Lumiere Sisters

I’ve already expressed my dissatisfaction with aspects of ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD. Daniel Riccuito of The Chiseler had a very nearly opposite response, however, and when he asked me to provide a few words for a piece he was putting together along with Tom Sutpen, connecting the reincarnated Sharon Tate played by Margot Robbie with the reincarnated Laura Palmer played by Amanda Seyfried in Twin Peaks, I cheerily agreed.

The result, as Freddie Jones is always saying, is plain to see…


75 Responses to “Lumiere Sisters”

  1. ehrenstein47 Says:

    It’s interesting that Daniel should bring up Phil Spector as I doubt Quentin would make a film about Lana Clarkson. As for Fellini the “confectionary” tag overlooks the genuine seriousness at the heart of so many of his endeavors. In that regard I propose that everyone reading The Montesi Scandal which deals with the death of a woman unlike either Sharon Tate or “Laura Palmer.”

    Take it away Ronnie!

  2. ehrenstein47 Says:

    Here’s a new interview with Roman, who I trust y’all recall was accused of murdering Sharon before the Manson gang was discovered. This is why Quentin put the “got away with murdering his wife” bit attached to Brad Pitt’s character in OUATIH.

  3. Tony Williams Says:

    Again, I must applaud the more insightful and serious counter-reading of David E. here. Despite the plausibility of the cited article, it is still infected with QT’s cute “denial syndrome” that opposes the serious issues of history. If IB has been seen as a syndrome of “Holocaust denial”, then this latest atrocity is another revealing example of the director’s denial of the serious consequences of violence. Another critic pointed out that this is his way of evading the bloody and devastating real-life issue of the Manson massacre by moving into an opportunistic counter universe that will preserve his infantile obsession with violence being real cinematically “cool”. However, we have today a darker version of the “Angel of History” that opposes the superficial world of this director’s “bread and circus” spectaculars that exist outside his narcissistic visions in even more disturbing forms.

  4. I can’t resist thanking David Ehrenstein — probably for the thousandth time — for saying the name Raymond Durgnat to me. I’m in the middle of Durgnat’s Franju essay at the moment. R.J. Lambert, David Cairns and I (David, did you know this?) are working on a long article in which Raymond Durgnat looms colossal. We also have an 8,000-word tribute to Barbara Steele all finished (she digs it, btw), which I may publish as a small monograph. Again, Mr. Cairns, thank you for being the world’s greatest blind date.

  5. ehrenstein47 Says:

    FABULOUS! Ray has always been my favorite film critic. As I trust you know Jonathan Rosenbaum and I collaborated with Ray on an article called “Cary Grant’s Socks.” His last published work was a book-length study of “Psycho”

  6. …in which he misquotes me! A signal honour.

    Durgnat’s the best there is. He does everything I aim to do, and better. I recently acquired a stack of Films & Filmings, and his articles are just gold. I’m saddened that my few communications with him were at the end of his life, and that I didn’t know more about him at the time.

  7. I like the image of Durgnat fighting Sight & Sound from his mother’s basement. I’m not sure any critic ever evinced such a complicated sense of humor: “dry” doesn’t begin to cover it. Barbara has enormous critical power; and I’ve done my best to transcribe her phone essays on Fellini — I even got her to confess a devastating criticism or two, but have been strictly forbidden to repeat them. We edited some of her stuff in more or less systematic terms; since she’s 80 years old now, I’m trying hard to publish this tome as quickly as possible. Cairns and RJ Lambert (Tom S.) have contributed mightily. We’ll see…

  8. Tony Williams Says:

    Despite liking his MIRROR FOR ENGLAND, I find the vast number of inaccurate citations in his work (that could have been corrected) by more careful sub-editing highly distracting.

  9. I posted this to Fb the day after seeing OUATIH. The decision to see a Quentin Tarantino film makes you complicit — that is, if you’re going to point a long, sententious digit at the screen after the fact. I’m still a bit giddy. If Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time…” means anything, it’s that he’s just now coming into his own as a filmmaker. This is a loving bit of cinema (that hits you like a flamethrower to the face). I sank into the slow visual joy of it (not a profound or “cinematic” joy — just gentle eye candy). On that level, I experienced a side of Tarantino that felt fresh. I’d say DiCaprio was meant to fall away and reveal Pitt as the film’s focus. I had never cared much about Pitt — this was his best performance by miles (the accent helped). And, yeah, the ranch/Bruce Lee scenes were wonderful. Leo had his moments with the Natalie Wood-looking girl. He was best crying. And making the Manson girls Nazis!!!! SJW Nazis, that is. It doesn’t come off as angry… Pitt turns down a blowjob because the GORGEOUS girl is underage. Meanwhile, the girl herself is abusing an overage blind man. :) It’s hilarious. Just rooted enough in the real story to be funny. My wife laughed her ass off, my mom loved it — but my dad and uncle Joe walked out. And I dug the way that DiCaprio’s operatic “crises” were always immediately countered by Pitt’s whole working-class life as a reality check. The film had class consciousness. Y’know, “consciousness” — nothing serious. But I’ll take it. Pitt never seems to look down on DiCaprio, despite his superior physical strength, moral fiber and “masculinity.” It was kind of… subversive? Invading machismo from within?

