November 26, 2020 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

Is the time right for “Hateful Eight”

Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Hateful Eight’ 70mm Roadshow, COMING SOON TO A THEATER NEAR YOU.    PHOTO Courtesy of The Weinstein Company
Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Hateful Eight’ 70mm Roadshow, COMING SOON TO A THEATER NEAR YOU. PHOTO Courtesy of The Weinstein Company

BY STEVE ERICKSON  |  When the Fraternal Union of Police spokesman accused Quentin Tarantino of hypocrisy for making violent films while denouncing real-life police brutality, he didn’t simply show an inability to tell the difference between reality and fiction. He suggested that he wasn’t paying close attention to Tarantino’s recent films.

As with earlier works like “Reservoir Dogs,” Tarantino veered between playing violence for comedy and offering a relatively realistic treatment of what it’s like to be shot in the gut. In “Death Proof,” “Inglourious Basterds” and “Django Unchained,” the director depicted violence as a means for oppressed people – women viewed as prey by a misogynist serial killer, Jews during World War II, African-American slaves – to punch up. If these films glorify violence, they do so under very limited circumstances.

“The Hateful Eight” is being presented in big cities in 70mm, with an intermission dividing its seven “chapters” in two. It’s set a few years after the Civil War, in Wyoming as a blizzard approaches. Bounty hunter John Ruth (Kurt Russell) and his captive Daisy (Jennifer Jason Leigh) are traveling in a stagecoach towards the town of Red Rock. There, John intends to hang her. They are stopped by former Union soldier Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) and Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), who claims to be the new sheriff of Red Rock. They find shelter from the storm at a small inn called Minnie’s Habderdashery, but Minnie and her family are nowhere to be seen.

Tarantino’s films, with the exception of the relatively blood-free “Jackie Brown,” have always offered a combination of extreme talk and extreme violence. This combination, as well as the fact that his dialogue is filled with profanity and slurs, seems to make them go down easy with mainstream American audiences, despite the fact that Tarantino cites wordy French New Wave director Eric Rohmer as an influence. His use of the N word reaches new heights in “The Hateful Eight,” although it’s arguably  historically justifiable for these particular characters in the 1860s,  and his characters say “bitch” more often than Dr. Dre as well.

The most sympathetic character in “The Hateful Eight” is a black man who forces a white man to give him head. Tarantino takes racist fantasies, like the violent slave revolt of “Django Unchained,”  and flips them around with empathy for African-Americans. The final “chapter” of “The Hateful Eight” is called “Black Man, White Hell.” It sounds like one of the pulp crime novels of Donald Goines or Iceberg Slim, and I’m sure the resemblance is deliberate. Strangely, Tarantino has yet to create a gay character, but he’s repeatedly depicted male-on-male rape. His much-remarked foot fetish makes its presence felt in “The Hateful Eight” as well.

At first, Daisy  seems like an utterly demeaning role for Leigh to take. She shined in films like Ulu Grosbard’s “Georgia” and David Cronenberg’s “eXistenZ,” but after turning 40, roles dried up for the actress. John uses her as a human punching bag in the opening scenes. Yet the character has a startling resilience and inner strength. If she gets abused by men, she’s capable of scheming to murder them in turn. She survives longer than some of her tormentors. She even gets to sing a song about her travails. It’s no slight to the male cast members to say that Leigh gives the film’s most memorable performance.

Much of the violence in “The Hateful Eight” resembles a splatter film like Sam Raimi’s “The Evil Dead.” By the second half, the floor of the cabin is littered with bodies and blood. Tarantino obviously gets a kick out of showing men vomit huge quantities of blood or blowing someone’s brains out suddenly. Yet he shows the consequences of violence as well. When characters who’ve been shot in the leg try to walk around, the film emphasizes their pain. There are long, unpleasant close-ups of Daisy  covered in splattered brain matter; the initial shooting that sprayed her with this material may be played as a joke, but the aftermath isn’t.

