Since I’ve seen many of Quentin Tarantino’s films, I’ve noticed certain changes in his characters’ format. For one, the main character might have a potential flaw, yet feels compelled to prove himself or herself for the sake of achieving their personal goal. In Tarantino’s ninth film, “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood,” this idea of achieving a “goal” proves to be a great success and a potential curse to achieve. For the viewers that are history buffs, history as it seems is in deep revision when it comes to real life Hollywood.
Throughout the film, the main focus is Rick Dalton, played by Leonardo DiCaprio who tries to make a living while the centerpiece was Sharon Tate, played by Margot Robbie, who lives outside the premise of the film. Without spoiling anything, the film does a good job of keeping the audience in attention to every detail of the film; and by the time the film was over, I felt compelled to rethink these scenes from another perspective, even though it was a “what if” scenario.
The positives that I had seen in the film had to do with vintage 60s attire and the actual setting of the movie. As a millennial, I got the chance to go back in time and witness what life was like during the golden years of Hollywood. One great example of this so-called “60s vibe” would have to be the scene where stuntman Cliff, played by Brad Pitt, goes into his trailer and watches an advertisement while feeding his dog.
Despite the glamour and finesse of Tarantino’s altered story plot, the downside that many film critics had to deal with is the stereotypes that are portrayed in the film. For instance, Bruce Lee, played by Mike Moh, a Chinese martial artist that knows Kung-Fu and self-control, looks like a man that got rid of self-control and is looking for a fight. It would be Cliff the stuntman that would take the challenge and looked like the typical American who ignores martial arts and moves with brute force.
Critics like Bruce Lee’s daughter, Shannon Lee, were appalled with Bruce’s stereotypical characterization. In an article by Yohana Desta from Vanity Fair, Shannon Lee states that “[Tarantino] could shut up about it. Or he could apologize,” referring to Tarantino’s defense of the film. This also elicited disapproval from Tate’s neighbors, who knew and saw the real Sharon Tate. For Tarantino, he was trying to show his viewers what he truly thinks of Hollywood, regardless of some bias and racial overtones to prove his point. Though bold, I want to see historical actors be played as who they truly are and not what Hollywood wants to see in them.
Also, there was not much action in the film, particularly violence. Since it is a Tarantino film, the climax of violence has to be well timed at the right moment and when it happens, it usually is explosive. As a viewer, I was on the edge of my seat waiting for a gunshot or some fistfight to occur in the film but I did not get any — unless you could count the film’s flashbacks of Rick Dalton or Cliff’s encounter of Bruce Lee.
After witnessing Tarantino’s ninth film, I wonder if his film career will be over. Some rumors from Hollywood circling around Tarantino could be true. According to an article written by Zach Sharf from IndieWire, during an interview from The Independent, one genre that Tarantino slipped in might be “horror.” If this is true, it would mean a big break from Tarantino’s action movies, but who knows. When it comes to Tarantino, any genre can be made to his own liking.
Essentially, “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” does have some advantages as an action movie, but potential flaws in bias and action scenes. To Tarantino fans, I would recommend “Pulp Fiction” to substitute this action flick, unless you are a fan of reliving alternate history.
Nicholas Bartelmo is a fourth-year student majoring in history. NB790429@wcupa.edu