  10. Cairns: What don’t you like about the movie?

  11. Oh man. I just read your response to the Tate Seance…

  12. It’s a strange thing eavesdropping on conversations among intelligent aesthetes who (and this is obviously an IMHO type deal)) allowing their taste to misread and actively NOT experience something beautiful. Quentin Tarantino’s new film is an opportunity for spiritual communion. Instead, we’re hearing a checklist of gripes cemented in the blood vessels surrounding Eros. I will drink wine.

  13. Tony Williams Says:

    Maybe, you should also read other critics such as Jonathan Rosenbaum, Joseph McBride, Christopher Sharrett, David Walsh of, our David E, various articles in THE GUARDIAN (UK), and others, who do not gush with the “grape” but approach the film with sober critical abilities fully alert to the sexism and racism it displays? They are far removed from bad Walter Pater readings.

  14. Only if you read Maxwell Bodenheim’s SLOW VISION. It might stop you from preaching sobriety and whining about “sub-editing” as the profoundest of stumbling blocks.

  15. Tony Williams Says:

    Oh, so inaccuracies are now to be excused? This shows how lox critical standards have fallen. I wish to add Fiona Watson to the list of critics cited above, an intelligent woman also not taken in by QT’s latest b.s.

  16. Inaccuracies can certainly be EXCUSED, but perhaps not disregarded. They’re always annoying, and Durgnat certainly has many, but it seems to be a flaw common to those with a real breadth of knowledge – perhaps mainly because no sub-editor has the background to check everything. I’ve joshed Mark Cousins about mistakes in The Story of Film, but he always says there are far more embarrassing ones I haven’t spotted.

    I can forgive a mistake in a beautiful and illuminating passage, though it’s a problem if the mistake is the foundation of the point being made. This is rarely, if ever, the case in Durgnat.

  17. Fiona Watson Says:

    Thank you Tony. To give QT some morsels of praise, I did enjoy small aspects of it, (Shooting the scenes at the ranch involving The Family like a Western for example. Not the most original idea in the world, but it’s effectively handled) but those morsels do not counteract the fundamental problems with the film. And just a minor correction Daniel, the girl sleeping with George Spahn (Bruce Dern) was Squeaky Fromme (Dakota Fanning, in an outstandingly chilling performance), not Pussycat (Margaret Qualley). It concerns me that you can’t tell some of the female characters apart, and if other people have made the same mistake, highlights QT’s problems with women in his lovingly recreated late sixties, Californian concoction.

  18. ehrenstein47 Says:

    For a spiritual experience give me Bresson, ozu, Derek Jarman and Powell & Pressburger’s “I Know Where I’m Going”

    For L.A. in the late sixties I’ll take Agnes Varda’s “Lions Love” Jacques Demy’s “Model Shop” and Antonioni’s “Zabriskie Point.”

  19. Tony Williams Says:

    Oh David E, “the things we have seen”. To rework the Duke’s ironic line at the end of FORT APACHE (and I think Ford had this in mind) – “Correct in every detail.”

  20. At it’s best, art takes us outside those narrow parameters of what is appropriate, tasteful or correct. Often that willingness to push boundaries is motivated by the thrill of cheap laughs or mere shock value; accusations that reflexive, chuckleheaded ‘critics’ lob at Tarantino in the absence of actual thought. Tarantino’s artistry mines the the surface the things (including dearly held notions) and re-imagines them in a context that transforms the tawdry, embarrassing ephemera of popular culture the religious iconography of the doomed underclass he once belonged to. Tarantino’s real craft is alchemy, and in this film, quantum physics. Once again, he makes a logic-defying leap into ‘history’, this time through the cathode rays of shitty television and discovers a whole new planet. As for Bruce Lee, whom audiences want to see depicted as servile and humble in keeping with his Asian ‘mystique’, Tarantino shows him (uncomfortably) as a confident raconteur playing up to his honky audience. Later we see him as Sharon Tate’s off screen Kung-Fu coach; a generous and beloved teacher completely at odds with stunt man Cliff’s arrogant adversary.

