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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: A Novel por…
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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: A Novel (edição 2021)

por Quentin Tarantino (Autor)

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Título:Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: A Novel
Autores:Quentin Tarantino (Autor)
Informação:Harper Perennial (2021), 400 pages
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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood por Quentin Tarantino

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Mostrando 1-5 de 10 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
Tarantino’s reimagined late ‘60s alternate reality/reality adjacent fiction debut reads as a strangely engrossing Hollywood criticism - pulp novel hybrid. This was the first time I read a ‘novelisation’ of a film, and I haven’t seen the film, but being a self-confessed past-obsessive of Bugliosi’s ‘Helter Skelter’, and the changing power dynamics in the ‘Hollyweird’ of Biskind’s superb ‘Easy Riders, Raging Bulls’; I felt reasonably prepared.

QT introduces us to the world of almost washed up TV cowboy/action star Rick Dalton and his best (only?) buddy and intermittent stunt double Cliff Booth. Dalton’s neighbours on Cielo Drive, in LA’s Benedict Canyon are the lauded young auteur-director Roman Polanski and his new wife, rising star Sharon Tate. The rest isn’t ‘quite’ “history as we know it”, as the author plays fast and loose with what does or doesn’t happen, to these characters - seemingly at opposite ends of their career arcs.

The richly depicted supporting cast of Tinseltown residents; the engagingly set scene of 1969 Los Angeles; the blurring of reality with the solid bedrock of Tarantino’s trivia-rich understanding of mid-century cinema; and the pop culture that surrounds it; makes for an evocative and highly compelling read. If you like that sort of thing. The book’s era-specific pulp packaging adds to the flavour of this particular period fantasy. ( )
1 vote Polaris- | Oct 3, 2021 |
This originally appeared at The Irresponsible Reader.
This is novelization—and retooling (as I understand)—of Tarantino's 2019 movie. It follows two days (with typical Tarantino flashbacks and flashforwards for many of these characters) in the lives of a few people in 1969 Hollywood. A former TV star who had his shot at movie fame, and missed—he's now a traveling bad guy ("heavy") guest star on TV shows. His stunt double/gofer/driver, notorious for getting away with murder (and is somehow possibly the most sympathetic character. Also, Sharon Tate, Squeaky Fromme, and Charlie Manson.

I trust whoever put this book together got a nice bonus—or at least a good bonhomie slap on the back—it's so well done. The whole thing is a throwback—the cover style looks like a movie novelization from the 70s/early 80s, with stills from the film. Inside you get a lot of the full-page advertisements for novels (and novelizations) that were era-appropriate and common in the back of Mass Market Paperbacks at the time.

It was a nice little treat.

Eh...I'm not sure. I guess I should say that I didn't watch the film—outside of the writer/director—there was nothing about it that appealed to me. I only picked this up out of curiosity about Tarantino as a prose-writer. That colored my appreciation of the novel for sure. It's not surprising at all that a movie that didn't appeal to me resulted in a novel that left me unmoved.

I'm glad I got to see what Tarantino was like as a novelist. I know what he's like as a screenplay writer and director. And this was different—but similar. Had this been anyone else writing, I'd have commented on how well they capture the Tarantino-vibe. There are so many (seemingly?) aimless stories shared by characters that can only come from him (or someone trying to rip him off).

There's also this nice recurring thing where a story is being told—characters introduced, etc.—that turns out to be the characters and story of the pilot episode that the has-been actor is shooting. Sort of a novelization within a novelization. That was neat—and there's so much more going on in that story and with those characters than is possible for a 1969 TV Western, that I give myself a little slack

But as for the novel itself? Eh, I don't know. I guess I think I understand the point—I just don't see where they were stories that need to be told. It wasn't a bad novel, and I don't resent the time I spent reading it (as I frequently do with books that don't work for me)—and I enjoyed bits of it quite a lot. But I've got nothing to say good or ill about it. Put this down as the most tepid of 3 stars. ( )
  hcnewton | Sep 24, 2021 |
As a fan of the movie, in fact a fan of all of Tarantino's movies, I was (not surprisingly) very excited at the idea of reading his own novelization. I've read a number of movie novelizations in my day, particularly back in the 80's when it was more popular. Before the advent of the home video collection, if a movie's fan wanted to revisit the film they loved so much, they would buy the book and read and re-read to their heart's content. These were typically written on assignment by a known (but not too popular) author. Alan Dean Foster comes to mind as someone who probably made a pretty good living writing movie novelizations.

