Geeky Cinephile Musings…
I don't pontificate, I blather.

Capra aegagrus hircus…

Happy, Happy, Mc Happerton 2016 to you all!!!

I’m gonna start this year (and this post) out a bit slowly, because I’m rusty. If you follow me, and you must (all, what, 4 of you?), you’d know that I didn’t write much in 2015.  Well, quite frankly, that’s because 2015 just fucking blew goats.  One-legged goats.  One-legged goats with syphilis.  And cataracts, cos the milky eye of a goat staring at you while you’re blowing it just HAS to be, like, NASTY. (Shudder)

Hopefully this is not your FIRST time reading a post of mine…

At any rate, 2015 was a year that included the loss of my (step, but I hate that) mother to cancer, among other extremely painful things, so I was not much in the mood to write. But, with new years come new reasons to dig deep and move on, and thus I find myself here at the keyboard, tap-tap-tapping away with a glass of rye whisky on the rocks sitting close by, condensating gently, while outside our area is getting its first real cold snap—snow flurries today!!  I’ve built a respectable fire in the grate, and my cat, Fernando, is purring contentedly at my hip.

So now that I’ve got you in a cozy mood, let’s talk about a cozy little cabin in the middle of a blizzard…

THE HATEFUL EIGHT

Now of COURSE, me being the cinephile that I am, I saw this film in 70mm. Luckily there’s a mall nearby that is playing it—the only one in the entire state!! We entered the darkened theater and were immediately met by  a blood red screen with an inky mountain backdrop etched into it, and the word “Overture.”

And I’m thinking, “Oh HELL YEAH, no previews!!!” Good start. Thank you, 70mm projector.

Instantly the screen fills with a blindingly white canvas of snow.  Here we go!

Cut to the end, when I am sitting, staring thoughtfully at the credits.

Oooh! Was that a bit anti-climatic for you? Well, the feeling is mutual.

Just playin’ witcha.  No, seriously.  I liked this film.  Honest! In fact, I was greatly entertained by it, as I am always entertained when watching a Tarantino film.  I could sit here and discuss the 70mm Panavision film and how extraordinarily beautiful it was, at least in the landscape shots.  I could discuss the absolutely sumptuous score by the one and only Ennio Morricone.  But honestly, any review of The Hateful Eight will already have beaten those horses to death.  Is it gorgeously shot? Yes.  Is the staging interesting? Yes.  Is the acting phenomenal? Yes, particularly from Jennifer Jason Leigh…good God, that woman!!! Not so much from Channing Tatum or Zoe Bell (but she IS getting better!!) So yes, overall I liked this film.  But I am beginning to see a pattern here with Tarantino, and I’d like to focus on this pattern.

When Quentin Tarantino first emerged on the scene with Reservoir Dogs, my little video store buddies and I were practically creaming our pants. Here was a truly fresh voice—unrelenting brutality, slick shots, a FABULOUS soundtrack, excellent acting with unexpected faces, but above all—an agile story and the DIALOGUE—ho boy, the dialogue of Tarantino was a wonder to behold.  Every character was the sassiest motherfucker you’d ever seen, and the lines were batted back and forth so quickly you kept discovering new little gems upon rewatches.

And THEN, imagine our excitement when we learned that Tarantino was JUST LIKE US!! A fucking film nerd!!! A video store clerk!!! And he’d hit the big time. And he was rewarding all of us with little nuggets of the directors and genres we all knew and loved, but that other folks didn’t bother noticing.  We, the bruised and battered few, could finally look down at those who DARED ask us if 2001: A Space Odyssey came in a pan-and-scan format that, “didn’t have those big black bars.” We gloated at all the references and gloried in our own knowledge of the independent film world.  And then he went even further—giving us Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown.  By this point, his little “homages” were becoming “plagiarism” in some circles.  I personally never really went down that path, because plagiarism to me is more subtle—he wasn’t being subtle at all!  I knew where he was coming from. I could feel his sheer , unabashed glee at being able to finally give the general public a look into these works and minds that had shaped HIM and so many of us.  And it worked! People that probably had never even HEARD of blaxploitation found themselves scrambling to rent old Pam Grier flics.  Tarantino helped educate theatergoers, and he was part of a crucial group of 90’s filmmakers that I feel ushered in this newer acceptance of the independent film by the mainstream.

So, to put it lightly, we all owe this man some respect. And honestly, he hasn’t yet put out a single film yet that I did NOT like.  However, I feel like I have seen him become progressively more SELF-referential, less focused on the dialogue and story, and of course more focused on the gore and entertainment factors.

P.S. I love gore. So don’t even go there.  I ain’t hatin’.

At this point I feel like he’s sitting in his mansion smoking dope and yammering to a buddy something like, “Wait til you see the NEXT TARANTINO FILM!!! IT’S GONNA BE BALLS OUT MUTHAFUCKING TARANTINOOOOOO!!!!!!!” Because ultimately, with each passing film, I feel like he is becoming a parody of himself. He is CONSTANTLY referencing his own films now, from the Red Apple cigarettes (that weren’t good enough to have sitting out alone on the table, no we must put a fucking SPOTLIGHT on them just in case you didn’t see them, but no wait that’s not good enough, make sure Millie SAYS something about only smoking Red Apple cigarettes, cos for god’s sake DON’T MISS THIS CLASSIC TARANTINO BRAND!!!) to the same stable of actors, to the same fonts, to the same musical choices.

Are any of these things I’m saying negative? No. No, no, no.  They’re all GREAT, particularly the actors.

In the words of Pee Wee Herman…”Everybody’s got a big ‘but’.” So here’s my big but.  I have to say, as much as I am entertained by The Hateful Eight, and as much as I giggled at the jokes and marveled at Jennifer Jason Leigh (GAH!!) and groaned at the laughable gore…I miss the days of the razor-sharp dialogue and referencing of OTHER greats. Now it’s kinda all about HIM, not the films that influenced him.  Yes, he did the 70mm and the overture and the intermission and got Ennio Morricone.  But did he really go the extra mile with this? If you’ve seen the film, don’t you think that he could have done something truly spectacular? That this was a bit of a missed opportunity?

And my theory is that he missed that opportunity because his ego (which always was large, but in a kind of adorable way) has now become wider than that 70mm panorama.  It’s all about him now, isn’t it? And that’s a bit sad to me.  The Hateful Eight doesn’t have that old, irrepressible, childish, Quentin Tarantino joy coming from it.  It feels decidedly more like an old blowhard.

Which brings us back to the goat with cataracts.

And…SCENE!!

quentin

*Snort* Wait! *Snort, Wheeze* Lemme…lemme just get back on the yacht here…

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