  21. The above’s by the great Jennifer Matsui.

  22. Anyhow, buona fortuna! I’ll leave you preachers to your sanctimony — and the urgent project of damning a great artist with faint praise! Again, David Cairns, thanks for chiming in on this one, despite our radically different reactions. This exchange will help fuel the long essay on Poe and cinema.

  23. Tony Williams Says:

    By contrast, less than “great”, more pseud’s corner evasive rhetoric designed to deliberately distract viewers from the task of analyzing the disturbing racist, political, and sexist elements within the text by flowing gush. I sincerely hope that QT encounters Shannon Lee one day and in the words of David Lean I see it as a BRIEF ENCOUNTER when she deals with this arrogant little bully.

  24. PS — David Cairns — I just received your last MAYOR installment. Would you mind sending the various “stages” in one draft? Thanks!

  25. ehrenstein47 Says:

    “Tarantino’s artistry mines the the surface the things (including dearly held notions) and re-imagines them in a context that transforms the tawdry, embarrassing ephemera of popular culture the religious iconography of the doomed underclass he once belonged to. ”

    You’re thinking of Andy Warhol, Daniel

  26. ehrenstein47 Says:

  27. ehrenstein47 Says:

  28. David E: once again, that was a rapid-fire Fb post by Jennifer Matsui (replete with typos, which apparently shake some cinephiles down to their graph-paper souls). Speaking of Warhol, I just saw his “Hammer, Sickle and Vibrator” still life! Oh, I meant to mention earlier… Barbara had lunch with Roman P. on the afternoon of Sharon Tate’s murder. Back to Andy, who propositioned me in the mid-80s when I was 17: I sometimes translate Dewey’s “Art
    as Experience” as an “Andy Warhol was an Idiot” thesis.

  29. Also: Babs is making a Fellini documentary! You should volunteer as a talking head. THERE IS MONEY IN IT!

  30. You too, Mr. Cairns!!!

  31. ehrenstein47 Says:

    Thanks for the Fellini tip.

    You must have been quite a looker at 17 Daniel for Andy had a very specific “type” (eg. Phillip Fagin, Danny Williams)

    Andy was an “Idiot Savant”

  32. I can give you contact info if you like. Cairns has my email address.

  33. After watching INGLORIOUS BASTERDS last night, I’m tempted to say Tarantino is the best director of women alive. That is, when you take into account the powerful female characters he creates. I honestly see the “sexism” and “racism” charges against him as stemming from within his detractors themselves. They’re projecting their own need to see representations of black people, Asians and women as servile — and in particular servile to History (often a false history bolstered by nothing more than movies — I’m thinking of Bruce Lee’s screen image). Tarantino has for some time been creating cinematic folk heroes derived from the cheap and often brutal world of B movies, sub-genres that cinephiles associate with “guilty pleasures.” If you defend Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese and Alfred Hitchcock while criticizing Tarantino, you may have a class bias — a middle-class worldview occluding your vision. And that’s your problem.

  34. I don’t see attacking Tarantino’s detractors as following a false history as an angle that’s likely to work, given his own (ab)use of history.

    Criticism of the portrayal of Lee has only glancingly referred to his being shown as an asshole — most of what I’ve seen expresses annoyance that a mere stuntman more or less beats him in a fight. And a lot of the criticism comes from Lee’s daughter, who I hope you are not accusing of wanting to see her dad portrayed as servile due to her racism.

    Sharon Tate is not granted any insight into her life, her work, or anything else. She’s totally passive. Buying Tess of the D’Urbervilles is nice, but hardly enough, and she only does that to fit in with the historical record. I really can’t imagine QT inventing a detail like that for any character.

  35. A mere stuntman? You usually tune into the details. “Cliff” is a trained killer. Tarantino has written extraordinarily powerful women characters. His rendition of Tate is gentle, joyful, beautiful (but even that’s a crime by the lights of cinephiles doting on Hitchcock.

  36. I would also argue that we don’t register (not collectively) the metaphysics involved here — not just the “resurrection” of Pam Greer’s acting career thanks to JACKIE BROWN but the conscious and repeated use of the represented movie screen as a medium for seances. Inglorious Basterds features the avenging conscience of a beautiful young, now dead woman illuminated on the screen of the movie palace she owns — as if the whole physical structure were her mind (and OURS! It’s real Balthus stuff! I’ve recommended THE STREET to you, yes?) Nazis burn there. Hitler dies there. In Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, Sharon Tate is ALIVE! watching herself as we watch her watching herself from inside the American Myth we think we know so well — if this doesn’t strike you as transcendentalism, it’s because Tarantino is fooling you — and using your snobbery to do it. SUCKER! Hey, thanks for that PARAGRAPH ON LIGHT — IT IS SUBLIME!!!!!!!!!!!

