Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)

Discussions of specific films and franchises.
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
R0lf
Joined: Tue May 19, 2009 7:25 am

Re: Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)

#826 Post by R0lf » Tue Aug 20, 2019 11:30 pm

Definitely how much you enjoy something is down to personal taste but then going the extra step to dismissing it as all surface with a hollow centre just because you aren’t aware of or engaged with the subject matter isn’t great; when they quite clearly made this movie packed to the gills with social, and political, and cinematic history, not being aware of or engaged with those things is the more charitable conclusion than any other motive someone could have for outright dismissal of the subject matter.

User avatar
hearthesilence
Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2005 4:22 am
Location: NYC

Re: Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)

#827 Post by hearthesilence » Tue Aug 20, 2019 11:49 pm

It's been interesting to see different takes on this posted on social media. I think I've been on Facebook for about a decade now, and this film has spurred far more passionate and polarizing reactions in the form of social media posts by public figures/writers than any other film.

From Paul Schrader:
ONCE UPON...HOLLYWOOD. Been thinking about this the last two days. I've been cool to Quentin's recent films. Basterds, Django, Hateful Eight all left me with a meta-meh feeling. But, damn, this one rings the bell! I think--dare I say it?--it's a great film.
And later added:
Brad Pitt has entered the pantheon of America actors. By that I mean Grant, Clift and Newman not Brando or Dean.
From Joseph McBride:
Thinking of the grotesquely revisionist "happy ending" of Quentin Tarantino's ONCE UPON A TIME . . . IN HOLLYWOOD -- which is gratifying some viewers who admit enjoying Tarantino's sadistic revenge fantasy against members of the Manson Family -- puts me in mind of what William Dean Howells once said to Edith Wharton: "What the American public always wants is a tragedy with a happy ending." Not only does the "fun" (sic) some find in this ending further demonstrate our out-of-control national penchant for violence and retribution, it is a symptom of our inability to handle history and our need to deny it.
Unexpectedly, long-time music critic Bill Wyman pitched in with an incredibly long post, with other writers (including a few rock critics) chiming in...this is just an excerpt:
I don't understand the reception of "Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood." I think it fails as a film on virtually every level. (I’m in Australia and just got to see it.)
It's boring. I saw the thing with an excited, almost sold-out crowd in one of the biggest theaters in Sydney; I had a great view of an expansive screen. We were ready to rock! And then … there was 2 hours and 30 minutes of tediousness, broken only by an overly violent scene at Spahn ranch.
Who cares about two old-school Hollywood guys, one a hack? Why should we care about them? Unless it's because they are …
(the following paragraphs added via replies to his own post)
…Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt. Tarantino uses their wattage to upend the reality of folks of the sort they are playing. Take away the big names and you have a ham who screws his face up a lot and a hunka-hunka who flashes a wry smile every once in a while.
Some reviewers, amid all the inexplicable adulation this film has received, have made mention, in passing, of its inherent conservativism—a world overrun by murderous hippies in which old-school cowpokes step in and save the pretty gal in distress.
It's not subtext. It's what the film's about. Tarantino imagines how a famous tragic event could have been handled differently, Eastwoodian fashion, if, gosh darn it, someone had just stood up and put a stop to it. Sounds familiar …
In Inglorious Basterds, some tough guys stood up to the Nazis. Here, some fake tough guys stand up to all those crazed hippies running around. I'm not a big expert on the 1960s, but I think that some of those hippies were doing things other than murdering people.
But no: In this film's worldview, hippies and Mexicans are the big problems in society at the time.
And for the record, while the Manson gang looked like hippies, there were other things going on. Manson was an insane racist. And the women were in many ways victims. This mysterious passage from Rolling Stone's original massive investigation into Manson has always stayed with me:
"Every time Charlie saw a girl he liked, he’d tell someone, 'Get that girl.' And when they brought her back, Charlie would take her out in the woods and talk to her for an hour or two. And she would never leave."
Obviously Tarantino's netherworld—this is a fairy tale, after all—is crafted deliberately, but … I’m not sure what the point is. Isn't the fairy tale when the radical stuff up and supplants the schlock? Is this supposed to be a thumb in the eye of the counterculture?
Or is he being ironic—is it, contrarily, really a savage portrayal of the blindered view of Hollywood at the time, pointing out that the traditional movie heroes of the day didn't save Sharon Tate?
And Jonathan Rosenbaum and David Ehrenstein both hated it with a passion, though those sentiments were expressed primarily through posts that didn't go into much detail or links to external sites.

And finally, I think Jim Hoberman's take is the most spot-on. Not a social media post, this was a review for the NY Review of Books.

