19 August 2019

The Sharon Situation

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Do you remember when Harry Potter was forced to put his face into Dumbledore's bowl of jizz in order to relive old memories? I think it was the film in which the old wizard had been wanking so hard that his hand had turned black and it looked like it was about to drop off. I literally dread to think what his dick must have looked like by that point. Well Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood is exactly like being waterboarded by that spaff bucket and being forced to remember Los Angeles in 1969. In fact the world is so brilliantly created that I genuinely found it to be a more believable place than some of the Butlins Holiday camps I've been to. The film focuses on three different characters who weave in and out of each others' stories despite the fact that fuck all seems to happen for the bulk of the running time. DiCaprio's Rick Dalton is a washed up TV actor that's trying to break into films before his sense of failure becomes too overpowering and he's forced to top himself. I guess suicide was how failed actors coped before reality tv was invented. Brad Pitt's Cliff Booth is Dalton's best-friend and stunt-double who makes money during his downtime by acting as his partners handyman. The kind of handyman who fixes broken shit around the house, though and not the kind that's forced to tug you off whenever you need it. Although you get the feeling that they're only ever one drink away from that. Finally there's also Sharon Tate who simply seems to float about the movie like an angelic moth that's constantly being drawn to the bright lights of the big screen. 

This is being widely marketed as the ninth film from Quentin Tarantino which is true if you only count Kill Bill as one movie which is something that I'm pretty sure that only he seems to do. Probably because he's the only person that didn't have to pay for two fucking tickets to see it I guess. There was a huge worry with this latest film too due to the fact that it was said to revolve around the true life story of Sharon Tate's murder at the hands of The Manson Family. If you've seen anything by Tarantino before you'll know that the closest he's ever come to sensitivity was when they bothered to pick Marvin's brains out of the car after shooting him in the fucking face in Pulp Fiction. But how do you take an actual murder and then turn it into a form of entertainment that's neither exploitative or gratuitous? It's a fine line and if you fuck it up it could be an absolute car crash. Worse even than the car crash that Tarantino caused when he forced Uma Thurman to drive that piece of shit car that she smashed into a tree during the Kill Bill shoot. Oh and don't think that I've just ruined the end of the movie for you if you didn't know about the Tate murder thing either. Apparently some people have no idea about that part of history and have been walking out of the cinema confused about what the fuck they'd just seen. The film treats the Tate incident like the iceberg in Titanic in that it's irrelevant to most of what comes before. Of course the film deals with the death of old Hollywood for which the Manson killings have come to symbolise. But it also wants to give credit to those who existed in this world and whose moment of glory was unjustly deprived of them. But like a bad curry that's about to shotgun blast shit from your anus, it'll kind of help to know why things seem to be building towards something horrific throughout.

Like Titanic, the bulk of Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood is actually spent with DiCaprio in the company of his loved one. Rather than some rich bitch that would prefer him to drown before she shares a plank of wood with him though, Rick Dalton is in love with somebody that actually cares about his fucking safety... his stuntman. Of course this isn't a romantic love but that of two best-friends that just want to hang out in the evening, get drunk, and take the piss out of whatever tv show they're watching. If you want to shag somebody in an old car before she throws you into the sea then you can go on fucking Tinder. But Rick and Cliff have a deeper connection in which they aren't just passing the time before they can poke body parts into each other like a couple of cock shaped pigs that are snuffling treats. In the past, Tarantino has talked about Rio Bravo being his favourite 'hang-out' film because he enjoys spending time with its characters despite the fact that almost nothing seems to be happening with the plot. I previously thought that The Hateful Eight was his attempt at a hang-out movie too but retrospectively I think that it was probably just way too long for its own fucking story. Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood is definitely his attempt at making a 'hang-out' movie though and as a result of Dalton and Colt's buddy-movie vibe, I loved every second of it. It's always good to know that you have a friend that would throw himself in front of a moving vehicle to save you. In the case of Rick and Cliff that is quite literally what one of them is paid to fucking do.

I still haven't quite made my mind up about its depiction of Sharon Tate yet though. She's essentially portrayed as nothing more than a walking metaphor for kindness and innocence with it obvious that her fate will mark the end of the era. But this is clearly done through affection, with the film's sense of melancholia being as a result of its obvious compassion for her. This has understandably led people to accuse the film of denying her a voice, with the two-dimensional depiction being considered the most reductive approach that could have been taken. Although in its defence I would say that a two-dimensional character in a Tarantino movie is still one more dimension than almost anybody in the entirety of Kill Bill had. Yeah, I said it, nerds. Some people have taken to counting lines to prove how badly written the character of Tate is, although I'd say that the amount of dialogue a person has is completely irrelevant to their impact on a story. Coincidentally that's what I also tell people in real life when I want them to shut the fuck up. The best scene in the entire movie though is probably the one in which Tate visits the cinema to watch her own latest film and ends up finding happiness in the enjoyment of the surrounding audience. Then she puts her bare feet up on the back of the chair in front of her and I nearly spewed up into my own fucking mouth. I'm not a feet person at the best of times but this one takes Tarantino's fetish for them to a new extreme. By the end of this movie I was simply glad that somebody else had gotten a chance to make The fucking Hobbit before he turned it into fucking foot porn.

The depiction of Tate is a fairly divisive one which is probably true of almost every other aspect of this film too. Brad Pitt's character is even briefly given an ambiguously bleak backstory that will no doubt divide peoples opinion on him. Is this backstory a comment on the current era of tainted celebrities as though forcing us to accept that our heroes might have darker pasts? Or is it simply another case of the golden glow of the Pulp Fiction briefcase in which Tarantino is giving us something to argue over afterwards? The appearance of Bruce Lee has also sparked some degree of controversy with most people accusing his portrayal as being a lazy stereotype and an insult to the real man. This issue hasn't been helped by Tarantino himself who responded to complaints by Bruce Lee's surviving daughter by claiming that her father was actually, “kind of an arrogant guy”. If anybody knows what it is to be an arrogant guy too I suspect it would be the man that still claims his Death Proof to be a 'good film'. To defend this issue a little though, I'd say that we only ever see Bruce Lee in a flashbook as Pitt's Cliff Booth reminisces and so it is possible that we're seeing a distortion of reality. Manson himself barely features in the movie leading some people to criticise it for diminishing his responsibility in favour of blaming his predominantly female followers. Others have countered this by praising the film for resisting the urge to further mythologise the creepy little racist by almost ignoring him entirely. Personally, I think 'fuck him'. The more pathetic that you can make Manson seem then the closer you probably are to who the scuzzy dick-scum of a prick really was.

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