We are starting a brand new theme month on You Love To See It (our fabulous movie review podcast), and it’s a good one: Join Us June! That is, we’ll be watching movies about cults, in some fashion or another, and we’re starting off with 2019 Tarantino Hollywood “fairy tale” Once Upon a Time In Hollywood. It has a big budget, even bigger stars, and some wild and interesting “what if” implications about the infamous, terrifying Manson cult and the Tate-Labianca murders.
As always, you can listen to the show in the embed, or find it on your podcatcher of choice here. I’m including our show notes here, which contain some creative capitalization and spoilers, but should give a good sense of our research and thoughts moving into recording day. You can also read the full transcription below our show notes, if you prefer your podcast in this format!
Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood is a movie about a has-been actor, his never-was stunt double, a would-have-been actress, and a bunch of other people played by a frankly astounding big-named cast. It’s a tale of stardom, it’s a tale of friendship, and, to a lesser extent, it’s a tale of what happens when a petty criminal with mediocre musical talent decides to recruit a bunch of young women to do horrible shit. And what could have happened had Brad Pitt been there.
And our must-discuss items:
Fernanda’s must-discuss items:
- I love that the first question that appears on google when you type in the name of the movie is “What is the point of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood?” I was left kind of thinking that myself, which is not necessarily a knock on the movie. I honestly think it’s very fun and enjoyable (despite its deeply unnecessary duration). I just think there’s so much going on at the same time that it was hard for me to identify a major argument I could mull over. Then again, maybe it’s just me and my obsessive need with finding major arguments to mull over. Thankfully, the google question was linked to an Empire piece which does offer such arguments:https://www.empireonline.com/movies/features/movie-plots-explained-once-upon-a-time-in-hollywood/
- Bruce Lee’s daughter, Shannon Lee, was not happy about the way they portrayed her father in the movie and, according to a Hollywood Reporter story, “made a direct appeal to China’s National Film Administration, asking that it demand changes to her father’s portrayal.” The movie’s release in China was even put on hold. At first, while I obviously understood why his daughter would be upset by seeing her father look like an arrogant jerk who got outfought by an anonymous stuntman, I was kind of like “you know what, the guy’s a public figure, it’s been several decades since his death, this is obviously a caricature, there needs to be room for some jokeyness, too.” Especially if you consider the scene is a flashback in Cliff’s mind and therefore an even more subjective portrayal. But then I read more about it and yeah, the optics aren’t great considering factors such as the fact that, in a movie full of white people who got somewhat reverential treatment, this person of color was the one who got relentlessly mocked. From an Esquire piece:
“I love Quentin Tarantino. I absolutely adore his films, and I think every filmmaker has the right to do whatever they want with history,” said (Lee biographer Matthew Polly). “What bothered me was that he was very reverential and sympathetic with Steve McQueen, Sharon Tate, and Jay Sebring, but Bruce’s portrayal was more mocking. And given that Bruce was the only non white historical figure in the whole film, I thought that was problematic.”
“There’s nothing else to call him but the butt of the joke, because everything that makes him powerful is the very thing that makes him laughable in the film,” film scholar Nancy Wang Yuen told the LA Times. “His kung fu becomes a joke, and his philosophizing becomes a fortune cookie, and the sounds that he makes as he does kung fu are literally made fun of by Cliff. They made his arrogance look like he was a fraud.”
- DR: yeah, I really, really hated this. Why on earth would you do Bruce Lee dirty, especially in service of a character who is… purely a murdering asshole?
- I also found myself thinking about the portrayal of Sharon Tate in the movie. Unfortunately, as is the case with many victims of “spectacular” (in the sense of “thing that is made into a spectacle”) crimes, the story of Tate’s life went into history basically as the story of Tate’s death. When we talk about her, we automatically talk about Charles Manson, creating this perverse state of perpetual victimhood. So I had mixed feelings; while I appreciated that, for once, we barely see Manson and actually get to see Sharon, I was also kinda bummed that she didn’t really have a lot of lines and wasn’t really a fully accomplished character like Rick or Cliff. There is a valid argument to that extent — and one that speaks generally to the portrayal of women in general in Tarantino’s universe — made by Adrienne Westenfeld on this Esquire piece. I read a counterpoint to the specific portrayal of Tate on the Empire piece I linked above, however, and I can see it on another light, as well.
“In a world where Sharon Tate doesn’t die on August 8, 1969, it’s a day that’s completely inconsequential in Tate’s life. Over the six-month timespan of the movie, we see her on any number of other completely ordinary days. She isn’t working; she’s home alone and not doing much; she’s dancing; she knocks around Hollywood a bit, does some shopping, meets up with some friends; huffs about pregnancy; goes to a screening of The Wrecking Crew and is pleased by the audience reaction. On the evening of August 8 there’s some trouble next door that she isn’t involved in. If Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is about Sharon Tate in any sense, it’s about giving her that life back, and studiously not fixating on her death. To some extent, it’s actually about leaving her alone. Tate’s sister Debra approved and endorsed both Robbie and the film as a whole.”
- Interesting little tidbit: According to this (very helpful) pop culture glossary in the New York Times, the smart kid’s character “may be inspired by Jodie Foster, a guest on ‘Gunsmoke’ and other TV series as a child in that era.”
- Squeaky, played by Dakota Fanning, did exist: She was Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, who tried to assassinate Gerald Ford in 1975. Constance Grady wrote an interesting reflection on the “Manson Girls” and how they fit into the media narrative for Vox. It’s interesting to link it back to Westenfeld’s piece, in which she mentions the both gruesome and comic way with which the girls are killed by Rick and Cliff. Westenfeld argues that the girls were themselves victims of a predator “who used sex and power to exploit them into committing violent crimes.” And that is true. But it is also true that these real-life women carried out actual murders — including against other women, such as Sharon — and what the Vox article compellingly argues is that the portrayal of these girls not as monsters but as helpless puppets on Manson’s game also doesn’t do much to portray these as humans, and is “mostly interested in the titillating idea of fanciful young girls who had been brainwashed by a demon into doing absolutely anything. The girls were still important mostly as living props who prove Manson’s power.” I personally always struggle with this kind of thing. It’s hard to contextualize actual murderers this way; it’s almost like a battle battle between my innate human impulses and my conscious understanding of gender dynamics in the actual world. While I’ve read, heard and watched so much shit about severely abused cult members who never go so far as to brutally kill other humans, I understand why men like Manson choose to prey on young women and how they’re able to twist not just their minds but their very concept of reality. This was obviously a horrendous crime and the people who committed it should be held responsible, but I think that I ultimately can hold both of these ideas in my mind: that these women were both victims and perpetrators, who ultimately served — like Sharon Tate and the other victims — as side players in the Manson show.
Danielle’s must-discuss items:
- I do love so many of the playful filmmaking tricks – the odd cuts during Rick’s conversation with TK, the continuity gaffes (like the chicken wing being in some takes and not others) in the western, it all reads playfully in these scenes. I also love the 3:4 fake movie/TV show gags (and how they poke fun at the Hollywood conventions and Hollywood racism of course)
- The extended prestige western in the middle feels so weird and specific but it works (it’s too modern (but with deliberate bad cuts and the flubs lol) in so many ways, to be a period piece, but it feels very deliberate (as does the scene with Rick and the young actor!)
- Margot Robbie’s performance (and the direction for the character) is hard to pin down – she’s beautiful and effervescent and constantly dancing, but also feels pretty real and grounded (she snores! She goes to watch her own movie and is DELIGHTED when people like it), she’s annoyed about being pregnant, she reads as… real and human, despite that effervescence and supernatural beauty.
- I do not know how I feel about the ending lol. It’s a fun Fantasia fairy tale thing, and it does allow Sharon Tate (a real person who really lived!) a happy ending. But it also… just kind of makes the violence at the end cartoonish and the Manson clan appear feeble and not even slightly a threat, whereas the real story is truly, desperately fucked up. It also allows Brad Pitt’s character to be a cool good guy and my dude murdered his wife (in a scene that makes him look so very reasonable for killing his bickering wife, which is itself kind of insane) and killed a teen girl by slamming her head into things until there wasn’t really a head anymore.
- Also lol wtf is with this movie’s depiction of Bruce Lee? It shows him as basically all talk while (white) macho wife-killing Brad Pitt kicks his ass…and like… hmmm – as you say in your notes, looks pretty suspect when this is basically the one person of color with more than a few lines in the whole thing. I truly don’t know what they were going for, but it sucks.
- I will say, the bromance between the two is pretty special, even if Cliff honestly is a psychopath. Rick comes off as likable if deeply problematic (his scene with the child actor goes a long way).
- So much of this movie is kind of a super extended Hollywood ensemble cast circle jerk, which, yes, is kind of the point. But I loved all the stuff with the western — there were ways in which that was working as a piece of fiction on its face, as a vehicle for a fading actor and his bruised psyche, as a sort of love letter to old westerns — and TBH, this may have been a tighter and better film if it had nothing to do with the Tate-Labianca murders at all. It also could have been 90 minutes that way, lol.
Our Full Transcript:
EXT. FANBYTE CITY – EVENING
Some very chill 80s-inspired music plays as we slowly move from an extreme wide shot of the sun setting on the city into a quiet main street revealing the You Love to See It store.
