Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood ★½

Tarantino’s GREEN BOOK. 

Can’t believe we are going to give all the awards this year to a movie that exists solely to express the sentiments “Hey wasn’t 1969 the best year ever? Why can’t it be like 1969 again?”

The trending praise for this movie by the critics I respect the most all seem to end up reading as some form of armchair psychology of what Tarantino is trying to say. My opening statement is Occam’s Razor, but I will continue to struggle with the ideas that are being put forth. The main one that I often see is that this is Tarantino’s most revealing film which strikes me as odd for two reasons - 1. Why do we value directors for “being revealing”? and 2. Why are we evaluating the movie within the context of his other movies? Unlike any other filmmaker before him, cinephiles tend to afford Tarantino a huge benefit of a doubt. For the long stretch of time when this movie was being discussed around its initial distribution, it appeared that people were inventing new ways to evaluate this film. Out of the mess came K. Austin Collins’ fascinating mixed take (the only good review of this film) which correlated with his BLACK PANTHER post on this site where he stated that we do not afford Coogler the same forgiveness for conservative stances that we afford directors like Eastwood. That may be the only good point here - but I want to stress that, if you are reading this review or watching the film again, that this IS a conservative film and it his most conservative to date (Melissa Tamminga’s breakdown of gender politics on her site is brilliant, please check it out). We have criticized Eastwood for his, at times, very direct political stances, but the criticisms that were lobbed at Tarantino before never gained as much traction. Look. Whether you like the film, whether you praise it for being revealing, or whether you only see this film’s value in the context of his other films, you must also come to terms with the fact that Tarantino’s subversiveness is now strictly in service of Making Hollywood Great Again. I would like to see one review truly acknowledge and explore what that means because most of what I see is fluff.

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