Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood


Confirmed for me why everything from Inglourious Basterds on has sat uneasily, if not been outright repellent. When Tarantino's narratives turn on (non-cinematic) history, I get off the bandwagon. He doesn't have the depth of perspective or character to engage with the actual past. If he gets at life and the events that inform and shape it — which I believe he does in all the features from Reservoir Dogs through Death Proof — it's via roundabout and oblique means. He has to create his own fully imagined world, and with that as foundation he's able to explore and illuminate such themes as masculine bravado (Reservoir Dogs), the crunch and crush of time (Pulp Fiction/Jackie Brown), the all-consuming nature of heartbreak (Kill Bill) and the collective psychosis of the rootless modern world (Death Proof).

Something happened after Rosario Dawson caved-in Kurt Russell's mug with a well-placed drop kick at the end of Death Proof. Gone literal: QT effaced faces. He lost the curiosity and the love he had for gazing at performers and, in the words of the critic James Harvey, watching them be. Think of the slow track-in toward Harvey Keitel (his virile mug registering betrayal, terror, resignation) before he's blown out of frame in Reservoir Dogs or the way Jackie Brown and Kill Bill hinge — in their final and penultimate shots, respectively — on extreme close-ups of Pam Grier and Uma Thurman that try and try and try (and nearly succeed) in probing beyond the goddess aura with which QT has imbued them both. This is the work of someone who worships at the altar, revels in the mystery, admits, even if only implicitly (because when is Tarantino ever publicly humble?), that he doesn't know for sure what he's looking at.

QT is now kin to that moronic "conservative" street artist Sabo, who altered the title on Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood billboards to "Pedowood" and papered over Leo and Brad with images of Jeffrey Epstein and Roman Polanski. They're both graffiti artists who fancy themselves stalwart truth tellers, so certain of their, ugh, take on the world and the history that's shaped it that they'll brook no dissent, reject all hypotheses.

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