  37. Sharon Tate is not the damsel in distress in this fairy tale beginning “Once Upon a Time…” — no, sir — she is GENUINELY HAPPY. You seem awfully quick to assert something false: namely that happiness makes her an idiot. Again, you are projecting sexist stereotypes, then pretending to detect them in Tarantino’s work. Perhaps you’re offended that she’s SELF-FULFILLED, picks her lovers, enjoys her screen image with no man seated next to her.

  38. My position won’t make sense until you sit down and watch The Wrecking Crew and ask what Sharon Tate has to feel happy ABOUT in that film.

  39. She’s enraptured for reasons that ain’t got nothing to do with your taste. She is not a prisoner of anyone else’s critical reservations.

  40. If she was enjoying the audience’s enthusiastic reactions to a scene where she was being beaten with hammers, you might find that weird, no? I find it just as weird that she’s enjoying them laughing at her humiliation in a terrible Dean Martin movie. Watch The Wrecking Crew! You can have no idea!

  41. Once again, you fail to judge the film itself. Instead, you apply your own a priori standards as if they were more important than dealing with Tarantino’s work on its own terms. Worse, you replace the actual narrative before you with your own false testimony as to the basic facts: nobody is “laughing at her humiliation.” Also, your insistence that The Wrecking Crew is a bad film (I’ve no doubt you’re right, btw) is bizarre. For the zillionth time, you have missed the point here and in your review, which lists the films Tarantino (or so you speculate) is supposedly… paying tribute to? This is not what he’s doing. But that’s another, longer discussion. LET’S DO A PODCAST!

  42. And, yes, I have some idea. The clip QT uses makes the awfulness of the film you hate so much… wait for it… PART AND PARCEL of his meaning!

  43. OK, but explain how.

  44. Cliff and Sharon are not two separate people; they are the male and female aspects of a single person. The cut from Cliff’s joyful memory (kicking Bruce Lee’s ass) to Sharon enjoying a record has zero narrative meaning. It’s a metaphysical union. They’re not only happy — they are happy in ways that mystify us, and contradict LA logic (i.e., an intensification of a vapid American Dream). Sharon chooses her own lovers and sits alone in the dark to enjoy her screen persona (NO MAN TO JUDGE OR “AFFIRM” HER). Questions of taste fall away. We know the Dean Martin vehicle is stupid beyond belief — just as we know Cliff is utterly screwed. They are free DESPITE ALL THIS. It’s a counterintuitive combo, sure — a working-class flunky (Cliff’s far more masculine but never appears to judge his narcissistic boss/friend) and a pampered beauty. But one must remember this is a FAIRY TALE. The important thing here is that Sharon Tate is already the damsel in distress (that’s how we’re supposed to see her in an otherwise ingrained American Myth) — TARANTINO LIFTS HER OUT OF THAT UGLINESS. He has always played God: “I wanted to give young black men a folk hero,” he said of Django. It’s obnoxious but the question remains… Does it work?

  45. Btw, I don’t think it does work in Django.

  46. Doppelgängers abound. And the tackiness theme is part of… well… EVERYTHING. The film begins with a cheesy interview featuring two “stars” of a cheesy tv series. Pitt and DiCaprio are literally versions of one fictional person. We can hardly blame Sharon for enjoying the cheese of Hollywood when WE ARE INSIDE THE CHEESE! Tarantino’s detractors are being sexist.

  47. Tate/Robbie isn’t just enjoying her persona onscreen, she’s enjoying the audience’s reactions to it: perhaps primarily, in fact. Does this change things?

    I don’t think sexism is at work here. I don’t think less of Tate for maybe enjoying The Wrecking Crew, though we have no idea if she did. I don’t think less of Robbie for taking the part. But I think less of QT for believing that this noxious garbage should be celebrated, and feeling that showing Tate digging it would enhance his message.

  48. Tony Williams Says:

    Well said, David C.

  49. Tony, see the film. Or shut your ignorant gob (he said with love). David: the audience is not mocking her. If Tony had bothered to watch OUATIH before pronouncing on intellectual rigor, sub-editing and what have you, he’d know Tarantino is not “celebrating” (and I’ve explained this endlessly) The Wrecking Crew. About this, you are simply wrong. Cheese is baked in. It’s not as rotten as Tony’s hypocrisy, however. Maybe he should drink more. The film is made of compartments. Can’t you see that?

  50. Let’s keep it civil.

    The audience isn’t mocking Tate and I didn’t suggest it was. It probably thinks she’s doing a fine job. It’s laughing along at a grisly sexist piece of trash in which she’s degraded. She, apparently, is just happy to be liked. To me, that’s a rather weak interpretation among many possible ones which might have given her more agency and intelligence.

