Some Ramblings - The Hateful Eight (2015) by Srinivas Kanchibhotla
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'Let's slow it down.....let's slow it waaaaay down'

As unfair as it is that reputation always precedes performance, and nowhere is it more evident than in the daily grind of late night talk shows where even a lesser joke from a well established host receives a more raucous applause than the joke actually deserves, it is more because of the audience being attuned to the frequency of the performer than being simply be overawed by the name or the presence of the same, that even a slightly lesser work is extended a longer slack. There are a few names currently in the business, particularly the ones considered as wordsmiths each with his own individual style, staccato and rhythm, whose works are given a second, third and multiple passes of further looking into even when the output is deemed as tepid in the initial viewing without being summarily dismissed away. That credit is earned over a delectable oeuvre. Case in point, Aaron Sorkin, David Mamet, the Coen brothers and towering above all, the man in question, Quentin Tarantino. The cadence in the words of all the above are unmistakable and distinctly their own. It is as though the words form the thought, than how it is with other writers where the words simply support the thought. It is for this audacity and inventiveness and risk taking even of placing the cart before the horse that the audience sit back and allow them to wallow in their indulgence waiting to see how the impossible could be pulled off. At times when it doesn't work, the disappointment and criticism are greater and louder, but during those moments when the cart starts rolling on its own and start pulling the horse along, the rush and excitement are off the charts. When at the near end of 'Inglorious Basterds', the Bear Jew pulls up his Tommy Gun and takes out the top echelon the Nazi Party, including Hitler, or during the climax of 'Pulp Fiction', the bad guy is left off the hook with a sermon of morality by, of all people, the most trigger happy character in the movie, or when the Bride after going through hell and back over a couple of movies, kills Bill with a simple palm move to the heart, the results are just antithetical, unconventional and wholly unexpected, they are a living embodiment of the Bernand Shaw's words, 'I dream of things that never were and ask why not'.

In his ongoing saga on reimagining historical injustices to different oppressed ethnicities, and in a direct continuation of 'The Black Retaliation' to 'Django Unchained', Tarantino skips a few years past the civil war when all the slaves have received official freedom, but the battle scars of Union and the Confederacy are all still fresh and rancid. 'The Hateful Eight' is one Tarantino's slow burn movies, like Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown and the second edition of Kill Bill, where the emphasis is more on the word than on the sword. As much as the (sometimes gratuitous) violence that usually punctuates his drawn out conversations is kept to a minimum and to the near end of the movie, the violence this time around lurks behind every word and thought than in the actual deed. In fact the movie should have been called 'The Hate Speech'. He falls back on his trusted structure that he unleashed for the first time in 'Reservoir Dogs', of confining a bunch of people to a claustrophobic space where the only way to escape is taking the easy way out of dying a horrible death, and let the eponymous eight slug it out, verbally most of the time, and physically eventually, trying to survive a raging snow blizzard holed up in a haberdashery. If slavery was Tarantino's target in 'Django' it is racism this time around, the natural heir and offshoot of slavery, in 'Hateful'. And like even in the current day and age where a person of color attracts a little extra scrutiny from the law enforcement forced to prove his innocence more than being shown the proof of guilt, when the minds and hearts of the white majority simply have little to zero regard and tolerance to what is clearly a historical and a systemic slight and slant against the black minority, when the society weighs more on the effects of the simmering rage when something boils over than introspect on the causes for it, the pressure cooker situation that gradually builds up to eventually let the steam off finally in that one sudden, loud, and violent gushing out gesture - the structure is classic Tarantino.

In 'Hateful', he pits 7 of a kind (white, of varying degrees of privilege, ignorance and racist tendencies) against a single black man (proud, smart and equally weary and watchful of the other kind) and lets the fireworks fly. And like the Hitler killing moment in 'Inglorious' or the killing of the 'house nigger' in 'Django', Tarantino reserves the obligatory cathartic moment to an unspeakable (and unprintable) act that is both savage and lyrical, both literal and symbolic, the proud act of flipping the bird to centuries worth of institutional prejudice and injustice. The man, however, doesn't seem done with just a couple of movies on black rage, it is as though hs is just warming up and he is still at 1800's. Desegregation, Alabama Church bombing, Mississippi voting rights, Black Panther Movement, Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the issues are still on the anvil waiting for a Tarantino treatment and like that Billy Joel song, 'We didn't start the fire...It was always burning...Since the world's been turning', Tarantino doesn't initiate them, he merely obliges and indulges in them to his heart's content.


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