Through the window, a view of the carpeted store inside emerges. Shelves line the walls and form aisles full of bright red VHS tape covers.
INT. YOU LOVE TO SEE IT STORE – CONTINUOUS
Fernanda, store uniform rolled up to accentuate her cool tattoos, operates a blender full of ice and booze for frozen margaritas. Danielle, in the perfect combo of workout gear and her store uniform, tears up a little as she reads a dog-eared cowboy paperback novel.
You walk through the front door and the bells chime, they both look over at you.
[00:00:00] Fernanda: Oh, hi there! Welcome to You Love to See It. Fanbyte’s movie review podcast. Every month we pick a theme. Every week we watch a movie and then we decide where its VHS tape belongs in our delightful neighborhood video store. We’ll judge if it’s got enough star power and upswing momentum to leave its hand-print in the pavement of our distinguished Staff Picks shelf.
If it’s more than a brother, but less than a wife and therefore a settles in nicely within our totally fine middle aisle or if it’s nothing but a charismatic narcissist with a failed music career and delusions of grandeur and therefore shall be sent straight into the dumpster where it’s always kind of damp and the only song you’re allowed to listen to is “Happy” by Pharrell. Working the counter today, we have yours truly Fernanda “Rick, it’s a flamethrower” Prates and my much fitter and more resourceful stunt double Danielle, “how’d they do this to Bruce Lee” Riendeau. Hi Danielle.
Danielle: Hi, how are you?
Fernanda: I’m doing great still-I like your nickname cause it’s very, very specific
[00:01:40] Danielle: It is pretty specific to this, this week’s classic. Yeah.
(they both laugh)
[00:01:45] Fernanda: I was going to go with “don’t cry in front of the Mexicans,” but then I was like, ah, for the first time listeners, they might not know I’m actually married to a Mexican. I live in Mexico, so it’s a lot of explaining to do, but it is a very good line that my Mexican husband actually loves and encouraged me to use.
We’ll get into all that first though. We gotta introduce this month’s theme ‘cause we’re getting into some new territory here for the next four weeks. We kindly request that you, our dear listener, relinquish your current belief system on behalf of our fresher superior ideology. We ask that you give up on your individuality and basic human needs for the sake of fulfilling our higher level collective vision.
We ask that you cut off the negative influences who are not yet enlightened enough to understand the power of our teachings and follow us- your kind generous leaders in a month we have been divinely inspired to call Join Us June. In other words, let’s talk about cults, baby! And we’re kicking things off with a particularly infamous cold that is portrayed in 2019’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Fernanda: We’re about to fly into our first segment: Setting the Scene, where we introduce the movie at hand and have a little spoiler-free chat about our history with it. But first to those unfamiliar with the story, here’s a brief summary of Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a movie about a has-been actor, his never-was stunt double a would-have-been actress and a bunch of other people played by a frankly astounding, big name cast. It’s a tale of stardom. It’s a tale of friendship. And to a lesser extent, it’s a tale of what happens when a petty criminal with mediocre musical talent decides to recruit a bunch of young women to do some pretty horrible shit.
And what could have happened had shirtless Brad Pitt been there at the time, but we’ll get into all of that in due time. Because first, as we said, we’re going to dive into the Setting the Scene segment, spoiler free as a reminder, and discuss our background with the movie. And I will ask of course, my wonderful co-host Danielle: what is your history with this particular movie, but also since we’re kicking off, Join Us June- again, a month where we discuss cults, what is your history with cults in general as a thing, as a concept?
[00:05:55] Danielle: (laughs) Yeah, so I had never seen this movie before, but I want to relay a very cute and funny story.I was at a family like brunch this weekend. I spent the weekend with my family. We had a long weekend in the US and I spent time with the old fam and they were talking about how much they love this movie, how much all of them love this movie so much. It was like being in a cult. And I was like, okay, well, I guess we’re gonna, we gotta watch this movie.
And so I was delighted that we chose this one, uh, because my family had talked it up so much. I also have, like, I wouldn’t say I have like a long history with cults, but I certainly have consumed a lot of media related to specifically, I guess, the Manson cult, which is touched on in this movie, for sure. I did read the book from, uh, the young woman who was known as Snake in the, in the crew, in the cult, her like biography, where she really goes in on, uh, I’m just going to say content warning here.
Just cut big old content warning for like all of it. Violent violence and sexual abuse, I suppose, you know, top of line here. But like, she really goes in on like everything that happened. And she was one of the youngest, I think, members of the cult, she did not do one of the murders, but she was like, obviously privy to details about it and things like that.
So really creepy shit. It’s, it’s one of those things that, like, I think there’s just a fascination with this sort of thing, because yeah, this actually really did happen. And these young women really were, you know, kind of brainwashed and did some really fucked up shit. And a lot of fucked up shit happened to them, et cetera, et cetera.
So I was like very, very, very familiar with that. I also just saw a really cool series on Shutter called Cursed Films that goes into like-
[00:07:46] Fernanda: Oh yeah, I’m so curious to watch this!
[00:07:47] Danielle: this really, really good. And you know, the thesis of it is like, oh, we’re looking at all these horrible things that happen to people who, you know, were on certain productions.
There’s movies that people are like, oh my God, it’s cursed. And especially if it’s like a horror movie, people are like it’s cursed because of- people. And really the thesis is like, no, a lot of bad things happen to people. Life is random and terrible, and we like to attribute curses because at least then it makes sense of something in the universe.
That’s like the thesis of the whole thing, but there’s a really good Rosemary’s Baby episode, which talks a little bit about- I guess just a whole content warning for Roman Polanski in general, but like talking about that movie and Roman who is obviously in this movie, you know, you know, fictional movie, um, but Rosemary’s Baby, Sharon Tate, uh, and actually an actress who was a very good friend of Sharon Tate’s who’s in Rosemary’s Baby who like was so traumatized even just by her friend being killed that her life is fucked up.
So all of this is to say it was a very long story. I had no history with this movie, especially, but know plenty about what it’ss kind of playing with. Right. So it was very interested in diving into it. So long story short, I do want to hear about your history with this movie and with this theme, Join Us June and cults and all this good stuff.
[00:09:06] Fernanda: Yeah. So the movie I had watched once before, and it’s very strange. I had no recollection of it. I had, they like sort of ideas of specific scenes, but very loose. And I have no idea why, because I revisited it and I was like, okay, was I alone? Yes. (Danielle laughs) I watched the movie alone. I was sober. I purchased it. So I had actual motivation to pay attention to it.
And somehow it was completely erased from my brain. So I was a little scared. I was like, did my brain erase it to protect me from it? Cause I remember thinking it was fun, but then we watch it obviously yesterday to do, to show it. I don’t know why I forgot. A glitch in the matrix in the multiverse. Maybe something happened in my, uh, several selves got confused. Um, so that’s, it’s a very short history with it. I figured you hadn’t watched it because if I’m not mistaken, when we did the Inglorious Bastards episode, you did tell us you had never seen an actual Tarantino movie, right? Or am I tripping here?
[00:10:16] Danielle: Oh, no, I’ve seen plenty of Tarantino movies.
I think I said that like, oh, I’m missing several. Like, I am like, I’ve seen all that kind of the nineties ones. And I think Jackie Brown is a masterpiece, you know, things like that. (Fernanda: “Oh ok so I was crazy…”) But no, no, you’re not. You’re not though, because I am absolutely. Especially for like, uh, you know, whatever… person that went to film school…
It was like, say that like under my breath, like I know it’s about, it’s like a bad word, almost like film schools. You’re not like, just am definitely missing some of the pieces. So you’re not crazy at all. I just.
[00:10:52] Fernanda: Just mildly crazy, just 32 and forgetting things. We were just talking about this before recording. (laughs) How so many things after you turned 30, you can just be attributes. So being over 30. I’ve heard that “you’re just over 30” from doctors several times over the past six months. And it’s not pleasant, but I digress, yeah, so that was my thing with it. And cults, I was the one who actually suggested the month because I’ve discussed sort of my basic bitch-ness on the show before. My YouTube algorithm won’t let me lie. My Spotify automatic playlist, won’t let me lie. I have several basic bitch tastes. And one of them of course is cults, um, like true crime and cults kind of to me go inside that sort of bag. And it’s just, I just love listening to stuff about it, reading about it. Just make, being, making myself feel sad about the stories like right now I’m reading, um, Jon Krakauer is under the banner of heaven, which is about the fundamentalist church of latter day saints, which, uh, fucking sucks.
And yes, it’s a cult and listening to a book from a girl, a woman actually, who as a girl was raised there and escaped. I’m doing that simultaneously. Um…
Fernanda: Yeah. Not, not something I would recommend. It’s a lot of sadness and horrible things. But, yeah, so that’s, it’s really my jam. And, um, but I kind of stay away from them the most famous cults because I’m an indie basic bitch. (they both laugh)
So I don’t actually know that much about the Manson cult though I did read half of Jeff Gwynn’s, uh, Manson book, uh, the same guy who wrote the Jonestown book, which I also read halfway because these are both very big books. Okay? They are huge. They’re huge, huge, huge, but, uh, also very good. He’s a really an outstanding, outstanding writer, but yeah.