    What do you mean by “compartments” and why is that relevant here?

  51. Tony Williams Says:

    The very tone of a particular comment made above reveals a disturbing form of intellectual impoverishment that is typical of so many of this director’s followers. What remains to be addressed is the serious racism directed against the late Bruce Lee that has already been countered by his daughter, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Daniel Inosanto. Evasiveness can not excuse the presence of such a disturbing issue. As mentioned, dialogue over these issues is important when other more substantial critics have detected flaws in OUTIH. As Gore Vidal once stated, any good work will last so it is unnecessary to rush out and buy a “flavor of the month” in its first week, QT’s latest can wait but what is important is the debate over the racism and sexism that characterize most of his work. Escaping into “Fantasy Island” weasel form of escapist interpretations is no excuse for avoiding such issues,

  52. But Tony, I sense Daniel’s frustration comes from the fact that you haven’t seen the film. You’re perfectly entitled to form an opinion that you’re not going to like it and thus save the ticket price, but I do think that largely disqualifies you from debate.

    Daniel has addressed the sexism and racism arguments elsewhere, though I’m still struggling to grasp his thinking on some of that, and it wasn’t how I felt watching the film.

  53. Ok I’ll give it another whirl — sidestepping sententious nonsense from a “scholar” who has no qualms about “correcting” everyone in sight, without bothering to watch the film under discussion. I have never written “LOL” before. But I write it now: L.O.L., Mr. Williams! The following is for Mr. Cairns…. and thanks for mentioning that I’ve attacked Tarantino’s racism and sexism endlessly. (I’ll forego a longer discussion about that now — Tony’s obtuse to facts anyhow.) Quentin Tarantino has been using a comic-book-metaphysics for years, channeling dead people via cinema — sometimes (“Inglorious Basters”) communicating said metaphysics directly as actual filmed sequences — a Po-Mo-For-Dummies approach in which Jewish Revenge for the Holocaust becomes the spectacle. A silver nitrate image of a beautiful (and very blond) Jewish woman pronouncing death from the movie screen (and from her own tomb to boot — i.e., the projection booth of the movie palace she owned in life). Half the thrill of a moment like this comes from its glorious trashiness, half from the extraordinary tension that Tarantino has built. It’s in that very tension-building that women play the strongest (and, I argue, their most explicitly Feminist) role. “Shosanna” is one of the most perfectly wrought interior performances ever captured on celluloid. It’s that interiority I’m afraid you’re warping — or failing to warp no matter how hard you try — in Margot Robbie’s performance. When I say “compartmentalized,” I mean in part that this fairy tale comes in Tarantino favorite comic-book structure (intensified here by announced illusions — LA itself is a lovely, gaudy, natural, horribly artificial landscape within which the Dean Martin picture is just another layer. The combination of shyness, youthful narcissism, innocence and irony Robbie brings to her role… Well, it clearly doesn’t move you. When she opens the Pearly Gates for Leo, it is BOTH a brittle moment in which LA looms as a distorting environment (utterly unsustainable) AND touching. I’ll add that by removing Manson from the story (minus a cameo), the director/myth-maker also frees Sharon Tate.

  54. Hope the above helps some, David. One additional (pretentious) word on “compartmentalization” — painters use “compartmentalized space” to describe the various developments out of Cubism that essentially reverse about 600 years of perspectival construction. In movies, the close-up does that almost automatically (Jean Epstein writes incredible things about this). Tarantino, silly as his films may look, has a way of yanking chunks of space and time out of the supposed Narrative and making beautiful things happen (this is what I was indicating earlier when I said Cliff and Sharon were being merged into one person). The comic-book simplifications have a corollary in FORM — QT is creating an unexpected family of forms that move in the opposite direction from the stereotypes he summons. His films are “ambiguous” — in the oldest sense of that word — “having both.” But, again, many of the compartments are announced (fake interviews, fake movies, real movies, a hideously believable reconstruction of LA, cigarette burns on the print, etc.). If you ride all that lingo, beautiful things happen.

  55. Tony Williams Says:

    David, One does not have to have been present at the liberation of the concentration camps to be horrified at reports of what had happened especially with reliable evidence by reputable witnesses. Similarly, following the debates about the film does not disqualify one from commenting especially over the racism directed at Bruce Lee. Many feminist colleagues have condemned the sexism in the film. As stated, seeing this latest atrocity is low on my priorities since I have better things to concentrate on at the moment but will eventually get round to it since I’ve seen the person’s other films. The “You are There” argument is always weak.

    Also, isn’t your argument akin to that used by right-wing politicians and militaristic thugs to peace protestors. “What do you know about it? You have not even taken part in combat?”

