Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Once...Hollywood is about how a person identifies with and shapes the time they’re in, or conversely how the age shapes the action of people. The issue is of presence, to be or not to be. 

The film is obviously meta and it takes a lot from Hamlet, the best meta-art ever created. It takes a long time for Hamlet to do anything bc a) he’s like Oedipus, is in love with his mother and killing his uncle would be to kill himself b) he’s lost touch with reality. The ground actually moves. He can’t distinguish between truth and fallacies. So he writes a play as a means of fixing himself in whatever reality he’s in, and thus it propels him to finally to action. He creates lies within lies to see the truth.

It’s similar here in Hollywood. Rick is a mumbling buffoon and it’s only in the entrenching of becoming others, ie acting, in which he is able to be. His connection to everything is the intentional fallacies he dresses in, and the simulacra that is created by his simulations. The art in and outside his house are movie posters from the films he’s personally been in, the stories he’s partaken in, and that’s his only way into the world and it forms an understanding of it. Rick’s star is fading and the world in moving on past him, and how he identifies with and in it is crumbling, and it doesn’t make sense to him anymore. So, ironically, he covers himself in lies altering, his self-actualization and that is the reality that sticks. He is allohistory. And he is revision embodied.

This masquerading comes to a head in the finale, as the brilliant motif of Rick getting blackout drunk and Booth becoming stoned out his mind. They are transcending the trappings of the material world through the mind-altering illusion created by lies. They are above it all, rewriting the times. Interfering even with history.

And then there’s Sharon Tate. She’s the spirit of the film, the epitome of perfection. Historically she was murdered by The Manson “Family.” Hippies, the embodiment of free love, personified narcissism and wanton selfishness. Free love was a pact of flesh without uttering the oath of commitment. The worst kind of lie. A family is supposed to be highest of fraternity amongst humans, an unbreakable unit that covers each other. The best of these should be to not harm others. But the Manson family was lead by the supreme narcissist who brainwashed his children into believing there would be a race war and they were going to cause it and survive it.

Symbolically, Manson is Claudius, Hamlet’s uncle. The father function of language is to separate a child from the languageless womb of the mother. That’s why daddy issues abound. We desire to kill the father and return to the mother, like Oedipus. In the case of Manson, the father used his children to kill the epitome of beauty and aspirational humanity, a would-be mother, with his own twisted family values exposed by his perverse depravity and desire to rule. The Manson murders ended the hippie movement and shook the world, awakening it to the deception they had been feeding each other for a decade. Hippies hadn’t been about sustaining others, but rather consuming what the others had, taking and reciprocating, and inflating one’s self-preservation drive and ego.

So, thusly Rick and Cliff are stoned and drunk off their asses. Again there’s a covering of purposeful illusion to be themselves, inadvertently cutting into history and altering it by and through their art. Their lies are moral for though they are doing what they are doing for themselves, the viewer-patron goes along with them and can experience the same mental expansion. There is symbiosis in art, not just the self. Art is also communal and in need of participation. Cliff is an artist in martial arts and has command over base things (ie his dog), and Rick uses the flamethrower (an apparatus and extension of himself as through a purifying and burning light) he used to kill Nazis in a fictional film within the film to stop the Manson family. He uses light to be rid of great social darkness and solidifies his place amongst the ideal feminine form, saving her and in the end returns to her, the mother. Rick and Cliff preserve Sharon and change history for the better. For the world. And they are transported above and beyond.

That’s the best of art.

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