Not a Review: Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood

Usually when I use the words “Not a Review” in a post title, the post is about a movie I have actually seen. If this post is a review of anything, it’s a review of Mr. Barlow’s blog post about the movie Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood, a movie I have not seen yet but most likely will see now that I’ve read Mr. Barlow’s blog post about it.

(I feel I owe this blog post to him since I’m pretty sure he wrote a post about the film simply because I asked him to, He didn’t half-ass it, either, the way I probably will: he made reference to Tom Cruise’s Hitler movie, Valkyrie, and Eichmann and Arendt and even teased the possibility of some weird, unexpected introduction of nuance to Tarantino’s oeuvre.)

So Mr. Barlow iterates in his blog post what he told me in a Twitter DM: that this is Tarantino’s best movie since Pulp Fiction. Which is a pretty bold and intriguing assertion to make since Pulp Fiction was released in 1994 and since Tarantino has made seven films between it and Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood.

As I, in turn, told Mr. Barlow in a Twitter thread, I saw Pulp Fiction twice when it was in theaters. Because I loved it, and because my friend Jim loved it, and because we were young and single with no one to answer to about how we spent our money or our evenings.

There’s a ten-year-period during which I saw no Tarantino films, but I decided to catch back up to him when Inglourious Basterds came out. I’ve seen every one of his movies since then, and I must say: I feel a lot differently about Tarantino at age 49 than I did at age 24.

I could never quite put my finger on why my perception of him changed until I was listening to a rare recording of an interview with the late Sarah Kane, a British playwright whose style of writing and staging was just graphic and extreme enough to elicit comparisons to Tarantino – until she disabused me of this notion by saying: “Tarantino doesn’t write about violence, or make films about violence…he writes and makes films about film…[T]hey’re completely self-referential and refer to other historical films and that’s all they do.”

Of course, Kane was right. And once I heard her say that, I realized why I lost interest in Tarantino for an entire decade.

Mr. Barlow, though, has given me hope with his review. He warned me of spoilers – and let me just say that he wasn’t freaking kidding about that! I almost regretted requesting and then reading his blog post once I found out that there was a strange, convoluted scene in the middle of Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood that hinted at the possibility that Vincent Vega might be the illegitimate son of Charles Manson.

Just kidding. But be on the lookout for some crazy Hot Tub Time Machine kind of shit. I mean, according to Mr. Barlow, anyway.

No, not really.

Never mind. He’s so much better at this than I am.