*The Hateful Eight* (no spoilers)

by on January 16, 2016 at 12:43 pm in Film, History, Philosophy, Political Science, Uncategorized | Permalink

I don’t like most Tarantino movies, except for Reservoir Dogs and Kill Bill, vol.I.; I usually find his style too mannered and self-conscious.  And I read so many negative or lukewarm reviews in the American press.  But more positive evaluations started to trickle in, as the British Guardian, Telegraph, and FT all gave it five stars, and some of my friends seemed to like it.  One of my canonical views is that when critics have split views on a talented director, you should go see the movie.  I am very glad I did.

Think of the film as a retelling of John Locke’s social compact story, except the individuals are not tabula rasa in terms of history, but rather they bring ineradicable racial and historical backgrounds to the table, epistemically uncertain backgrounds as well.  The game-theoretic solution concepts unfold accordingly.  The setting and details of the story are then set up to spoof Agatha Christie and the British haunted house tradition, except with snow, guns, and the American West as props.

Recommended, even for skeptics, Straussian throughout.

1 The Original D January 16, 2016 at 12:53 pm

This may be the most pretentious review I’ve ever read. Reminiscent of Wayne’s World’s review of Crimes and Misdemeanors.

2 Owen January 16, 2016 at 7:41 pm

Agreed. It’s quite an accomplishment for Tyler to squeeze so much smug condescension into one paragraph.

3 dan1111 January 17, 2016 at 2:28 am

Heh. You mean you weren’t able to do this either?

“Think of the film as a retelling of John Locke’s social compact story, except the individuals are not tabula rasa in terms of history, but rather they bring ineradicable racial and historical backgrounds to the table, epistemically uncertain backgrounds as well.”

4 widmerpool January 16, 2016 at 1:21 pm

Very absorbing and the usual Tarantino profanity and gore, on balance, added rather than detracted. Walton Goggins was excellent, and I’ve always had a weakness for Samuel Jackson’s Pulp Fiction routine, which he essentially reprises here.

Way better than some of the Oscar nominees – Brooklyn, Mad Maxx, Room.

5 Ray Lopez January 16, 2016 at 9:18 pm

I avoid gratuitous violence and horror films (though my Filipino gf half my age loves them), so I’ve never seen any Tarantino films (even Pulp Fiction! Though I’ve seen excerpts and know enough to fake my way if somebody makes a passing reference to some little boy being lectured about an as s whole). However, on the recommendation of Scott Sumner on his blog I did see the American remake of a French classic called “The Sorcerer” which was good in that (1) it depicts the Third World accurately, even today I had to LOL how accurate it was, and, (2) lots of people that should be protagonists die. It’s the genesis (the French 1950s version is) of Tarantino’s films it’s been said, as well as horror films where “everybody dies” (I think of “Final Destination 5”, which I saw in 3D with friends). No spoiler alerts here, since I’ve not seen Tarantino’s films nor do I plan to, but I suspect it’s “everybody dies” and lots of fake blood. Directors like Tarantino and Coen(?) and others take advantage of Puritanical US censors hate of sex and love of violence. My opinion: nothing to see here…move along.

6 Sam Haysom January 16, 2016 at 1:27 pm

I wish one interviewer had asked Tarantino to name the four or five Christie books he was spoofing because the whole snowed in murder on the loose motif isn’t Chrisite at all. It’s humorous how a year ago when he was explaining this movie he likened it to the hostage episodes of Bonanza and The Virginian and then like four months ago threw out the Agatha Christie thing and everyone just kind of went with it.

7 mrmandias January 16, 2016 at 1:57 pm

It is somewhat the plot of her long-running play, Mousetrap I think.

8 Sam Haysom January 16, 2016 at 2:03 pm

Good point.

9 Steve Sailer January 16, 2016 at 7:22 pm

My impression is that Tarantino is dyslexic and doesn’t much read books.

10 Cass1an January 16, 2016 at 1:32 pm

“of John Locke’s social compact story,”
social contract?

11 Matt Buckalew January 16, 2016 at 1:33 pm

No one expects… the British haunted-house tradition.

I’ve always preferred the Finnish haunted-house tradition admittedly you can only really enjoy them if you speak Finnish. I learned about them from one of my Finnish maids.

12 Mike January 16, 2016 at 3:00 pm

How many Finnish maids do you have, exactly?

13 Donald Pretari January 16, 2016 at 1:33 pm

I’m not a Tarantino fan, but I do generally view Kurt Russell films, as I do Jeff Bridges films. I can count on them to show me something that will make watching the film worth it. On the other hand, a few of the other actors in the film are red flags for me.

14 Ben January 16, 2016 at 1:46 pm

This was a terrible film. I didn’t find it funny. I didn’t find it interesting. The action was poor. All of the characters were cliched.

I did find it lacking even the beginnings of taste. I appreciate that prevailing cultural winds are, ahem, blowing in his favor, but I just have no interest in watching watching racially motivated torture and rape.

15 Ben January 16, 2016 at 1:55 pm

Hey come on the dicksucking in question *was* Straussian, and we feel sophisticated and important anytime we are given the opportunity dramatically overuse that word.

