Film Reviews

Once Upon A Time in Hollywood (2019)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

It’s been 4 years but we finally have Quentin Tarantino’s *ninth* feature film.

I went into Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood with very limited but unusually low expectations based on the entire marketing campaign for it. The initial trailer, that horrendous poster, the Cannes publicity, and QT’s overall publicity of the film seemed to do what is in actuality, a sincere film an injustice. Regardless, I knew my money and time were in safe hands and I was in for some good entertainment. After all, QT has an admirable amount of creative control with his writing and directing. And in the end I was indeed thoroughly pleased with the movie.

It must be such a good feeling for a filmmaker to know they can get so many great names to star and appear in your movie. There’s always a high level of trust between Quentin Tarantino and his cast that help his movies thrive and its especially the case in OUATIH. Quentin knows how to cast his creations with some of the best actors of our lifetime. So many familiar faces pop up a late 1960’s Los Angeles, comforting the screen with excellent performances. And at the forefront is Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and in with slightly less screen time, the wonderful Margot Robbie. While her physically presence may be slightly less than the fictional characters of the movie, her story is the most moving and most important one in the entire film. It highlights the final 6 months of her wholesome existence, living and loving life in 1960’s Los Angeles, not knowing what was soon to happen to her. 

It’s fascinating how little Manson was actually in the movie, I liked the little screen time he got, but his entire presence was felt throughout. 

We’ve seen what Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt could do in separate Tarantino films but here we have the pleasure of seeing them on the same screen at once. Brad Pitt manned the ship in Inglourious Basterds and Leo finally burst into QT’s filmography in Django Unchained. DiCaprio plays an aging actor, Rick Dalton and Brad Pitt plays the troubled but coolheaded Rick Dalton stunt double, Cliff Booth. Both fictional characters are developed with that Tarantino perfection that only he can construct. Both actors pull out all of the stops with their acting and it’s easily the greatest attribute of the film. It’s going to be a real debate deciding which man will be receiving that Best Actor nomination at the Oscars next year because their presence on screen is equal in quantity and quality. Hell, both men could easily receive nominations for Best Actor, or either could receive a Best Supporting nomination.

I think the best part of the entire movie is that it’s a nice fantasy tale. It
presents us with a decent “What If”. What if, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, an aging actor and his faithful friend/stuntman, in the midst of their own Los Angeles struggles, miraculously prevent the Tate Murders from ever happening?

Overall it’s a fun and comfy movie that thrives on the viewers nostalgia of that time period and Hollywood. The final act brings it all together with a thrilling finale with some on point Tarantino filmmaking. He was able to find a perfect balance of calm and chaos that is a showcased in the final act. When the dust settles, and a concerned Jay Sebring and Sharon Tate greet the fictional Rick Dalton, the very final moments of the movie really makes wonder what the future of Hollywood wouldve looked like afterwards, and it especially makes you wish those infamous Tate Murders never happened.

You cannot give Quentin Tarantino all of the credit for Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood. The volume of people it took to bring the story from its pages, written by Tarantino, to its fleshed out life in a recreated 1960’s Hollywood is baffling and they deserve immense credit for their work on the film. The casting crew, the set designers, the costume and wardrob designers, make up, visual effects, special effects, sound, electrical….they all pulled off some amazing feats of movie making magic. It’s truly looked and felt like the 1960’s in LA.

It was a lovely week of weather in Oklahoma and it ended perfectly with the arrival of this movie. I’ll give it some time to swirl around my mind, but as it stands, this may be my second or third favorite Tarantino movie. it was a pleasant surprise to see what is definitely his most sincere film to date.

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