Saturday, 14 December 2019

Tarantino versus the hippy hippy quake

Tarantino versus the hippy hippy quake

QUENTIN Tarantino was born to direct Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

As a child of the Sixties, his destiny was shaped from the moment his mother named him.

She was seriously thinking about naming her only son after her teenage crush, Burt Reynolds.

Instead, she went for Quentin — a nod to Quint Asper, the blacksmith played by Reynolds in the hit TV western Gunsmoke.

The young Tarantino consumed pop culture in all its forms — TV, films, music — and he still clearly remembers the sights and sounds of LA’s Sunset Strip some 50 years on: the radio stations, the original Playboy Club, the chic, psychedelic boutiques, and the adult-only cinemas, like the Pussycat Theater on Hollywood Boulevard. The year 1969 in particular stayed in his head, since that was the year everything changed.

For two years, a youth revolution had been sending shockwaves through America, starting in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco.

Men grew their hair long and wore beads and kaftans, in defiance of the clean-cut masculine look of their fathers’ generation, and new, androgynous stars were being made overnight.

The old matinee idols didn’t know which way to jump. Some were smart and left — like Clint Eastwood, who went to shoot spaghetti westerns with Italy’s Sergio Leone — and others stayed, only to be buried in the youthquake rubble.

This is the world of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, a Tarantino-esque mash-up of fact and fiction in which two relics of the old days try to navigate the changing landscape.

First up is Leonardo DiCaprio’s Rick Dalton, a fictional character actor who rose to fame in a late Fifties TV show called Bounty Law. Dalton effortlessly makes the transition to the early Sixties but, in Tarantino’s world, is quickly overtaken by Steve McQueen, played by Damian Lewis.

At Rick’s side is Cliff Booth, played by Brad Pitt. Cliff was Rick’s stuntman on Bounty Law and has been with him ever since.

Standing in stark contrast to Rick and Cliff’s declining fortunes is Rick’s next-door neighbour on LA’s fashionable Cielo Drive, Sharon Tate, played by Margot Robbie.

A rising starlet launched to fame by 1967’s Valley of the Dolls, Sharon is the 26-year-old wife of Polish director Roman Polanski, then one of the hippest film-makers on the planet.

Quite how she fits into the scheme of things with Rick and Cliff, Tarantino refuses to say. After all, as he aims to show with his ninth, and possibly last-but-one film, anything can happen.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is now showing at Henley’s Regal Picturehouse cinema.

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