edit to add: the reviewer in the New York Times says it’s not really a spoiler because your understanding of the film is contingent of knowing something of the impending doom of the Tate LoBianca murders. And I admit I both saw the very first screening at 12 noon on Friday at new fancy ICON place in Mountain View then started my week today with the 11:50 a.m. screening again. So here is my blow by blow recall of the pivotal scene: Tex sends the Small White Face woman around the back and then he and Red Hair come in thru the front, just as Cliff is feeding his dog; he lets the first can of Wolf Dog Food Rat Flavor plop from 3 feet into the plastic bowl and then fumbles with the second can and opener, which is crucial, it turns out. The dog, Brandy, is the first to notice the intruders but Cliff mistakes that for anticipation of the (normal) meal. So Tex comes in with a skinny handgun, with RH and close to simultaneous White comes in the back, with her knife. (A 4th Hippie Cultist gets cult feet and steals the getaway car, a big thing with a bad muffler — Leo/Rick/Cahill had run them off with a blender of ice margaritas, and is now in the pool, floating on a raft, with headphones on and listening to Red Baron song by Paul Revere).
So because Brad Pitt is tripping on the 50 cent acid dipped cigaratte or joint that Pussy had sold him 6 months before, he asks Tex “Are You Real?”
He says that he is the Devil and there to do “devil shit” that’s not verbatim. The Stunt Man mirrors his pose with his finger as a fake gun, like a standoff. Then he gets a glimmer of recognition from their meeting months before and starts to crack up and ask “Rex?” and White Face gets flustered and yells at “Tex”. All of it adds up now to the wasted Hero (in the previous encounter he was in a gauntlet of 20 screaming cultists and then beat the crap out of the one who slashed his tire and rolled off just as Tex was coming back on a horse). So he signals Brandy with a signature click sound and the dog lunges and Tex and takes him down by the gun-hand, effectively disarming him, then later we see he has him by the crotch. I’m a little hazy, naturally enough but I think next White charges him with her knife and Pitt handily beans her so to speak with the dog food can — lucky he had not emptied it! I think he also signals Brandy to switch to one of the other attackers, its kind of a blur. But Red rises and charges Cliff and takes him down near the fire place and it is revealed that she has sunk her knife into his hip, anterior. Cliff taps it a big, the handle and ponders his luck or relative lack. But he recoves enough to pound her head into various surfaces about a dozen blows. Then white recovers enough to grab and discharge the gun, which scares off Brandy (although at first I worried the dog had been gunned down – and I definitely flashed to Coen Brothers No Country and Brolin versus drug dealer dog, however that plays out).
White Face, maybe hopped up on something, runs thru the glass door and tumbles to the pool deck, shards in her face, and then the pool. The splash stuns Rick who has heretofore been deep in a drunker music floating experience. The water diffuses the blood, and she rises to the surface and starts shooting again, towards the gods, not the movie star.
He gets out of the water and retrieves his flame-thrower (the one he used in the WWII action film, and trained 3 hours a day for 2 weeks to handle). He subdues what was left of his assailant, and then the first responders get there and it is revealed in case we were worried that Brad Pitt had merely passed out and not bled out. There’s also a minor bit of Action Fu by the star’s sexy but often sleepy Italian wife, who lands a weak right cross to white or red and then retreats with the dog to her bedroom until it plays out.
Cliff Booth and Rick Dalton, what I say?
It kind of also reminds me, now, of the fight scene in Coen’s divorce comedy, with George Clooney fighting a giant who has asthma. Intolerable Cruelty.
I didn’t stay for the music credits or the Batman coda. Rolling Stones out of time, Paul Revere, Joe Cocker, Simon and Garfunkel, some weird Manson Family acappella dumpster diving worksong stuff and more.
Also: Coen’s on the 1930s Hollywood, would that it were so simple stuff.
This could be Best Picture. Arguably QT’s finest.
Somewhere it said Burt Reynolds and Hal Needham I think, but I also thought of Chuck Conner of the Dodgers.
There’s also an indie band called Spawn Ranch or Spahn Ranch.
I did not see Lena Dunham until the closing credits. Or Damian Lewis until opening credits of 2nd time. I’m hoping to see it twice more, with TMW and my fellow Dartmouthian the film critic blogger and logger Chris Knipp, the Knipper. Maybe up at The Grand Lake.
The backstory that a Hollywood stunt man could have basically thwarted the Manson gang is that the character was a war hero, maybe killed his wife, jumps from ground to roof repairs in three bounds like Crouching Tiger and tosses Bruce Lee hard enough to dent a car door.
Rick Dalton by Danny Cahill?
Cliff Forest? I was thinking Cliff Burton of Metallica.
The dog is called Brandy because he’s a licker.
I DON’T KNOW YOU BUT I LOVE YOU: It turns out this woman is in two of my favorite movies, one Sorry to Bother You by Boots Riley as the sexy elevator coach and then as the box office seller in Once Upon a time in Hollywood Quentin tarantino: I guess the connection is confined spaces in big movies on big screen. Kate Berlant. (Or halfway between Tate and Kossoff of my headline):