Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against Quentin Tarantino’s cinema. They have invented a brutal bloodied toxic language of expression which suits today’s restless movie audiences. But Once Upon A Time In Hollywood was just not vintage Tarantino. It was a rambling aimless unanchored work cruising Beverly Hills in 1969 (69 probably being the position Tarantino favours) when Sharon Tate was brutally murdered.
In Tarantino’s film, Ms Tate doesn’t die. As played by Margot Robbie(so wonderful in the new Bombshell) she barely lives. Most of the meandering drama is about a falling superstar Leonardo di Caprio and his body-double Brad Pitt. Their camaraderie is pitiably low on true feelings and alarmingly high in repetitive situations.
Just how this 2 hours 40 of narcissistic peek-a-boo qualifies as ‘Best Motion Picture-Musical Or Comedy’ is beyond my range of comprehension. To me, there was nothing particularly funny or musical about Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. Unless I missed something when I blinked.
And to award Brad Pitt for Best Supporting Actor in a category toplined by Al Pacino and Joe Pesci! It’s like honouring the film Beimaan at the Filmfare awards during the year of Pakeezah. This did happen. Pakeezah received no awards. The aptly named Beimaan walked away with every major award.
The Golden Globes did get it right with Sam Mendes anti-war drama 1917 which won the Best Film in the ‘Drama’ category. And how wonderful Rene Zellwegger was as the legendary Judy Garland in Judy.
As for the Best Actor in the ‘Drama’ category, if not Joaquin Phoenix in Joker then who? Ripping aside all misgiving and sardonic readings of the recluse verging on a complete psychological collapse, Joaquin’s performance will be talked about for many years to come.
The thing about Joaquin is, he doesn’t care about awards or breathing fresh air. If he spent more than a year starving himself to look like the skeletal psychotic Arthur Fleck he knows he did no one a favour. Even Ranveer Singh or Varun Dhawan would do the same. The crux and quality of a performance is judged not by the preparation but by how much the actor is able to bring to the screen. And Joaquin has brought a helluva lot to the screen, making his character so tangibly desolate it is like entering an echo chamber with no exits.
So yeah, an Oscar too for Joaquin Bhai, please? But please let’s honour 2019’s finest Marriage Story, The Irishman and 1917. They deserve to be put up there. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is the kind of cinema that thinks and breathes through its director’s balls, every other scene a visual representation of the sex act. Now Tarantino wants to put out a 4-hour version of his self-designed epic. I am sure his fans are already climaxing.