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Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019)

Directed by Quentin Tarantino

Drama | Comedy

Most recently watched by sleestakk, sleestakk, lordofthemovies, sensoria, CaptainBigTime, sleestakk

Overview

Los Angeles, 1969. TV star Rick Dalton, a struggling actor specializing in westerns, and stuntman Cliff Booth, his best friend, try to survive in a constantly changing movie industry. Dalton is the neighbor of the young and promising actress and model Sharon Tate, who has just married the prestigious Polish director Roman Polanski…

Rated R | Length 162 minutes

Actors

Michael Madsen | Brad Pitt | Dakota Fanning | Al Pacino | James Remar | Vincent Laresca | Tim Roth | Clifton Collins Jr. | Leonardo DiCaprio | Perla Haney-Jardine | Kurt Russell | Bruce Dern | Luke Perry | Timothy Olyphant | Damian Lewis | Zoe Bell | Rumer Willis | Danielle Harris | Omar Doom | Nicholas Hammond | Brenda Vaccaro | Corey Burton | Lew Temple | Emile Hirsch | Maurice Compte | Spencer Garrett | Martin Kove | Scoot McNairy | Rebecca Gayheart | Clu Gulager | Damon Herriman | Marco Rodríguez | Dreama Walker | Austin Butler | Casey O'Neill | Sydney Sweeney | Costa Ronin | Lena Dunham | Ramón Franco | Craig Stark | Madisen Beaty | Margot Robbie | Harley Quinn Smith | Chic Daniel | Eddie Perez | David Steen | Lorenza Izzo | James Landry Hébert | Keith Jefferson | Chad Ridgely | Samantha Robinson | Gilbert Saldivar | Monica Staggs | Kayla Jenee Radomski | Courtney Hoffman | Mike Moh | Rebecca Rittenhouse | Heba Thorisdottir | Margaret Qualley | Kate Berlant | Bruce Del Castillo | Kansas Bowling | Parker Love Bowling | Rafał Zawierucha | Breanna Wing | Mikey Madison | Julia Butters | JLouis Mills | Gabriela Flores | Dallas Jay Hunter | Hugh McCallum | Michael Graham | Rachel Redleaf | Maya Hawke | Cassidy Vick Hice | Mark Warrack | Raul Cardona | Michaela Sprague | Zander Grable | Victoria Pedretti | Victoria Truscott | Gillian M. Berrow | Daniella Pick | Kerry Westcott | Josephine Valentina Clark | Kenneth Sonny Donato | Ruby Rose Skotchdopole | Ryan Ramirez | Ed Regine | Allison Yaple | Sergio Gonzalez | Emile Williams | Michael Bissett | Lenny Langley Jr.

Viewing Notes

Came down for the only 35mm screening in town (which I didn’t even know until I did a search over the weekend for theaters screening 35mm; Logan has done *zero* promotion for this 35mm print). Despite some projection issues* (mainly out of focus during the opening sequences then later when the lower half of the screen would fall out of focus) this was pretty neat to see. The print, having several screenings already since last week, had a few scratches and lines with I actually liked and it was not a distraction (unlike the occasional out of focus moments).

This second viewing solidified this film being one of my favorites of the year. Not having to concentrate so much on the story and where it was going allowed my mind to observe more within each scene and really get absorbed into the atmosphere. The 35mm showing gave it a dream-like quality. This was especially effective during the Sharon Tate sequence when she goes to the theater.

After the recent Bruce Lee controversy blow-up this week I really honed in on that scene. First, it’s still amazing and that one take is terrific. Mike Moh totally nails his BL portrayal. I can understand Shannon’s dismay over her father being portrayed in this fashion (he’s her father!). Yet I can also understand why he was in this fuzzy flashback of Cliff’s. Also seeing people state that Lee was not redeemed in this story which is a weird take, IMO. Lee is shown later training Tate for a scene in which she’s very proud of (noted by her reaction and the audience’s reaction when she watches in the theater) then later when Lee is training with Jay Sebring. BUT…. but Bruce Lee doesn’t need redemption in this story! He’s Bruce Lee! And it’s not his story.

I’ve appreciated the takes that express how Tarantino has humanized Lee while depicting him as he was. I’ve seen plenty of BL interviews (hell, I watched a half dozen BL documentaries last year alone) where Lee is confident, charismatic, charming and boastful. Even if one believes this depiction is somehow a mockery of Lee it’s not gonna tarnish the legacy of one of the most important heroes of the East *and* West of the last century. What’s more wild is there have been plenty of depictions of BL over the years that have been far worse. And I’m still not thrilled that his estate (managed by Shannon) licensed his likeness to sell whiskey from beyond the grave.