User avatar
furbicide
Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2011 4:52 am

Re: Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)

#828 Post by furbicide » Wed Aug 21, 2019 12:33 am

Brian C wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 6:39 pm
Mr Sausage wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 4:24 pm
This is a silly discussion. The violence at the end of the movie is pitched at a comedic level; it’s not to be taken seriously. It’s even built on a comedic principle: bathos. It builds up the expectation of dark, gruesome, realistic violence, then discharges that anticipation into violence so goofy and cartoonish that you have to laugh. It’s a relief to see the horrors of history undercut with something ridiculous. The whole thing is built on gags and comedic timing. Who gets worked up over something so fantastical and outrageous? What’s next, spamming the Robocop thread?
I don't think I quite agree with this. When I read your description of how this scene works, a perfect example that comes to mind is the woodchipper scene in Fargo. Or for a Tarantino-specific example, the back-seat shooting in Pulp Fiction. But neither of those scenes are built on the idea that their victims deserve it, even though the victim in the Coens' scene is a murderous criminal himself.

I don't think anyone here is objecting to the lurid violence as such, but rather how it's hard to escape that Tarantino is trafficking very heavily in a sentiment of righteous vengeance here. It's plainly not just gags and comedic timing that he's building on. We're conditioned to hate the victims of the violence here, from their portrayal in this film and especially their real-life histories. And I think objections to this sort of real-life/fantasy blurring of the lines when it comes to over-the-top violence are reasonable, especially when there's a lot of effort being put forth in this thread into denying that the violence is really unwarranted at all, even in a real-world sense; after all, the Tate crime scene photos were revoltingly gruesome and anyway, we all have the right to defend ourselves from intruders in our homes.

It reminds me of Rosenbaum's objection to Inglourious Basterds that it turned the Jews into Nazis. Obviously that's an incredibly loaded and hyperbolic critique, but it's hard for me to dismiss it out of hand, because all the scene in question really did was trade places of who the perpetrators of the brutalities were from the bad guys to the good guys. And Tarantino's done this enough now that there's a clear philosophical underpinning to what he's doing besides just staging gags with good comedic timing - he's putting forth a worldview in which it's desirable to inflict as much brutality on the bad guys as possible.

Which, okay, fine, to some extent ... at least to this point he's picking actual, genuine bad guys as his targets: Nazis, slavers, brainwashed cultists who murder an angelic pregnant woman late in her third term of pregnancy (along with some other people too, I guess). Certainly I'm not trying to put forward any moral defense of the Nazis or slavers or homicidal maniacs. But nevertheless, this is a pretty nasty and destructive worldview, and it doesn't seem out of bounds to point as much out.
I think this is a really good post. Ultimately there are plenty of perilous dead ends and distractions in a discussion like this (e.g. does saying you don't morally agree with the film's politics mean that you don't think it should have been made? Does saying that Tarantino has a right to put what he wants to on screen mean that his use of violence shouldn't be interrogated? Is a director responsible for an audience's response, or is a critic responsible for quantifying what that effect is? Is a gleeful portrayal of violence not itself a commentary on violence, etc.?) but it helps when someone critically addresses the creator's intent with clarity.

Evidently, as you say, this film isn't just some self-contained fantasy, but instead one with a worldview that is both explicit and influential; like all such fetishistic revenge narratives, it feeds off and arguably serves to socially reinforce anti-humanist ideas about violence. That's not an observation that Tarantino needs to be defended from (one poster refers to him being 'dragged', as if this is his personal Twitter thread and we're all heaping scorn on him), and neither does it mean that we need to take up pitchforks against him or his film. Even for those of us who are disgusted by his worldview, we may well find that there's value to having works like this out there to help clarify these issues (it certainly marks a tonal shift from the relentless humanism of most art cinema), and it doesn't in any way mean that it's necessarily a bad or worthless film. But it does mean that his work is ripe for sharp political critique, and those of us who think there may be something to concerns about media effects on society may well wish to discuss those things in earnest from an ethical standpoint.

User avatar
mfunk9786
Under Chris' Protection
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)

#829 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Aug 21, 2019 12:20 pm

Sharon Stone just tweeted:

"I saw Once Upon a Time in Hollywood last night and was so touched by the story, the story of real people in their day, trying to be their best and how that changes the world and it's outcome. Deeply effecting."

Which is perhaps one of the better reviews of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood I've read, frankly, considering how much terrible writing has been done (myself included) on this film in particular since its release. She gets directly to what's so appealing about this film to me, and presumably many other people considering that it's still hanging on at the box office nicely.

