"Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" — is this return to form misguided?

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood dir. Quentin Tarantino 2019

Certain Quentin Tarantino fans are predicting that Once Upon a Time in Hollywood will be a return to form, but why?

The Once Upon a Time in Hollywood trailer dropped recently and it looks pretty fantastic. Although it only offered a brief glimpse of what to expect, many fans of the filmmaker immediately began to argue that it boasts the potential to be Quentin Tarantino's best film since 1994's Pulp Fiction. He emerged onto the scene with his 1992 directorial feature debut Reservoir Dogs, which remains one of his most widely praised films to date. His aforementioned 1994 follow-up is generally his most popular, but he additionally went on to craft many more great pieces of work throughout his career. 

We've seen him tackle martial arts with Kill Bill: Vol. 1 and Kill Bill: Vol. 2, grindhouse with Death Proof, the war film with Inglourious Basterds and more. He's accomplished quite a lot since the dawn of the nineties, but more recently we've seen him work within the western genre. 2012's Django Unchained is arguably one of the biggest hits of Tarantino's career, and was a welcome surprise; some of us had been waiting patiently for his take of the spaghetti-western. Uber-stylish, well crafted and boasting stunning performances from the likes of Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio, the film was a roaring success. 

Very few people anticipated that he'd follow up the hit with yet another western, albeit a very different one. Three years later, The Hateful Eight arrived, proving to be one of his more divisive efforts. It was clear that many found it way too self-indulgent, bloated and unnecessarily lengthy. Some even argued that it felt like self-parody; like someone attempting to imitate Tarantino dialogue, which is a pretty ridiculous assertion. For all its detractors, of course, it had its passionate admirers. Personally, it might actually be his best since Pulp Fiction. 

It's definitely not held in such high regard as his two previous efforts, which is perhaps why fans predict Once Upon a Time in Hollywood will be a return to form. This statement seems to stem from the director's departure from the western genre also - almost as if his shift towards a more modern time will ensure quality.

It definitely looks like more of a crowdpleaser than The Hateful Eight did, but the concept that his previous film didn't showcase Tarantino on form seems misplaced. If anything, it felt like the director's most pure and cohesive since Reservoir Dogs. It feels like the work of a contemporary auteur. 

Surfacing "return to form" comments don't really hold much weight when one considers the director's career as a whole. As a filmmaker, he's arguably exhibited very little change; isn't that what we love about him? With Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, we'll be very happy with more of the same. 

In other news, is Jordan Peele's Us explanation underwhelming?

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