Movies

Now showing in Taos: 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood'

Tarantino details the 1969 movie industry like a feverish curator in a museum about to be torn down

By Rick Romancito
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 7/28/19

The year 1969 was when the hippie-free-love-Age of Aquarius came to a horrifying end with the vicious Tate-LaBianca murders, all by a group of violent hippies known as the Charles Manson Family. It actually was the capper.

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Movies

Now showing in Taos: 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood'

Tarantino details the 1969 movie industry like a feverish curator in a museum about to be torn down

Posted

Quentin Tarantino’s ninth movie is one that veteran industry insiders will love. Or hate.

It lavishly rolls around in such meticulous and trivial minutiae of what Hollywood was like in 1969 you can practically smell the Brut aftershave and pachouli mixed with the ocean breeze and jet fuel exhaust. It perfectly conveys the laidback energy of the haves and the nervous gut-wrenching anxiety of the have-nots, but, hey man, it’s all cool.

The year 1969 was when the hippie-free-love-Age of Aquarius came to a horrifying end with the vicious Tate-LaBianca murders, all by a group of violent hippies known as the Charles Manson Family. It actually was the capper.

Although that was the year of the first Apollo moon landing and the release of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” it also saw Woodstock and its antithesis at Altamont Speedway. It was the year Nixon took the oath of office, The Beatles played their last live concert together on the roof of Apple Studios, and the year The Stonewall Inn was raided, sparking a riot and the origins of the gay rights movement. Members of the American Indian Movement took over Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay. The nation still reeled over the murders of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. the year before. And, within two years, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison would be dead from drugs.

In Hollywood, or at least the Hollywood imagined by Tarantino, the fantasy factory is in full bloom, and that’s important to the motives of what he seems to be trying to state. In effect, he’s saying Hollywood is a victim of believing its own press, a rattlesnake eating its tail from the rattler on down. But, Tarantino can’t help but fall in love with its in-bred culture. He’s both a critic and a wide-eyed fan boy.

Still, the movie, as much as his fans would like to say is his career best, is actually a long series of beautifully realized vignettes largely set on the back lots of the industry. Everything is make-believe and everything exists in service of that illusion. 

Leonardo DiCaprio plays a painfully insecure actor named Rick Dalton, whose career is hanging by a thread. Once the star of a TV series called “Bounty Law,” he now takes small roles as heavies in feature westerns. His best friend is his stunt double, Cliff Booth, played by Brad Pitt. This isn’t uncommon. Doubles often pal around with their star in order to get the rhythms right when it comes to doing the stunts a studio can’t afford to have the “talent” perform. They need to look convincing on screen. But, in this case the two sponge off each other, one for perks and the other for emotional support.

Slamming this into reality is the subtle presence of the Manson Family, lurking in the shadows just waiting to reach out and bring all of this to an end. But, remember, this is Tarantino. And, if you recall how he viciously dealt with World War II in “Inglourious Basterds,” you may have a clue of just how much of his own fantasy factory is at work here.

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is every bit a figment of Tarantino’s imagination, which is one reason he can be excused for filling his screen with more than enough big star cameos and winking in-joke references to the way old school Hollywood works. But, ultimately, even a gaffer and a set dresser know a good story when they see one. And, they can certainly see when a director is being over-indulged.

Tempo grade: B

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is rated R for language throughout, some strong graphic violence, drug use, and sexual references.

It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

Also showing in Taos

The Dead Don’t Die

MPAA rating: R for zombie violence/gore and for language.

Taos Community Auditorium

In the sleepy small town of Centerville, something is not quite right. The moon hangs large and low in the sky, the hours of daylight are becoming unpredictable, and animals are beginning to exhibit unusual behaviors.

News reports are scary, and scientists are concerned, but no one foresees the strangest and most dangerous repercussion that will soon start plaguing Centerville: the dead rise from their graves and feast on the living, and the citizens must battle to survive.

Comedy-horror film directed by Jim Jarmusch stars Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tom Waits and Chloe Sevigny.

 This film will be screened at 2 p.m. Sunday (July 28) and at 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday (July 29-31) at the Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For tickets and additional information, call (575) 758-2052 or visit tcataos.org.

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