Snowmen. Turkey. Presents under the tree. There's no time of year quite like it. Only this year, I plan to do something a little different - I'll be spending Christmas night with a bounty hunter and a fugitive, taking refuge from the elements in Minnie's Haberdashery, Wyoming.
What do you mean "that doesn't sound much like Christmas"? You bet your ass this is Christmas... Tarantino style.
Yup, four long months from now, The Hateful Eight will hit theaters. You could say I'm stoked, but that would be understating the gravity of this event. At this point, everybody is a Tarantino fan - gone are the days his movies had a cult following - but there's still something particularly tantalising about the idea of a new movie from the genius behind Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill and Inglourious Basterds that even the slew of big-budget blockbusters due around the same time (Spectre, Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens) can't quite match. That's because nobody else makes movies like Tarantino.
As the new poster above communicates, The Hateful Eight was shot on 70mm film and will be shown in this format exclusively for two weeks before releasing on digital too. Tarantino is old school, so those who see the film in 70mm will be seeing it exactly the way it was envisioned inside his beautiful, crazy brain.
What do we know about the story?
Not a whole lot just yet. Despite a script leak last year that had the director's feathers well and truly ruffled, the finer details of the story are unlikely to be revealed prior to release. What we do know is that Hateful centres on bounty hunter John Ruth (Kurt Russell), also known as The Hangman (presumably not because he enjoys the letter-guessing game) and the fugitive in his company, Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh).
The Hangman and his prisoner are traveling to Red Rock, Wyoming, where Domergue will be hanged. Trouble is, there's a mighty vicious blizzard on the way. During a stopover at Minnie's Haberdashery, the pair meet a series of strangers as it slowly becomes apparent that they may never reach Red Rock.
The cast is rounded out by Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, and Walton Goggins, who routinely stole every single scene one of his scenes in Justified playing a character who could almost have come from the pen of Tarantino himself.
The deja vu factor
Perhaps the most surprising thing about The Hateful Eight when it was first announced was that Tarantino, who is a master of flirting with various genres of action cinema before moving swiftly onto the next (from straight-up gangster flick in Pulp Fiction to blaxploitation homage Jackie Brown, the martial arts blood-fest of Kill Bill to revisionist Nazi comedy-noir in Inglourious Basterds), simply decided to follow up Django Unchained with a second Spaghetti Western.
But perhaps that's no bad thing. I know Django went down a storm - I heard plenty of people claim it as their favourite Tarantino - but I wasn't completely satisfied. Something was missing. It was the least funny of his films, and it sorely lacked a female character to balance out the machismo of its world, something every other Quentin movie had done so well.
But with Jennifer Jason Leigh as co-lead, The Hateful Eight promises to get that right. The visuals look breathtaking - he's come a long way since Pulp Fiction. Seeing it in 70mm will just highlight what a master this man is behind a lens.
What's the competition at Christmas?
Spectre (Nov 6th)
The 24th instalment in the Bond franchise, [Spectre](tag:660009) will pick up where Skyfall left off, with the traditional aspects of a Bond film - M, Moneypenny, beautiful French women, shootouts on ski slopes and vast amounts of Sony product placement - amped up to 11 as Bond prepares to face off with an old foe in Christoph Waltz's Franz Oberhauser (who is most definitely not Blofeld, alright?).
Bond movies are a machine hardly comparable with a film like Hateful, which was made for a mere $44m and almost certainly features no Sony smartphones. But like new Tarantino, a new 007 adventure is always a huge event.
Predicted box office: $1bn
Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens (Dec 18th)
Possibly the most hyped, most anticipated movie in the history of cinema. So no pressure, then. But seriously, director J. J. Abrams seems like the surest pair of hands to steer this starship into a critically adoring galaxy. Possible pitfalls? The trio of young, attractive new leads are unproven, and the old trio have not been immune to the passing of time. That's why Mark Hamill does voice acting now.
Predicted box office: $2.2m
Point Break (Dec 25th)
Joining the Kardashians in the club of things the world never asked for and certainly didn't need, [Point Break](tag:919217) is happening because a bunch of executives with no imagination but lots of cocaine decided another remake of a (kind of) classic movie is just what audiences want. This reboot stars a bunch of pretty people you've never heard of (plus Ray Winstone!), but let's face it - you won't be going to see it for the acting talent.
Predicted box office: $350m
Tarantino's films have never been about the numbers
This man is more than just a filmmaker - he's a modern day auteur, a de Palma, a Fincher, a Truffaut, a Kubrick who wields his sword and his words with razor precision, imbuing in his films levels of depth and intellect rarely seen in action cinema. This movie could make $150m or half a billion - his legacy would remain fully in tact either way.
But perhaps the number that really matters is... 8. The film's title references the fact that it's Tarantino's 8th movie, an unusual move which almost feels like a swansong. I hope to God this is not the final movie Quentin Tarantino ever directs - but if it is, he's bound to go out in a blaze of blood, gore and glory.
[The Hateful Eight](tag:1216087) releases in 70mm on December 25.