Thursday, August 22, 2019

HR304.3001--"Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood"---EXPLOITING TRAGEDY & IRRELEVANCE

J L'Angelle
Univ of Nevada, Reno
Fall 2019

     (SoHo Stn)-- Bygone days of Hollywood are always overdone and this one is no exception. It isn't enough to take an ensemble cast and show the public just how irrelevant they are in the 21st century scheme of things, but to have them portray characters who are just as irrelevant adds to the theory there is nothing new in "Once Upon a Time..." Hopefully, the reviews posted leading up to and including the release of the film will give insight of the content, but don't count on it.
     In the New Yorker, Richard Brody titles the film "Obscenely Regressive," and from the review, he points out the obvious white boy appeal of the DiCaprio-Pitt bromance in a putdown where reference isn't to "Latinos" but "Mexicans,"
     "and that features a slur against Mexicans, “beaner.” (At another moment, early in the film, in a parking lot, when Rick recognizes that his career is in decline, he begins to shed tears, and Cliff lends him a pair of sunglasses: “Don’t let the Mexicans see you crying.”) (Brody, New Yorker)
Brody also mentions the so-called "LSD laced cigarette," as if either DiCaprio or Pitt have any experience with the hallucinogenic drug in real life or on screen, or Tarantino for that matter.
     "Hippies" appear to be those related to the Manson cult with no cultural reference other than that related to the murderous ensemble. The director, Tarantino, was 6 years old in 1969, (IMDB) the "end of an era," when in fact, the era was dictated by the war and not by some sadistic multiple murder in southern California.
     Further radical criticism of the Tarantino white male hulking honcho style is characterized in National Review today by Kyle Smith;
     "scene depicting violence against a woman that goes on a bit too long. And when I say “a bit too long” I mean it’s grotesque. The point is made long before the shot ends. There’s also a running joke about how the Brad Pitt character killed his wife and got away with it. Tarantino finds this detail hilarious; I don’t see the humor. " (Smith, Nat Review)
Considering the nature of the film material, it is a wonder anything at all in the film is humorous.
     Owen Gleiberman's review in Variety offers little insight into the mindset of the director with his subverted plot failure following two full hours of soporific reminiscing of how things were at the end of the Sixties;
     "don’t go to Roman Polanski’s house. Instead, they go to the house next door, where Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), the fading TV star who’s the hero of “Once Upon a Time…,” is hanging out with his stuntman and driver, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). And what unfurls, from that moment, is a splatterific climax of gruesomely over-the-top violence in which the Manson killers get slaughtered by Rick and (mostly) by Cliff." (Variety)
What was Tarantino smoking when he came up with this absolutely absurd finale that's being written off by critics as a "plot twist?" In a world full of fake news, this is what we might expect from Roger Corman or Bert I. Gordon.
     Somewhere in the film and in the critics, the mention of spaghetti westerns appears, and this is what the film is, nothing short of Clint Eastwood along with those other two who could pass for either bad or ugly, or both. "Once Upon a Time..." is not just a cult fiction nightmare, but just plain nightmare, ushering in yet another era for Hollywood filmmakers; where bigotry and women hating finds equal footing with effacing history, replacing truth, that of the bad, ugly truth of the Manson gang, to represent the "beautiful people" of the Sixties and what it was really like to be high on acid.
Tarantino and his butt buddies in the cast missed out on all of it because they weren't even teenagers at the time, DiCaprio wasn't even born and Pacino should have known better.

Works Cited
Brody, R,
Smith, K., Cancelled,
Gleiberman, O.,