Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – A Review

I fucking love Quentin Tarantino, and I always have. Well, at least from the point in my life where I heard of him. 

Quentin is one of the few directors that I had the pleasure of seeing his films in order. I came in during the great chasm inbetween Jackie Brown and Kill Bill Vol 1. At that particular time, Jackie Brown hadn’t hit DVD yet, and a friend of mine let me borrow Reservoir Dogs. I was blown away. You know, I was just getting into film, and this felt like a film nerd’s movie. Which it is. 

I think thats why I always connected to the man. He was one of us. A dude who just loved movies. 

Ill avoid giving other reviews to his movies becomes one or two of them are probably going to be a feature of a future retrospective

So, lets get to it

 Warning for all future reviews on this blog. I’m going to do all of the spoilers. I personally dont understand spoiler culture. If a spoiler is really what makes the movie, just go see it first without a review. Otherwise, its really hard to do criticism for a film without talking about all of it. So there it is. SPOILERS IN THE HOUUUUUUSSEEEEEE

 I really love this movie. For probably atypical reasons.

After The Hateful Eight, which I really didn’t like (Short Version: Its a 70mm chamber play in which everyone is an asshole, but not in an interesting way. Its Reservoir Dogs but boring, and three hours long); I wanted something easy. And a film about two amazing characters and their adventures in late 60’s hollywood. I am game. 

The best way I can explain the plot is like this. Its a thought experiment from Quentin. What would it take for the 60s not to have ended? Two things really 1) Vietnam, which is kind of in the background throughout the film….and not the film’s focus 2) The death of the 60s never happening. The Manson Family murders

How does that not happen? Well Burt Reynolds lived nearby, what if they would have decided to go to his house instead. Hal Needham would have fucking kicked their ass. 

There’s your premise, and you just work backwards from there. 

What you are left with is a gorgeous exploration of a failing actor’s career and his hetero-life-mate stuntman’s journey. With some minor tweaks, this is the movie. And truthfully, this is all you need. 

Rick Dalton (Leo) and Cliff Booth (Pitt) easily stand with the best Quentin characters. Truthfully, you could have taken the Sharon Tate stuff out, and I could have watched that for three hours. Randoms on the internet seem to agree with that thought, and just say they should have stripped it out. 

That I disagree with. In a way, Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is the pure heart of this film. The 1960s in their most wholesome form. The whole movie you know whats coming and so its just heartbreaking to see how happy she is to have other people love her performance. 

We have some powerhouse acting done here by Leo, Pitt, and Robbie. I especially want to commend Brad Pitt. I think this may be his best role he’s had. Cliff Booth is one of those classic Quentin archetypes like Jules Winnfield

On the cinematography front, its far less flashy than his other films, but thats on purpose. He is really living the 1960s hollywood asthetic. And it looks gorgeous in that way. Really bright, lively. Just a great time to watch visually. 

I also want to give a big shout out to how he handled the Manson Family stuff. We all expected a Inglorious Basterds type ending here. And oh boy did we get it. THAT I wont spoil, but I do love how he handled it. He makes his opinion clear on the page. These people are some fucking assholes, and they shouldnt have been given the time of day. If they would have picked a house where people could have defended themsleves, they would have gotten fucked up cause they were a bunch of fucking pussies. 

I agree. 

I really like that all we get of Charlie Manson is a two second cameo. Motherfucker doesn’t deserve anything else. Quentin gets harassed alot for his violence, and be sure, the last 10 min of this movie meets that criteria. But, its clear that he feels like the entire Manson Family situation was a goddamn waste. A stupid sensless crime that ruined an entire culture. 

So, it gets a rewrite, and I think we are al the better for it. 

I want to leave this review with one last thought. I think this is an acting delight. However, that means the script is real bloated. You could trim 45 min out of this movie, and probably have the same impact. I am going to dock this movie .5 just for that, but I have a feeling on further reviews I may give it back. This movie is a slow burn, and I really want to spend more time in that world. 

3.5/4 – A double album of a film. Big. Alot to explore. And just really fun to hang out with. This film already lives in my head way more than The Hateful Eight ever did. I can’t wait to watch it again. Pitt deserves Best Supporting.

P.S. To the people on the internet saying this is Quentin’s big feet film. CLEARLY, never saw Death Proof

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