It’s now six years since Quentin Tarantino had a film in competition at Cannes — “Inglourious Basterds” was here back in 2009, and it marked the filmmaker’s first time with a movie at the festival since “Pulp Fiction” back in 1994. But he’s often had some kind of presence at the festival: only last year he was around for an anniversary screening of “Pulp Fiction,” three years ago, Harvey Weinstein debuted the first footage from “Django Unchained,” and before that the filmmaker was in Competition with “Death Proof.” Tarantino has wrapped on his latest, “The Hateful Eight,” but the Western’s likely Oscar-season release date means that Cannes was never likely to be where it bowed. But unsurprisingly, Harvey Weinstein used his annual presentation event on the Croisette to debut the first footage of one of the more anticipated movies of 2015.
Rumors had suggested that a title-appropriate eight minutes of footage would be seen, but they turned out to be incorrect in the end: only a brief, two-minute trailer was screened at the end of the presentation. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t exciting: the promo (which will presumably be online sooner rather than later, perhaps with “Southpaw” at the end of July) was certainly one of the biggest highlights of the event, and suggests that fans will be very happy with what they see come this Christmas.
Moving briskly, the clip opens on some snowy landscapes, until Samuel L. Jackson‘s Major Marcus Warren stops a coach, which contains a gun-toting Hangman, John Ruth (Kurt Russell), and his black-eyed captive, Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh). They hole up from a snowstorm in a way station, only to find a number of other figures there, including Tim Roth‘s Oswaldo Mobray, Michael Madsen‘s Joe Gage and Walton Goggins‘ Sheriff Chris Mannix. “I have never seen a woman in this white hell,” comments one of the men when Russell drags his charge in.
But they’re clearly not going to be sitting things out. “One of these fellas is not who he says he is,” Russell exclaims, and then begins a montage that suggests for all the relatively constrained nature of the location, we’ll be seeing plenty of gunfire and action along the way.
First things first: it looks gorgeous. The widescreen Cinemascope feel of the early shots is stunning, even by cinematographer Robert Richardson‘s high standards. Indeed, this could be Tarantino’s best-looking movie yet. Beyond that, it’s hard to get a feel for the movie as a whole. “Django Unchained” is clearly the biggest comparison point, but the movie looks like something of a Greatest Hits for the director, with collaborators old (Madsen and Roth, the latter of whom carries an enjoyably ridiculous plum-mouthed upper-crust British accent, and gets more lines other than anyone except Russell and Jackson), and new (Goggins, Bruce Dern), plus a few brand new faces like Jennifer Jason Leigh, who could have the meatiest role here.
Tarantino refuseniks aren’t likely to be converted, but otherwise, this should have people champing at the bit once it arrives online, and even more excited for the movie when it opens in glorious 70mm at some point later this year.