If Tarantino’s work has been growing more political, “The Hateful Eight” is a small step backwards. While an ending revolving around a forged letter from Abraham Lincoln could hardly be called entirely apolitical, the film engages with the Civil War and racism without the urgency of “Django Unchained.” It delivers a view of American history as a bloodbath without redemption or hope, to be true, but it never gets nearly as disturbing as his previous depictions of slavery . It’s missing the sense of horror at gun violence permeating American life now, and best expressed cinematically in Spike Lee’s “Chi-raq.” Still, it’s hardly a thoughtless thrill ride.

in FILM
Related Posts

Tubi Increases LGBTQ+ Programming

November 22, 2020

November 22, 2020

In a day and age where representation matters Tubi, a free streaming service, is currently offering a premium selection of...

Undocumented LGBTQ Activist Puts An Emphasis On Voting

October 29, 2020

October 29, 2020

Queer and undocumented filmmaker Armando Ibañez is releasing the videos of 9 undocumented LGTQ+ activists speaking on the importance of...

To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar 25th Anniversary

September 12, 2020

September 12, 2020

The cult classic “To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar” hugely popular in the LGBTQ+ community celebrates its 25th...

OUTFEST Announces “Taiwan Program”

September 6, 2020

September 6, 2020

The 2020 Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ Film Festival in partnership with the Ministry of Culture, Taiwan (R.O.C) and Taiwan Academy...

Long Beach QFilm Festival

August 30, 2020

August 30, 2020

The 2020 Long Beach QFilm Festival, is a celebration of the rich diversity and experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender,...

Award-Winning Gay Producer Ash Christian Dead at 35

August 23, 2020

August 23, 2020

Lauded producer, actor, director, and writer Ash Christian died in his sleep while vacationing in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on Thursday...

31st GLAAD “Virtual” Awards

July 15, 2020

July 15, 2020

GLAAD the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, today announced that it will host...

Los Angeles Premiere of Latinx LGBTQ Film at Outfest Fusion

February 26, 2020

February 26, 2020

“Acuitzeramo” screening March 9 By Staff Writer Outfest Fusion presents the Los Angeles premiere of Cabaldana Alchemy’s short film “Acuitzeramo”...

USC One Archives to Host Screening of Film on Black Trans Woman to Honor Black History Month

February 1, 2020

February 1, 2020

Meet Mary Jones, a black transgender woman born in New York in 1803. Described as a “man-monster” in the press. ...

HRC to Honor Dan Levy, Janelle Monáe at Award Ceremony in DTLA

January 27, 2020

January 27, 2020

Award Season is upon us, and the LGBTQ+ Community is not immune. HRC announced today that actor Dan Levy will...

LGBTQ+ Ally Taylor Swift to Receive GLAAD’s Vanguard Award

January 7, 2020

January 7, 2020

GLAAD announced Tuesday, Jan. 7 that Taylor Swift with receive the Vanguard Award at the 31st Annual GLAAD Media Awards. ...

5 Holiday Movies and TV Episodes Featuring Happy Queer Plot Lines

December 22, 2019

December 22, 2019

Christmas is just around the corner and yet, you’re still searching for more holiday cheer? Flip on Lifetime or Hallmark...

Hallmark Apologizes, Reinstates Commercials Featuring Same-Sex Couple

December 16, 2019

December 16, 2019

Hallmark Channel faced a wave of social backlash after its parent company – Crown Media Family Networks – quietly removed...

‘Tis the “Season of Love” in Queer Holiday Rom-Com

November 30, 2019

November 30, 2019

Every holiday season traditional and streaming networks create a ton of holiday romantic comedies but they consistently fail to create...

Documentary Honors Los Angeles’ LGBTQ+ Vets for Veterans Day

November 11, 2019

November 11, 2019

In honor of Veterans Day, some LGBT Senior Veterans at the Los Angeles LGBT Center shared their stories and experiences...