While the world has been quick to heap praise on Quentin Tarantino and what could be his penultimate film, Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, there’s little doubt that the 56-year-old filmmaker also comes with a certain amount of negative force.
Whether it’s overly pushing the envelope on genre or his alleged treatment of female stars, recent comment on his body of work has been wide-ranging. And Once Upon A Time in Hollywood has been no different, with two major sticking points to a movie many have already labelled serious Oscar-territory for 2020.
Firstly, Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate. Despite this being a movie with the Manson Family murders at its core, Twitter was quick to explode with indignity at Robbie’s lack of screen time.
What began with a New York Times reporter quizzing Tarantino on why he chose to give Robbie such limited dialogue. Tarantino replied curtly saying “I reject your hypothesis”, while Robbie defended the director’s prerogative and even added that she found it to be an interesting challenge to act with limited dialogue.
Quentin Tarantino snapped at a female reporter from The New York Times who asked why Margot Robbie wasn’t given more to say or do in his latest film “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" https://t.co/xACQXjyBu8 pic.twitter.com/5GraEtaSyw— Variety (@Variety) 22 May 2019
The film, which dropped in the UAE last weekend, has received similar criticism from viewers as well.
#OnceUponATimeInHollywood is such a disappointment! Unnecessary scenes and #MargotRobbie is so wasted as an Actor. Whole movie could have have been over in an hour. The fight scene in the end was the most exciting part of the movie. Expected so much more from #QuentinTarantino.— neha khanna (@ms_couch_potato) 17 August 2019
But it’s not just Robbie’s direction that has come under fire, next up is the ‘cartoonish’ portrayal of Bruce Lee, even being to enough to bring Lee’s daughter Sharon to the table.
In an exclusive with Variety, Lee explained why her father’s portrayal was badly done, claiming the misrepresentation stems from bad blood in the martial arts industry as well as Hollywood. Not only that, but she also offers Tarantino a piece of gentle advice.
“He could shut up about it,” she explains. “That would be really nice. Or he could apologise or he could say, ‘I don’t really know what Bruce Lee was like. I just wrote it for my movie. But that shouldn’t be taken as how he really was.’”.
Meanwhile, Mike Moh, who plays Lee in the film, has responded by saying that although he was conflicted with the portrayal, and even refused to disclose what the original script contained that didn’t make it to the final version, he does acknowledge that Tarantino himself is nothing but an ardent fan of Bruce Lee.
Tarantino himself remained typically calm on Twitter…
Quentin Tarantino responds to claims he disrespected Bruce Lee in #OnceUponATimeInHollywood
"Bruce Lee was kind of an arrogant guy." https://t.co/hL8QKCD4ex pic.twitter.com/cs0uhJPkAW— Complex (@Complex) 12 August 2019
Although fans were quick to back Lee’s daughter…
With some even decided to come up with theories of their own…
It finally occurred to me why #QuentinTarantino denigrated #BruceLee in the new #OnceUponATimeInHollywood —don't know why I didn't see it earlier. He is kissing the butt of the people who financed his film. Bruce Lee is a symbol of Hong Kong. Movie was funded by #BonaFilmGroup pic.twitter.com/fWc1DWK27T— Classical Liberal Magazine (@Liberal_Mag) 15 August 2019
But while the Twitter outrage will continue, at least until the next piece of Twitter outrage, there’s little doubt that the movie will be firmly in the mix when it comes to Academy Award shortlist time on January 22 – Brad Pitt already being hotly tipped for the Best Supporting Actor prize.
As for Tarantino, well, whether this turns out to be his last, second to last, or just another in a long line of genre-busting movies, the only thing we know with any degree of certainty is that he’s set to reject yours – and everybody else’s – hypothesis for the long haul.