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Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood - Movie Review

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Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (2019

Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood has everything you expect in a Tarantino film; extreme violence, black humor, loving tribute, and plenty of pop culture iconography. It’s all there. We’ve become experts at spotting his stylistic trademarks, and that little game continues as tracking shots, dance scenes, needle drops, and even the foot fetish are sprinkled throughout his film that features a star-studded cast including Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Kurt Russell, Al Pacino, and more.

"a beautifully crafted love letter to TV and film of yore that pulls double duty as a pop-culture-drenched journey through the hills of old Hollywood"


But it is the filmmaker’s renowned love for nostalgia and bygone eras that is the driving force behind Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, in which he takes us on a fun-filled ride, back to a Hollywood that no longer exists. What results is a beautifully crafted love letter to TV and film of yore that pulls double duty as a pop-culture-drenched journey through the hills of old Hollywood.

The film is set smack-dab in the middle of Tinseltown in 1969 where we jump back-and-forth between three seemingly unrelated storylines that briefly intersect throughout the story before colliding in the film’s fiery climax.

We meet fading TV star Rick Dalton (DiCaprio) who is trying to wrap his head around the fact that his days as a Hollywood actor are coming to a close. “It’s official, ol’ buddy” he blubbers through teary eyes to his out-of-work stunt double now-chauffeur Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). “I’m a has-been.” With the days of his starring role in TV’s western series Bounty Law behind him, Dalton toodles around from set to set hoping to strike another role come pilot season.

Living next door, and moving on a different trajectory, is Hollywood power couple Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) and Roman Polanski (Rafal Zawierucha) who Dalton rarely encounters beyond the gilded gate of their Cielo Drive mansion. Robbie’s take on Tate as the actress on the verge of stardom is one of the film’s shining moments. She plays the character with a wide-eyed gleeful innocence that plays nicely against DiCaprio’s woe-is-me Dalton. And Tarantino masterfully preys upon our knowledge of the starlet’s fate with a foreboding dread that looms over every scene she is in.

Meanwhile, our timeline jumps to August 1969 where we meet a rambunctious colony of “hippies” living on an old retired western movie set and who worship at the altar of Charles Manson (Damon Herriman). History tells us what comes next. The fuse has been lit for the inevitable decisive collision between peace and violence. Will Hollywood – and the world – ever be the same?

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood is a slow-burn of a film that takes its time unspooling the storylines around long spells of actors delivering Tarantino's unique brand of expertly-crafted dialogue. Pitt and DiCaprio are clearly working on a much higher level than we’ve seen either before, most assuredly spurred on by the passion and enthusiasm Tarantino brings to the set. Grabbing much of the limelight in one particularly memorable scene is child actress Julia Butters (Criminal Minds) who virtually steals a scene from DiCaprio as she tells the insecure Dalton that this performance was one of the best she has ever seen. She is eight years old.Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (2019

Also turning in a masterful performance are the streets and buildings of Hollywood that whisk by, dressed in period movie marquees, classic billboards and now-defunct restaurants. The same goes for the wall of sound provided by the omnipresent music soundtrack coming at us from car radios, black and white TV sets, and the soundtrack itself. Shades of American Graffiti’s Wolfman Jack linger over the proceedings as we wheel up and down Hollywood Boulevard in Booth’s “bitchin’ Coupe de Ville.”

Some may begin to grow impatient by the film’s 2 1/2-hour-plus runtime or from trying to figure out what in the hell Tarantino is trying to say with his film. One could argue that it is attempting to make a statement about the inevitability of change. Or perhaps he’s opining about how a generation of children raised on violent TV shows and movies is striking back. But it really isn’t the kind of film that takes a lot of brain power to take in. In fact, it never tries to explore a host of weighty themes nor does it set out to answer any important questions. But you already know that. After all, it’s a Tarantino film. And, as with most of his work, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood isn’t meant to be sipped or tasted. Turn off your morality meter and gulp its poor taste and cheap bawdiness in heaping helpings. This is pure style over substance and it’s a better movie because of it.

4/5 beers

Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (2019

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor:
Available on Blu-ray

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Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (2019

MPAA Rating: R for language throughout, some strong graphic violence, drug use, and sexual references.
Runtime:
161 mins
Director
: Quentin Tarantino
Writer:
Quentin Tarantino
Cast:
Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie
Genre
: Drama | Comedy
Tagline:
The 9th Film from Quentin Tarantino.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Last night we watched a Rick Dalton Double feature. With all the shooting."
Theatrical Distributor:
Columbia Pictures
Official Site: https://www.onceuponatimemag.com/
Release Date:
July 26, 2019
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available.
Synopsis
: A faded television actor and his stunt double strive to achieve fame and success in the film industry during the final years of Hollywood's Golden Age in 1969 Los Angeles.

Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (2019

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