The Film Festival Doctor (Yes, she’s a real doctor!) Dr. Rebekah Louisa Smith, reveals what makes Tarantino’s latest film a firm favourite.
Much has been written about Quentin Tarantino’s latest film – both good and bad. Once Upon A Time in Hollywood is the acclaimed Director’s ninth feature film landing, not only as a fan favourite, but gaining attention as a ‘festival film’ too. Whilst some love it (it received a standing ovation at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival) and some hate it (‘it’s just long drawn out scenes and no story whatsoever’), I sit firmly in the middle.
I have a different type of connection to Tarantino than most people. I spent 4 years of my life writing my PhD thesis on him (called ‘Tarantino’s Audiences’) – specifically analysing the emotional responses to his film Death Proof back in 2008. I used a sample of questionnaire responses from fans based in the U.K. & USA… this was before the days of WhatsApp and Facebook so it was all done via the Quentin Tarantino archives forum chat room!
One of the key findings from my research was that male Tarantino fans adored his characters. They felt like they could really relate and hang out with the characters via Tarantino’s well written dialogue and view the Director as a god-like father figure who they have a huge amount of respect for. They admire that Tarantino writes naturalistic dialogue that talks about real, relatable things such as hamburgers, lucky charm cereals and Diet Coke.
So, it’s no wonder that Once Upon A Time in Hollywood is adored by so many of his fans.
For the ultimate Tarantino experience, I went to the New Beverly Theatre in L.A. – the theatre Tarantino himself owns – to see it for myself. This was my first experience of the film and I had no idea what to expect. Although one thing was certain, the commitment of Tarantino’s cult following is still ripe. Many audience members had seen the film at least seven times with most of them dressed up as Brad Pitt, Leonardo Dicaprio or Margot Robbie and claiming they thought it was his best film to date.
It took me a while to appreciate it, but I do like it. However, besides the fact if I liked it or not, it proves that my research all those years ago still rings true. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is a full-on Tarantino hang out movie with his signature characters (these being the type of characters who have characterised his films and become much loved by fans, as identified in my research). This is what the film is essentially about whilst being a love letter to Hollywood and L.A. – in other words it’s a Tarantino fan dream!
That said, it’s also a rare gem in that it’s a ‘festival film’ which can cross over and be admired by both mainstream audiences in multiplex theatres and film festival audiences at the Cannes Film Festival. Love it or hate it – it’s a crowd pleaser type of film for both types of audiences and one not to be missed.
Coming next week – I’ll be talking about CV19 and why it is very important to submit your film to festivals during the pandemic.