User avatar
Mr Sausage
Not PETA approved
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)

#830 Post by Mr Sausage » Wed Aug 21, 2019 1:10 pm

First of all, can I protest those who're implying that I think discussing issues of violence in movies and Tarantino stories and whatever shouldn't take place? I thought I'd established enough of a reputation on here to be free from that kind of accusation. I don't have a problem with that discussion occurring; I have a problem with how it's occurring.
Joseph McBride wrote:Thinking of the grotesquely revisionist "happy ending" of Quentin Tarantino's ONCE UPON A TIME . . . IN HOLLYWOOD -- which is gratifying some viewers who admit enjoying Tarantino's sadistic revenge fantasy against members of the Manson Family -- puts me in mind of what William Dean Howells once said to Edith Wharton: "What the American public always wants is a tragedy with a happy ending." Not only does the "fun" (sic) some find in this ending further demonstrate our out-of-control national penchant for violence and retribution, it is a symptom of our inability to handle history and our need to deny it.
I didn't want to be pedantic earlier, because the posters in this thread were using "revisionist" descriptively. But now that it's being used pejoratively, fuck it:

This is not "revisionist history". It's "alternate history".

Revisionist history tries to change the facts of actual recorded history in the real world. Alternate history is just imagining if things had gone differently for the purposes of telling a story. A lot of people are using the former but mean the latter, and that's fine. McBride means the former and is trying to exploit the baggage attending the word to make his point.

The rest of McBride's argument is what happens when people let their emotions get in the way of sober analysis.

"[V]iolence and retribution" has been a staple of Hollywood filmmaking for a long, long time, as Tarantino's movie actually shows. People are singling him out for something that puts him squarely in the Hollywood mainstream.
Furbicide wrote:Evidently, as you say, this film isn't just some self-contained fantasy, but instead one with a worldview that is both explicit and influential; like all such fetishistic revenge narratives, it feeds off and arguably serves to socially reinforce anti-humanist ideas about violence. That's not an observation that Tarantino needs to be defended from (one poster refers to him being 'dragged', as if this is his personal Twitter thread and we're all heaping scorn on him), and neither does it mean that we need to take up pitchforks against him or his film. Even for those of us who are disgusted by his worldview, we may well find that there's value to having works like this out there to help clarify these issues (it certainly marks a tonal shift from the relentless humanism of most art cinema), and it doesn't in any way mean that it's necessarily a bad or worthless film. But it does mean that his work is ripe for sharp political critique, and those of us who think there may be something to concerns about media effects on society may well wish to discuss those things in earnest from an ethical standpoint.
No it doesn't. By making generalized, categorical statements like this, you're removing your ability to judge this film on what it's actually doing.

First of all, it's not a "revenge narrative", let alone a "fetishistic" one. Is it too much to be accurate in your terms? No character in this movie takes revenge, let alone spends a narrative pursuing it. The violent scenario at the end is as surprising to the characters as anyone. It's predicated on a mistake. If there is any revenge, it's on behalf of the film and filmmakers, which would make it a very different sort of revenge movie than the ones you're lumping it in with so casually. Rather than doing the difficult work of assessing the film on the unique level it's working on, you're taking the easy route of prejudging it based on some lazy assumptions.

I can't be sure what you mean by humanist (let alone anti-humanist), and can't even be sure you know what you mean by it, since generally the people who use it on this forum have only a vague idea of what it means. But there's something to keep in mind: the violence in this movie is as much about preserving human life as it is about taking it. Remember who doesn't get killed in this movie, and how warm and touching those final moments are as a result.

This is a movie that's for fairytale violence and against senseless, vicious, nihilistic, real-world brutality. Has no one considered that Tarantino may actually be making a point about movie violence here?
Brian C wrote:Umm ... sure, I'll grant that point. "Not the crime against humanity that the Manson family murders were" is an awfully low bar to clear, though, no?
The lowest. But those wringing their hands over the violence the movie does show us need to be reminded of the violence it doesn't.

User avatar
tenia
Ask Me About My Bassoon
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 11:13 am

Re: Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)

#831 Post by tenia » Wed Aug 21, 2019 2:02 pm

Mr Sausage wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 1:10 pm
This is not "revisionist history". It's "alternate history".
Precisely. We use "Uchronia" in French, and it's clear that this part of the movie is a pure "what if". Not sure why people who surely know this keep using the wrong word, especially considering how problematic this confusion can be.
Mr Sausage wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 1:10 pm
But those wringing their hands over the violence the movie does show us need to be reminded of the violence it doesn't.
Two wrongs don't make a right.
Mr Sausage wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 1:10 pm
This is a movie that's for fairytale violence and against senseless, vicious, nihilistic, real-world brutality.
I get your point, but the violence shown on screen, at least from Booth's part, isn't fairytale-like at all. It remains getting one's skull crushed American History X like and getting viciously bitten senseless by a dog, which is pretty much senseless, vicious and quite real-world brutality.
And then, the last one get torched by a Chekov' flame-thrower in a way clearly aiming at pure cinematic entertainment, which is "fairy-tale" like, I guess.
Mr Sausage wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 1:10 pm
Has no one considered that Tarantino may actually be making a point about movie violence here?
Wouldn't it contradict all Tarantino put in the movie prior to this moment to make sure we cheer for the bad guys getting beaten that badly, and that this scene gets quite cathartic, both diegetically (good guys defend themselves against bad guys) and extra-diegetically (69 with a vengeance) ? Not wanting to play the devil's advocate, but it seems to me it can't be both a very classic construction and making a point about movie violence (especially since Tarantino didn't seem to care about all the violence he's showing in TV shows and movies extracts all along the movie).

