This is a proper film’s film, the way it sounds to how you breathe in the richness of the scenes makes you marvel at the way a movie can still be fun yet creative, dark and most of all; a reel substance that pulls you back into a time where films were over the top, part of studio systems and genre specific.
On route to Red Rock is infamous John Ruth the Hangman (Kurt Russell) shackled to his prisoner in the form of Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Their carriage is slowed by an oncoming blizzard and unpredictable bounty hunter Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson). It becomes apparent at halfway stopoff Minnie’s Haberdashery that five new faces may be in league with Daisy to spare her life and kill anyone that gets in the way.
I had the awesome pleasure of seeing this film as intended by the visionary mind of Quentin Tarantino. Leicester Square was projecting the feature in glorious 70mm and it truly was a glorious sight to behold. It adds such a stunning texture and cinematic experience to the story that needs to be seen if you’re any fan of movie-making or Tarantino. The overture sets up the mood with goosebumps and then flickers over the first frame thrust us into that incredible touch of classic film quality. The 12 minute intermission arrives at a perfect point and by the credits I felt like I had taken part in a roadshow experience.
Tarantino shows off as many tricks in the book, for our pleasure and of course his too as you just know he laps up the idea of film and movie history and this movie effortlessly portrays that. The way each scene is carefully set up to linger on characters not only in the foreground but ones doing their business in the background adds the unease and mystery of the narrative. Tarantino also has barrels of fun as we shift into the uncovering aspect of the plot as barrels of fun and blood…lots of blood, spill into action to make us laugh, possibly wince but most of all; realise we’re watching a film that’s all about being entertaining.
Quentin Tarantino as we all know writes his directorial gigs and this screenplay is a marvel to behold. The characters are so well drawn out that even if we don’t ever connect to them we can understand them. They flit in and out of each other’s own backgrounds with interesting purpose and the balls out courage to shoot most of a story in one location really helps the drive of this film as eight untrusting folk get cooped up together knowing death may be around the corner.
As mentioned it’s a proper filmy film, with over the top violence, chapters, narration and slow-motion snippets packaging it as a near perfect Western movie to watch and not take seriously. Yet there are some serious moments amongst the madness and these scenes are executed with gripping tension that gleefully pull us into the plot before stunning us back into reality with a hilarious piece of dialogue or splatterings of deep red blood.
It also looks marvellous, even when we’re panning or cutting back and forth in the haberdashery, there’s a magical and enriched vision to the setting. The details of every corner in this shop/cabin are stuffed full that cry out for repeat viewings so you can not only try and look over characters but the items in the shot too. When we do get outside we get treated to snowy landscapes wonderfully captured by Robert Richardson who gives this harsh wintry environment a breathtaking touch that you don’t want to move away from. I said it over and over last night but the opening shot that slowly moves around and pulls back from a detailed carving of Christ on the cross is one of the most hair-rising and exciting pieces of imagery I’ve witnessed in the cinema for a long time.
Adding with this beautiful curtain raiser and cast/crew credits is a strong and gripping score from big Western composer Ennio Morricone who comes back to the genre for the first time in over 30 years and wow is it worth the wait as every note of the soundtrack tingles with suspense and something looming whilst being playful and true of the Western tropes at the same time. It deserved every inch of the Golden Globe it picked up last night as this film drips with intrigue and only more so because of Morricone’s sublime score.
Samuel L. Jackson eats up the scenes with a comedic character layered with vengeance and race motivated anger, his delivery of QT lines are always smacking the bullseye and it helps give the film zip and zany feelings along the way. Jennifer Jason Leigh is a fascinating watch as she is subjected to cruel words and actions but still demonstrates power as she holds a secret over the room and therefore us watching. She’s funny also but driven and a scene with her, a guitar and a song is greatly placed. Kurt Russell displays fine walrus facial hair and gritty performance playing this gruff hangman who wants to keep to his own alive not dead rule, Russell with Jason Leigh are like a handcuffed married couple that bicker and fight adding a weird sense of mutual hatred yet harmony as they suss each other out and act like children at points. Tim Roth is the man who for me got the best laughs and engagement, I loved his spiffingly top notch turn as Oswaldo Mobray. Walton Goggins starts off annoying but soon becomes a priceless addition as his stab at playing a sheriff becomes more and more interesting. Michael Madsen is the character you may want more from but his gravely voice and brutish cowboy silence slot so well into this ensemble piece.
It’s what you’d expect from Tarantino, indulgent, over the top, brilliantly sharp in writing and class in direction, fun and violent and with this there’s an extra bonus of a murder mystery and single setting to satisfy your cinema taste-buds.