Where do you even begin with Once Upon a Time in Hollywood? This film was a lot. Quentin Tarantino only produces masterpieces and this film was no different. The cast was full of A-listers. Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, and Margot Robbie star in this film about a washed out television star trying to achieve fame with his stunt double during the late 60s in Los Angeles. This film was the perfect close to the semester because it shows the change in the film industry, which is a lot of what we have learned throughout the course. As the semester progressed we got to see the changes of film story-lines, quality, production, directors, and so much more. And then Tarantino shows it so well in this film, giving it his own perspective. The film really speaks for itself, especially with its top 10 films of 2019 ranking by the American Film Institute.
One of the many readings this week was “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood” by Priscilla Page. Page wrote that Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is “a film about the interplay between fantasy and reality, memory, mythology, masculinity, violence. It’s about fiction and film as redemptive, transformative, and just, and pop culture as a force that brings people together. It’s make-believe, and it’s memoir. Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood is Quentin Tarantino’s second draft of history.” Page’s description corresponds well with what this film is. She uses the right words to show the magnificence that is Tarantino’s film. DiCaprio’s vocal range is impressive, and the drastic difference between his voice in this film and any other was an interesting artistic choice. His back and forth with Brad Pitt is amusing and almost comical that Pitt is his stunt double when they don’t look that much alike, other than maybe their hair color. And lastly, Robbie. Margot Robbie plays the role of Sharon Tate, a wonderful actress, whose life was cute too short because of Charles Manson. Robbie’s role is controversial, but Tarantino didn’t want her role as a murder victim only commemorating the murder, but rather the amazing actress she was. There’s a scene where Robbie watches a film with the real Sharon Tate and the emotions she displays strikes home over the up and coming actress. Robbie commemorates Tate and represents everything she had to go through before she was suddenly taken from the cinematic world. Tarantino took great care for all three of these actors and actress to represent the reality of what it was like in the film industry, while making the story his own. Rather than conforming to modern day ideals he showed the truth of what it was like, even though it earned harsh words like misogyny and disrespectful. It was the truth and that in itself shows how far everything has come since the 60s.
Post modernism is very important. This week we had two videos on it. Nostalgia is the biggest part of post modernism. Throughout the decades nostalgia has been used to evoke emotional responses to the mass audiences, whether it be a Coca-Cola commercial or the newest cinematic reboot. Nostalgia is the most used and effective method in post modern media.
While watching the Frederic Jameson video, they referenced Andrew Butler in their discussion about post modernism. Andrew Butler states: “There is a breakdown in any meaningful connection between words and images” post modern art has “an eclectic range of allusions or a bewildering collection of fragments of different voices.” Post modernism is related to late capitalism. Late capitalism focuses on style over substance, surface over depth. This creates this unstable, fragmented reality that is artificial. All of which is very true. Society now is so focused on appearance and what the eyes can see, that it fails to recognize the beauty and meaning in the things it can’t see, or is considered outside the norm. There is little to no substance in this mindset.
At the start of the semester I took my very first film course. I was introduced to the class with one very specific objective and description. “Cult Movies is a broad but vivid special topics seminar designed to produce rigorous analysis and critique of the cult film phenomenon. Together, we’ll investigate their modes of production, distribution, and exhibition. We’ll also focus on their reception, their fans and various reading strategies. This course also examines the question of “taste” as it relates to culture.” Even with this I had absolutely no idea what to expect from this class. My idea of cult didn’t even come close to what it really meant. I knew I was in for a whirlwind of discoveries and experiences the moment Maniac came on the screen.
Audio plays a massive role in cinema, whether its the overlay of dialogue from a separate recording or the soundtrack of the film. A really good soundtrack can salvage some relatively bad acting or bad writing. Exploring and examining soundtracks and other audio effect methods were my favorite aspect to learn about when we learned about what goes into a film. The hardest thing to learn was by far camp. It is complex and covers several different aspects of cult. Camp is both when something is trying to be camp and when it isn’t.
My favorite film this semester was by far Matinee directed by Joe Dante. A close second would have to be The Warriors directed by Walter Hill. Both of these films started off as something I didn’t think I was going to like and I ended up loving them. They’re both really entertaining and keep you engaged, so I would highly recommend them.
My least favorite film this semester has to be John Waters’s Pink Flamingos. It wasn’t a bad film, it just was not for me. The amount of disgusting scenes in it were just too much for me. I can sit here and watch gore all day long and still have an appetite, but could not eat my dinner after this film, it was, insane.
The semester introduced me to not only new films, but so much I didn’t know about film making. It’s hard to focus on just one thing, because everything was new for me. I honestly had no idea what to expect or what a cult movie even was and it was an amazing experience that I would recommend to everyone.