So my, my knowledge of the Manson cult, specifically in the medicine, uh, girls, as they’re referred to more adequately, Manson women. At this point, uh, is not that extensive, but I just think it’s fitting that we went with this movie to kick off the month because it really is one of the most famous, like when we say Colts, I think people’s minds automatically go to like Jonestown and Manson and like basically, or Children of God or a Heaven’s Gate. But again, I digress. Yeah. So that’s my history. That’s our history with it. I like that you’re coming in fresh and I’m coming in almost trash because I didn’t remember a single thing. So- so it almost felt like watching it for the first time.
(they both laugh)
Danielle: The brainwashing goes both ways!
Fernanda: Uh, so I guess that means we get to move on. Into our next little, uh, little segment of our show, which as you guys, as our beautiful followers, I mean, listeners, you already know, (laughs) uh, it’s called stripping it down. And it’s a section that we must warn you does contain specific details about the plot and about characters, otherwise known as pilers.
So if you haven’t watched a movie and you don’t want to hear spoilers, maybe don’t listen to the segment or do, we’re not going to tell you what to do with your lives.
[00:14:48] Danielle: Oh, Hey, there just wanted to take a moment to shout out one of the other shows on our network, Thanks for the Knowledge which is Fanbyte’s weekly news roundup for the world of games and entertainment. Each week, our very own John Warren rounds up the biggest headlines from the week. So you can stay up to date with everything going on in the world of video games, movies, TV, and much more. Plus John is joined by Fanbyte staff members and our friends from around the industry to talk about things like the latest Pokemon news, thatHalo TV show, Playdate, the latest Bethesda delays, and tons more. You’ll also get a look at the week ahead so you know what to put on your radar.
Thanks for the Knowledge is available on this very app you’re using right now. And we’ve even included a link in our show notes! So you can add this week’s episode to your queue. Find the rest of the Fanbyte podcasts over at fanbyte.com/podcasts. Okay. Back to the show!
[00:16:06] Fernanda: There’s a lot to cover here.
[00:16:07] Danielle: There is. Yeah.
[00:16:09] Fernanda: But I kinda wanted to go into something that you put on your nose right away. Um, and that’s something that- kind of hard to get away from when we talk about Tarantino movies and that is sort of the style, uh, you know, the, the, the style choices and the sort of the way you call the filmmaking tricks which are here in full force in this enormously long movie, two hours and 41 freaking minutes.
Um, I feel like we’re cursing ourselves. ‘cause we keep talking about how we don’t like long movies and we have been watching movies that are over, but yeah. So I kind of wanted to see your thoughts of it as somebody who watched it for the first time? Like how did you feel about the, the vibes, the visual vibes?
[00:17:03] Danielle: Yeah, I really, really loved, especially, um, I think this movie is best when it’s doing like, uh, it’s sort of love letter to actual movies kind of thing. You know, obviously Hollywood is a brutal and miserable place. And I think this really does acknowledge that in a lot of ways. Certainly. Um, but my favorite parts of it really are things like the sort of prestige Western in the middle of it.
And I really, really enjoy like the promo at the beginning that is like, you know, it’s black and white it’s, uh, you know, three by four, I might get the aspect ratio wrong. And I’m sure Paul also a film school person will, will tell me, (4:3!) but this sort of like, you know, old style TV, like promos and things, uh, with the Rick Dalton character and there’s even some really fun, little kind of editing glitches and tricks that they do that are just kind of fun.
And I know it’s, it’s there for people who love this kind of shit. And I understand, and I, I know that makes me the worst, but it’s also very fun because there are things. You know, little weird cuts, uh, especially when like Rick Dalton, just talking to the, the Timothy Olifant character. I don’t even know who he’s playing in the movie within the movie. I guess he’s like the hero of the movie within the movie, the sort of Western in the middle of the movie.
[00:18:17] Fernanda: Yes, he existed in real life. His character.
[00:18:22] Danielle: Yeah. He’s like, you know, it’s like, he’s doing Deadwood and then it’s doing all this kind of funny stuff. And you know, there’s like shots where, uh, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character is like eating a chicken wing and there are shots where it’s just not even there. (laughs)
It’s just like, they’re just playing with like stupid continuity yet. It’s also like, honestly framed in staged like a modern prestige TV show. Like it’s very smooth. It’s very nicely put together. It’s extremely like. Oh, it’s tense in the scenes where he’s a bad guy and things like that. So there’s just all this stuff.
There’s also so many scenes where people are driving and it could be the most annoying thing in the world. And like, I won’t blame anyone for finding it very annoying, but a lot of times it’s actually pretty compelling because of how beautiful the scenery is and how like, well put together, everything appears to be like, oh, they really did go for like, they somehow made it look like sixties, Hollywood.
I know this is like a, there is a quote somewhere about how, you know, the idea was to go for making it look like sixties, Hollywood without doing any CG or anything like that. So it’s all kind of like in camera trickery. All kinds of stuff like that-
[00:19:27] Fernanda: Which we’ve established way cooler than CGI stuff.
[00:19:31] Danielle: Yeah. It really just kind of always looks better unless you’re all CGI in that case.
That’s great. And the world can look very consistent, but it just creates an inconsistency that makes me sad and that’s all. Uh, but yeah, that stuff, the visuals are really, really fun. And the playfulness with editing it’s really, really fun for me. And of course, I know again, this is like made for people like me in that case, but it is very effective and it is very, very fun to kind of like spot it and play with it.
[00:19:58] Fernanda: Yeah, to me, it was interesting. Cause like we’re saying Timothy Oliphant, who, by the way, if he did something shitty, don’t tell me I love him. (Danielle laughs) Let me hold on to Timothy Olyphant. Rodrigo (Fernanda’s husband) actually, uh, like met him once at a museum in New York and like went up and talked to him and says he was really nice.
And tall, surprisingly tall. So let’s hold on to this memory of Timothy Olyphant and not Google too much because I don’t want it. We already have Emile Hirsch in this movie. Like there’s- let me keep Timothy Olyphant. But he plays, uh, James Stacey, who was the star of Lancer. And I don’t know who these people, I don’t know any, that’s the thing to me watching Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, like I have no knowledge of old Hollywood.
I don’t know LA, I don’t know anything about it, so I didn’t know what was true. What wasn’t, I couldn’t really appreciate the cameos of real life people in a way that I’m sure other people have, but, um, it’s still, it didn’t ruin the movie for me at all. Like to me, it was still interesting. And then I watch a couple of videos, like watch mojo, top 10, top 10 fact and fiction in Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. An excessive, embarrassing amount of watch mojo in my YouTube history. I’m not proud of, again,
Danielle: No, it’s okay.
Fernanda: I’m not proud of anything. I’ve left clear instructions with my loved ones that upon my death, my internet history shall be cleansed. Not because there’s anything awful in there. Having awful things would be cool. It’s because everything is so painfully generic, but yeah. So Timothy Olyphant plays James Stacey and Luke Perry, rest in peace, Luke Perry.
I think this might have been his last one of his last roles. Plays his partner who is also a real life person. So it was interesting, like as an exercise after the movie to kind of dig into the actual references, but I’m sure like a person who actually understands them might have enjoyed it even more.
But again, I don’t think it feels like a movie that is this long, even though there is a lot packed into it. Um, as we were saying, and this is the theme of the month, like we have these different storylines, right? The main storyline is Leo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt. Um, uh, Leo DiCaprio is this actor who was really big in fifties westerns who is kind of adjusting to this new scenario in Hollywood is a transitional phase of his career.
Like his being relegated to the, um, uh, heel roles and the “heavies” as he says, and slowly kind of slipping into kind of fulfilling the natural trajectory of Hollywood, which to me is kind of interesting because neither, uh, Dicaprio nor Brad Pitt fell into that. They’re both like people who have had really long careers who have like been very steady, um, Well, yeah, he please Rick Dalton and then Brad Pitt plays his stunt double, Cliff Booth, who we want to, like until we casually find out he murdered his wife.
Danielle: Yeah. (laughs)
Fernanda: For the crime of being a nag. Um…
[00:23:39] Danielle: Right. Yup. Yep…
[00:23:42] Fernanda: (laughs) that’s a part of, so we have that. And then obviously the other storyline, as we were saying, the Manson cult with Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate, uh, Manson himself makes a very quick appearance. Uh, and we have the guy who’s going to play Elvis in the movie. I forgot his name, Austin something, something plain text was kind of like, uh, Charles Manson’s, uh, one of his brutal sidekicks?.
Fernanda: That’s a good word for it. And obviously the Manson girls. So it’s a lot in a single movie because all these things obviously intersect and spoiler alert. Um, the Manson people don’t kill anyone in the end- We were talking about that a general literally reimagined Nazi-ism in, uh, Inglorious Bastards.
And in this case he kind of reimagines the Manson murders with a happy ending? I don’t know, there are women suffering very excruciating deaths, so we’ll get into all that. But yeah, so it’s, it’s, it’s a lot and a lot of ground to cover. Um, one thing I wanted to talk to you about is that this movie came out in 2019, which was kind of like very fresh for Me Too.
