Thursday, December 3, 2015

Sneak Cinema: The Hateful Eight

Last night, The Crest Theater in Westwood hosted a press screening of The Weinstein Company and Quentin Tarantino's latest opus, The Hateful Eight. In attendance were several movie critic types from internet, TV and OG Leonard Maltin himself. Much has been made about the production of Eight that was shot on 70mm film to harken back to the good ol' days in the 60's where going to the movies was an event. People dressed up, received programs and the films included beginning overtures as well as an intermission. If I remember correctly, the ultra wide scope was an effort to draw audiences to the theater instead of watching programs on their rinky dink televisions at home. The road show angle faded and 70mm became obsolete as the cinematic landscape changed as it always does. Last year, noted film fan Christopher Nolan unveiled his space epic Interstellar at less a dozen theaters still equipped with 70mm projection equipment. Tarantino and The Weinstein's are upping the ante by outfitting 100 plus theaters with 70mm projection. To make it more of a special event, shows in 70 include extra footage too boot.

From the opening credits last night, something was amiss. The bold font of OVERTURE was fine but underneath it, a silhouette of a horse and carriage kept throbbing in and out of focus. People murmured and complained to the PR staff who had no explanation. Generally a tech run happens during the day to make sure the picture and sound are up to par. Nolan personally checked out several theaters to make sure Interstellar was being presented the way he intended while Michael Mann did the same at The Egyptian for a repertory screening of The Last of the Mohicans, heck, Dolph Lundgren did a tech check when they hosted the Skin Trade premiere. Why this didn't happen on this night for this movie, who knows. Apparently some viewers were more upset than others and berated the PR staff leading to a swap to a Digital Print after the intermission. The result? The Hateful Eight looked a lot cleaner and more detailed. While the picture was crisper, I felt the sound lost a bit of impact though. After the film, the crowd exited still grumbling about the technical issues while I made an effort to thank the PR and theater staff because at the end of the day, shit happens, it's just a movie after all.

Now on the one hand, the evening could be seen as a disaster. After all this is a press screening meant to promote a throwback experiment turned event. This was the night meant to build an ally of armies to take back a piece of the business and show what film could do for future generations. Tarantino is a huge proponent of film and runs The New Beverly basically to preserve the medium. But if you can't even get it to work at a "special" event for a special event, what chance does the film have for general viewings multiple times a day? At a screening in New York recently, the projector broke down leading to a 60 minute impromptu Q&A with attending stars Kurt Russell, Walton Goggins and crew while a gear was replaced. Looks like dusting off a buried for 40 years technology for one film and one filmmaker needed more time to work out the kinks.

On the other hand, watching the film in a room full of critics made me realize something, I love movies but hate critics. I've always been vocal about critics being parasites who wouldn't exist without someone else's work. If there's no movie, they have nothing to talk/complain about, simple logic. They see everything early and for free yet they're ungrateful and demanding. It's not like they're creating something or putting themselves out there to be "judged". What was that quote from Theodore Roosevelt about the man in the arena? Something about giving him credit for striving to do the deeds while critics point out stumbles without knowing victory or defeat themselves? Or in this case they're jockeying for Facebook Likes and covering the same mainstream, Marvel movie news that a million other folks are. It's kind of like a barnacle that hitch hikes on a whale then complains there isn't enough plankton around. Go find your own plankton on your own steam then, pal.

There was no energy in the room, dead as dodos. I can only imagine how many times an opening night crowd of actual movie lovers would break out into applause during Hateful Eight's 3 hour run time. A person behind me even complained that the film had an intermission! Apparently they'd never seen a film that included one and basically missed the point of how Eight was being presented entirely. While it seemed like plenty of people were upset, even pissed off, I didn't notice anyone leaving. The moral? It's easier to blah blah blah than to do.

1 comment:

  1. Great review, Duvien! And thanks for no spoilers. You are right about critics, too. Then again, many of us are armchair directors. Complaining more about how they would have made the movie instead of appreciating what's on screen.