Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, which debuts in UK cinemas on August 15, has arrived in America to split audiences and critics. Some say it’s his best work, others his absolute worst. Why has it created such a divide?
A friend in Los Angeles who went to a recent press screening not only said he hated Once Upon A Time In Hollywood but that it was the worst film, by far, that Quentin Tarantino had ever done.
Much of the film’s criticism derives from a sense of self-indulgence, something Tarantino has, let’s be honest, never shied away from.
Matthew Rozsa, writing for Salon.com, said: “It feels like Tarantino is so wrapped up in indulging in his own filmmaking style that he loses sight of what made his best movies work.”
Another element, which when I heard about it, I must admit I cowered a little at, is the film’s references to the tragic Sharon Tate murder. I wondered how a film that appeared to be a black comedy (from its trailer) and suggested (thanks to the director’s portfolio of work) it had its tongue in cheek could present the bloody carnage of Tate and friends getting slaughtered without a sense of unease and distastefulness.
I haven’t seen the film yet so I’m not saying that’s what happens but this concern certainly bothered Rex Reed of the Observer who has seen the film and expressed the same criticism. “Frankly, I find the entire experience baffling, and any attempt to laugh off the Manson murders as sitcom fodder embarrassing,” he wrote.
But does Reed like any of Tarantino’s films?
There are plenty, it has to be said, that did love Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. Dana Stevens referenced Tarantino’s “ingeniously kinetic style”, Peter Rainer of the Christian Science Monitor highlighted Brad Pitt’s performance, Anthony Lane praised the period details, while Mel Evans in the Metro called it “gratuitous, bloody, and bloody entertaining”.
You can make up your own mind on August 15 when Once Upon A Time in Hollywood lands in cinemas.