16 rayward January 16, 2016 at 2:03 pm

Of course, we don’t need movies to observe the brutality of nature; it’s a daily occurrence in places that abjure the social compact. Does the contrast between movies, which wallow in depravity, and music, which revels in the sublime, mean there is hope for humanity, or despair? I suspect that anarchy and depravity are the natural order of things, which may explain the popularity of movies that depict them. Indeed, the idea that there is a “common good” is considered ludicrous by the most civilized of economists.

17 CL January 16, 2016 at 2:21 pm

The movie is not as bad as Django, Grindhouse, Jackie Brown and Kill Bill Vol. 2. But it’s not as good as Pulp, Dogs and Vol. 1 either. It’s not as good by a galaxy far, far away.

The build-up is nice but then there’s no real delivery.

18 Cliff January 16, 2016 at 11:54 pm

I enjoyed Django right up until the end where the blood fountains began. Then it became pointless. I don’t really understand the point of endless stylized violence. If we’ve seen one or two or five guys magically be blown up and transmuted into 20 buckets of blood by a shot from a revolver we don’t need 1,000 more, we get the point.

19 CL January 16, 2016 at 2:24 pm

The Telegraph is comparing this weak movie with The Thing?! They must be out of there mind.

20 mkt42 January 17, 2016 at 7:17 am

The Telegraph actually makes a good point about the hidden killer among a group of people trapped by ice and snow with Kurt Russell. The number of movies that match that description used to be 1; with “The Hateful 8” it is now 2.

But yeah, weak movie. As I said in another thread, Tarantino’s movies have plenty of action, dialog, imagery, and excellent soundtracks but are empty exercises. He does not have anything worthwhile to say, and thus his films are literally sound and fury signifying nothing.

I stopped seeing his movies after “Pulp Fiction” (and seeing bits of others that were directed or written by him). I went to see “The Hateful 8” because it’s very rare to see a film in 70mm these days. But the movie merely confirmed my opinion of Tarantino’s films; I do not intend to watch any other films by him.

21 John Schilling January 17, 2016 at 11:24 am

Well, except that there isn’t a hidden killer in this one. There is at most a hidden non-killer. Once Kurt Russel interrogates the Mexican in the barn, we know that everyone except the stagecoach passengers is a killer or in league with the killers, and the only remaining question is whether Walton Goggins is one of them as well.

22 Thor January 16, 2016 at 2:40 pm

Can someone recommend a theorist, thinker, philosopher etc., who writes in the Social Contract tradition a’la Locke or Rousseau, but who does not assume a tabula rasa “background”?

23 efim polenov January 16, 2016 at 6:48 pm

Miguel de Unamuno.

24 Donald Pretari January 16, 2016 at 3:34 pm

The word on the street is that Tarantino is planning a non-cartoon film version of Assy McGee.

25 John Schilling January 16, 2016 at 4:09 pm

I consider this to be one of Tarantino’s weakest films, though admittedly that is sort of praising with faint damns. “Eight” reveals enough about each of its characters to make me utterly indifferent to their fates, then runs on for an extra forty-five minutes or so. It gives us some first-rate dialogue, always one of Tarantino’s strong points, but requires high-grade idiot plotting to keep the characters from killing each other long enough to deliver said dialogue. And trying to justify this as a Straussian exercise in social contract theory or whatnot, strikes me as pretentious twaddle.

26 BBurke January 16, 2016 at 4:35 pm

I’ve gotta be honest.. I couldn’t disagree more. Really Tarantino is really just making the same movie over and over again at this point, and no one seems to want to call him on it. Was there any appreciable way “Eight” was different then Django or Inglorious Bastards? Is there any reason it couldn’t have been 30-40 minutes shorter? I think if any other director had made this film the reviews would have been brutal.

27 Anon January 16, 2016 at 8:40 pm

+1

28 Ben January 17, 2016 at 12:58 am

What similarities?

Engaging in absurdly gratuitous violence against some politically correct group always involving racial tension and usually involving rape.

Note that the quality of the banter and originality of the characters has gone down in each film.

29 So Much For Subtlety January 16, 2016 at 6:12 pm

So he has taken an old John Wayne film, added some Samuel Peckinpah-style violence, and laid over it a great deal of racial resentment and torture porn?

Sounds delightful.

I have always assumed that Tarantino was one of those teenage boys who buy rap music so they can say the N-word and then giggle themselves to sleep. Except he never grew out of it. He knows that if he wants to use the N-word he has to provide the right context. So he is basically trolling the Black community and the Left. He knows what he has to pretend to be doing in order to do what he really wants to do – he pretends this is about civil rights, but it isn’t. It is about making money out of the cruelty of slavery. Although in fairness I think he would do it for free.

One day he is going to be too honest about what he really thinks and then his career will be over.

30 Euripides January 18, 2016 at 9:21 pm

I enjoyed it with some caveats, some I can put into words, and some I cannot. One of the great things about westerns is the awesome scenery. Don’t get much of that in this movie, 90% is filmed inside a cabin and it is snowing.
For my taste Django is a superior movie to this one.

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