I’ve put quotes around the above headline because it came from Variety critic Owen Gleiberman during a back-and-forth we had this morning about Quentin Tarantino‘s Manson Family movie. The subject was Gleiberman’s 7.15 essay about same — “Quentin Tarantino Does Manson? That’s News That Should Thrill Cinema Lovers.”
The 12th paragraph gets to the nub of it: “Tarantino wants to tell a story about how the age of free love morphed into something horrific — a transformation that still has disturbing implications today. Will he play it straight or Tarantino-ize it? My instinct (or maybe it’s just a hope) is that Tarantino can’t reduce the Manson story to another of his concoctions. I mean, he can, of course, but it wouldn’t feel right, and it wouldn’t be inspiring cinema.”
HE opinion: As intriguing as this project sounds, Tarantino is incapable of playing it even semi-straight. He’s not a docu-dramatist — he’s a creator of alternate Quentinworld fantasies. His last three films have mined the past — Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight — and each time he’s reimagined and re-dialogued history in order to transform his tales into his own brand of ’70s exploitation cinema. Why should QT play his cards any differently with the Manson family?
Gleiberman said this morning that location-wise he wants Tarantino to deliver an exact duplicate of everything we know about the Manson geography (Spahn ranch, Haight-Ashbury, etc.) but “make it feel new.”
“Alas, Tarantino is not a realist,” I replied. “Never has been, never will be. His Paris neighborhood set in Inglorious Basterds looked exactly like that — a phony sound stage realm. And remember that he reimagined an anti-Semitic, Jew-hunting Nazi Colonel as a witty talk-show showoff who loved to giggle at his own jokes. Remember also that in the same film Tarantino gave a French country farmer the name of ‘Bob.'”
And yet, I said, “I want Tarantino to deliver an exact duplicate of the Polanski-Tate murder house” — formerly located at 100050 Cielo Drive but demolished in ’94. Designed by Robert Byrd in 1942, built in ’44 — French country style, peaked roof, red shingles and white trim, stone fireplaces, paned windows, loft above living room, guest house, pool. And occupied by many famous movie folk — Michele Morgan, Lillian Gish, Henry Fonda, George Chakiris, Cary Grant and Dyan Cannon, Samantha Eggar, Olivia Hussey, Trent Reznor, et. al.”
As I reported five years ago, after the original Byrd house was razed in ’94 a grotesque, Uday Hussein-styled McMansion was built in its place. The guy who constructed this nouveau-riche Moorish-Mediterranean monstrosity, called “Villa Bella”, was producer Jeff Franklin (creator of Full House). The original street number was also erased — the address is now 10066 Cielo Drive.