Aaron d’s review published on Letterboxd:
In the past few years there’s been a spate of direct-to-netflix comedy specials by aging comedians. More often than not, these specials have some sort of goading title, oft related to perceived censorship; Triggered, No Offense, and most recently, Sticks and Stones. The crux of these specials and how they’ve been sold to the public is that comedy and art are under attack. They can’t do shows at campuses, people don’t want to book them because they’re so controversial. Times just aren’t like they used to be, and they, the elder purveyors of True comedy are being mercilessly targeted.
Of course, they do have a Netflix special to talk about this where they got paid millions and got their faces on the front page. And they do still do tours and sell out shows, and/or have wildly popular podcasts. But take their word for it: they’ve got a bounty on their head, set by radical, immature, violent-but-also-snowflake college students, and if you - the brave, supportive viewer you are - aren’t careful with your words and actions, you may soon too. Be afraid, and be ready to fight.
The above is Once Upon A Time In Hollywood; just replace “comedy” with “cinema”. It is the ($100,000,000) bloated-like-a-corpse work of a bitter, wealthy, pseudo-philosophical old white man who believes his own myth. A self appointed cinematic savior/auteur raging into the wind by creating nothing less than a celebration of virulent, violent white masculinity and the cinematic history that encircles it. The only thing he could have done to make his feelings clearer were if he put this in 1970, cast himself as Nixon, and used Kent State. Those snowflake college kids deserved it too, right?
Make no mistake - the “Manson” “family” we see in the last 30 minutes are merely a conduit for Tarantino to pour all of his childish rage at his detractors into. In fact, they aren’t the family at all. They’re vapid caricatures devoid of humanity, viewed by the film as ignorant young cowards, emasculated soyboy cucklets who can’t shoot a gun and teenage hippie airheaded skanks who spew talking points much closer to the modern “”SJW”” then what the family actually believed. And what’s the final sign we’re given so we know these kids are worthless fucking imbeciles who deserve every brutal thing that’s coming?
Why, one of them dares to assert that media doesn’t operate in a vacuum, and that work not unlike Tarantino’s may just reify the worst aspects of American society - or at least, she gives Tarantino’s straw man version of that argument. Thankfully for the crowd who (secretly or not-so-secretly) feels Me-Too has gone far enough, the young woman who says this gets mauled by a dog, thrown through a glass window, and is burned alive (using a flamethrower that was previously used to (self-referentially) burn movie-Nazis - look who’s the fascist now, amirite?).
To everyone who hasn’t gotten over the fact Tarantino was a formative cinematic experience when you were 14 or whatever: Take your masturbatory, defensive essays on how this movie secretly means x and shove it up your ass. I’m all for lengthy, political/philosophical evaluations of a work - anybody who’s seen some of my reviews or heard me talk about certain films knows that. But there’s an important piece to that, and it’s called context. Nothing operates in a vacuum, and every horse-shit write up imbuing this movie with profundity can only work if you ignore that. With a movie like this, the simpler interpretation is the one that makes the most sense.
Tarantino is an abuser, near-murderer, and a long-term protector of a rapist. That’s not my personal opinion; It’s documented fact. He is a genuinely terrible person, and - wild fucking take - this movie, and his filmography, is a reflection of that. Not some roundabout commentary on any __ism, the myth of Hollywood/America, or the postmodern condition. It’s a misogynist, racist, vile human being with all the intellectual rigor and social tact of a teenage boy on XBoxLive living out every one of his loser incel cinephile fantasies on screen. Further, this is not 1969. 1969 was Stonewall, the first story on My Lai, Curacao, the Chicago Eight trials, and the murder of Fred Hampton. It was Funeral Parade of Roses, Eros + Massacre, Mad Love, Kes, The Land, Medium Cool, Z.
This trash? It’s a 4th level simulacrum, a 3 hour advertisement for the vague concept of Real Cinema and the Great Men who make it that those so willing to suckle at the dirty, bulbous toes of Daddy Tarantino have taken as an accurate, if embellished/iconographic, representation and that he himself believes to be real. Now *that’s* postmodernism.