Brief Synopsis: A bunch of the Usual Suspects are holed up in a cabin with a single white female prisoner and wordy black bounty hunter. Accordingly there are more bitches and niggers than you can shake an NWA tune at - and yes a lot of blood - everywhere!
Ok - so this review wasn’t meant to be that long - well that shit didn’t happen. I guess there’s more to about this film then I had wanted to express but I hey I guess shit happens - like this film. Much has been made - by Quentin himself - of the film being filmed in 70mmm. However unlike the Revenant or Sicario Tarantino doesn’t necessarily use this format to the greatest effect - they’re aren't many shots of the frozen wastes surrounding the cabin which location for this piece. I know Quentin doesn't give a fuck about that though, he wants you to study the pockmarks and wrinkles on the faces inside, I’m sure he’s using the wide lens in a narrow environment to enhance a feeling of claustrophobia - we get it - except it doesn't really work.
There is a some interesting dialogue. Very little of it realistic - but this is the Tarantino universe - that’s to be expected really. Quentin's been obsessed with the N word since the very beginning, since Reservoir Dogs and by extension those identified with that epithet - even when they’re not present. In this film the word is hurled at Mr Jackson’s character and infinitum - the majority of the rest of the action being taken up by the physical and verbal battery of Jennifer Jason Leigh’s character - who also gets quite a few N Words in herself.
By this far down the road with Quentin we’re also used to it, it’s not big, it’s not clever but it’s what he does - we’re meant to accept it. But therein lies the rub - just how far are we meant to take this acceptance - well as far as Tarantino is concerned, as far as it can go. Many don’t remember in Pulp Fiction that male rape of the black male crime boss by rednecks Deliverance style - no big deal, well in this film the roles are reversed and a quite graphic description and visuals of Mr Jackson committing abuse on a white Civil War enemy are depicted. Now as a black male am I really meant to say it’s not indicative of anything? After all it’s a post-racial society - or so we were told until black males in America - from 12 years old upwards keep getting shot to death repeatedly by police - on camera. I also suppose it matters even less that the literally emasculation of black males by castration as part of lynching is part of the history America. Yes maybe the movie is meant to be making that point but it just comes over to me as more gratuitous abuse.
Much has been made - again by Tarantino himself - of his standoff with police about the brutality against black males with Police Departments threatening boycotts of the film. Tarantino has styled himself as the saviour of the black male, without any hint of irony pre and post his last film Django he has explicitly stated in many an interview that he wanted to give young black males in America a hero. He wants Django to be a rites of passage movie that Black American Dads could watch with their sons, no such pretensions in this movie I guess.
The simple fact is that Tarantino has a very unhealthy obsession with black people and black men in particular - it seems from this film. Some reviewers have commented on the ‘misogyny’ of the film - as if the racism doesn’t exist. It’s funny how white liberals never seem to take issue with that but in today’s world they seek to defend the rights of women.
The simple fact of the matter is that this film is a story of Tarantino's patriarchal attitudes - with a particular emphasis on blacks. Because of the fact that Jennifer Jason Leigh’s character is … excuse the terminology … in a way just ‘fluff’ I can see why women might be offended by the portrayal< But if she had been replaced by a male character it wouldn't really have made that much of a difference - the film really isn’t about her.
I don't want to give anyone ideas - and anyways it;s too late now - but had the prisoner been black that may have actually made for a much more interesting premise. Though in Tarantino's hands I dread to think how that would have panned out - I'm sure he considered it - so perhaps even he realises there are some things he may not be able to get away with.
I watched the whole film, it was watchable but it was very caricaturish - even without the stuff they got Jackson to do and had done to his character, Bottom line: the plaudits for this film are really a reflection of why there is still so much racism in society and why it is deemed acceptable for blacks to be legally lynched - the mainstream finds it ‘entertaining’
The Guardian’s review title was: ‘Agatha Christie with gags, guns and Samuel L Jackson’ and that’s about right I suppose - after all Christie did pen ‘Ten Little Niggers’