One more thing on the mockery bit. I’ve read where audiences were laughing during the fight scene and usually at Bruce for his accent and mannerisms. My audience was laughing in both screenings. I was chuckling, too. While I can’t say what the others were laughing at specifically I was smiling at the entire ridiculousness of it; the spot on performance of Bruce plus Booth’s bravado to call him out and throw down. Bruce’s legendary hot-headedness on full display combined w/Booth’s fuzzy memory then Janet (Zoe Bell) rushing in made for an amusing sequence. Was my audience laughing at Lee’s accent and/or mannerisms bc the inherent racism (the “oh haha Chinese man speak and act funny” reaction) I cannot say.

I can only state my reaction was how I could totally see something like this going down; recall that when Lee was on Green Hornet he was still trying to prove himself in Hollywood, that he was better than what he was given and was criticized for upstaging Van Williams. Things soured for Lee after the cancellation of the series that he rebuke Hollywood and returned to HK to make his first feature. So that entire scene, even as a hazy flashback in Cliff’s memory, is a confrontation I could imagine happening. Former stuntman Gene Lebell who worked on Hornet has plenty of stories very similar to the one we see in the movie.

Anyways, that’s my piece on the Bruce Lee controversy. I grew up in an era that idolized him (my best friend studied martial arts and had posters of Bruce all over his walls). Bruce was on the cover of all the martial arts magazines (this is 10 years after his death!). Having watched all those documentaries, I understand the significance of the legend and the person. He was imperfect but also larger than life. I get why people are upset. But it’s a damn movie. A fantasy movie at that. One that plays with the timeline and ideas of that timeline. Yet it’s Tarantino’s sandbox and I enjoyed what he gave us, a wonderful what could’ve been.

Now don’t get me started on the ignorant masses unaware of who or what Charles Manson and his family is or was. That stuff is just baffling to me. Then again I guess they don’t teach true crime in schools.

I’m already looking forward to seeing this film again… in a less crowded theater to soak it up even more. At the end of this screening the woman sitting behind got up right after the title card hit at the end and said “stupid!” hahahahaha


* a couple of women were noticeably agitated by this in the early goings and ultimately got up and left after 10 minutes with their tubs of popcorn and sodas. I’m guessing they didn’t know it was 35mm or were unwilling to be patient.

Comments

avatarsleestakk
5 months ago

A couple things to add: someone on my TL brought up the DRAGON: THE BRUCE LEE STORY: “I prefer the Bruce Lee as featured in the Lee family approved Rob Cohen directed DRAGON The Bruce Lee Story. In which he’s portrayed as a husky Hawaiian who fought perfectly choreographed street fights and saved his son from an evil ghost samurai trying to kill him.” And I replied, “I watched that movie so many times when it came out! The secret fight with the ghosts that put him in the hospital always cracked me up.”

This is true. I saw this in theater on release in Milwaukee, where I was living at the time. Then watched on video / cable so many damn times. I loved it. It was a wild fantastical take on Bruce Lee and his legend. But it was also complete fiction. And yet, bc it was approved by his estate (Linda & Shannon Lee) it’s perfectly fine even if it’s not accurate to history and also supernatural. It’s this kinda of stuff that has me wary of anything Linda and Shannon have to say about any depiction of Bruce Lee. If he’s shown as godlike, yay that’s great. If he’s shown as a human with a chip on his shoulder, whoa fuck that shit; you’re mocking my husband/father.

Seriously.

I’ve also seen some take offense that Bruce is a token POC to further the myth of a white antihero (Booth). Um. okay. Sure, he’s being exploited in a fantasy film by a fictional character. Or is Bruce being used as the ultimate test for any white dude in the west b/c Bruce was the ultimate badass? Ppl are quick to criticize QT for doing this yet all I’ve heard/read in the last couple days is how much QT loved Bruce Lee (he stated on the Ringer podcast that Enter the Dragon was the second kung fu film he watched, ever and has loved BL since. Well fuck he put The Bride in BL’s yellow jumpsuit for an entire movie).

Saw another take that “haha that scene was so funny b/c Bruce Lee would never say those things IRL” um yeah okay. Do some homework. One of his students said that Bruce would never disparage Cassius Clay that way b/c Bruce loved Ali. Okay I can go with that b/c I’ve seen those interviews where Bruce emphasizes his respect and appreciation for Muhammad Ali. However, in this fantasy film I’m fine w/him saying Clay would be a cripple even if I don’t think that’s how it go down IRL had they fought.

Then the last point that ppl are using this Bruce Lee thing to highlight how Quentin is just a terrible person b/c here’s what he did on these other films to these other actors, esp. the women. Sure, QT has issues… like most other directors. It’s getting ridiculous. It’s crazy to see this stuff when you can also read words from Harley Quinn Smith where she says that QT is the best director for X, y, and z reasons, which is throwing shade on her father but she doesn’t care.

I’m dumbfounded and tbh I don’t blame QT for wanting to quit the biz.