As a sixteen year old on the night of the Sharon Tate killings, the effect was little more than a footnote in my brain’s card catalog. I had viewed all of her films (yes, I got into the theater to see “Valley of the Dolls” which I did not like). At the time, late 60’s, I wondered why anyone like Charles Manson and family would want butcher people and hang Tate after stabbing her, a woman with child. That imagined visual kept me in a surprising intangible thought, something that I was not proud of and a dark place I did not want to go. And the family that was killed the night before, and Tate’s friends in the Polanski home that met their end on that August night, had a lasting impression of evil on me for my time on this earth.
The Hollywood scene was not of experiences for me, just what I could imagine about the place from many movies I had already viewed about that Southern California venue. I continue, to this day, have substantial contemplation in regard to the panorama of “Hollywood” that is in my psyche, even if it was not of a true in-person experience. It is out a surreal one of viewing movies set on Sunset and Vine, having wet dreams of various fabulous looking women that were hot as hell, and the nuances of those that inhibited the wild debauchery of Los Angeles. To this day, I rush to most movies that are set in SoCal, and my imagination continues to work overtime when I see such films as La La Land, LA Confidential or from the far past, the great The Stunt Man.
“Once Upon A Time in Hollywood” is a film to ponder, to discuss, to contemplate. Some do not like what this director, Quentin Tarantino, did in his movie. QT did not tell the true gospel here and sure as hell was not politically correct in his take. Do not like smoking in films? Tarantino will shout to you, tough shit. Do not like his take on the movie legend/martial arts great Bruce Lee? Again, you also can just go. Do not like the movie’s ending? Make your own motion picture. Everybody seems to have an agenda and QT has one, his, which is reflected in his films. His agenda tell PC to go to hell. He makes films the way he wants as this medium is of the director, not the viewer. Political correctness is foreign to Quentin Tarantino. This is what I like about his films. Do not get me wrong, I hate this man’s political views. I think he is a dumbass with regard to politics. But as a film maker, he is the real deal. HIs movies challenge you, and you do not feel disrespected as a viewer. His films are not boring. The worst thing about a film, good or bad, is indifference and being boring. QT does not make crappers. You might not especially like all of them and especially what he puts in them, but that is ok. You will have an opinion, good or bad. Do not like his movies? QT would say, that is just fine.
This 2019 summer entry is a fantasy as directed, edited, and produced by QT It does not represent the truth nor the facts of real life. It is a fairy tale of a real place at a real time. With that in mind, I am not of Hollywood. I can only perceive what my brain allows me to visualize. Dreaming of carnal experiences of Hollywood (literal dreaming as I sleep), of doing the hippity dippity with Marilyn Monroe as a fourteen year old, is all a vision quest, not of reality. Like what Quentin Tarantino did in this flick and has done in previous movies he has fashioned, with regard not only to sex, but of violence and the human condition. Reality? Yes, no, and sometimes.
In “Once Upon…” we have some melancholy infused in “what if these nice people” would have lived out a life. That is something that I took away from my experience from the final scene on the driveway of Polanski’s home. Yet this movie is more than a just a setup of a murder of some famous people. It is how this place in LA influences its inhabitants. How their emotions control them. The good and the not so good.
You see the characters, Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), and Margot Robbie (Sharon Tate) among others develop in full fleshed humans. Do not overlook these three characters.
DiCaprio has never been better, showing a range of emotions that make you feel for his situation in this movie industry. There are more than a few set pieces that allow this actor to show his abilities. Look for an Oscar nomination and a possible win from his performance.
Pitt again allows himself to play a character that is not as much a push as of his great screen presence. His take as the stuntman for Dalton, and also being his best friend, is one of his best. He again shows us just how much he is as an actor and not just another pretty face.
Robbie’s take on Tate is exquisite. We get to see that Sharon Tate was a newbie to the Hollywood scene. What is real or not here is subjective, as QT is always playing his audience. Tate, as I think QT wanted us to believe, was a unabashed fickle young actress that was still learning what being a movie star was. She had a bewilderment of Hollywood and was a loving person toward all in her world as shown by QT. Her viewing of a performance by the real Sharon Tate in “The Wrecking Crew” was a fabulous bit of acting by Robbie. You could just inhale her love of self and her emotional presence of having others “laugh” at her performance on screen. She would have loved to have been a star of the cinema if she had lived out a full life. (Fuck you Manson and burn in fucking hell you sum bag). Her inner beauty in this role was as significant as her physical beauty, which QT put on display without the obligatory nudity that many directors would have included. I believe Tate and Robbie would have more in common that we might think. Just watch her. As of Tate, you cannot get your eyes off this actress. Some wanted more of the Tate angle in this movie, but, this was not a movie on her. But anytime we can see Robbie on the silver screen we are in for a treat. She is one smoking women that is for sure. And her talent matches that stunning look. You think I like Robbie?
A few words on the Bruce Lee controversy. Tarantino has pissed off many Bruce Lee apologists. I am and always will be a Bruce Lee fan. Yet, I found the caricature of Mr. Lee as QT has filmed him in this film appropriate. The scene on the fictitious movie set where Pitt’s character Booth kicks the ass of a arrogant Lee was one of the funniest highlights of the flick. Someone needs to tell Bruce’s daughter (who got her panties all up on a wad) that this movie begins with the title “Once Upon A Time…” so please allow the director to take us places in the film where fantasy is a “fairly tale at least and a parody at most.” I enjoy flicks that tell the PC crowd to get lost. QT did that in this one and the issue of Lee and how we think about him is not going to chance as of a work of Hollywood fiction.
The one theme I believe QT pushed was that the “rich and famous” are like us all. They have their problems, worries, and pleasures. They experience issues most of us have to endure. Money and fame does not exclude anyone despair or needs.
What if Charlie Manson did not exist? His family of shits never bonded? QT gives us some serious thoughts about this in the end of this presentation. QT will be discussed and cursed about this look (ending) on this aspect of the movie. But I will not accept that his film is not good as of the ending, or the focus was not dialed completely on these murders. QT did not tell a tale of truth. This movie is not about Tate and such and is not about the truth. QT’s perspective is as what he remembers from growing up in the area and what Hollywood reflected in his mind and soul.
This is a great film. I enjoyed every minute and found the final fifteen minutes as good as anything he has ever done. I went from being in total suspense, to out-and-out laughter, to that sad place of what if. Argue if you want. Disagree if you wish. This “Once Upon A Time” is a winner as a motion picture, as was the previous “Once Upon A Times……in the West, in America, and the Revolution.” Tarantino is our modern day Sergio Leone.