It was a very fresh Me Too moment. Right. And there were, I think a lot of questions, there are two main, I think, points of discussion in this movie and we’ll get to both of them. One, you mentioned in your nickname, Bruce Lee, but also the portrayal of Sharon Tate by Margot Robbie. And I have some thoughts on it, but, uh, I first wanted to ask you, like, how did you feel about the Sharon Tate character and obviously, uh, the choices, both directing choices, but also Margot Robbie’s acting choices with her.
[00:25:43] Danielle: Absolutely. I was a little bit of two minds here and it’s more, I, I guess I’m more of two minds about the ending itself than I am about the performance. I think the performance is actually really great. Um, I think she does a wonderful job being both like a really beautiful effervescent actress. And she is like swinging sixties, she’s dancing in almost every scene she’s obviously like super, super gorgeous in the traditional feminine way, et cetera, et cetera.
But it also in the movie, it does a good job to humanize her. Like she’s annoyed about being pregnant and hot on the hottest day of the year. She snores when she’s asleep, like as does, uh, Rick Dalton’s like hot Italian wife on the airplane back, like women snoring as they sleep like unbelievably hot women snoring as they sleep is like a motif in this movie that keeps coming back.
And it’s really funny to me ‘cause it’s like, this is somebody who’s fucking fetish, but also it’s just funny.
Fernanda: She also has really dirty feet.
Danielle: Yeah. Like they both show dirty feet like it or not. Her it’s the a, it’s the other young woman who’s in the call who shows dirty feet. So it’s like, it is only nursing-
[00:26:53] Fernanda: No, Sharon Tate does. If you go back, she does in the movie.
[00:26:57] Danielle: She does in the movie and it’s like, kind of cute.
And also the fact that like, she goes to see her own movie and she’s delighted when people laugh. She’s delighted when people are like feeling it when she does like a Kung Fu thing. She’s so delighted into, in a way that’s like very humanizing of fucking course. If I was in a movie ever in my life, I would go to the goddamn movie and be like “that’s me in the movie!” and she’s like playing like this quartzy funny person in the movie, which is also like delightful. So yeah, I think it does a great job capturing like the, the liveliness of this person and the effervescence of this person, this. Really, really kind of delightful portrait of her while also making her seem like, oh, a real person who has real genuine annoyances that likes maybe a slightly gross habit of taking your shoes off at the movie theater, you know, like just a little bit of that kind of humanizing characteristics.
So that I feel like that performance is one of my favorite in the movie. Like I think her performance and Leo as Rick Dalton are both like really, really good performances, like really grounded, you know, human beings who have suffered on some level potentially she doesn’t suffer much. And that is also kind of something to have opinions about because it’s like, okay, the real life woman really did suffer.
And that really sucks. And that’s really sad and upsetting, but also this movie because of its ending allows her to live and a lesser to have a very, at least happy for her happy ending where she like whatever has her baby and stays in Hollywood and gets to do whatever the fuck she wants to do basically.
Right? Yeah. I’m of two minds about the ending itself, because it does take away it’s on one hand. It’s beautiful. Like to think like, yeah. What if this effervescent, really cool, nice human being who really lived, could have lived and had a long life and had a nice time, you know, not suffered and was not killed by an absolutely banana pants situation.
On the other hand, it also does take away some of the, like some of the danger of what really happened here. And some of the suffering of what really happened like this cult did really horrific damage. And by having this happy ending on one hand, it’s wonderful because it’s like, oh, is a happy ending.
This woman didn’t die on the other hand, it’s like, oh, so you’re just kind of saying, this is like a silly, stupid thing and not like a horrible, dangerous thing that really did happen. So yeah.
[00:29:27] Fernanda: yeah. Yeah. That’s the thing though. Right? Like, and, and I was also like conflicted about the portrayal of Sharon Tate because as it usually happens when people are victims of a spectacular crime. And when I say spectacular, I don’t mean obviously a fun crime, um, which like stealing from the rich? Fun crime. (they both laugh) No, I mean, like, crime, as in, uh, as in spectacular, as in made into spectacles, is that the story about a person’s life is actually the story of this person’s death.
And, you know, few people exemplify that more than Sharon Tate because obviously. It’s one of the most famous murders in history. And you can’t say Sharon Tate’s name without automatically thinking about Marilyn Manson- wow look at me- while Marilyn Manson is another criminal predator, but that’s a subject for another freaking podcast.
Charles Manson. And that’s perverse in its own way, right? Like you were victimized by this person and then you get to live in the afterlife as far as people are concerned as in this perpetual sort of state of victimhood and that’s particularly cruel. So I was happy that this was like, okay, Sharon Tate is a fully realized character in this movie while Charles Manson he’s mentioned his, uh, presence, uh, but we barely see him. Sharon is the character. And like you said, we get to see her do mundane things. We just get to see her living the life. I read some, uh, some things, and I know that there was a criticism at the time. Uh, there is a specific piece on Esquire called Sharon Tate Never Wanted to Be An Object And That’s exactly what happened in once upon a time in Hollywood, by Adrian Western Feld, in which she kind of goes into sort of the portrayal of women along the movie, and it’s a worthy read with a lot of very good points, but it’s long. So if you want to go and check it out yourselves, but that it does make a point, right?
That she’s shown again as the sexy pretty thing. She doesn’t really have a lot of lines. She was against Sharon Tate, the person sort of this, she spoke up against sort of being objectified and treated as, as, as you know, just a, a little beautiful play thing. Uh, but. That’s kind of what happens in the movie, because she’s not as fully realized or as layered or, you know, as, as she doesn’t have as much personality or as much of a storyline, you would say, you could say as, as cliff and, and, and Rick, however, um, I read another thing, a very quick thing on empire that, that really get me thinking like kind of a counterpoint about sort of how this too can be an interesting thing with a person who had an arch, uh, like, like Sharon Tate. And I would like to read from it, uh, just a brief little segment. And I quote: “in a world where Sharon Tate doesn’t die on August 8th, 1969. It’s a day. That’s completely inconsequential in Tate’s life. Over the six month time span of the movie, we see her in any number of completely ordinary days.”
“She isn’t working, she’s home alone and not doing much, she’s dancing. She knocks around Hollywood a bit. Does some shopping, meets up with friends, huffs about pregnancy, goes to a screening of The Wrecking Crew and is pleased by the audience reaction on the evening of August 8th, there is some trouble next door that she isn’t involved in.
If once upon a time in Hollywood is about Sharon Tate. In any sense, it’s about giving her that life back and studiously, not fixating on her death. To some extent it’s actually about leaving her alone.” And that’s true. And it talks about how her sister Debra approved and endorsed Robbie and the film as a whole.
So to me, that’s kind of the richness of it, right? Like the uneventful-ness of Sharon Tate in this movie is in itself. I think a good choice considering somebody who’s, uh, death and consequences of life became so attached to just something so spectacular.
[00:33:47] Danielle: Yeah. Yeah. I definitely appreciate that. Yeah.
And it does feel like a performance that feels like considered in a lot of ways. And again, it is light, there’s a light touch on the performance. I would say there’s a lot of dancing. Right. It’s a lot of dancing and her being seemingly pretty happy, although it does, you know, there is narration about like she was, you know, had some melancholy she’s, you know, feeling gross and pregnant and very warm at one point.
And it’s like, yeah, again, pretty humanizing, pretty grounding kind of things. But. It does feel like, oh, respect was paid to this, which, you know, if we, if we want a segue at any point, the opposite happens…
(they both laugh)
[00:34:29] Danielle: The opposite happens for another famous historical figure.
[00:34:33] Fernanda: It doesn’t feel like a caricature unlike what happened to another real life character who was portrayed in the movie.
And I have some thoughts on it, but let’s get into it with your first, Danielle. As you alluded to in your nickname, Bruce Lee, uh, is portrayed in this movie, which is not random. Bruce Lee actually taught a bunch of like Hollywood people, including Sharon Tate herself, according to sources. He apparently helped her prepare for the wrecking crew, which is a movie that she goes to watch, uh, uh, in the theater and exposes her feet.
And I’ve heard that I’ve read somewhere that Tarantino has a foot fetish and that’s why he keeps putting-
Danielle: Wouldn’t shock me. (laughs)
Fernanda: Yeah. So again, a whole other thing that we can discuss ,but that we haven’t confirmed that information. Uh, but yeah, so. Bruce Lee has a brief, but very, uh, consequential appearance because it was one of the main things I think that got discussed around the time that the movie was released.
And, um, Bruce Lee’s daughter, Shannon Lee had some thoughts on it. Uh, Tarantino went on, uh, Joe Rogan’s podcast. I don’t- it pains me whenever I have to say this out loud to talk about it. Uh, yeah, there was a lot of discourse around this particular appearance and I wanted to hear your thoughts. How did you feel about Bruce Lee’s portrayal in the movie?
[00:36:03] Danielle: Yeah. I mean, it’s just, I think it sucks a lot to be honest, like on the, on the overall. And I sort of, I, I also am like sympathetic to something that you had said before we started recording, which is like, I’m fine with him not being portrayed as some kind of Saint or anything like that. Like he, you know, he was a flawed human being for sure, but there’s just this scene and it’s a flashback and it’s from the Green Hornet, which was a TV show.
