For moviegoers old enough to remember the sickeningly grotesque details of the Manson family’s massacre of Sharon Tate, her unborn child and the other victims in her house, it will be hard to believe that the alternate massacre in Quentin Tarantino’s latest film is greeted with gales of laughter throughout that sequence. The theater was full at the 4pm weekday screening, and I was shocked to see how many of the viewers were at least middle aged and could be expected to have at least read about this shocking mass murder that took place in 1969.
At two hours and 40 minutes, notwithstanding constant background music from the sixties, fast moving cars and two excellent performances by Brad Pitt and Leonard DeCaprio, the movie lacks directorial pace. The scene where Brad Pitt as a movie stuntman comes to the Manson community populated by strung-out young hippies, lingers far too long on pointless dialogue before descending into extreme violence in Tarantino’s signature style. The scene with Sharon Tate kvelling at her own performance in a movie is similarly too protracted and frankly, one inducing a queasy feeling of disrespect for a young pregnant actress who was butchered by what can only be called monsters, some of whom have been released from jail.
A point is made that these children of the 60’s were raised on tv westerns that were full of violence - the source of their own. Nothing could be further from the truth as t.v. cowboy shows of the 50’s had heroes who killed bad guys 99% of the time. There was no on-screen senseless torture of the innocent by drug-fueled zombies who were slaves to the leader of a violent cult. It’s Tarantino who frolics in manic murder with exaggerated sound effects that leave nothing to the imagination.
Sad to say, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is expected to make box office history If you don’t want to support this type of degradation, wait a while and see it on tv. where you can fast forward the unwatchable parts and concentrate on the two leading men who chew the scenery with relish in a mostly appetizing way.
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