    However, when I get to see it I doubt whether this will change my perception of this person’s work which (apart from JACKIE BROWN) I find plagiaristic and shallow. If only Andrew Britton were still with us to give QT the critical drubbing he deserves.

    Since I’ve not seen the film I can not comment on the “compartment” issue but I have seen IB and the argument used to defend it is nothing less than Holocaust denial in which a serious historical incident becomes reduced to a narcissistic spectacle on the part of a director whose infantile “violence is cool” ,”cinema of the spectacle/ grindhouse display” demeans the grim chronicles of history to the level of an infant wallowing in excremental indulgence. Some of us look for a more mature cinema and often find it in archive sources and other areas – certainly not in this debased world of retarded comic book evasiveness and superhero fascination.

  56. These days, the reaction to a film overrides the work itself, which becomes a mere platform for individual audience members to broadcast sound bytes in symphony with popular opinion makers using a template checklist of popular grievances. Quentin Tarantino’s latest (and last?) film was under fire for its subject matter (a mostly fictional retelling of the Manson murders) before it went into production, and has since taken multiple hits on several fronts from the social media warriors convinced that the director is hiding a fugitive agenda in his rather heartwarming and disturbingly beautiful film.

    Once Upon a Time in Hollywood not only defies any expectation of a Tarantino film, but defies gravity itself as a transcendent, multi-dimensional mind fuck that unravels in the opposite of ‘real time’ and re-directs consciousness itself. Tarantino’s slow burning comedy places a clear line of demarcation between people who derive genuine pleasure from art, and those who see it as a chance to ‘call out’ the artist for perceived crimes against a trending Twitter hashtag.

    They’re outraged because Margo Robbie isn’t given pages of lines to ‘explain’ her character, but tasked instead with illuminating her from within. Up-and-coming screen Goddess Sharon Tate is mostly photographed from the neck up, demanding Robbie to act between the ears and replace dialogue with unadulterated sunshine. Tate is no ‘character’ but a once in a million year solar event.

    They are unanimously apoplectic that Bruce Lee isn’t portrayed as a eunuch ‘Oriental’ sage, but a drop dead sexy dancer, cynically playing up his ‘other’ mystique to a bunch of honkies. It’s a risk, to be sure, but one that pays off as a clever plot device that gives small brained stunt man Cliff Booth an entire backstory in a an unreliably narrated anecdote. Cliff’s decision to take down the diminutive star is the the catalyst event of his downward career spiral. Bruce Lee is later redeemed in Sharon’s memory as martial arts coach. We see him as a generous mentor, and all round good guy, far removed from the arrogant pontificator who gets body slammed into a Chevy by a second rate stuntman.

    They’re pissed because Tarantino views women in fight scenes as adversaries who require the same strength to take down as their male counterparts. They ignore the fact that it’s a little girl who provides the intellectual impetus for Rick Dalton to give the only memorable screen performance of his life time. Nor do OUATIH’s social justice critics seem to notice Tarantino’s clearly marked line in the sand that prevents Cliff from accepting a blow job from an underaged hitchhiker on her way back to the Spahn ranch. Cliff’s refusal is grounded in ethics, even if he cites the unwanted risk of jail time as an excuse. If anything, Cliff is pained by the proposition. He is guided by the same unspoken principle when he makes a safety check on the ranch’s blind and bedridden owner, and later when he pulverizes a hippy with a monkey wrench. If Tarantino has a message to mankind, it’s “obliterate fascists completely” and “don’t fuck with women”.

    Against all expectations, Tarantino doesn’t offer up gratuitous Mansonette nudity, just a grubby mob of mean girl ‘Sister Wives’ cut from the same cloth as his #metoo detractors, and led by no other than Lena Dunham to add further insult to injurious identitarians.

    Once doomed to be perpetually remembered and eternally murdered, Tate’s new life under Tarantino’s direction is forever re-living the thrilling milestones of her own life, sidestepping fate and driving headlong into the Hollywood Hills. It’s hard to imagine a more principled premise than Tarantino’s take on the lurid legend of ‘Helter Skelter’ and his rescue of Sharon Tate from the clutches of collective memory.

    The young actress is re-imagined in radiant spirit form; the briefly glanced apparition seen from ground level as Manson slithers by the house on Cielo Drive. That moment she steps out on to her own front porch to glimpse the departing late night caller, she is Eve in the garden of evil, momentarily aware of an unsettling presence in her midst. She gives the beady-eyed stranger a nervous little wave, the first and only indication that she is saying goodbye to the other-world idyll of her canyon home, and to life itself. Cliff’s fate is similarly sealed when he makes an impromptu visit to the Spahn Ranch and incurs the wrath of its bloodthirsty inhabitants. Again, the camera is placed where a bottom crawler would lurk as Cliff shit kicks the Manson follower who has fucked with his car.