He actually was Kato on the Green Hornet. Um, and it’s this flashback where he’s kind of running his mouth about what a great martial artist he is and great, you know, like, oh, I can’t, I can’t fully, you know, do full combat in a tournament and all sorts of stuff. And, you know, Cliff the Mr. Mr. Cool. Macho bad-ass but also killed his fucking wife again. Problematic, problematic, man. A very problematic, man.
[00:36:57] Fernanda: He contains multitudes. (laughs)
[00:36:58] Danielle: we’ll give him multitudes, you know… this guy.
[00:37:02] Fernanda: Very attached to this beautiful female pitbull and killed his own wife apparently, which is very loosely discussed. But yeah…
[00:37:09] Danielle: Just as the aside like that, that scene where we get a flashback to him killing his wife is like some dark shit because it’s like, she’s basically just like complaining about him and, and whining and nagging.
And it makes him seem like the same person for killing her. And it’s like this little fucked up y’all, that’s a little fucked up. You shouldn’t kill someone for complaining, even if they’re annoying you not a great thing to do.
[00:37:38] Fernanda: There are ways around annoyance that I feel like are more. Um, appropriate to life in a civilized society as a general concept.
[00:37:46] Danielle: Yeah, exactly like, you know, you could, you could talk and communicate. Everybody needs therapy. Okay.
[00:37:55] Fernanda: I would say divorce, babes. See another basic, another basic bitch-ness of mine is quoting Adele. I too contain multitudes.
[00:38:06] Danielle: No, I’m so glad that you do. I’m so glad that you do, you always bring a richness to this podcast that I could not. I could not!
[00:38:12] Fernanda: I bring you news from the world of the heteros, Danielle.
[00:38:17] Danielle: Exactly. I’m so gay and I live in Bushwick where I’m just like, I don’t know. I don’t know what happens in the world. I appreciate it. Anyway sorry, in this scene, basically, a cliff is like laughing at them, like, Ooh, And he does like, there’s this whole like trickery to it and all sorts of things.
And yes, I saw the Rogan clip where Quintin thinks he’s making this hilarious thing about his great character Cliff and showing what a cool guy Cliff is, et cetera, et cetera. And it’s like, none of this explains why you think Bruce Lee is like a useless asshole. Like, it’s just, that’s it it’s just like a very mocking caricature.
And like Cliff is like making fun of Bruce’s like, you know, trademark kind of vocalizations as he’s like doing his martial arts and all this stuff. And it’s just like, it honestly just comes across as a little racist and a little like tone deaf and a little like, yeah. Okay. The big white guy who kills people can kick the ass of the other guy.
It just reads like, shit, to be honest. And it just doesn’t feel like there’s a point to it at all. It’s like, do you hate Bruce Lee? Again, A flawed man! I think we can all say everyone has flaws. He’s not like a perfect Saint who did nothing wrong ever. But like my guy maybe deserved a little bit more reverence than this when other people in this movie are kind of treated with reverence, like Steve McQueen shows up, you know, Jay Sebring shows like all these other, you know, historic figures, these other actors who are real people, they’re treated with like a respect. I’m not saying like, oh, everything has to be deferential.
And like everybody needs to be worshiped or anything of the sort, just, this is the one person who’s like fully just mocked. Like just made fun of just laid out on their ass and that’s it. There’s nothing else to that character. And it’s also the only person of color who has more than a couple of lines in the entire movie.
So it just feels. Y’all. Like… really?
[00:40:25] Fernanda: the optics are weird though. That’s the thing, right? Like I- again, we talked about this offline for a bit, but that was just kind of like, initially, I, I kind of liked seeing this different version of Bruce Lee, because he has been sort of immortalized in our public consciousness as this, like really incredibly noble superior figure of just like nobility and wisdom when he was not. He was a famous dude who had the negative traits that a lot of not just famous dudes, but just like right? Famous people have. And of course his daughter would be upset by not seeing. And I kind of want it to be like, ah, of course his daughter doesn’t like it. Like she’s used to seeing his dad being treated, like just idolized by pop culture and all these years. And by the way, I’m a massive Bruce Lee fan, but like, so you, you won’t like anything that isn’t necessarily complimentary. And I remember watching the movie for the first time and thinking that’s the thing. I don’t remember a lot. I just remember I knew about those sort of controversy thing. Oh, I thought it was like a funny, a funny caricature, uh, nothing necessarily wrong with that.
Like obviously this isn’t who Bruce Lee was. Right. Look obviously for people watching this movie, they will understand that this was a rereading of this character of Bruce Lee and also it is told in the form of a Cliff flashback. So you can also interpret it as, as this is not objective, right? This is not a picture of reality.
This is Cliff remembering this moment and attributing his own, like traits to this character. And it probably reflects a lot of the racism and, you know, just the, the stereotypes that were present in Hollywood at the time, and that cliff probably had himself, so that’s a generous read of it. Um, but, and then I kind of read a little more and thought about it a little more.
And yes, like this is a movie where a lot of white, real life, people who are portrayed get a, sort of a reverential treatment. People like Steve McQueen, obviously Sharon Tate herself, but, uh, and then you have the one character of color. Um, the one person of color. Being reduced to this like very ridiculous little portrait.
Um, and you know, his biographer, Matthew Polly, uh, talked about, you know, like how he was, there’s a story on the wrap with Shanon Lee talking about sort of her feelings on the portrayal of her dad. And she does make a lot of excellent points. And again, as the man’s daughter, you can absolutely understand why she would be upset.
And then in the story for instance, she says, and this is a quote: “I can understand all the reasoning behind what is portrayed in the movie.” She said, “I understand that the two characters are anti-heroes, and this is sorta like a rage fantasy of what would happen. And they’re portraying a period of time that clearly had a lot of racism and exclusion.”
So she understands there’s context to this, right? This isn’t just some person being angry. “oh, they’re not treating my dad as a hero!” And then she said, I understand they wanted to make the Brad Pitt character, the super bad-ass who could beat up Bruce Lee, but they didn’t need to treat him in the way that white Hollywood did when he was alive.
And that was like, that hit hard. I was like, oh, oh. And even Matthew poly, his biographer says. He was, um, he came across, he really did as this, like, uh, he said “Bruce Lee was often a cocky, strutting braggart, but Tarantino’s took those traits and exaggerated them to the point of an SNL caricature.” Which again, might not even be such a horrible thing in a movie where the other characters were sort of given the same treatment.
[00:44:30] Danielle: Exactly! If Steve McQueen was just falling all over himself or whatever, you know, like the same like level then. Yeah, I get that like, okay, you’re doing that same thing. It’s, it’s kind of the difference here. That’s making it shitty, or feel shitty.
[00:44:46] Fernanda: I like Jay the, uh, Sharon Tate’s ex who was also a real life person who was killed in the murders.
Like, yeah, he’s portrayed as it’s kind of like goofy kind of loser who’s just trailing Sharon the entire time. But, you know, nothing was this. He didn’t get to be a Bruce Lee. Didn’t get to be a fully realized character at any other points. So him just being there in this moment and just being this I, again, the optics just, aren’t amazing.
[00:45:18] Danielle: So it’s also like a little harsh because just knowing anything about Green Hornet, like he had to really fight to have a lot of lines on that show and they just treated it as if like he is the superstar. Oh, he don’t beat up the star and it’s like, he wasn’t actually treated all that well on his own show, like to be, to be clear, like, because of racism- because of Hollywood racism.
So it’s even doing that is like, again, I, I know, and I understand this is a fucking flashback from. But it’s not like Cliff is very clearly if we’re seeing flashbacks from Cliff clearly prioritizing his point of view, right? Like that’s saying, oh, you know, what’s important in this fucking two hours and 41 minutes of movie, you know, as important enough, his point of view to do flashbacks, not, not, you know, Bruce Lee’s point of view.
Right? And it’s like, all right. So like, even if you want to argue that part of like, oh, this, this is going to be, you know, this is going to be a little tainted from his point of view, et cetera. It’s also like, I mean, you’re not showing other people’s points of view, so yeah. You know, what are you saying here? That this guy who killed his wife is the coolest guy in the universe and he does nothing wrong.
‘cause that’s kind of what that feels like at times. And that’s maybe fucked. So there’s that,
[00:46:38] Fernanda: Exactly. There’s a lot of Brad Pitts on like talent that weighs into it. Right? Like, sure. He’s just such a freaking spectacular actor. Oh, by the way, I think he’s just one of those people who decided to be hot forever.
Danielle: I think so too.
Fernanda: He’s just made this conscious decision in his life and it’s like, that’s just, what’s going to happen. Brad Pitt will forever be hard and just have to, uh, accept it. Uh, but yeah, so he, he plays Cliff and Cliff, this written in a way that you sympathize with him, but something I read and I can’t really remember where I read a lot of shit about this movie from yesterday. (laughs)
Um, you know, that there is something. A key about the fact that in the end, I think that might have been on the, uh, as choir piece that sort of discussed the problematic elements of how women are portrayed in the movie. But like you have Brad Pitt, this guy who’s killing off his wife is a throwaway thing that is kind of left open.
Right? Cause we don’t see him killing his wife. Um, it’s just kind of like a thing that people know happen and he doesn’t deny it apparently, but we, we have that, that be a very quick throwaway aspect that is not touched on again in a very long movie. So that would have been time to address this had there been the desire. We get to see him in the end, bashing the face of this woman who obviously, in real life ended up being a murderer. And I’m sure we’ll get into that in a bit, because there’s a lot of complexity whenever we talk about, uh, you know, Manson and the women who carried out sort of his nefarious crimes, but there is something so weird and kind of icky, uh, that the first time I saw the movie.
