Editor’s note: This isn’t a review of a Mongolian film. For those you wondering why a magazine about Mongolian culture is reviewing an American film, I know what you’re thinking–yes, we’re waiting for the DNA results from Tarantino. (If there’s any crazy Tarantino fan in possession of his hair or skin cells, please leave a comment.)
But we’re exploring another avenue: Mongolians reviewing foreign films. Here’s Nimi Lkhagva from Hollywood, USA, reviewing The Hateful Eight .
Epic gun battles, buckets of blood, extreme close-ups. These are only a few of the things the mastermind Tarantino brings forth to the table.
This next ride-along was no easy one. We had many ups and downs twists and turns. Like all of his movies, his stylized editing and unorthodox storytelling, it was a pleasure to see it all unfold in its designed form of 70mm at the famous Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood.
This review will focus more on the technicalities and what happened behind the scenes of Hateful Eight, but instead of spoiling the movie here goes the synopsis from their web page.
What’s it about?
In post-Civil War USA of 1870s, a bountry hunter returning a fugitive to Red Rock sojourns at a stopover during a blizzard and meets six more people. Trapped in a harsh storm and among unfamiliar faces, intense stuff is going to happen to all eight of them.
It’s hard not to spoil the movie when describing how I feel about it, but suffice it to say Tarantino delivers what he’s famous for. It’s violent and stunningly full of twists and turns.
It felt like I was sitting in a theater and watching a play, waiting for the actor’s next dialogue and action. The performances looked like what they’re portraying on camera was on a stage, making the audience inch closer and closer to the edge of their seats.
The first act was a bit difficult to follow; even though the climax and the importance of the movie was just beginning to unfold, there were many factors that were dragging a wee bit. Overall the premise was placed perfectly (albeit rather long) for the unforgettable second act.
Second act was where it all made sense to me. The clues and the loopholes all finally clicked with the real firing of guns. This was a moment of a-ha! Now it makes sense why these 4 mysterious men are gathered in the cabin.
Aside from the story, having worked in production design and set design this set with their wardrobe and set dressing absolutely killed it. Literally. They KILLED it. In all honesty, you gotta have a thick skin and a strong bowel system to sit through the 207 minutes. And remember Tarantino isn’t for everyone but then again remember everyone isn’t for Tarantino.
Behind the scenes
As a filmmaker, I was more excited to know about how the film was made. I got to enjoy this movie with one of the esteemed cinematographers of our time, Robert Richardson (think Kill Bill, Inglorious Basterds, Hugo, Django Unchained) who he sat down to talk about his latest piece after the screening.
Richardson is a man of style with long white hair and a matching beard. He starts out by saying working with Tarantino in all his movies have been a pleasure and collaboration like no other. He also mentions Tarantino has no video village–extended screens to show the production to the crew in real-time—just the little screens on his camera. This is a little unheard of among the Hollywood directors today, but thinking Tarantino I believe it. He alone watches the actors and their scenes, and how they’re connecting with each other. That’s his video village.
One exciting and enhancing reason why the movie is being talked about is because it was all shot on film. Richardson says the camera itself weighed about 90 lbs (40 kilo) and all the accessories added to that definitely made it one of the heaviest cameras he’s ever worked with. In the scenes the colors are just exquisitely vibrant and because of the lens choice everything is visible, making it a challenge to light the set.
The physical production took about 91 days, Richardson says. Some in the cold in the middle of nowhere, and air conditioning was used in sound stages in order to make the setting look realistic. When you go and see the movie, there’s cold air coming from Sam Jackson, Kurt Russell and the other 6 strangers.
Because Tarantino kept the sound stage at a subzero temperature.
I feel bad for his actors but they had on beautiful fur and I’m sure were kept warm, but Richardson says the crew were always bundled up and standing next to the heaters with no cell phones! Tarantino allows no cell phones on his set. He’s the man to do it.
Relatable to Mongolians
Speaking of harsh storms, as a Mongolian living in California, the setting was familiar for me. I hear this winter’s been harsh in Mongolia (mid-January sink below -34, Ulaanbaatar officially became colder than Antarctica.) All the actors looked menacing and armored-like in their thick furs. Are thick furs back in fashion–because Mongolian furs are pretty famous, see? This film and the Revenant make me miss Mongolian winters.
With The Revenant and The Hateful Eight, surviving-harsh-winter-in-a-bear-pelt has had a high exposure in 2015. We should thank Macklemore for that. In any case, there’s something awesome about going impervious to freezing wind and endless, sporting a warm furry animal fur.
This reminds me of a Mongolian myth about bear skin coats. We say you can’t put on a bear skin coat for more than 5 minutes, because the bear skin is so hot that it melts your skin. That’s why most fur coats are made of animals other than bears.
I also think if there was a movie with similar settings and color palette in the steppes of Mongolia, it would look beautiful (and catch the “winter thriller” wave). Notwithstanding sound stage usage, the northern provinces like Darkhan-Uul or Selenge have forests that look identical to the setting of this film in winter.
All the preparation that went into Hateful Eight and making sure that it all delivers on the screen took patience and partnership Richardson says. And of course it wasn’t in vain–Hateful Eight is nominated for 3 Golden Globes and highly acclaimed to be chosen for the Oscars this year.
Now if you’re a fan of Tarantino and his work and you like impeccable production design, unique scores, and undeniably great acting Hateful Eight will be your cup of tea.
If you like art and supporting the amount of work going into making art like this one where it’s all shot on what’s a rare find these days film, then this movie will not disappoint.
Get yourselves ready for a wild, wild ride for this movie!
Nimi Lkhagva is a filmmaker and the CEO of Mongus Pictures, a film production company based in Hollywood, CA. Her passion lies in integrating Mongolian and Hollywood cinema. She loves the creativity and imagination of all things film. Quote: “Keep watching good movies, they have the power to alter your thoughts” – N.L.