It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Wait … I can’t start that way. Let me try again. It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. Damn it … what’s wrong with me today? It must be the heat.
OK, here we go. With temperatures in Sydney tipped to reach 40 degrees, it was time to seek shelter in the air-conditioned comfort of the cinema. To wit, the Cremorne Orpheum cinema’s air-conditioning. And further, the Cremorne Orpheum’s air-conditioning while watching Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight.
But this isn’t a story of about The Hateful Eight. It’s more about one man’s battle to escape the heat. And more than that, it’s a story about the one thing a man can’t escape from – himself.
But mostly it’s about air-conditioning.
Because it was hotter than hell out there. Hotter even than Satan’s Scandinavian-style sauna. And yes, like most people, I assumed Satan was Scandinavian. I don’t buy that innocent act the Scandos have going on. I assume that underneath all that clever furniture and names with umlauts in them there’s a simmering, hidden evil like that dude from Mr Robot. I picture hell being tastefully decorated with Ikea furniture that is beautiful to look at but painful to sit on …like most Scandinavian furniture, really.
Anyway, it’s an immediate delight to take a seat in the Cremorne Orpheum and bask in the cool, gentle zephyrs of its air-conditioning. I don’t even mind that The Hateful Eight is supposed to be more than three hours long (with intermission!). On a day like this, with the mercury set to reach 45 degrees, the longer the movie, the better. For example, the four hours of Magnolia would be bearable as long as you could bask in the finest AC money can buy.
Why, I’d even see a nine-hour performance of the play Cloudstreet in air-conditioned comfort while non-theatre-lovers roasted outside like the heathens they are. (I’m kidding. Of course I wouldn’t. The ACs in Sydney’s theatres are average at best.)
Not like the mighty machine pampering the audience at today’s Hateful Eight screening. I sip a cool drink as the words “the eighth film by Quentin Tarantino” come across the screen. Maybe, I muse, I should start numbering things, too. Like “the 470th article by Charles Purcell”?
And why The Hateful Eight? Why do they have to be so hateful? Can’t they be The Happy Eight or The Mildly Disgruntled Eight? Why dwell on the negative, Quentin?
Anyway, from the opening scene I know I’ve made the right choice of movie. The landscape is full of ice and snow. Already I feel cooler.
I nod when I see a statue of Christ on the cross covered in snow. Is Tarantino making some kind of point here? That this is a harsh landscape far removed from Christ’s mercy?
Maybe. But Christ’s mercy is all around as the Cremorne’s air-conditioning blesses us with its bounty.
Anyway, so like a whole bunch of stuff happens, most of it interesting – apparently The Hateful Eight is an Oscar contender or something – before a cool eternity later we come to the intermission (how quaint!). I head out into the foyer to be buffeted by hot winds from outside. It’s still like Satan’s Scandinavian sauna out there. It must be at least 50 degrees.
I feel my own temperature rise when I see that there is a screening of The Hateful Eight tonight, complete with a Q&A with Quentin Tarantino, Samuel L. Jackson and Kurt Russell. Two of the dudes behind Pulp Fiction will be standing (or walking) ON THIS VERY SPOT!
Damn it! How could I have missed that?
Imagine what wisdom Quentin and co would have dispensed. Would they have discussed Quentin’s excessive use of violence and profanity? The challenges of filming in the 70mm format? The sort of air-conditioning they have in cinemas in Hollywood? (The best, I bet.)
After 15 minutes of intermission, during which shapes seemed to be melting on the street outside like some Martian landscape, the movie starts up again.
Yet the plot is peripheral to the smooth, efficient functioning of the AC. I wonder what sort of set-up the Cremorne has (just imagine the BTUs!). It’s much better than in the cinemas of old like the Valhalla and the Mandolin. I saw a lot of art-house movies at those two defunct cinemas but I have to say their AC didn’t leave much of an impression on me. Those wacky art-house types … they do love to suffer (chuckle, chuckle).
Anyway, I get a bit hot under the collar with someone starts narrating in the second half – don’t they know narration almost ruined Blade Runner? – but the air-conditioning cools me down and I make it through the second half as chilled as Elsa from Frozen.
I give the Orpheum’s air-conditioning five out of five stars.
And The Hateful Eight? Three point five stars. Four stars, top.
My ebook military thriller, The Spartan, is out now on Amazon.