Quentin Tarantino is widely regarded as one of cinema’s greatest auteurs. Ever since Reservoir Dogs kick-started his career, his periodic releases have been some of the most anticipated in all of Hollywood. Tarantino’s is a resumé that stands apart from most other directors, as one without a true dud in the group in terms of critical reception. That being so, it sets the bar incredibly high every time he comes out with a new film, as we anxiously wait to see if this will be the time he finally falls flat.
So far, he has yet to truly fail as a director, taking as much time as he feels is necessary to release each of his carefully crafted projects. Many other filmmakers in the industry work on a studio’s schedule, often pumping out movie after movie until they’ve exhausted their supply of creativity. Directors like Tarantino though are given a far longer leash. That aside, it’s been three years since Django Unchained, an effort that lacked the unique focus of his larger body of work. So how can he regain that with his next upcoming project, The Hateful Eight?
1. No more period-piece revenge porn
Most of the common strings among Tarantino movies don’t revolve around the specific story-beats of each movie. With Django Unchained as the follow-up effort to Inglorious Basterds, we had two films that essentially told the same story: An oppressed minority during the darkest period in their respective histories take bloody revenge on their universally reviled oppressors. There are very few people out there who would object to seeing cruel slave-owners and murderous Nazis get the just desserts they never fully received, and both films provide just that.
But no more. Both are masterfully made movies, and there’s no denying that. But thematically, it’s time for Tarantino to move on from beating up historical baddies and onto some other storytelling motif. Thankfully, the synopsis for The Hateful Eight seems to indicate as much.
2. Treading into new territory
Part of the Tarantino charm revolves around his ability to construct a well-flowing story, whether it’s the two-part manhunt of Kill Bill, or the out-of-order plot of Pulp Fiction. Having come off of a series of revenge-flicks beginning with Kill Bill Vol. 1 and going all the way up to Django, it may be time to put away that particular theme. The Hateful Eight may be just the movie to do that too, focusing on eight individuals in Post-Civil War America holed up together in a blizzard.
Each character differs from the other in some sort of special way with their distinct arrays of personalities, dealing with their inter-personal conflicts as they find themselves stuck with each other. Based on this alone, it seems all too Reservoir Dogs-esque, except in more of a Western setting. We won’t know just how derivative (if at all) it will be until it comes out, but with the information we have it doesn’t appear to be much of a stretch for Tarantino.
3. Maybe take a step away from Spaghetti Westerns
Quentin Tarantino loves Westerns. Specifically, he’s a fan of the Spaghetti Western Era of the 1950s and 60s, known for their dramatic scores and overwrought action. That love has translated into something of a filmmaking obsession for Tarantino, first with Kill Bill Vol. 2 and most recently of course with Django Unchained. Both are largely parallels for a bygone era of filmmaking, making The Hateful Eight the first straight Western Tarantino has ever embarked upon.
Perhaps this will finally get that itch out of his system, but the director’s love for the genre can only go so far before he’s simply doing this to fulfill his passion as a fan rather than make great cinema. Even so, those two priorities have always seemed to align with each other in the past, so the hope is he can continue that trend. After this one though, it may serve him well to move on to something else.
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