    Tarantino puts his mostly silent star behind the camera to capture eternity as a hologram playing out in a amber. It’s Sharon’s own gaze capturing her giddiest moments as evidenced by her solo trip to the cinema to see, or rather ‘experience’ herself on film. Dead Sharon hovers over all the proceedings as her swooping camera eye looks down on LA. Her male doppelgänger, the more earth-bound Cliff Booth, shares the same view (and viewpoint) from the roof top next door to her where he is fixing a TV antennae.

    Still, there’s evidence of an impending rupture that threatens the delicate membrane insulating Tate from her murderers as Mick Jagger sings “Baby, you’re out of time” as she heads home towards the hills. The song is an ominous reminder of the gathering storm ahead. “My poor old fashioned baby . . . “ Tarantino’s ‘call out’ critics seemed to have missed countless sign posts leading away from Cielo Drive to OUATIH’s moral, other dimension center.

  57. That’s a rough draft. More soon!

  58. Will flesh that out for CHISELER. Thanks again, David, for the back and forth!

  59. Lumiere Sisters, Unite!

  60. oops. manson shows up in daylight! muahahaha! will show you final draft, dc.

  61. So far, that’s all Matsui. We’re discussing the possibility of collaborating since we’ve discussed the film and basically agree. I may choose to run that draft as is, with minor tweaks. We’ll see.

  62. I especially dig this bit… “Tarantino puts his mostly silent star behind the camera to capture eternity as a hologram playing out in a amber. It’s Sharon’s own gaze capturing her giddiest moments as evidenced by her solo trip to the cinema to see, or rather ‘experience’ herself on film. Dead Sharon hovers over all the proceedings as her swooping camera eye looks down on LA. Her male doppelgänger, the more earth-bound Cliff Booth, shares the same view (and viewpoint) from the roof top next door to her where he is fixing a TV antennae.”

  63. Beautifully written.

    The things that still bug me:
    “Not in front of the Mexicans.” Why does Cliff have to be racist? Especially given Manson’s race war motive.
    Why does Cliff have to be a guy who killed his wife? Making him the hero who saves Sharon Tate strikes me as distasteful.
    If women are as hard to kill as men, why can’t Sharon save herself?
    Tarantino claims that Bruce Lee said he could beat Ali. This appears to be untrue, and it contributes to Lee looking like a dick here. It is of course perfectly possible to write a character who is neither subservient nor an asshole.

    It’s not surprising that QT doesn’t dwell on tits and ass, because he has never done so. No female nudity, ever, I think. He letches over bare feet a whole lot, though, because that’s his thing.

  64. Yeah, she wants me to add to it, but I think it’s beautiful as is. “Not in front of the Mexicans” got a nervous giggle from everyone in the mostly white, P.C. audience here in Brooklyn. I saw it on 35mm, which was pricey — most of us were bourgeoise. Lots of flip-flops studded with rubies. Spike Lee has been calling out Tarantino for his abuse of the N-word since the 1990s. I thought Django was unalloyed junk precisely because of that type of overreaching (Scorsese often does it with homophobic tough guys) — indulging in bigotry as a presumptive theme while actually BEING bigoted. As for Sharon Tate kicking ass: I’ll lean on Matsui’s line about holograms. Ehrenstein mentions (I think in his first comment) the allusion to Roman Polanski as a possible source for Cliff’s wife-murdering. Maybe. Cinephiles defend Polanski’s real-life child rape, Woody Allen’s child molestation, Hitchcock’s physical, psychic and other abuses of T.H. — in that horrible context, the one-line yoks in QT’s film seem like small potatoes.

  65. One final thought, DC: I’ve mentioned your approach more than once as a kind of illicit heckling — that is, attacking QT’s characters for what they are not, as opposed to examining what they actually are, and why they live where they do. Tarantino himself lives in pulp. I think he’s done more to unleash new iterations of the special power that exploitation films can bring. As you know, I spent many years screaming about this — his habit of inflating low-budget sub-genres into extravagant productions seemed wrong to me. I’m reconsidering that now. I think I was the one who was wrong.

  66. Correction” “more than any other director,” I meant to write…

  67. Tony Williams Says:

    “Tarantino himself lives in pulp”. This says it all. Were the person not so despicable he would deserve our pity!

  68. One could say that other esteemed directors, like Sam Fuller, have a pulp sensibility, though Fuller certainly had more literary awareness than QT has shown. But he mostly kept it out of his films.

    Fiona read an interview with Sharon Tate’s sister where she talked about ST’s fantastic sense of humour. Another thing we don’t get in QT’s rendition. I know I’m concentrating on what he’s NOT doing, what I want to know is WHY not?

