Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood
seen @ Cinemart Fiveplex, Forest Hills, Queens NY
Apparently Quentin Tarantino has said he only wants to make ten films. This is why the posters for his films always say “the ninth film” or “the eighth film” or what have you. If this is true—and personally, I’ll believe it when I see it—I can respect that. If he has other interests in life and he believes filmmaking will get in the way of pursuing those goals, then he should be free to retire early.
Why not? He’s given us a quarter century’s worth of thrilling, often controversial but distinctly unique films, including a modern classic, Pulp Fiction, and several other outstanding films, including Reservoir Dogs, Inglourious Basterds and Kill Bill. One could argue he has little left to prove.
Yet in an era in which filmmakers like Clint Eastwood continue to make movies deep into his eighties, nonagenarian actors like Dick van Dyke and Betty White remain not only active but relevant, and The Rolling Stones still sell out stadiums after over fifty years, one can’t help but wonder if QT, who’s not yet sixty, is for real.
If the right idea for a film came to him, would he be able to resist the director’s chair? I’m invested in my novel, even now, six years (!!) after I laid the groundwork for it, and come hell or high water, I want to see it published in some form, but every so often I’m tempted to go back to comics—especially during times when I feel the novel is a piece of crap and I’m an idiot for even thinking about writing one.
At the same time, we can all think of examples of creative people and creative works that overstayed their welcome (we can debate over which ones they are, but let’s not). I was unimpressed with QT’s latest, Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it a bad film.
I thought it felt too similar to most of his films: the self-indulgent dialogue, the hipper-than-thou soundtrack, the ultraviolence, the damn foot fetish—but that still puts it ahead of most films made today. It still looks like the work of a filmmaker confident in his technique, perfected over a number of years, and in his ability to tell his story his way. Hollywood has not put me off of seeing his next film, whatever it will be, particularly if he makes that R-rated Star Trek film he’s talked about.
So I don’t buy the theory QT has put forth that a given director’s body of work tends to decline after a certain period of time. Steven Spielberg made 1941, The Terminal and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but we still hail him as a genius because he hits far, far more often than he misses—and so does QT.
If he does retire after his next film, so be it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if something—the chance to work with a particular actor, the right story idea, restlessness, spurs him to reconsider, at the very least—but I would hope, after falling asleep while watching Hollywood (seriously), that he would attempt something outside his comfort zone. Something truly out of left field. Space opera might be just the thing...