noel’s review published on Letterboxd:
Jim Jarmusch: I'm gonna have the most underutilized ensemble cast of the year!
Quentin Tarantino: hold my beer
Genuinely the first Tarantino film to not only not be great, but be bad. I seriously have no clue where the 4+ star ratings are coming from. I'm one of the biggest people to admit to being apart of the Tarantino circlejerk, but holy fuck this movie is straight up NOT GOOD.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a scatterbrained, effortless (in a bad way) attempting at recapturing the magic that once permeated Tarantino's collection of films. I see hints of Jackie Brown here in the maturity and general tone. Obviously, the revisionist history aspects of the film are very much akin to the superior Inglourious Basterds. And the final 20 minutes...as fantastic as they are, would feel so much more in place in literally any other QT film.
Where did things go wrong? Well, maybe Tarantino just never found his footing on this one. Making a film on the Manson murders was always going to be a difficult endeavor for a director often accused of racial fetishization and misogyny. I remember reading at one point Brad Pitt's character was supposed to be a detective, so maybe QT went through several drafts and just never made anything worth a fuck.
The central performances from Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio are good enough, but nowhere near literally any other performance from any other Tarantino movie. Margot Robbie does absolutely nothing, but I do get it. I like how Tarantino doesn't brutalize her and just kind of plays tribute to her. Sharon Tate is depicted as someone who really loves the art of acting, someone who wants nothing more than to succeed, who is happy, and it's very cute. I don't understand the complaints of misogyny from this aspect.
However, I do find the film to be incredibly male gaze-y, possibly even more so than any other film of his. There's a scene where the camera rests above Margaret Qualley's ass and it made me so uncomfortable. I know all parties consented to this but just...ew. Tone it down a little, Quentin. I don't even mind the dirty hippy feet.
The writing of this film is so unfuckingTarantino. It's devoid of any kind of substance - it's hard to believe this is the same director with multiple films that are nearly 3 hours that not a second could be cut from. I felt like I was 15 years older by the time this film ended, but once again, the ending does make it a little easier to swallow. It's the only moment in the film that lasts longer than 2 minutes that reminds me that this is a Tarantino film.
A bad Tarantino film was bound to happen at some point. I'm just sad that it was one with so much fucking potential. There were warning signs from the beginning, but even then, it's Quentin fucking Tarantino!!! How bad can it be? Well, we finally have an answer to that question.
Also, Diana Silvers 100% should've been a Manson cult member and it's not just cause I wanna see her feet. 2.5/5.