Every Quentin Tarantino film, no matter how masterfully executed, is ultimately about penile comparison. Tarantino loves all things faux machismo, regardless of era or setting, as long as it can feature misogyny and extreme violence. So, for many, the exclusion of The Hateful Eight from the awards season may seem like a good excuse to happily avoid it like an annual proctology exam -- albeit from a really hot doctor. But, wait a minute, I don't think you should miss this one, and I think you should catch it in a theater while you still have the chance. It's broad, expansive, and engrossing.
I guess you could call it a western/murder mystery set just a few years after the Civil War in snow-covered Wyoming. Basically, Kurt Russell is taking Jennifer Jason Leigh (a wonton murderer) "to town" to be strung-up for a bounty reward when they get stuck in a snowstorm and get cozy at "Minnie's" inn. I don't care to see women getting hit in the face, but, if I have to, I'd rather it be Jennifer Jason Leigh for some odd reason.
So let's talk about the violence: Yes, it's gross and gratuitous, but, in the realm of Tarantino, it's pretty restrained -- a broad qualification, I know, but, with the exception of one brief exercise in carnage, I was able to keep my eyes open throughout, which is not always the case with Tarantino's movies.
Now the length: While not exactly fast-paced, it grabbed my attention, and I never found myself glimpsing at my watch during the two-hour and forty-seven minute testosterone ballet.
And what about those award nominations? I don't get it -- there's plenty to applaud here. Not the least of which is a wonderful performance by child-star legend and Goldie Hawn-lover Kurt Russell that's every bit as "comeback special" as Stallone's turn in Creed -- another ridiculously under-appreciated film this year. Samuel L. Jackson always entertains me, but this is a classic performance that isn't even mentioned in the why-no-blacks-at-the-Oscars fracas.
My theory as to why the cool reception for The Hateful Eight? You know, it's kinda like Woody Allen where it's impossible to question the skill of the artist/director, but, after awhile, the habitual focus on an older man's obsession with neurotic hot girls gets tedious and even icky. You wish that the artist would dip his brush in a different color for a change, and Tarantino's addiction to the color of gore may finally be coming out of vogue. His other addiction of inserting himself into his movies provides the only poor performance which is his distractingly hammy narration between the first and second half.
Still, don't be afraid. Partake of the current Tarantino joint. I highly recommend it.
(Loudinni provides movie reviews without spoilers in 500 words or less.)