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Once Upon a Time in…Nonfiction

by  | August 19

It’s the summer of ’69, California is hot (DiCaprio and Pitt are hotter), and Tarantino has outdone himself yet again with his ninth film, Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood. The Golden Age of Hollywood is coming to a close and DiCaprio’s Rick Dalton is feeling the pressure of aging out of his prime while living next door to Sharon Tate, the image of youth and at the peak of her career. Although the most foot-filled installment yet, Tarantino does do a great job of melding genres as he always does, shifting from action to comedy to pseudo-historical fiction. He lets his characters drive and define the narrative and Leonardo DiCaprio’s Rick Dalton is a wonder to watch navigate his surroundings with his trusty stunt double, Brad Pitt’s Cliff Booth. After you settle down from the absolute shock of the final scenes (no spoilers), cozy in and pick up these reads to bring you back to that Hollywood high. 

Lion of Hollywood

Lion of Hollywood

by Scott Eyman

Louie B. Mayer was a highly controversial figure in Hollywood. From immigrating to America to opening a tiny studio in LA that would evolve into the mega-empire of MGM (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer), Mayer had a lot of weird turns in his career and personal life that left him one of the most complex figures in Hollywood history. Despite his many flaws, he did oversee some of the films that defined the Golden Age of Hollywood, like The Wizard of Oz and An American in Paris. Through the lens of his life you see the evolution of the Hollywood system, growing up from nothing to completely taking over the world. None of Tarantino’s characters in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (except Sharon Tate—as played by Margot Robbie—she is a treasure) are really “good” people, but through their adventures you experience Hollywood from their perspective. This is the perfect Hollywood biography from which to get a similar experience, and it’s so worth it.

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Manson

Manson

by Jeff Guinn

Unfortunately, it is pretty much impossible to discuss the summer of ’69 without bringing up Charles Manson and his murderous commune. Although they are pretty masterfully placed as lurking background characters throughout most of the film, you knew from that trailer shot of Cielo Drive that Manson would at least make an appearance in Tarantino’s warped fairy tale. How a petty criminal became the leader of a murderous sex cult is still a bit of a mystery, but leave it to the legendary investigative journalist Jeff Guinn to try to get to the bottom of it. Exploring the times that shaped Manson’s escalation, Guinn dives deep into this notorious killer’s childhood and adolescence and reveals how racial tensions, aspirations of fame, and mental illness all created a whirlwind of a man who shattered the idyllic Hollywood hills forever.

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Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee

by Matthew Polly

Kind of a side character in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Bruce Lee is really only there to show off Brad Pitt’s fighting moves, but the real story of Bruce Lee is far deeper and a lot more emotionally complex than he is portrayed in the film. Written by Matthew Polly, the definitive biography of Bruce Lee shows his ambitious rise to stardom while he smashed through stereotypes of Asian American characters that were being portrayed at the time. Following his transformation into the legend we know today, we see the depth of Bruce Lee, the father, the icon, the mystery, and why his sudden death was such a blow to the film industry. This biography delves so much deeper than the brief cameo does in the film into this true talent, creating a dynamic portrait of an artist taken too soon.

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Savage Appetites

Savage Appetites

by Rachel Monroe

In Savage Appetites, Rachel Monroe takes on the task of finding four truly engaging true crime stories lurking at the periphery of larger narratives. One of which is that of Doris Tate and the woman who took a particular obsession with Doris’s daughter Sharon, navigating through her world until she became intrinsically linked to the family. It also focuses on what Doris did after her daughter’s death, launching herself into criminal justice reform to try to get a semblance of justice for Sharon. Monroe’s way of writing true crime is strikingly different from many true crime reads, but that’s what makes it refreshingly easy to breeze through. Especially in relation to this movie, one pivotal question is very important to ask ourselves: Yes, we love true crime stories, but why?

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Best. Movie. Year. Ever.

Best. Movie. Year. Ever.

by Brian Raftery

In this deep dive into 1999, Raftery examines why this weirdly wild year yielded some of our most memorable and culturally relevant films. With hits like Fight Club, The Matrix, and The Sixth Sense, it definitely distinguishes itself as such a pivotal year not just because of the quality of the films that debuted, but by the creative leaps that they all took. Tarantino, of course, is discussed, although he had already been making waves since Reservoir Dogs in 1992 and Pulp Fiction in 1994. Still, if you have film on the brain, you have to reach into this collection to get your movie buff fix, with its insightful breakdowns and critiques of films that all took huge risks to bring us original stories that we still can’t get enough of twenty years later.

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Amy is a Legal Contracts Assistant at Simon & Schuster. She loves thrillers, contemporary fiction, and all things Stephen King! If she isn’t talking about her obsession with true crime podcasts like Last Podcast on the Left she is gabbing on about any and all things film. She loves reading in her favorite NYC bars, which you can see on her bookstagram, @boozehoundbookclub