Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood ★★★★

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

This review may contain spoilers.

I'm not totally sold on Quentin Tarantino's quest to use violence to cathartically attack/erase real-world atrocities that he doesn't like - the Holocaust, slavery, and now the Manson murders - but there's no questioning the gut-level appeal of his tactic. The first viewing of this film is special because the dread of the violence - whether it is the murder at Cielo Drive or whatever Tarantino has in store - hangs over the shaggy-dog story and caused me considerable anxiety while the movie aimlessly spins its wheels. The relief in a sold-out theater was akin to...well, seeing INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS in the same Los Feliz theater a decade ago.

It's nice to pretend the 60s never ended - especially Tarantino's version of them, which is less drenched in his love of cinema and more in vintage television and the ins-and-outs of making a living in Hollywood - and it's even better to pretend four-to-seven innocent people don't die, but this a fairy tale. I am sure a second viewing removes the suspense and lets it play more as a loving recreation of a time and place.

Not only is Tarantino reliving/recreating his favorite films; he's happy to reference his *own* movies. I caught JACKIE BROWN's opening credits, against a tile wall at LAX, is seen here; of course, that in itself was a reference to THE GRADUATE. Rick Dalton's flamethrowing prowess is reminiscent of BASTERDS. Zoe Bell and Kurt Russell reprise their DEATH PROOF jobs, if not the characters themselves. The Tarantino Cinematic Universe has been a thing for awhile - I remember a whole clickbait thing with JACKIE BROWN overlapping with PULP FICTION or something. I think Tarantino's work has earned this - several of those films stand as great ones - but it further builds the hall of mirrors that defines his work. What is original and what isn't, and does it matter?

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