The (Hateful) 8 Men

888Despite the fact that 39th Göteborgs Film Festival is being held at the moment in my city, the first movie I saw in the cinema in 2016 was Tarantino’s Hateful Eight. I was quite excited and decided to watch it ASAP despite rather restrained reviews I’d heard and read here and there. No matter what people had said I was mostly tempted by the fact that the movie is a story of men and relations between different masculinities’ representations. Additionally, after superb Django Unchained and not less brilliant The Homesman, I really looked forward to seeing another awesome western. Imagine my first, but not last disappointment, when I realized that I was watching Agatha Christie-like crime story instead…

The beginning of the movie was really promising. Amazing pictures, great soundtrack, fantastic actors (starting with long not seen Jennifer Jason Leigh) exciting plot and unorthodox main character – charismatic and somewhat freewheeling Black ex- Union army major and  bounty hunter, Marquis Warren. The feeling that Warren is nothing more but older and smarter Django wasn’t disturbing at the beginning, so I continued peacefully. The peacefulness started transforming into boredom and the only silver lining during (too long) stagecoach trip was Daisy Domergue and her brilliant entries. The situation slightly changed after reaching Minni’s Haberdashery when the action finally speeded up. Five more men, with different backgrounds, races, classes, professions and ideologies, appeared and the main spectacle started.

Unfortunately, my high expectations of the analysis of power relations among men, differences in terms of masculinities representations and strategies of how to cope with them, use them or challenge them were very exaggerated as Tarantino’s concept of such relations was rather superficial and to a large extent, based on the most stereotypical clichés. Warren appeared to be nothing but a Black version of hegemonic man who does not hesitate to use racism (Bob), ageism (General Sanford “Sandy” Smithers) and homophobia (Chester Chalrel Smithers) to achieve his goals and his strategy was acclaimed as the proper one. The rest of men representing subordinated, marginalized but also caring (Jody Domergue rescuing his sister!) and non-violent (O.B.) types of masculinities died like flies and so did my hope for watching transgressive portray of Mid-West masculinities. The Hateful Eight appeared to be a combo of Reservoir dogs and Django Unchained deprived of any emancipatory potential which made the latter one so extraordinary.

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