  69. Tony Williams Says:

    David C, Yes, Fuller had a “pulp sensibility” as far as style was concerned. But he did not let it interfere with his recognition of serious aspects of injustice in everyday life nor did he deny the brutal reality of the Holocaust as the climactic scenes of THE BIG RED ONE show. Rather than retreating into his own version of “Fantasy Island” he faced reality with his own artistic sensibilities that were direct and honest choosing not to retreat into a “Never Never Land” where violence is “cool” and War is fun in a “transcendental, multi-dimensional mind-fuck”.(How far have we fallen from the critical standards of Leavis, Britton, Wood, Raymond Williams, Northrop Frye, Rosenbaum etc!). Yes, I’m also interested to learn “WHY not?” as in your final sentence.

  70. (How far have we fallen from the critical standards of Leavis, Britton, Wood, Raymond Williams, Northrop Frye, Rosenbaum etc!). That depends. Did the critics on your list vomit received ideas regarding films they had not bothered to watch?

  71. Tony Williams Says:

    As mentioned before, the issue is less about seeing a particular film but reading and commenting on the serious issues raised especially if they are by acknowledged critics. The testimony by Lee’s daughter, K. Abdul-Jabbar, Insosanto, and Stirliling Silliphant in his Nat Segaloff biography still need addressing. Obviously, you are in dire need of lessons in grammar since your (deliberately chosen offensive troll term) “vomit” has nothing to do with critical debate and the raising of disturbing aspects in the work of a regressive talent whether one has seen the work or not.

  72. I’m reminded of ghoulish parents upbraiding their female children for not being boys. You two think you’re engaging in critical appreciation. Nope, not even close. Neither am I, of course — but the difference is that I don’t pretend to be (under the guise of bourgeoise rectitude). This is nothing more than cultural redlining. Which might be frightening if the atomized former members of a thankfully defunct Film Crit establishment weren’t busy redlining… themselves. “WHY ISN’T TARANTINO A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT PERSON?” Dunno. Why do fainting-couch cinephiles defend auteurs when they molest little girls? Why does the creepy Brit who systematically portrayed women as ciphers for his own hate qualify as an “auteur” at all? I am answering your question, DC (as the one-man peanut gallery beside you says: “YEAH, I WANNA KNOW TOO!”) , is that you’re looking in the mirror at your own class-based prejudices. It’s not the worst crime on earth. Just be honest. Anyhow, getting something concrete out of all this nonsense was worth it. A friend started chemo today. I think I’ll focus on real problems and let you pillars of ethics sort out the mess you made in your imaginary tree fort.

  73. Tony Williams Says:

    Again, this is insult rather than rational debate.Yet, I’m grateful for your term “vomit” since that is my reaction to 99% of QT’s films after I see them. I’m currently watching Kumel’s MALPERTUIS (1971) that is the type of film I put at the top of my list with QT at the bottom. I get your Brit. term and see that it falls into the irrational and slanderous type of allegations that often pass for objective criticism since the days of Spoto. Anyway, since any form of debate is impossible here I will close by passing on my sympathies to your friend. I have two others going through the same process now


    Cliff is a walking invitation to impute guilt. We do not know he’s a wife-murderer. So our feelings about the presumption (more importantly our willingness to believe rumor) is on us. Cliff is clearly the masculine ideal of an erstwhile Hollywood, squaring off against Political Correctness. When he visits the Ranch he’s practically Gary Cooper in High Noon, facing an abusive Peanut Gallery Gauntlet of SJWs (who can only muster a verbal gauntlet, issuing cliche’s and slogans instead of action).

    If you assume Cliff’s a murderer, then you immediately join that ugly chorus; it’s a choice to deposit yourself there. Getting back to my earlier assertion, David Cairns, that there are no moral lesson here: what I meant was nothing set in stone — Cliff is a fiction announcing himself as such loudly and repeatedly, so deciding that Cliff is some “Ego Ideal” standing in for Quentin Tarantino himself is silly (and correct). QT is both distancing himself at every turn and embracing antiquated notions of masculinity (here’s the important part) AS FORMS!!!!!!!!

    Moralizing critics stand in for a grade-school belief system that misses the key fact…. EVERYTHING IN A FILM IS A FORM. Cliff’s moment as Gary-Cooper-Cowboy-America comes as he’s wearing a stupid Hawaiian shirt. Don’t be a TOXIC LITERALIST ON THE LEFT by taking this “toxic masculinity” too seriously unless you’re volunteering to be a 1920s schoolmarm with a ruler in your desiccated, authoritarian fist, ready to smash childhood with rotted teeth and cackling glee.


    Giggles Macaroni

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