User avatar
Mr Sausage
Not PETA approved
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)

#832 Post by Mr Sausage » Wed Aug 21, 2019 2:12 pm

tenia wrote:Two wrongs don't make a right.
Holy shit. Are you seriously going to come in here and maintain the Manson murders and the violent finale of a movie are equivalent wrongs?

This doesn't bear serious response.
tenia wrote:I get your point, but the violence shown on screen, at least from Booth's part, isn't fairytale-like at all. It remains getting one's skull crushed American History X like and getting viciously bitten senseless by a dog. And then, the last one get torched by a Chekov' flame-thrower in a way clearly aiming at pure cinematic entertainment.
No, strict, sober realism plays no part of the violence here. The sheer outrageous excess pushes it well the ludicrous. I know you're an intelligent watcher of film and I've long respected your analyses even when I disagree, but for some reason you've lost your ability to judge tone in this case. Just in general, you don't seem to remember this film all that well, judging by previous posts.
tenia wrote:Wouldn't it contradict all Tarantino put in the movie prior to this moment to make sure we cheer for the bad guys getting beaten that badly, and that this scene gets quite cathartic, both diegetically (good guys defend themselves against bad guys) and extra-diegetically (69 with a vengeance) ?
No. Please read my earlier posts about the movie.

User avatar
tenia
Ask Me About My Bassoon
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 11:13 am

Re: Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)

#833 Post by tenia » Wed Aug 21, 2019 2:18 pm

Mr Sausage wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 2:12 pm
Holy shit. Are you seriously going to come in here and maintain the Manson murders and the violent finale of a movie are equivalent wrongs?
I'm not, but I do think it's an easy way out to say "this violence is OK because it doesn't show that one".
Mr Sausage wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 2:12 pm
Just in general, you don't seem to remember this film all that well, judging by previous posts.
I might be lost in translation to convey the nuances required here to make myself perfectly understood, but I've seen the movie 6 days ago only and while I have certainly missed a few things here and there, I definitely remember the parts I'm discussing here.
Mr Sausage wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 2:12 pm
No, strict, sober realism plays no part of the violence here. The sheer outrageous excess pushes it well the ludicrous.
Well, I simply disagree here. Not by much, I think, but still. I don't think the violence shown in this segment is that "fairytale-like". It's outrageous, sure enough. But still.

User avatar
Mr Sausage
Not PETA approved
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)

#834 Post by Mr Sausage » Wed Aug 21, 2019 2:33 pm

tenia wrote:I'm not, but I do think it's an easy way out to say "this violence is OK because it doesn't show that one".
Thanks for straw manning me. My actual point is that people need to keep things in proportion, which a few of you aren't. If you guys want to wring your hands about whether cartoonish violence in a Tarantino film is "OK", have at it. Sounds like a waste of time to me, but what do I know.
tenia wrote:Well, I simply disagree here. Not by much, I think, but still. I don't think the violence shown in this segment is that "fairytale-like". It's outrageous, sure enough. But still..
You ever read a fairy tale or a folk tale or things of that sort? The violence in them can be astonishing. Casual child murder and cannibalism astonishing. But, again, my previous posts have laid out precisely how I think the violence is working here.

The violence in this movie is absurd. It's not to be taken seriously. I gather this is inconvenient to those who want to have serious discussions about movie violence and prefer this movie to better targets, for some reason. But it just sounds to me like people whose sensitivity to the violence has nullified their ability to judge tone. To paraphrase David Lynch: smash a girl's face into a wall once, it's sickening; smash it into a wall fifteen times, it becomes absurd.

User avatar
tenia
Ask Me About My Bassoon
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 11:13 am

Re: Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)

#835 Post by tenia » Wed Aug 21, 2019 2:39 pm

I didn't have the time to edit but I realised it's indeed your remark that I mistook for a direct comparison when it was rather pointing out a sense of proportions in a more general way.

User avatar
Mr Sausage
Not PETA approved
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)

#836 Post by Mr Sausage » Wed Aug 21, 2019 4:05 pm

No worries man.

And despite my very strident tone, I do continue to respect and appreciate you as a member.

User avatar
FrauBlucher
Joined: Mon Jul 15, 2013 8:28 pm
Location: Greenwich Village

Re: Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)

#837 Post by FrauBlucher » Wed Aug 21, 2019 8:27 pm

Just got back from seeing this. I liked it fine but didn't hate it which is pretty standard for me when it comes to Tarantino's films. It didn't have that Tarantino revenge motif within his films that dominate his canon. The revenge genre is my least favorite and he is the champion of the revenge film. I really liked all the Brad Pitt scenes (except with Bruce Lee). Especially the stuff at the Spahn Ranch. I also enjoyed the tribute to 50s and 60s Hollywood. It was fun seeing Robert Goulet singing MacArthur Park. Tarantino does have a terrific knack for giving the past it's due, whether with clips or music.

