For my sins, I ventured out to see Quentin Tarantino's, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. I had intended to go and see It - Chapter 2, but my friends messaged to say they were going to the Tarantino movie so I thought I'd go with them and see It next week.
I'm not really a fan of Tarantino, I remember going to see Reservoir Dogs, the film that catapulted him to fame and fortune and where he made his name as an innovative director. I have to say I was blown away by it, it was very different from anything I’d ever seen and I have loved Steve Buschemi ever since. I did however, find some of the violence too much but within the context of the film it was realistic. The next film of his I watched was Pulp fiction, hailed by the critics; it didn’t really do anything for me. I thought the violence and language gratuitous, designed to shock rather than be realistic and I don’t really find anything deep and meaningful or entertaining in the lives of thugs, druggies and scumbags.
Maybe living through the ‘Troubles’ when thugs and scumbags were 10 a penny around here has somewhat tainted my perspective but Tarantino obviously, never had to deal with people like this because if he had, he certainly wouldn't be making them the anti-heroes of his movies.
Then, I watched From Dusk to Dawn which was one of the worst films I ever saw and the last Tarantino I ever watched. From then, I have religiously avoided his work, I don’t have much of a stomach for violence and it seems to be that every film of his follows the same formula, foul-mouthed tirades and high levels of gratuitous violence and the uniqueness and innovation of Reservoir Dogs has been lost amid the tirades, the swearing, the thuggery and the gore.
So, back to ‘Hollywood’ I had heard it was good and the story didn’t seem to lend itself to thuggery and violence. The little I had heard about it was that it was about stuntmen who were coming to the end of their careers and whose style of work had fallen out of fashion. From that, I had the expectation of an homage to the TV series and movies of the early sixties with a bit of comedy thrown in, as our heroes battled to find a life/career in a very different and changing world. (Which actually, would have made, a better movie)
On the detail of the times, I couldn’t find fault, he definitely captured the look and feel of the era. The story is that Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) is the stunt double for actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo Di Caprio), whose career as the star of an old TV series Bounty Law, is winding down and his acting future is looking bleak. Cliff is a thug, he has a thug of a dog, lives in squalor, has the manners of a pig and is altogether, repulsive and I say that as someone who is a fan of a lot of his work, especially 12 Monkey’s.
Di Caprio is good as always, there is a scene where he loses the plot and goes on a foul-mouthed tirade (of course) which was over the top and gratuitous.
At 2 hours and 40 minutes, it is also very long and the first hour really starts to drag. I almost left and if I had been on my own, I would have but I thought, well, I’m here now, I may as well see it through to the end. And so my penance endured.
There is a scene with ‘Bruce Lee’ which was heavily criticised by his daughter and I can understand why. It has Cliff the thug almost putting Bruce through the door of a car. Why this scene is in this movie, I have no idea, other than to scoff and taint the memory of a man loved by many, myself included.
What happens then, is that it drags on for another hour while building up to an ending which had to be narrated as he pissed about so much with the early part of the movie that if events had continued to unfold at the same pace, I would still be there waiting for something to happen. And considering what did then happen, that might have been the better option.
The premise of the movie finally boils down to some twisted fantasy on the part of Tarantino where Cliff the thug, inadvertently, saves the life of Sharon Tate and her house guests. The violence in this scene was nothing short of horrific and maybe, it is me, but I don’t find someone being brutally savaged by a dog or a woman having her face repeatedly slammed into a fireplace funny on any level, and in the context of the real life event that did actually happen, the horrific murder of five people, I was sickened and appalled that Quentin Tarantino could take that event and play it for laughs. Quentin Tarantino really needs a good psychiatrist, he is a sick, sick man and that will most definitely be the last movie of his I will ever watch.
Not recommended viewing for anyone, not even psychopaths, they really don’t need any encouraging.