I just remember, not really having that in my mind. I didn’t really remember the scene. I didn’t remember how brutal it was, but I just didn’t. I remember thinking, oh, that’s cool. Like Sharon Tate doesn’t die at the end of this because I hadn’t read it. So I didn’t know. (laughs)
[00:48:55] Danielle: Sure.
[00:48:55] Fernanda: Sharon Tate is still alive. Cool! Um, but that didn’t really come, you know, didn’t really think about this, but then this time, like we have this guy who probably killed his wife and this woman who was a victim in her own. Right. Because she was a victim of, of, of Charles Manson and you have him destroying her face and we’re like gleefully watching all of this.
There’s an element of strangeness in that when you really think about it, And, you know, it’s a testament to, again, how good the character is because we ended up being endeared to cliff, uh, because well, written and well played. And then there’s this nefarious thing that he literally killed his wife because she was annoying. Blegh.
Yeah. So I’ve, I’m left with all these thoughts, but one thing he wrote before we get into it, cause I do want to get into the, um, Manson sorta specific part of this. Um, but the Rick character who was played by Dicaprio right. He’s the, the main character here. You wrote here on your notes, said he ends up coming off as likable if deeply problematic.
[00:50:10] Fernanda: And I agree with you because by the end of the movie, you’re kind of like feeling a little sad for Rick. Like you get this very good portrait of the sort of lifespan of an actor. And he has some very existential moments. And particularly in the scene with the little girl, which is probably one of the richest, like sort of texts, uh, in the entire movie.
So I wanted to ask you a little bit more about it. Like, how did you feel about Rick’s development and why do you think that he, he ended up coming across as, as a likable character in the end?
[00:50:43] Danielle: Yeah. I mean, he’s, he feels very, very deeply human he’s very flawed. He obviously has, you know, issues. He has a lot of issues.
He’s basically married to Cliff, uh, which is very cute and funny. And the way they talk about it was like more than a friend, but less than a wife. And it’s like, you know, I don’t know, man, you know, Cliff picks him up and drives and places and fixes all the things in the house. They’re kind of like domestic partners.
It’s kind of what’s going on here. So like their bromance is the reason I don’t hate cliff cause otherwise cliff is an awful person who kills people and is racist against Bruce Lee? Like it’s kind of one of those, but they do have this beautiful relationship. And Rick is like a deeply feeling person.
He cries when he reads a book. He cries when he sees himself in a, you know, in this, uh, cowboy who is loose- is feeling more useful- or sorry, feeling more useless every day, he sees his career fading and he sees all the bad things, kind of starting to happen. He still wants to live his lifestyle. He still wants his beautiful house and he clearly does have an alcohol problem.
And he has a lot of issues kind of going on, but he is this person who feels so deeply and it’s what makes them probably a good actor. And like, there’s this moment of, you know, this very Travis Bickle. Like tantra moment where he’s in his own little trailer. And he’s really upset about flubbing a line and doing poorly in the show.
Um, and then there’s this other segment in the, in the show, within the show, the Lancer show the Western where he does a great job. He does like a great scene and everybody’s so proud of him. And the little girl that has this beautiful scene with earlier kind of tells him that’s the best acting I’ve ever seen.
It’s like he has tears in his eyes. He’s so happy. This is him at his best moment of his life. This is him being like, I’m Rick Fucking Daltonl. Oh my God. He’s so happy. And that one scene with, with him and the young actor, this very serious young woman actor, he’s so-
[00:52:51] Fernanda: Very serious about her craft.
[00:52:54] Danielle: Yeah, she’s real serious about it.
And it’s in, it’s both cute and also like really awesome. It’s like, yeah, you know what? You do that, young lady. You, you know, like, absolutely she really gets into character. She is really all about. And he is having this crisis and he can see it for her too. And he’s so upset about it. I’ve heard that she might be based on Jodie Foster, in which case she didn’t have a horrible career ending turn when she turned 15 or whatever.
No, sorry. It was in 15 years. So like in her, I don’t know, twenties,
[00:53:29] Fernanda: really a rough beginning, because as a reminder, Jodie foster was playing a child prostitute, uh, when she was like 12.
[00:53:37] Danielle: In Taxi Driver. The same movie, you know, in the same movie with Travis Bickle. So she, I mean, one of the longest careers in all of all, I want to say, like successfully too long, she’s in her sixties now.
Is still acting still I believe working. Uh, but yeah, like what a fucking character. And this is what works for me the most about this movie, um, is, is this sort of like people who really love their craft. And they’re really, really all about it. And they’re really, really intense about it. And maybe the happiest days are gone, but you can still have that little spark of life left.
Like something about that really kind of spoke to me. I thought that was really touching and kind of beautiful. And again, that’s what makes Rick work for me. He’s kind of a doofus in a lot of ways. Like I don’t, there is no attention paid to why he marries Francesca.
[00:54:38] Fernanda: (laughs) He just goes over there and marries an Italian woman, because why not?
[00:54:41] Danielle: He’s just like brings her. And then that means he has to basically dump his boyfriend, which makes everybody sad. Nobody’s happy about him dumping his boyfriend. Like no one. I don’t think Francesca’s happy about it. You know, like it’s yeah. This is a little bit of a doofus, a little bit of a problematic man.
He doesn’t like hippies. And it’s real funny when they give him a hippie jacket, but anyway, he is like a deeply felt character and that makes him very watchable and very interesting and, uh, kind of the emotional core of the movie.
[00:55:16] Fernanda: Yeah. And the only time, I mean, he’d only murder. He committed was during a very tense situation inside of his house.So we’ll give him that’s better than throwing your wife of a boat. Um, or something.
[00:55:30] Danielle: yeah. I mean, you can kind of argue it both ways, but you could argue that that is like fairly legitimate self-defense?
[00:55:39] Fernanda: Just chillin in his pool, dude. Drunk as a skunk.
[00:55:44] Danielle: And like a woman kind of came at him with a knife.
Cause she was already pretty fucked up. Let’s be honest.
Fernanda: There’s an argument for self defense there.
Danielle: There is an argument for self defense where it doesn’t feel like, oh, somebody was nagging him and he killed her. Like this one’s a little more, at least he doesn’t seem like a monster this way. (laughs)
[00:56:04] Fernanda: this, yeah. And like you said, I agree with you.
Like he feels, and again, this is a Testament to, uh, Leo DiCaprio’s acting like there’s, you know, it’s truly unfortunate that he will only date children because, um, sorry women under 25.
It’s very upsetting aspect of DiCaprio’s personality because, well, it’s still within legalities, so let’s, I don’t know. I don’t know how to segue out of this. Um, just like if you’re a 40 year old dude, like 40 plus you’re dating women under 25, just like reassess some shit. That’s all I’m going to say.
Okay. Leo, if you’re listening, think about it.
Danielle: I know he does listen. He listens to our podcast. Clearly.
Fernanda: I’m pretty sure it’s like, why wouldn’t he? And it’s like, just to examine it. Why, what is the problem with women your age who probably have a better, you know, um, ideal of, of their own limits and you know, stuff to discuss with your analyst at a later date, Leo, my dude, but an undeniably talented actor.
And by the way, I had no recollection that the classic meme of him like staring at the TV was from this movie. Of him watching himself on FBI which is a great scene. I just hate Leo DiCaprio memes. I just feel like they’re so overused. So yeah, like the Drake meme, I feel like made a comeback like now that, you know, I think we’ve cycled back into the time when the Drake meme is okay again, but not the DiCaprio meme.
[00:57:46] Danielle: Uh, yeah. Yeah. But again, there’s just so much of it. I agree with you.
[00:57:50] Fernanda: There’s too much. It’s excessive. It really became, it became a thing for like people who want to be hip to laugh at. And I say this as somebody whose husband is very into Leo DiCaprio memes, and we’ve had this conversation several times, but, um, he’s just very like amazing in this movie.
Of course, to me, he’s obviously- one of- not to me, it’s literally everyone. This is not a very fringe opinion. That he’s one of the most talented actors of our time. And it really shows in this kind of like pathetic sort of character that you end up getting very endeared to and who gets his own happy ending right after the hole’s traumatic situation in his household, he finally gets the invite, he saves indirectly kind of Sharon Tate and gets the invite to go, um, into her house and, and who knows, maybe get his Hollywood resurgence.
But I agree with you. I just think he ended up being improbably, sort of the, the, the heart of the movie, along with Sharon Tate, I guess, in a different lighter way. Right. Because he really does personify the whole story, the whole arch of this, you know, there’s an existential layer to him that I find very interesting that it’s dealing with Hollywood and a specific sort of trappings of fame.
But I feel that all of us can relate to on an existential level of just feeling like you’re less relevant by the day. Um, And the little kid being on, uh, maybe based on Jodie Foster is in a pop culture glossary in the New York times. Um, but they didn’t elaborate. They just say she may be inspired by Jodie Foster, I guess, on Gunsmoke and other TV series as a child in that era, uh, seems like a bit of an insufferable child in terms of very straight straight-laced, uh, but very well acted and a lot less annoying than the girl from Pet Cemetery.
