Just shy of 30 years in the film industry, Quentin Tarantino has made a name for himself as one of the most successful and distinctive directors ever to come out of Hollywood. Over the past three decades, his work has been synonymous with violence, historical disregard and has always been mired in controversy- but through it all, Tarantino produces beautifully shot, beautifully acted pieces of cinematic iconography.
In an age where the movie star is dead, it follows that perhaps only Tarantino could bring him back for one last, or one penultimate hurrah, in his ninth film Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt as a Steve Mcqueen/Bud Etkins duo. Tarantino’s allegedly penultimate film, Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood is multivalently dazzling, from its dusty LA foreground to its depiction of civil unrest in 1969 America, to its ultimate heart: the symbiosis of three radically different stratas of Hollywood; the ingenue, the aging TV cowboy and the faithful stuntman. In creating a parallel universe to the Manson murders, Tarantino gives Sharon Tate , and Hollywood’s golden era, a new ending.
Following the release of Reservoir Dogs (1992) his debut film, Tarantino went on to create Pulp Fiction (1994), which won the Palm D’Or at Cannes, and is now a timeless cinematic triumph. Still his pièce de résistance a quarter-century later, emblazoned on T-Shirts and university halls is Uma Thurman’s Mia Wallace, just as recognisable as the director himself. Chronologically fragmented, with the wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time protagonist dying in the middle, and a hitman who likes to quote the bible, Pulp Fiction is not just Tarantino’s greatest work, but one of the greatest films of all time.
Embedded within Tarantino’s work are pop culture references only a few would pick up, but as the director said to Time, ‘’ you don’t have to know everybody I’m talking about here’’ to enjoy the film. Equally, in his work there are niche pieces of music that have permeated the film industry so fully that even Shrek The Third uses them (‘Battle Without Honor or Humanity’, otherwise known as the slow-motion-walking-in-action-movies-theme)
Qualms about excessive violence in his films inevitably lead to the hypothesis that they shall incite real-life carnage, but Tarantino has always refuted this claim. Violence stems from societal distress and distrust, from emotions stirred by life, not movies. Another needle of criticism that consistently weaves its way through Tarantino’s films is his excessive use of the n-word, heard in Django Unchained nearly 110 times. Incidentally, this sparked a debate about Quentin Tarantino’s ingrained racial bias towards black people; allegedly they exist only as a gateway for him to make Leonardo DiCaprio call Jamie Foxx a ‘n****’. Yet, taking into consideration the roles for black actors in his films, the evidence would point to the contrary. As Samuel L. Jackson says, it is impossible for Tarantino to be racist as ‘’every character he’s given me has pretty much been the smartest character in the film.’’
As of September 2019, Brad Pitt is a favourite to win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his turn as Cliff Booth, and having been nominated for an Academy Award for acting four times, Tarantino would be the man to help hit a home run. In a recent interview with Esquire, Pitt, DiCaprio and Tarantino all ascertained that they ‘popped’ at the same time, in the early 90s. Tarantino doesn’t intend to fizzle out, but to have his swansong with a tenth idiosyncratic masterpiece to seal his canon of filmic folklore.
Image Credit: Georges Biard via Wikipedia Commons