As for the violence I don't get turned off by it in film but with Tarantino I find it gratuitous and boring and it usually goes on too long. I didn't have a problem with the ending or the portrayal of the Manson family. Overall, for me, it's one of his better efforts.

User avatar
furbicide
Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2011 4:52 am

Re: Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)

#838 Post by furbicide » Thu Aug 22, 2019 8:14 pm

Mr Sausage wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 1:10 pm
Furbicide wrote:Evidently, as you say, this film isn't just some self-contained fantasy, but instead one with a worldview that is both explicit and influential; like all such fetishistic revenge narratives, it feeds off and arguably serves to socially reinforce anti-humanist ideas about violence. That's not an observation that Tarantino needs to be defended from (one poster refers to him being 'dragged', as if this is his personal Twitter thread and we're all heaping scorn on him), and neither does it mean that we need to take up pitchforks against him or his film. Even for those of us who are disgusted by his worldview, we may well find that there's value to having works like this out there to help clarify these issues (it certainly marks a tonal shift from the relentless humanism of most art cinema), and it doesn't in any way mean that it's necessarily a bad or worthless film. But it does mean that his work is ripe for sharp political critique, and those of us who think there may be something to concerns about media effects on society may well wish to discuss those things in earnest from an ethical standpoint.
No it doesn't. By making generalized, categorical statements like this, you're removing your ability to judge this film on what it's actually doing.

First of all, it's not a "revenge narrative", let alone a "fetishistic" one. Is it too much to be accurate in your terms? No character in this movie takes revenge, let alone spends a narrative pursuing it. The violent scenario at the end is as surprising to the characters as anyone. It's predicated on a mistake. If there is any revenge, it's on behalf of the film and filmmakers, which would make it a very different sort of revenge movie than the ones you're lumping it in with so casually. Rather than doing the difficult work of assessing the film on the unique level it's working on, you're taking the easy route of prejudging it based on some lazy assumptions.

I can't be sure what you mean by humanist (let alone anti-humanist), and can't even be sure you know what you mean by it, since generally the people who use it on this forum have only a vague idea of what it means. But there's something to keep in mind: the violence in this movie is as much about preserving human life as it is about taking it. Remember who doesn't get killed in this movie, and how warm and touching those final moments are as a result.

This is a movie that's for fairytale violence and against senseless, vicious, nihilistic, real-world brutality. Has no one considered that Tarantino may actually be making a point about movie violence here?
You're right that it's not a diegetic revenge narrative, but it's clearly a meta-revenge narrative. In Tarantino's world, those aren't wholly distinct concepts (consider Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained, in which both diegetic and meta revenge narratives are present; Tarantino is both 'avenging' the sins specific to the movie and the real-life sins of the past).

I think I have a pretty sophisticated understanding of the term humanism, thanks, but not sure if you want me to derail the thread by spelling it out in detail. In basic terms, I see it as a belief in human dignity, in the value of the individual (not in contrast with society, but unto itself) and in a universal human entitlement to fair treatment, general autonomy and protection from harm. I don't think that ideology has any place for believing, for example, that people deserve to suffer or that lives become dispensable in certain contexts, which are obviously necessary conditions for enjoying (in any cognitively aware sense) this sequence.

Lastly, I think we need to be wary of binaries here:
SpoilerShow
You can set up the death of the cult members vs the salvation of Tate as a zero sum contest, i.e. if you oppose the former then you're supporting the latter, and vice versa. But the reality is that Tarantino's alternate universe could have saved Tate in any number of ways. He could have made her miss a bus or something, you know, and had to stay the night at a friend's house? He could have had the police being tipped off beforehand and arresting the cult members as they approach the house. Clearly, the "warm and touching" final moments you talk about neither necessitated nor (as I think we all realise) formed the central goal of the preceding scene of violence. That doesn't emerge from a desire to "preserve life", as you say, but rather a desire to sate violent impulses (and/or represent violence in an aesthetically interest/stylish way, or heighten the narrative stakes, or whatever). Again, I'm not damning him for that – it's his film and he can show whatever he likes however he likes – but we need to be careful not to be overly apologetic in our critical responses.

User avatar
Mr Sausage
Not PETA approved
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)

#839 Post by Mr Sausage » Thu Aug 22, 2019 9:01 pm

You know what's weird and out of proportion in so many of the posts here? That they talk as if Tarantino's "revenge" involved going out and personally murdering Tex Watson, Susan Atkins, and Patricia Krenwinkle.
SpoilerShow
Let's lay out the actual "revenge" that's got you all in ethical twists. He takes revenge on them by making them look stupid and bumbling; he has them shouted at, abandoned, and then mocked by their would-be victim (with one of their most chilling real-life quotes treated as utterly ridiculous) before they're killed in such a goofy and outrageous manner that they're denied any dignity even in their deaths. Tarantino takes a trio of of brutal, awful murderers and removes all the layers of mythologizing and pop cultural notoriety and fascination, rips out all of the hush, awe, and seriousness with which they've been treated, and takes the best revenge possible: he disrespects them. I can't think of a single film on this topic that has so little interest in contributing to the aura around these people, let alone one that seeks to dismantle that aura.