So if we were ranking. The kids that we discuss here, I feel like should be high up there. A good book though, we, uh, wrap this up. It’s turning out to be a long one, but this is a movie that goes on for three eternities and a half.
[01:00:12] Danielle: Yeah, this is 10 movies.
[01:00:16] Fernanda: There is obviously the cult part of it. We have a long sort of extended scene with Brad Pitt entering the ranch where the ladies are.
Uh, Lena Dunham is I feel like she’s very convincing as the sort of lead victim brainwashed lady in the cult. It’s alarming how sold I was. (laughs)
[01:00:46] Danielle: I agree. I believed it. I fully believed it. I fully believe that.
[01:00:54] Fernanda: I see that for you. I try not to malign Lena Dunham as much as you know, cause I feel like pop culture has massacred her to a sort of unreasonable level, but this was convincing, but yeah.
So Brad Pitt goes into the ranch lured in by, um, I don’t remember her name. She’s Andy McDowell’s daughter in real life. Very, very good actress who plays the very young person who Brad Pitts thankfully, uh, rejects, uh, sexually in this movie. Good for you. Clear choice.
[01:01:26] Danielle: This is the least scumbag thing that he does is like demands proof that she’s 18.
And because she doesn’t have it, he’s like, no, I’m not going to jail for poontang! Like the way he puts it. It’s like, you know what, bro? Good on you for your not scumbag decision here.
[01:01:45] Fernanda: The motivation might not be necessarily the badly escaped prison, uh, from killing my wife so-
[01:01:51] Danielle: From killing my wife because she annoyed me. Like not great.
[01:01:54] Fernanda: (laughs) It’s not going to be you that sends me to prison, but you know what, the ends in this case justify the means. And uh, yeah, he, well, he goes into the ranch and the obvious, and that was an actual thing that happened that the Spahn ranch existed. Um, yeah. George Spahn existed. And his main, uh, girl of, uh, squeaky played by the Dakota Fanning also existed and she tried to kill Gerald Ford in 1975.
[01:02:30] Danielle: Yeah, that’s real ass thing. Yeah. Several years later, if you think about it, it’s actually banana pants. That’s like six years later of the, of like this type of situation. That’s scares me almost more than this movie does, but yeah, I, I have to say during this sort of extended ranch sequence, it was really terrifying, especially before he kind of goes in.
It has this really creepy, almost Texas Chainsaw Massacre, feeling like this herd of the movie feels like a horror movie, this kind of creepy, awful kind of place. There’s a really terrifying shot. I’m going to, I’m going to also just say content warning for animal cruelty? There’s a shot of a rat struggling in a trap that is deeply upsetting, deeply upsetting.
We’re doing a horror movie shit here. Uh, and he, when he goes into, see Bruce Dern’s character, it’s, it’s, it’s Spahn himself. And I didn’t know the ending of this movie. I actually thought that this movie was going to end with Sharon Tate diet, uh, Sharon Tate and her friends dying. So like here I am watching this and I’m like, oh, this is what the movie is going to be like for these scenes.
This movie is very pretty loose and funny, and sometimes very poignant again, as we were talking about with the Rick Dalton stuff, but otherwise pretty loose and funny and goofy. And, you know, Austin Powers, Roman Polanski dancing around and all this kind of shit is happening. And then we’re going to get serious when it comes to the cult.
Like when it comes to the cult, it’s going to be creepy. It’s going to be a horror. It’s going to be terrifying. Shit that does not happen at the end, but we do get it here. And it’s very effective. This feels very effective. It feels like violence could happen at any second. Um, which to me, I guess in my brain, as not someone who ever had to deal with being in a cult, I suppose to me in my brain…
[01:04:18] Fernanda: I mean, we are all in the cult of capitalism. But I mean, yeah, that wasn’t a voluntary choice.
[01:04:25] Danielle: That’s true. We’re all born into this, you know… that ain’t wrong. Um, in my brain, I’ve always thought of it as like a complex, abusive relationship. Um, basically what’s kind of going on and that there’s always a threat of violence and sometimes that’s as scary as the violence itself and that permeates this whole extended sequence like this scene.
And then what happens next with Brad Pitt beating the shit out of Clem. One of the brainwash dudes, which also feels fucked in a different way. It almost provides it’s supposed to be like comic relief for how horrifying the scene is and how effectively horrifying the scene is. But it’s also kind of not funny because it’s like, my bro is going to have real serious brain damage if you beat him that badly. And the same thing happens when he kills the brainwashed woman at the end where it’s like, I think it’s supposed to be funny, but it’s not because it’s like. That’s not even a head anymore. That is, that is like that’s beyond death at that point. And it’s pretty fucked up,
[01:05:33] Fernanda: And it’s a Tarantino thing to an extent, right? You’re like, oh, this wouldn’t be a Tarantino movie. If we didn’t get like at least one extremely graphic death scene.
[01:05:42] Danielle: Yes, I get what you’re saying. It’s not a Nazi though, which is what makes it a little more difficult. I mean, she is not a great person. She is going in to kill someone and that does suck.
But like you said, there is this interplay between like all these women were victims too. And, you know, having read the book by the woman who was called snake in the cult, like they were, they were all sexually abused. Yes. I’m sorry. Um, that, that is, that is her name and it actually, she shows up in the curse films episode about Roman Polanski and about she herself, like actually does show up and talks about.
Snake. Yes. A real person. Yeah.
[01:06:25] Fernanda: I think the actress, I think she’s the one that Sydney Sweeney plays in the movie. The girl from Euphoria. The blonde girl.
[01:06:33] Danielle: yes. Uh, yes. Making all the connections now, but like the real life person in her book that she had written, these women were all sexually abused by- They were all made to have group sex, whether they wanted to, or not like all of them were abused.
So this is not just like, oh, this person sucks. And is a murderer. It’s like, yes, but also she also is abused and very young and things are going on here where this is a little bit more complicated than, you know, a man who killed his wife because she was annoying on that level. Right. Yeah. And that’s what’s going on in that ending scene.
[01:07:08] Fernanda: It’s Diane. I think her actual name was Diane. Yeah. This to me is kind of like, it’s a very complicated. Thing to discuss. Right. Because I, I, I was just saying it saying it now, like, oh, we’re all in the cult of capitalism, but we didn’t voluntarily enter it. But then again, that’s true.
Yeah. People don’t voluntarily enter cults and that’s kind of like a throw away phrase. If you listen to enough things about cults, but like nobody joins a cold thinking. It’s a cult, you join something else. And then it becomes a cult and in the Manson case and people liked the hippies. And I think that’s why I was particularly uncomfortable with the Brad Pitt scene.
Like you say, like bashing the guys, uh, like just kicking back. Face and body of whatever, like just destroying the guy. It really felt like a cowboy versus hippies thing. And, you know, in a pit people like hippies were particularly vulnerable because again, a lot of the people who wants to change the world who don’t conform necessarily to societal expectations end up exactly being the people who end up in cults. Jonestown, for instance, the most tragic example of the mall, like there was a lot of elements of charity of socialism and of like a lot of, uh, Jim Jones’s mission was going against segregation was, you know, so the message.
So a lot of good people end up in these situations, not because they’re stupid or, uh, you know, but because. The situation unfolds in a way that we all like to think that we are immune to this. Like I would never end up in a cult and I’m sure I won’t go too deep into this because I’m sure we’re going to talk a lot about this during the month in all the other examples.
Uh, but in the Manson case, like it’s especially complicated because these, uh, people ended up committing a horrible, horrible crime. And of course you have to hold people accountable, they killed others and they killed other women, including a pregnant woman in Sharon Tate. So of course you have to weigh in that they weren’t perpetrators, but it’s really hard not to think of them of course, as victims as well, of Charles Manson, Charles Manson was a shitty, shitty human. He was in jail a bunch of times for petty crime. He tried to be a musician. They don’t work out for him. Like just terrible, like failed person in the real world,
Danielle: Racist as well. Horrible horrible racist.
Fernanda: Racist, as far as races and just recycle these like sort of semi spiritual ideas, but who happened to be very charismatic and engaging.
And, you know, uh, I read this really good, uh, piece on Vox by Constance Grady. It’s kind of talking about the Manson girls and I say this with quotes and how they fit into the narrative that was formed after the murders. And, and, you know, he talked about specifically targeting young women because there are more vulnerable to his advances.
And like you said, they were abused in other ways. So it’s kind of like. To me thinking about these things and look at it, particularly in this case, it’s very interesting. There’s so many layers to this because even there, even when the women weren’t treated as heartless monsters, they were the narrative later turned into them being these pawns, right? These empty little things that God, you know, their little empty brains were filled with with Manson’s ideas. And that’s what happened. The, even that you kind of take away their humanity too. And as the, um, as Grady put it in the, are they called that narrative is I quote: “mostly interested in the titillating idea, offensive whole young girls who had been brainwashed by a demon into doing absolutely anything.”
The girls were still important, mostly as living props who proved Manson’s power.” And that’s what happened. Right. Everybody involved in these crimes ended up, everybody ended up being a prop in the narrative of Charles Manson. Yeah. So that’s also so particularly perverse and cruel. So you have to think about it this way.
