"The Hateful Eight" / David Bowie
Quentin Tarantino’s latest, “The Hateful Eight” has a classic Western plot – a fugitive who must be brought to justice, and those who aim to stop this. Inevitably, though, he puts a twist on this, since the villain is played with remarkable intensity by Jennifer Jason Leigh (deservedly Oscar-nominated), and the story is overlain by a post-Civil War race theme, involving the magisterial Samuel L. Jackson. There is much talk before the inevitable, extravagant bloodletting, but it is ripely fascinating, enabling us to become fully acquainted with the characters, such that the violence has some meaning; it’s almost like a Tennessee Williams play. The cinematography (also nominated) is excellent, with especially lush snowy vistas. It’s hardly a pleasant watch (and the built-in intermission is welcome), but Tarantino once more shows himself to be a master of his craft, if a somewhat cruel one.
In common with everyone who has the slightest interest in pop music, I was profoundly shaken when I heard of the passing of David Bowie, possibly the last public figure whose death will impact so widely and so deeply. I never got to see him live, and I only ever actually bought a handful of his albums, but it only takes a glance at the miraculous track-listing on any of his singles compilations to see the remarkable contribution he made. Through the blanket, adulatory media coverage, doubtless many young people will now be truly discovering his work for the first time; I humbly recommend “Hunky Dory”, one of the finest albums ever made.