You're never going to understand this film if you take it at face value. A major reason for the great violence fest at the end is the metaphorical dismantling of the Manson family myth. Tarantino isn't here merely to side-step the problem; he's here to demolish it. It's no accident each Manson family member is rendered unrecognizable: crushed and burned and destroyed utterly. It's not merely blood-thirsty glee. It's metaphoric and thematic. It's the visual representation of what he's doing in general to these killers as pop-culture products.

And to repeat my earlier posts: the violence at the end serves a key thematic purpose: it's the affirmation of Hollywood fantasy over real-life barbarity. The killers claim they're going to revenge themselves on Hollywood by inflicting on it the violence they claimed to have learned from it. They indict Hollywood for their crimes, not unlike many who've confronted Tarantino with claims that violence in films is tantamount to real-life violence. Tarantino's response is to have Hollywood take its revenge for such buck passing, with Hollywood violence being met back on the killers in a fantasy, a last laugh. The violence at the end is not real-life violence, it's the violence of the 49 Fists of McKlusky, flame thrower included. As Dalton says near the beginning, there's "a lotta killin'" in his films, and violence pervades the Hollywood products we see throughout the movie.

But Tarantino is on the side of Hollywood violence and filmic violence in general. After all: filmic violence can be redemptive; it can have purpose; it can bring closure, peace, meaning, even pleasure. It can do all the things real life violence can't. This film is on the side of filmic violence and against real life violence, and is itself an example of how filmic violence can be used for positive and affirming ends. It is in fact a demonstration: violence is ok if it happens in films precisely because they're films, and therefore transformative.
If you take the end of the film at face value as just some people getting brutally killed for the hell of it, you'll never understand this movie. And if you don't take the time to figure out how this film is working and what significance it's trying to express before interpreting the ending, the misunderstanding is on you.

User avatar
furbicide
Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2011 4:52 am

Re: Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)

#840 Post by furbicide » Thu Aug 22, 2019 10:23 pm

That's an interesting analysis, and you may well be absolutely correct about Tarantino's intentions here. But I do still think that there's a bit of wanting to have one's cake and eat it too here, in that it asks us to believe that movie violence and real-life violence (not just the enactment thereof, but emotional, ideological and political support for it that may be bolstered by media consumption) can be safely cordoned off and that it is normal for the former to be enjoyed as pure fantasy in a kind of state of conscious doublethink. And that leads me to wonder which is true: a) are the Letterboxd reviewer who wants to see Inglourious Basterds but, like, in real life, and the various posters here who have argued that what is depicted at the end of Once upon a Time is actually defensible for realz, horrifically misunderstanding Tarantino's argument, as you seem to be implying? Or b) is theirs actually a pretty natural and expected reaction, and maybe Tarantino's own if he was being totally honest about it? Perhaps I don't give him enough credit and he's actually a pacifist who makes these films to get his horror at real-life violence in all its forms out of his system, like a much more subtle Michael Haneke. I dunno. Some of the quotes attributed to him make that sound like a genuine possibility, but it's kind of hard to totally swallow.
Last edited by furbicide on Thu Aug 22, 2019 10:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)

#841 Post by knives » Thu Aug 22, 2019 10:27 pm

He's definitely not a pacifist, but I don't take it that Mr. Sausage's argument hinges on that. It only hinges on their being a difference between filmic violence and real life violence.

User avatar
Big Ben
Joined: Mon Feb 08, 2016 12:54 pm
Location: Great Falls, Montana

Re: Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)

#842 Post by Big Ben » Thu Aug 22, 2019 10:37 pm

knives wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 10:27 pm
He's definitely not a pacifist, but I don't take it that Mr. Sausage's argument hinges on that. It only hinges on their being a difference between filmic violence and real life violence.
Tarantino has been present at at least one Black Lives Matter Rally vocally supporting it and the movement. So he very much does care about real world violence. But I agree with the assessment that he's not a pacifist.

User avatar
furbicide
Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2011 4:52 am

Re: Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)

#843 Post by furbicide » Thu Aug 22, 2019 10:50 pm

Well, obviously he thinks some forms of violence are bad. I think the more interesting question is whether he thinks some forms are good. Surely, along the line, some journalist must have asked him whether he thinks violence is ever justified in the real world, right? Unless he's always answered evasively, that'd be a dead giveaway as to his politics on these things.

