Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight” is in theaters now — or at least in its 70mm roadshow, which is hitting 44 markets — but it’s really interesting to see a QT film that’s been met with mixed reviews. I can’t say I loved the film either, but I’d argue that Tarantino hasn’t really changed himself or his movies one iota, and that as culture changes and becomes more PC-prevalent, issues of racism and misogyny that were accepted in the past as part of his vocabulary aren’t going down as easy as they used to.
My mild defense of “The Hateful Eight,” which I think is far superior to “Django Unchained,” even if it doesn’t warrant its exorbitant 3 hour-plus running time and feels like a spiritual B-side to its antecedent, is that for once it’s not a revenge movie. Every QT picture has been that in some form or another since “Kill Bill,” and it’s the rare Tarantino film that feels like it’s about something other than surface text with its political allusions to race and the state of America. (To hot take slightly, I’d even say in that regard it’s more effective than Spike Lee’s “Chi-Raq,” which also plays with similar thematic ideas.) Plus that cast: Samuel L. Jackson and Jennifer Jason Leigh are terrific, and Kurt Russell and the rest of the players — Bruce Dern, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, etc. — all put in well-mannered performances.
Also, did you know Jennifer Lawrence once sorta had a shot at Jennifer Jason Leigh’s role as the basterdly prisoner who’s set to be hanged? There were early rumors that she was up for the role and that was recently confirmed by Variety. In an interview with the trade, Tarantino admitted he met with her for the one female role in the movie, but her schedule was just too nuts.
“I’m a huge Jennifer Lawrence fan,” Tarantino said, comparing her relationship with David O. Russell to that of Bette Davis and director William Wyler. “I can see her doing a good job with this role, so we went to talk about it and everything. She was just doing me a courtesy to see me, I think. She was doing ‘Joy.’ She had to do all this publicity on the ‘Hunger Games’ movies. There was just no f—ing way in the world that she was available.”
“Having said that, I’m glad I didn’t cast somebody that young. I think I absolutely positively made the right choice, as far as the ages of the characters,” Tarantino said, and to be honest, he’s right on the money. Leigh is 53 and a 25-year-old Jennifer Lawrence would have stuck out like a sore thumb next to the current ‘Hateful Eight’ cast. But Tarantino is still one of the greatest draws in the world for actors, so we wouldn’t be surprised if somewhere down the road the filmmaker eventually finds a role for the global star.
With “The Hateful Eight” in theaters now and in wide release on December 31, The Weinstein Company has released a Quentin Tarantino featurette with the cast, his crew, and producers lauding the talents of the director. Watch below and let us know what you thought of “The Hateful Eight.”