There is something exciting about a new Quentin Tarantino movie that other releases just can’t match. Maybe it’s that he doesn’t actually make that many – his new one will be just the tenth that he’s directed in a career that started in 1992 with Reservoir Dogs. Or maybe it’s that you know that when Tarantino brings you something new, for good or ill, it won’t be like anything else on offer at the cinema. His films will never be to everyone’s taste – that’s kind of the point of them – but he can never be accused of churning out paint-by-numbers blockbusters.
It could be that the great appeal of Tarantino is just how much he loves movies. He loves movies so much that when he makes a movie, he packs it full of a bunch of other movies, crafting passionate love letters to the business while somehow also making the flicks themselves indelible standalone stories.
Or, if you’re not a fan, he slaps together a bunch of obvious references, spraypaints them with gratuitous violence and the n-word, and thinks he’ll get away with it because he adds a cool soundtrack. He makes the kind of movies that exhilarate those who like them, and utterly repel those who don’t. It’s divisive, but divisiveness has quite the proud tradition in art, after all.
It’s strange when you read that the new one, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, is Tarantino’s “first movie about movies”. For one thing, Inglourious Basterds, though a cracking war film, was to a great extent about movies and their power. But more than that, every one of his movies is, in a way, about movies. Cinematic history oozes from every pore of a Tarantino picture. He is just now making it more explicit than ever.
But Once Upon A Time is more than just a movie about Hollywood, of course. It’s a movie about the Manson Family, and that’s likely to ruffle feathers as much as any of the director’s previous work.
The question is, will a director as renowned for stylistic flourish and uber-cool aesthetics treat the topic of the horrific Manson murders with the respect and sensitivity it deserves?
Or perhaps the question is, will a director known for not caring who he pisses off treat the topic of the horrific Manson murders with the stylistic flourish and uber-cool aesthetics that his fans feel they deserve? And will the blood and gore get in the way of what looks to be a banteriffic buddy movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio as a vain movie star and Brad Pitt as a laconic stuntman?
It’s exciting all right. A new Avengers movie is exciting too. A new Star Wars is exciting. Even a new Pixar film gets the juices flowing. But there’s nothing quite like a new Tarantino for throwing the guts and the glory and the beauty and the ugliness of movies right in your face. Time to genuflect once more to the master.