When you go to see a movie directed by Quentin Tarantino, there are two things you can be sure of: plenty of gratuitous violence, and Samuel L. «Motherfucking» Jackson. But that doesn’t mean you know what you’re going to get.
When I saw this movie, I didn’t know anything about it except it featured mr. Jackson and that it was shot on 70mm film. As a director and script writer, Tarantino is like a fine wine: he always tastes the same, but gives you new flavors with every sip.
So it is with this movie: quite unlike anything Tarantino has done before, this movie is a chamber play set in a stagecoach and (primarily) a haberdashery.
Mr. Jackson plays a bounty hunter lost in the snow, who happens upon another bounty hunter riding in a stagecoach (played by Kurt Russell, another Tarantino alumni). John Ruth (Russell) has a prisoner, Daisy Domergue (played by Jennifer Jason Leigh) who is destined for the gallows.
Samuel L. Jackson as Marquis Warren.
Marquis Warren (Jackson) and John Ruth have met previously, and Ruth is aware that Warren has been a pen pall of president Lincoln. Because of this, Warren decides to let the doomed bounty hunter into his carriage, and the unlikely threesome make their way towards a haberdashery in the mountains.
Before too long, they run into another man lost in the snow – Chris Mannix (played by Walton Goggins, yet another Tarantino alumni). He purports to be the new sherriff of Red Rocks, the town on the other side of the mountains, the stagecoach’s final destination. Ruth doubts this, but nevertheless lets Mannix into the warmth, lest he be responsible for killing the new sheriff.
As the party reaches Sweet Minnie’s haberdashery, where they seek shelter, it turns out that the owner has left to visit her mother and left the place in charge of a Mexican, a Brit who claims to be the hangman of Red Rocks, a mysterious cowboy (played by Michael Madsen, yet another Tarantino alumni) and a southern general.
Neither Mannix nor the old general are particularily fond of black people, and Ruth is sceptical of all the people in the haberdashery. Needless to say, the plot develops into a Agatha Christie-esque thriller. In the end, Tarantino has managed to kill off most of his cast in the most brutal way possible. I was left wondering how he was going to pull off a satisfactory ending, but I was not disappointed.
Speaking of cast; Tarantino has managed to assemble some of Hollywood’s greatest actors for this movie. Though many are alumni, their characters all feel original and fresh and are played with such ferocity and thrilling charm that it’s impossible not to be impressed.
For the score, Tarantino has hired Ennio Morricone, and he does a splendid job of recreating the feeling of the old wild west, while not repeating his collaboration with Sergio Leone.
The film is shot on 70mm film, the widest format available, and the shots, colors and contrasts are all amazing. Cinematographer Robert Richardson has done a great job of capturing the raw spirit of the nature of the american west.
As with every Tarantino film, I didn’t know quite what to expect when I went into the cinema. But I was not disappointed. This movie should be watched by anyone who likes Tarantino’s work and everyone who likes film in general.