In the wake of Quentin Tarantino’s apology tour earlier this year, I’ve been revisiting his movies, and it occurred to me, while re-watching Pulp Fiction, that the pitch for that movie would have sounded INSANE. There is no way to describe Pulp Fiction in a few sentences that isn’t completely nuts. Either you undersell it—“Two men encounter difficulty while delivering a briefcase”—or you get too involved and end up explaining the gimp. So I’m probably doing Tarantino’s upcoming Sharon-Tate-movie-that-he-swears-isn’t-about-Sharon-Tate a disservice by calling it “Tarantino’s bad idea”. If it’s anything like Pulp Fiction, there is just no way for the pitch to encompass what it’s really about. But now just doesn’t feel like the moment for Tarantino to even glance at the notoriously gruesome murder of a woman—and five others—especially since the star of the movie isn’t Margot Robbie, who is now confirmed to be playing Sharon Tate. Instead it’s top-lined by Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio. Maybe we catch a break and he doesn’t actually recreate the Manson family murder, but I doubt it. I just can’t see Tarantino holding back.
And now this ill-advised project has drawn in one of my faves, Timothy Olyphant. I totally get why actors want to work with Tarantino: the dialogue. Not only is he one of the most revered American filmmakers, but he writes that jaw-cracking dialogue. And he has said all the right things in the press, which is going to be enough for most actors to shrug and sign up. Certainly, this seems to be the case with my dearly beloved Olyphant, and I confess to feeling a little disappointed.
Mostly I’m disappointed because we still don’t know what Tarantino is doing to make his industry safer for women. Despite saying, way back when the Weinstein scandal broke, “Don’t just give out statements”, Tarantino has done nothing to show us what he’s doing other than giving out statements. Sure, he gave Uma Thurman footage of the Kill Bill car crash that left her with lifelong injuries, but you don’t get a cookie for doing the thing you should have done all along. As a fan of Tarantino, what I would like to know is the same thing I wanted to know almost seven months ago—what are you going to do, Quentin?
What are you doing to better support the women who work for you, to better protect the safety of those on your sets, to better uplift the women in your industry? We’ve had a lot of words about how sorry he is, and how he intends to be a better ally, but we’ve seen little in the way of actual effort. All we’ve really seen is Tarantino’s insistence on making this movie, and maybe it turns out great. Maybe it will be the best movie Quentin Tarantino has ever made. But even if it is, I’m still going to have that same question, and feel the same disappointment that for all the soundbites and promises, no one seems to expect real change from Tarantino, or the system in which he flourishes.