Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood ½

I mean, being seven was definitely fun, but, yeah, I’m good not redoing that year. The song is not really that serious. I don’t really want to go back to 1999.

My second viewing of this film was in the proper context, between my baby boomer coworker and an entire bottle of wine, so needless to say my take this time is far more sober this time.

Armond White, whom I admire, ultimately likes this movie because it alienates Tarantino's fans and so might rouse some from amoral stupor. RLM likes it because "it isn't Spider-Man," and they are jaded nihilists. People on here whose opinions I take seriously enjoy its swan song for cinema and commentary on contemporary Hollywood's politics [1]. I agree with all these sentiments, it's their deployment I find infuriating.

We live in bizarrely nostalgic times relative to how exciting they could be. Whether it's modernity or capitalism or whatever, a ubiquitous comment on Youtube is "I'm nostalgic for this (anime, video game, disco single) and I wasn't even alive when it came out." This preoccupation with the experience of consuming 20th century media in its original context is manifest in everything from Vaporwave aesthetics to cynical Disney remakes for misguided audiences. Al Pacino's character in this film, an old Jewish producer, not a hipster, weirdly keeps referencing film formats.

The song and video for 1999 is better than Once Upon a Time in Hollywood if only because it comes infinitely closer to admitting that the past was only better because you were a child and life was new and exciting and that wonder can never be fully recovered. Tarantino was six years old in 1969. It's his own business if he wants to travel back himself but his attempts at taking the rest of us ring somewhat hollow, even if it is in the interest of making pointed and earnest statements about today and the broad devaluation of actors, artists and filmmakers. The Manson murders here represent nothing but the objectification of certain celebrities.

The only way the magic of childhood can be partially repossessed is through radically new art, or art that has retained a portion of its radical newness through the ages, i.e. "great art." Of course the post-ironic insight is that any art can be great, but this only gives us less excuse to linger on the past and its supposed coolness.

Katamari Damacy (lit. "clump soul") is perhaps the happiest depiction of the apocalypse ever rendered. It's about a tiny god whose father, the King of All Cosmos, accidentally drank up all the stars in a binge, and so sends his son to earth and tasks him with rolling up everything we know onto katamari to create new stars. The is is the perfect illustration of the postmodern condition and what we could be doing rather than persisting in burials and mournings. I'm tired of movies about actors, I'm tired of movies about Hollywood, I'm tired of movies about movies because I don't ultimately care about any of these things. We could be making new stars with all the trash we've accumulated instead of just wistfully reminiscing over it. The proverbial "Golden Age" could start tomorrow.

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