When the reviews for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood started rolling in, film critics sharped their pencils and went in for a volley of deep, multi-layered analyses. Not only does the Internet give writers infinite space to spew away on, but some well-known publications took numerous kicks at the can to get their yahs-yahs out on Quentin Tarantino’s latest cultural exploration.
While the praise largely favoured Tarantino doing a fantastic job, criticism also fell that he reinforced male heroism with the lead characters (both men), didn’t elevate Sharon Tate’s role (played by Margot Robbie) central to the tragic storyline, stereotypes the 60s (those damn hippies), and still uses far too much violence.
QT8: The First Eight documents 21 years of Tarantino producing hip Hollywood cinema while addressing his artistic maneuvers. To do so, director Tara Wood teases out playful, smart and heartfelt interviews with a wide cross-section of collaborators close to Tarantino who reveal much about the man and his unconventional craft. Tarantino himself, however, doesn’t make an appearance, which is how Wood also approached her documentary on Texas filmmaker Richard Linklater (Slacker, Dazed and Confused).
“We don’t interview directors. It’s more interesting to hear about them through other people, rather than hear somebody talking about themselves. It kind of choses different paths when you down that way, which I think kind of opened it up.”
She adds, “That’s what Quentin loved about the Linklater doc and why he and his team supported the film. But he also said, ‘Yes, I’ll tell everyone to show up (to the interviews), but you and I are not going to meet until this is complete.”
Consequently, QT8 is a very open, honest, unfiltered account of people that know, trust and respect Tarantino and his work. In it Kurt Russell talks about crushing the male macho stereotype, supreme stuntwoman Zoe Bell discusses at length roles where she plays herself or filled in for Uma Thurman redefining female characters as strong and dominate, and Jamie Foxx and Samuel Jackson speak out how Tarantino takes an anti-racist stand.
Of course, there’s the elephant in the room, Tarantino’s former boss, Harvey Weinstein. Wood also confronts that extreme complication midway and at the end of the film, and not causally.
“On the darker side,” says Wood, pausing for a moment. “It was very interesting to learn all these about Quentin, then learn what we learned about Harvey and how that could possibly exist together. Wow, you just can’t imagine these two people working in the same room, on the same planet together.”
QT: The First 8 // Nov. 30 // Calgary Underground Film Festival // Tickets