**/**** Image A Sound A Extras C-
starring Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Bruce Dern
written and directed by Quentin Tarantino
by Walter Chaw Quentin Tarantino's eighth film, The Hateful Eight, features eight hateful people trapped in a small space during a blizzard. The hullabaloo surrounding its release has to do with the production shooting in an extinct widescreen format (70mm anamorphic) and putting up a lot of money so that it can be screened accordingly in select theatres. A few critics have misidentified its vistas as belonging to Wyoming (it was filmed in Telluride, Colorado), which is understandable given that only about five minutes of the 187-minute running-time is spent outside. There hasn't been a Tarantino feature until this one that I haven't loved; I believe he is our finest working film critic. He understands things about the movies he pulls from--that certain traditions of Japanese and exploitation filmmaking are strongly feminist, that blaxploitation was initially empowerment before it was instantly gentrified, that the best slave narratives involve legacies of violence, which is why Lalee's Kin and Django Unchained have a biological connective bridge. I've learned more about movies from watching Tarantino than I have from watching Godard, who's actually trying to teach me something. I think the Kill Bill saga is a remarkable statement about motherhood. I find his dialogue to be distinctive and sometimes exhilarating. I struggled with disliking The Hateful Eight for each of its 187 minutes. It's the first time I've ever understood the popular criticism of Tarantino as self-indulgent, nihilistic, misogynistic, even racist. I don't agree with every charge, but I do get it now. It's the first time, too, that I was troubled by a plot point in his film: there's someone in the piece who hates Mexicans, see, but when we get a flashback to this person engaging with a Mexican, we see that this is a fallacy. I can't figure out if this was intentional; I fear that it wasn't. I fear, more, that this is evidence that for the first time Tarantino has lost control of his screenplay. I also finally felt the loss of Sally Menke, who was his Marcia Lucas. I hope it's not a harbinger of things to come.