantly young, white and male devotees who delight in liberal usage of slurs and gore. After the film’s bloody finale, Tarantino leaves with a symbolic call for racial unity despite the American history of violence, highlighting our multiracial society’s common fate.
Plus, for female equality to truly take root in cinema, women must be given roles that run the full spectrum of what men have played. We should be as delighted to see Leigh as a sputtering and racist outlaw as we are to see Rei as the capable and chosen hero of the Star Wars sequels. Women can be bad too, and Leigh might be the most harrowing villain of 2015.
But even if you’re not intrigued by the film’s profound messages, “The Hateful Eight” is still well worth the price of admission. It’s shocking, frequently hilarious and full of terrific performances. Add on the special release pageantry, and you have an experience that is equal parts nostalgic and stirring.
The roadshow release ends on Jan. 8 when the film gets its wide release. It can be seen locally at the AMC Mercado in Santa Clara or the Century Oakridge in San Jose. Don’t wait to rent or stream “The Hateful Eight.” This is a big movie made for the big screen.
Contact Jimmy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org