Thursday, July 8, 2021

ONCE UPON A TIME... IN HOLLYWOOD

As of today, the question remains whether the former glory boy of independent American filmmaking will finish his career with one last film, rounding off his body of work with ten full-length motion pictures. Doubtless, he wants to go down in film history like Orson Wells or Preston Sturgis, writer-directors who have a short filmography that, though brief, highlights movies of extraordinary brilliance. 1.       I have not liked a Tarantino film since Kill Bill Vol.2 and regarded him as a spent talent. It seemed that he had used up all his good ideas early on and was bound to repeat them as he tackled one movie genre after another--2 Westerns, a WW2 movie, an exploitation film. 

It is not so much that repeating his stylistics is terrible by default; it's annoying, and I think lazy that the moves were so loud, protracted, and utterly, utterly predictable in the scheme of things. ONCE UPON A TIME... IN HOLLYWOOD, though, has all his virtues and little of his vices. The characters sound like they are talking to each other about things--jobs, love, bad luck, random stuff--rather than giving hammed-up, over-written self-announcing speeches to each other. The era and the pace are perfectly recreated, the music on the soundtrack is excellent--I think it was inspired to have what was on the AM top forty featured rather than the expected FM "underground" stuff. I mean, Jesus, I love that QT gave Paul Revere and the Raiders some love. Also, much appreciate the actor here is a B -Lister, a character actor trying to manage his demons and shortcomings and acquire an acting gig that he won't be embarrassed by.

 It is a big, appealing shaggy dog story. One of the best cast movies I've seen in a while. I was surprised how much I liked a movie by a director whose films I think are repetitive, overblown, and without any residue of charm. It's a Tarantino movie indeed, and their bits I found needless or excessive, but the plus side is that there is SO MUCH LESS of his bright-boy didacticism that it’s easy to mistake it for being flawless. If you want to call it that, the genius moves here is that QT decided to tell a story, or several stories, rather than be an auteur. This is only the second movie where I felt he was not trying to prove anything, the other one being Jackie Brown, his adaptation of Elmore Leonard's superlative novel Rum Punch. 

That is a movie I think film hounds will be returning to when they come to discuss this man's work. So far as his motive and meaning go, I am content that he regards the period as intrinsically exciting and figured out how to contrive an engaging "what if" tale with the particulars. Let us consider Mailer knocking off that grandiose third-person hat trick when he happened up Gary Gilmore. His decision to tell the story rather than grandstand was a sensible approach.QT's efforts to blue pencil much of the verbal dexterity of the dialogue was an equally shrewd move.