Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Review: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Once Upon a Time in Hollywood by Quentin Tarantino
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I can’t believe I drank 8 whiskey sours while reading this book!

It’s 1969 and former TV star Rick Dalton’s career is on a downhill slide while his next door neighbors, Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski, are the new cool kids of Hollywood. Meanwhile, Rick’s stuntman/driver Cliff Booth has a run in with some freaky hippies who keep talking about their leader, Charlie.

This one is a real oddity. You’ve got the writer/director of a successful movie releasing a novel based on it, but the book doesn’t exactly follow the film. In fact, the climax of the movie is casually revealed about one-third of the way through the book as something that eventually happens without going into details or mentioning it again.

I’ve often thought that Quentin Tarantino’s films are kind of Rorschach tests in that people can and will read into them what they want. While he certainly deserves criticism for several things, and I often find his personality tiresome, his movies fascinate me. Particularly this one which I thought was one of his best and had really interesting themes about a time when Hollywood was both changing and remaining the same. I also thought it had a lot of interesting things to say about movie violence vs. violence in reality. Since I had a lot of theories about what QT was actually saying about it, I enjoyed finding more details in the book that seemed to confirm that. Especially about Cliff Booth.

If you’re into the movie, it’s worth a look, but you’re also not really missing out on anything if you just want to stick to the film version. If you don’t like QT or the film, it’s not gonna change your mind. Overall, it’s kind of like a literary version of deleted scenes. They can be interesting, but were most likely cut for a reason.

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