Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: Permanence is Actually Ephemeral

Rachel Presser
12 min readSep 16, 2019
©Columbia Pictures

So, there must be at least eleventy billion commentaries on one of the biggest summer blockbusters of 2019, said to be Quentin Tarantino’s penultimate film before he moves on from making movies.

While it’s not his last film yet, his fans know the end is coming and are mourning in advance. With and without the context of this particular movie, film critics and commentators have been speaking with much fervor the past two months on Tarantino being problematic with respect to women in his films, over-the-top violence, and the simple fact that he’s a guy who makes movies about movies. Which is an abstract that was really cranked up to 11 in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: it’s literally about how our entertainment gets made, at a time when American culture and media as a whole were irrevocably transforming. Hollywood was no exception to such a monumental shift and the late 1960s heralded the end to what many consider a golden age in movies.

I lost count of how many reviews, Twitter threads, and write-ups I enthusiastically nodded along with, or felt enlightened or infuriated by, all of which came from so many different angles and aspects of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, some laced with personal stories and some solely from a film criticism standpoint. And to be clear — there are absolutely problems with this movie, such as the portrayal of Bruce Lee and how his character is being used in promotional materials, and the notable absence of women characters: one scene where Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate enjoys her own work was all we got. Every other woman is a bit part or scenery, although women being treated as an accessory was a hallmark of this “golden age” that too many people seem to be lamenting.

Ergo, I won’t be linking any of these opinions because it’s overwhelming. I’m now one of millions of movie-goers throwing in my two cents, so here we go.

Suffocating Under the Mushroom Cloud of 1960s Nostalgia

Rachel Presser

Game dev, writer, small biz & tax consultant to indie devs. That loud socialist Frog Slut from The Bronx, now in Angel City. https://linktr.ee/sonictoad