Another question is whether there are any limits to the "it's just a movie" defence. Can absolutely anything be depicted – explicitly set up for audience laughter/approval/satisfaction – but be defended as a valid exercise in fantasy? Isn't that essentially what Mr Sausage is assigning to Tarantino here, a view that (and I hope I'm not oversimplifying this too crudely) "what's in the movies is okay because it's in the movies"?

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)

#844 Post by knives » Thu Aug 22, 2019 11:34 pm

He's definitely in favor of some forms of real life violence, but again that's irrelevant to Sausage's argument which you do seem to be oversimplifying here. He is not saying that all depictions of violence are fine because not real.
SpoilerShow
He's explicitly said that the violence here serves a thematic purpose that could not be achieved otherwise. It's equivalent to Lubitsch among Hitler look like a doofus. By killing them in a looney tuned fashion Tarantino shows that they shouldn't be treated as the boogeyman, but rather like Wile Coyote. It undermines the respect implicit in depicting them as they normally are. If anything Sausage's argument suggests something offensive about a movie like that recent Hilary Duff one instead.

User avatar
tenia
Ask Me About My Bassoon
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 11:13 am

Re: Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)

#845 Post by tenia » Fri Aug 23, 2019 2:52 am

Mr Sausage wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 9:01 pm
If you take the end of the film at face value as just some people getting brutally killed for the hell of it, you'll never understand this movie.
I'm quite sure many will find "self defense" to be a good enough explanation and never go beyond this.

rawlinson
Joined: Sun Feb 10, 2013 12:35 pm

Re: Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)

#846 Post by rawlinson » Fri Aug 23, 2019 1:31 pm

I think it's worth looking at Tarantino's past comments on violence

From an interview while promoting Reservoir Dogs
Early on, Harvey Weinstein of Miramax asked, “What do you think about taking the torture scene out?” Cut it out? I wouldn’t. “Look,” I said, “it’s part of the movie, for people who appreciate the whole package.” If violence is part of your palette, you have to be free to go where your heart takes you.
Sure, I think the scene is pretty horrible. I didn’t make it for yahoos to hoot and holler. It’s supposed to be terrible. But I didn’t show it to convey a message. I don’t think Stanley Kubrick was condemning violence in A Clockwork Orange [1971]. He wanted to film that stuff. It was cinematically exciting. He loved mocking “Singin’ in the Rain.” Clint Eastwood fortunately decided to finish The Unforgiven [1992] in the right way, by taking everyone out. Did you see Patriot Games [Philip Noyce, 1992]? It’s a revenge movie, but they don’t let Harrison Ford get to kill the bad guy at the end. The guy falls on a shovel, which is an asinine, chicken-shit way to kill the villain. They should go to movie jail for this! The only way to end it is for Harrison Ford to beat this guy to death.
From another interview
If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem? My answer is that I can’t worry about that. As an artist, violence is part of my talent. If I start thinking about society, or what one person is doing to someone else, I have on handcuffs. Novelists don’t have to deal with that, painters don’t have to deal with that, musicians don’t have to deal with that.
And as for the question about how does he feel about real world violence
I don’t enjoy it in life at all. I never liked fighting. I don’t fight by Marquess of Queensberry rules. When I fight, I fight like I’m trying to kill you, because I am assuming you’re trying to kill me. One of the reasons I don’t have a gun is, if I had a gun and a twelve-year-old kid broke into this house, I would kill him. You have no right to come into my house. I have to assume the worst. There would be no holding you for the cops, no shooting to wound. I would empty the gun until you were dead. I feel that way about my art as well. I know that no one will ever mess with my movie to the point that I’m [made] unhappy with it.
I think it's as simple as Tarantino merely sees violence in film as a legitimate aesthetic choice but he understands the violent impulse because he sees it in himself. My own take is that Tarantino's films aren't for him fed by real world politics, they're art and for him they're different from the real world.

Nasir007
Joined: Sat May 25, 2019 11:58 am

Re: Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)

#847 Post by Nasir007 » Fri Aug 23, 2019 2:27 pm

Dare I say it, it is the same argument Zack Snyder made about 300. His response was and I am paraphrasing... That he could give a fuck about what it politically or sociologically means, he just thinks its part of his art and is cool and awesome.

I have no problem with that worldview. But it is essentially the film-maker asking specifically to be put in a box. Meaning they want the movie to be enjoyed within the very specific construct of cinema and storytelling. What it can do is, while liberate the film-maker to some extent, it also means that the film will struggle to have or will not have any real-world resonance. Which is also okay.

If anything, the filmmakers' words would mean that the only people making a mistake are those trying to read too much into it at all. It is just basically to be consumed as an entertaining and enjoyable narrative and then be done with. Nothing more. And there is value in that too. Some filmmakers don't have anything much to say at all. But they have a story to tell. Tarantino might be one of the latter.


