Once upon a time in Hollywood


Robyn Sassen

A freelance arts writer since 1998, I fell in love with the theatre as a toddler, proved rubbish as a ballerina: my starring role was as Mrs Pussy in Noddy as a seven-year-old, and earned my stripes as an academic in Fine Arts and Art History, in subsequent years. I write for a range of online and print publications, including the Sunday Times, the Mail & Guardian and artslink.co.za and was formerly the arts editor of the SA Jewish Report, a weekly newspaper with which I was associated for 16 years.
Robyn Sassen


BLAM! Blam! I’m a movie star: Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) in Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Once Upon a time … in Hollywood’. Photograph courtesy whatculture.com

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THE WHIPLASH BRILLIANCE of Quentin Tarantino’s film Once upon a time … in Hollywood will leave you second guessing everything until the closing credits and then some; by and large, all of your predictions will be wrong. Constructed like a Greek tragedy, this essay on the faux realities of cardboard-cut out Hollywood serves as an important cipher into what news, fake news and storytelling are about, but it also presents important insights into the mischief of coincidence and the way in which history can turn if the timing of crucial events is tweaked, even by a second or two.

Above all, it skirts, under the folds of a very conventional story, and shies from pushing its narrative edge with earnestness or obviousness. At first, you’re introduced to a silver screen baddie called Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio). It’s the…

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