And that’s why, you know, of course, again, they. There are a lot of people who go into horrible cults and suffer horrible abuse, and that don’t know don’t end up being murderers. So like you have to hold, uh, these, these people, eh, mostly women, but of course there was Tex for instance too. You had to hold them accountable for the actions that they carried out, but you can also hold a reality that they were victims as well.
Right? Of a person who. Was really able to twist their minds, not just, but not just that. It’s not as simple as that. When we talk about brainwashing, it’s not just like a person who hypnotizes you and implants concepts on your brain. This is a person who kind of, is able to alter through a lot of mechanisms, your very concept of reality.
So there’s a lot that goes into it. And a lot that made me kind of uneasy about the, particularly the particular brutality of the end. That’s supposed to be this humorous moments, uh, and also this sort of tale of revenge, again, as we’ve discussed that is very present on Tarantino’s movies, right?
Like, oh, this like, this didn’t happen in real life, but like we got our pop culture revenge on the Manson murders, but it also read as this guy who had also killed his wife and who took pride of being this wild cowboy killing a bunch of hippies who at that point had broken into a house who at that point hadn’t killed anyone.
So I don’t know, you know, like to me, that’s just, it’s a lot.
[01:13:14] Danielle: Yeah. I am completely with you. I mean, the part of this that really gets to me is the fact that like, what, what someone like a Manson does, what a co-leader can do is like prey on people’s weaknesses. And also almost sort of like glitch or hijack people’s social programming. And we’re all very social animals, right? We all live, you know, amongst other people. And even if we don’t live, you know, directly with other people, everything about our lives, we work with other people. We have social connections to other people. We have family units. We have, you know, even the most isolated people in the world typically are still conversing with other people all the time.
Right. True isolation is a torture, you know, method. And so whether they fully even understand the mechanics of it or not a cult leader creates, like you said, a new reality for someone and you or I, or anyone, any sane person, you know, who has like an adults with their full faculties, you know, that’s been raised and, and what, with whatever values, whatever education, whatever they have, like any of us given the right set of circumstances could be made to feel as if reality is different and that you have to go kill someone.
Like that’s actually a perfectly like that is a possible thing that could happen. And just the fact that that’s possible, I have OCD. So of course I think like, oh yeah, the fact that that’s possible means everybody’s a murderer. We’re not, I don’t actually think that. I’m just saying like OCD brain goes there all the time.
It always goes to like the most extreme, terrible thing. So that’s just like how my brain works. Um, I suppose I’m giving you a peek into my brain, but just the fact that all humans could do this. Like could be victim to this is terrifying to me. And maybe that’s part of what creates the alert of a cult, you know, a piece about cults.
Um, maybe it’s part of what creates the alert even about like documentary things about real life cults and things like that. It’s like, it is an understanding of, and a hijacking of the social mechanisms of humanity for someone’s more nefarious purpose, right. That’s like, essentially what’s going on here.
Right? And that’s really scary. We’re all kind of susceptible to that. We all kind of have the same general hardware in our heads, right? Like, no one is immune to that. Like just no one is, it’s impossible to be immune to that. We seek some validation from other human beings.
[01:15:46] Fernanda: You’re absolutely right. And in a way it’s more comforting to think, oh, any of us can be a victim than it is to think any of us could be a perpetrator.
Right? Like that’s a much darker reality. And it’s like, I’m not saying again, we’re not saying that, oh, all of us are potential murderers. All of us in the hands of Charles Manson could be murderers. That’s not true. Especially in, um, Maya Hawke’s character in the movie, she was a real life person who didn’t commit the murders and who later testified against them in trial.
So, yeah. And I’m sure she’s suffered the abuse and the manipulation and everything else. So it’s like, Um, we’re not saying that, but it takes, there is certain, uh, uncomfortable exercise in empathy, uh, to be made here incredibly uncomfortable because again, it’s a horrible murder. Um, a terrible crime was committed, uh, and the, yeah, like there’s no discounting that, or the pain that this caused to so many families, but there is a very uncomfortable exercise in empathy to be made there.
And that, again, to me is why this is, um, so interesting. And I liked the choice of the movie to just hint at, uh, at Manson, but do show the girls like it’s. It’s impossible. I’ve said his name several times. So discusses without talking about Manson’s name, but it is an interesting exercises, like step away from him to when analyzing this.
And again, why I like that Sharon Tate is a central figure in this, instead of just having another movie about Charles Manson and the owner of Charles Manson and whatever else. But is there anything else you would like to discuss before we, we wrap this up?
[01:17:39] Danielle: No, I think we did a great job. I do say so myself, I guess I’m patting myself on the back. I’m patting you on your back. I suppose. I’m like, we’re doing great! (laughs)
[01:17:50] Fernanda: As RuPaul would say again, basic bitch-ness. My contribution to the show. If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love somebody else? Which I don’t understand because sometimes you need to be loved by someone else before you love yourself.
But again, digressions, digressions. I feel like we could have like five side podcasts around every movie episode, maybe, uh, an idea for the future. When our fan base and our millionaire, um, Bakker decide to really put money into this. So we just spend days like do is several podcasts about are random things.
[01:18:28] Danielle: I mean, I’m down for it. Listen, listen, millionaires… please call us, give us a call. Open up the phone lines…
[01:18:37] Fernanda: Danielle is busy, but I’m not like warning: it will go to my head. I’ll be an asshole. Like I’m very rich and famous. I’m just going to like, I’m going to be terrible. I’m going to alienate everybody. I love it’s going to be my whole arc, but it’s a price you have to pay for fame and fortune, and I’m willing to pay it. I don’t have a lot going on for me right now, but again, I digress.
That’s it for our very fruitful discussion of a movie with a lot of texts to be debated and with. But then we’re going to move into our final segment of the show, which would call shelf
Fernanda: So here we are the shelf life, the part of the show where we decide where this movie belongs in our video store. If it’s a bonafide staff pick to be displayed proudly in our most exclusive area, if it’s a middle aisle placement, which is totally fine, totally no shame in that. Or if it’s a deuce that belongs in our dumpster, that smells bad and a stamp, and they play “Happy” by Pharrell all the time.
So Danielle- I just, I hate the song, listener in case you couldn’t tell. This and “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars. You can, you can listen to that too in the dumpster. It’s not, not, not a great catalog as a general concept. Uh, Danielle, where do you put a once upon a time in Hollywood in our video store?
[01:20:24] Danielle: think this is like a quintessential good, high like, high in the middle aisle. Like it’s not a personal favorite. I would not call it a personal favorite and it doesn’t feel important in the same way that like Inglorious Bastards necessarily did. So like for me, like this is a good movie, a very well done movie. It does a lot of things really well.
I clearly was touched by some of it, thought a lot of it was interesting. We had a great discussion about it, not a favorite, but definitely very respectable, respectable high, middle aisle for me.
[01:21:00] Fernanda: I am with you, I’m with you. I feel like the fact that I forgot everything about it. And my first watch is like my subconscious, trying to tell me something you don’t know, this is not a setback in your heart, or you would, or you would remember at least a thing about this movie.
Again, like you, I appreciate it. I feel like it’s a movie that attempts a lot of things and not all of them are successful, but you know, points for trying, I guess. Um, and like you said, I feel like Inglorious Bastards has more to say in a way that’s more historically important than in, I don’t know.
Uh, this one is still pretty good though. So I’m with you. Middle aisle.
[01:21:47] Danielle: Excellent. I’m happy with it.
[01:21:49] Fernanda: High middle aisle. Love it. Love it for us. No controversy. And I guess that settles it for this week as usual. I have to thank my beautiful, amazing, perfect stunt double cohost. Who’s not a killer of wives.
(they both laugh)
Danielle: No, I don’t do that. I don’t play that.
Fernanda: I know you wear many hats, but the murderer hat is one that I would never attribute to you. And for that, I’m thankful, that’s like one requirement. I have low standards for people, and this is-
[01:22:24] Danielle: Please don’t be a murderer… (laughs)
[01:22:27] Fernanda: or if like, have a good motive. If you’re going to be a murderer, like not this near a nagging wife. (laughs) Thank you at home, of course, for listening to us.
Thank you to our producer, Paul “chili pepper heart” Tamayo for all the help in making the show not only not suck, but in our very biased opinion, also kind of rule. We would love to hear from you. If you’d like to get in touch with us, please send us an email to YLTSI@fanbyte.com. You can send us your reviews, you can send us your recommendations, your questions, any general feedback. Then maybe we’ll even read it on the show. We’d really appreciate it. And if you like the work we do and want to show some support, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts or rate us on Spotify. There really goes a long way in helping us out.
We will be back here next week. Still again with our wonderful theme: Join Us June. You can find this here again next week. You can find links to our other podcasts, our Discord, and our socials in the show notes. See you again very soon, but until then, You Love to See It!
EXT. FANBYTE CITY NIGHT – YOU LOVE TO SEE IT
The camera glides backwards out of the door while Fernanda and Danielle clean up inside. We move back to the extreme wide shot in front of the store.
Fanbyte City sits on the horizon, all lit up. A barefooted blonde woman strolls past the shop and drops a tape in the return slot and dances down the street.
[Fade to black]