So when Tarantino decided to write his own, it was with a bit of perplexed curiosity that I approached the novel. As this is typically farmed out to someone completely separate and independent of the original film, obviously this project started off from a different footing. The big question I asked myself was, why? Why was he writing this?

The answer came across loud and clear in the 400+ pages of this little book: He had more of this story he wanted to tell. Characters in the movie get fleshed out with much more depth in this novel. We get backstory and inner monologues (the use of the omniscient narrator is in full use here as we often get to hear thoughts from every character in a scene).

He also wanted to dish out his thoughts on Hollywood from the 50's and 60's, and man-oh-man does he have a lot of thoughts. If you removed all of the rambling discourse on this subject, the book would easily be 2/3rds its size. In fact, that's my only gripe, here. I'm sure QT would be highly qualified to write a non-fiction book about the evolution of television and movie properties during these decades (and, I'm sure, easily traveling forward into the 70's and beyond) and perhaps he should do that, but to blend it into the middle of a "novel" like this detracted from the story and these characters. Not that it wasn't interesting, just that I wanted to know what my characters were doing, not the presumed motivations behind the casting of dozens of shows and movies that I'd never heard of.

Also, I suspect, Tarantino wanted a chance to revisit the now-infamous Bruce Lee scene from the movie. If you haven't seen it, the stuntman character of Cliff Booth, played by Brad Pitt, easily defeats Bruce Lee in fight and shows Bruce to be an over-hyped egomaniac. Whether this is historically accurate or not is irrelevant: this is how Tarantino depicted him in this film. Lee's daughter very publicly slammed both Tarantino and this movie when it came out and made quite a bit of noise about it, garnering some notable online attention. In reading this scene with the aforementioned inner monologues and motivations revealed to us, it felt like Quentin was toning down his rhetoric and softening the blow. I doubt this was the sole reason he wrote this book, but it was certainly part of it. That's for sure.

Beyond all of that, it's actually a very good book. If the movie had never been made, this would have been a great read. However, because the movie came first, this book's deviations from the film were highly detracting. For instance, the grand climax of the film never takes place in this book. It's only mentioned in passing in chapter 7, about a quarter of the way through the book. The book takes place over a 2 day period while Rick is filming scenes for a TV pilot, which is shown in the movie. That climax would have taken place months later. Tarantino throws that entire scene out there in a couple paragraphs where he fast forwards through Rick's (the main character) entire career before coming back to the "present" and resuming the story. For those hoping the book would end similar to the film, better luck next time. But if this had been a standalone book, the story of Rick (primarily) and hist stuntman Cliff (secondarily) was laid out in a much better fashion than the movie, which needed some extra action sequences to keep it from being too bland of a drama for what audiences would have expected from Quentin Tarantino.

If this had been a standalone book, not a movie first, and if it had not included probably 100 pages of mostly irrelevant discussion about this history of Hollywood in the 50's and 60's, I would have given this 5 stars. As it is, 4 stars ain't bad.

Also, one final thing which struck me as odd, Tarantino writes this in the present tense, and when he show scenes from the past (back story) he wrote them in the past tense, which is fine, lots of authors do this. But when he includes future stories (like in chapter 7 when he fast forwards and talks about what happens to Rick's career after the flame thrower incident) he also writes those in the past tense. It's as if his rule was: present tense for the 2 days during which the book actually takes place, and past tense for any other time periods. Curious choice. I kind of agree that writing all of those fast forwarded future scenes in the future tense would have been awkward. "The next day, Rick's adventures hit the news, and it became the talk of the town," is how it reads now, even though this scene takes place 7 months in the future. To have that read: "The following day, Rick's adventures will hit the news, and it will become the talk of the town," well that's fine for a single line, but several paragraphs work could be difficult for a reader to follow. I don't know. I'm still mulling over this choice. Still feels odd to me. ( )
1 vote invisiblelizard | Aug 28, 2021 |
Really fun. Slightly overgrown (but never too much). I flew through it. ( )
  breic | Jul 31, 2021 |
Less a novelization than an expansion. Tarantino had much more material than he included in the movie. A lot of fun. ( )
  beaujoe | Jul 29, 2021 |
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