The Hateful Eight (2015)
Quentin Tarantino's most recent film is set in a frigid and desolate Wyoming winter, where in the first few minutes he gives us a long and lingering closeup of a snow-covered Christ on a cross — one of the most famous violent deaths in human history. The bounty hunter John Ruth is taking a fugitive named Daisy Domergue to Red Rock to collect a reward for her hanging. They meet a black bounty hunter named Major Marquis Warren, who has a similar mission and destination with three dead bodies. And then one Chris Mannix, who says that he is the newly appointed sheriff of Red Rock, hitches a ride. This motley crew overnights at an abandoned stage coach stopover where they meet several other suspicious characters and together form the "hateful eight." In an interview Tarantino said he wondered what would happen if he gathered "just a bunch of nefarious guys in a room, all telling backstories that may or may not be true. Trap those guys together in a room with a blizzard outside, plot twists, give them guns, and see what happens." Well, what happens is mutual suspicions and paranoia, hidden identities, reflections on frontier justice, the racist shadow of the recently ended Civil War, a poisoned pot of coffee, and (big surprise) an orgy of graphic and gratuitous racial and misogynist violence. Everyone loves Tarantino's spectacular cinematography, clever plots, his slapstick humor, and the towel-snapping smack talk of his characters. But what about the violence and misogyny? "Violence is hanging over every one of those characters like a cloak of night," says Tarantino, "so I'm not going to go, 'OK, that's the case for seven of the characters, but because one is a woman, I have to treat her differently.' I'm not going to do that." Should we watch a film like this differently now in our #metoo moment, especially one that was distributed by the Weinstein Company?