User avatar
therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)

#849 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Aug 23, 2019 3:42 pm

It’s unfortunate but not hard to believe that this film’s discussion has been reduced to another about the merits of violence on film, not because the discussion is invalid, but because Tarantino is finally offering a complex piece of narrative to explain and engage with these criticisms but his entire explanation is rooted in asking that this conversation be extended to deeper levels than simply violence. As I said earlier in this thread, the film is many things but put together the elements embody an explanation from Tarantino on how he visualizes and feels about the power of movies, which yes includes violence, but also includes cathartic offerings on more emotional levels. The entire purpose of the film is Sausage’s argument extended beyond just the violence, and while one is not required to like violence, if they stay rigidly fixated on that subject alone they run the risk of missing the entire point. Only a state of willingness to open perspective allows peripheral vision to the bigger picture, and without that willingness this conversation becomes like arguing politics, which I suppose is what it is; a black and white argument extraneously ignoring the grey picture offered here. The argument of “why couldn’t he [insert: changes to violence, or giving Robbie more lines, or cutting the film to make a film that I, the poster, would prefer to see]?” is exactly the argument Tarantino is fighting. He’s making the movies he wants to make, defining movies as a safe space where fantasies can be realized. This includes violence but the overall emphasis is on a place where emotional catharsis can happen too. Those who feel invisible and forgotten are validated and seen, friendships last and their value is verbalized, kind people are preserved, etc. A straightforward expression is not what we get and one needs to read between the lines to taste what he’s serving, which is a thesis that film is not only geared at satisfying id impulses but absolutely includes them, for omitting this would be disingenuous - not for the totality of all audiences, he is certainly aware that not everyone wants to see movies his way - but for Tarantino, ‘his’ audience and the eclectic assortment of what he gets from watching movies.

If violence isn’t part of the fantasy others feel safe realising via film, that’s okay, but he is asking people to look beyond that singleminded fragment to the broad power of film helping us realise fantasies that are not possible or look different in the real world, in part by respecting his audience’s ability to distinguish between fantasy and reality. When one continues the same rote argument here, it hints at an inability, or unwillingness (though one must be ‘willing’ as a precedent to be ‘able’ in analysis), to make this distinction and thus ironically refuses the gesture of respect Tarantino is trying to offer the filmgoer for their flexible attitudes in cinematic engagement.

User avatar
R0lf
Joined: Tue May 19, 2009 7:25 am

Re: Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)

#850 Post by R0lf » Sat Aug 24, 2019 1:04 pm

rawlinson wrote:
Fri Aug 23, 2019 1:31 pm
I think it's worth looking at Tarantino's past comments on violence

From an interview while promoting Reservoir Dogs
Early on, Harvey Weinstein of Miramax asked, “What do you think about taking the torture scene out?” Cut it out? I wouldn’t. “Look,” I said, “it’s part of the movie, for people who appreciate the whole package.” If violence is part of your palette, you have to be free to go where your heart takes you.
Sure, I think the scene is pretty horrible. I didn’t make it for yahoos to hoot and holler. It’s supposed to be terrible. But I didn’t show it to convey a message. I don’t think Stanley Kubrick was condemning violence in A Clockwork Orange [1971]. He wanted to film that stuff. It was cinematically exciting. He loved mocking “Singin’ in the Rain.” Clint Eastwood fortunately decided to finish The Unforgiven [1992] in the right way, by taking everyone out. Did you see Patriot Games [Philip Noyce, 1992]? It’s a revenge movie, but they don’t let Harrison Ford get to kill the bad guy at the end. The guy falls on a shovel, which is an asinine, chicken-shit way to kill the villain. They should go to movie jail for this! The only way to end it is for Harrison Ford to beat this guy to death.
From another interview
If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem? My answer is that I can’t worry about that. As an artist, violence is part of my talent. If I start thinking about society, or what one person is doing to someone else, I have on handcuffs. Novelists don’t have to deal with that, painters don’t have to deal with that, musicians don’t have to deal with that.
And as for the question about how does he feel about real world violence
I don’t enjoy it in life at all. I never liked fighting. I don’t fight by Marquess of Queensberry rules. When I fight, I fight like I’m trying to kill you, because I am assuming you’re trying to kill me. One of the reasons I don’t have a gun is, if I had a gun and a twelve-year-old kid broke into this house, I would kill him. You have no right to come into my house. I have to assume the worst. There would be no holding you for the cops, no shooting to wound. I would empty the gun until you were dead. I feel that way about my art as well. I know that no one will ever mess with my movie to the point that I’m [made] unhappy with it.
I think it's as simple as Tarantino merely sees violence in film as a legitimate aesthetic choice but he understands the violent impulse because he sees it in himself. My own take is that Tarantino's films aren't for him fed by real world politics, they're art and for him they're different from the real world.
(I think Tarantino is actually making the point that you shouldn't take things out of a movie just because the audience may be too stupid to understand that depiction isn't endorsement.)

Post Reply