Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood ★★★½

I'm giving this 3 1/2 stars, which I often feel is the worst kind of good star rating there is because a film that gets it usually writes a promise cheque that its entirety of scenes doesn't fully cash in.

The truth is that the latest Tarantino film requires you to get into a very specific kind of 60s nostalgia groove and I wasn't entirely feeling it today, which aligns it with my first viewings of Jackie Brown and Django Unchained in a way, which both were elevated considerably by repeat viewings.

With all the fun and abundance at the heart of this trip down Hollywood Lane — which plays like Tarantino doing his own kind of re-enactment documentary about that late 60s era — there's bound to be a rewatch for me to take it all in, now knowing what way he chose to tell his story. The film is very episodic in nature and the highlights certainly revolve around the duo of Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth and Tarantino's creation of a fake actor's cinematic oeuvre, including a stint in the Italian film industry, of course. All the parts work, the Bruce Lee cameo is entertaining as hell and the two of them really complete each other in a bromantic fashion.

On the other hand, however, there's a lot of self-indulgence here, specifically where getting from A to B is dragged out often times without enough trademark Tarantino dialogue to smooth things over during the ride. Watching Brad Pitt drive like hell down narrow streets and lushly lit boulevards is fine as hell but I can't tell yet whether we're meant to intentionally feel the long distances that make everybody in Los Angeles drive all the time or whether it is truly just Tarantino wanting to let scenes linger for lack of restraint. With all the singling out of Tarantino as the artist, I can't help but continuing to feel the loss of Sally Menke at his side, who just seemed to nail the edits for his films.

It's definitely a hangout picture and there certainly aren't the worst kind of interesting characters here to hang out with but it still didn't prove to be a satisfying whole for me today, which is a shame because there are so many wonderfully glorious scenes in this. Just make sure you don't expect Margot Robbie's role to be a lead performance. I'm not saying I did but the marketing certainly makes it feel that way.

As opposed as I am to the Netflixization of Tarantino, this film very much lends itself to a miniseries approach, I think, and it will be interesting to see that treatment (and a cut Tim Roth appearance as the credits suggest) of the story if he truly gets around to doing it and if it then reaches us over here in Germany.

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