Thursday, September 19, 2019

Back to Hollywood's almost past

I've never been a big fan of Quentin Tarantino. Sure, I've enjoyed some of his movies but others I haven't seen. For one thing the guy's pictures are too violent, which seems to make no difference to film critics and audiences who otherwise would denounce violence, gratuitous or not, anywhere else in our precious society. Okay, Tarantino's films are about hoods, bad guys - I get it. There's also something very ironic about the T's movies. They're throwbacks to Golden Age crime stories and film and cultural stereotypes, and he has a lot of fun sending them up. I get that too though after awhile it gets to be a bore. So along now comes Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which some reviewers say might end up feasting on the Oscars next winter and perhaps catch the award for best picture. But I hadn't wanted to see this movie because the trailer was full of, yes, Hollywood stereotypes. That's the whole point, Stang! But more than that the story harked back to a pivotal moment in Hollywood, 1969, and the time of the Sharon Tate murders. I lived through that era, thank you very much. The world of 1969, Hollywood or not, is well embedded in my memory; I didn't feel like having to relive it. But, during an otherwise boring afternoon and with not much else on at my local Bijou - and especially since this flick might win best film Oscar! - I caught a matinee with, uh, six other people.....Okay, truth to tell, the almost three hour film is a typical Tarantino lark - humor and irony in multiple layers. Sending up old TV Westerns and the still "straight" officialdom of Hollywood and media types in the late Sixties was a hoot. And Tarantino got exceptional performances from Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt as a B-grade Western actor and his stuntman sidekick. And Once Upon is a generally entertaining movie to watch. The characters zipping along LA streets to the soundtrack of AM radio commercials and Top 40 hits (though some of the songs strain historical accuracy) was fun. But, but, perhaps it's me but I find it hard to suspend belief in period movies regardless of how authentic the backdrops, and Tarantino should be commended for an 80 per cent success rate in creating the "look" of 1969. The problem here is that the entire thing has a phony, or contrived, appearance. Margot Robbie as starlet Sharon Tate visiting a Westwood theatre to watch herself on screen - check. A Hollywood party who's who, including Mama Cass and Steve McQueen, at the Playboy Mansion (where's Hugh?) - check. Al Pacino as a casting agent in a tacky steakhouse pitching mid-brow Rick Dalton (DiCaprio) for Spaghetti Westerns - check. So, in sum, the whole movie was slightly amusing, good for a few guffaws and, alas, had a very unsettling final scene.

No comments:

Post a Comment