the homeless rockstar of palo alto’s review published on Letterboxd:
When a film is this long, yet you could have spent another few hours with its characters, that's a sign to me of what good movies are.
This feeling of not wanting to leave is something that I get with certain 'hangout movies', which is exactly how I would describe ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD. Unlike a lot of Tarantino's previous works, this is a much more relaxed watch. Think less THE HATEFUL EIGHT and think more JACKIE BROWN. Better yet, think of other great 'hangout movies' like DAZED AND CONFUSED and AMERICAN GRAFFITI but surrounding an actor and a stuntman in Hollywood instead of teenagers in high school. The film only takes place over three days and by the time you get through two of those days you may find yourself going "where is this going?". Well, it did go to a strange place but it didn't even have to. Tarantino throws us into a culture during a transitional period and at that point that's all we need. A lot of the best films take me to a place that's unfamiliar to me, but feels alive for a few hours. I felt like I was there with these characters who are played brilliantly by the lads Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt. There's one improvised breakdown scene for example with Leo in a trailer that had me in tears. I wish I could watch that on YouTube right damn now lol. Anyways, both of these roles are among the best work they've ever done, and arguably the most hilarious both of these actors have ever been.
In fact, this is easily Tarantino's funniest movie to date. The one other film released this year that had me smiling ear to ear for most of its runtime was THE BEACH BUM and I never thought I'd have that strange level of fun again in the cinema this quickly. ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD had me smiling the entire time because of how engaging these characters are and the interesting lives they live. To be honest, a lot of my love for the film could be because its backdrop is the film business, the transitional phase known as the New Hollywood Movement is my favourite in all of cinema and it's in general just my favourite era. The soundtrack is my fuckin music too allriiigghhttt. That being said, I still give Tarantino and company an immense amount of credit for bringing such an interesting period to life so thoughtfully.
A lot of people are talking about how indulgent the film is and sure, the film is long and there are A LOT OF FEET. That being said, the old saying "Tarantino the director is in love with Tarantino the writer" has never felt so untrue to me here. There are moments where certain lines of dialogue do tell you that the lad wrote it. Think "Anybody accidentally kills anybody in a fight they go to jail. It's called man slaughter". But Tarantino definitely went with his JACKIE BROWN sensibilities and kept the dialogue more realistic I guess I don't know. It's not a bad thing at all. Some people may be disappointed by that kind of thing but that involves preconceived notions. If Tarantino didn't make this film no one would be complaining about the dialogue. You could tell me that Tarantino pulled an Altman and completely changed the script during the shooting and had the actors improvise most of their scenes and not only would I believe it but I also would not care. Speaking of Altman, I couldn't help but think of his films while watching this. Plotless, all over the place, yet clearly crafted by a genius who is more concerned with behaviour and culture rather than story. Tarantino's love letter to this bygone Hollywood era can be compared to Altman's love letter to the country music industry in his 1975 classic, NASHVILLE. Instead of very long musical performances, think more very long scenes of trying to shoot a tv show or recreations of those tv shows.
I don't care too much about what movies have to say on an extremely deep level or anything. Most of the time I find that kind of stuff to be icing on the cake and depending on how much certain films value their messages or statements generally determines how much I value their significance in my overall enjoyment and reflections. To me, movies are just about experiences and throwing me deep into places that intrigue me, which is what this film was all about. I wouldn't care if this film had little to nothing to say on a deeper level, but thematically I couldn't help but be moved by the ending. I won't spoil anything, but I found the films biggest conflict being between the old Hollywood and the new, people who were in their prime in the 50s vs. hippies, counter-culture youth types. Navigating this conflict and the way it was ultimately confronted in this wild finale though ridiculous as it was, felt incredibly potent, significant, and emotionally resonant in my opinion.
My only gripe with the film was a couple of the scenes with Sharon Tate. Granted, I did enjoy most of her scenes, but a couple of times I really felt like Tarantino didn't give Margot Robbie much to do in comparison to Leo and Pitt. It just felt a little bit awkward when we'd go over to check on what Sharon was doing in my opinion. That being said however, she signifies no much thematically with what I was talking about earlier and perhaps if you take some of those scenes away you take away all of that important significance. I fucking loved this movie though and could easily bump it up to a 5 at some point. It really feels like a Tarantino movie that will be rewatched more than all of his others because of its hangout vibe.
Edit: I forgot to give a shoutout to Julia Butters who managed to gave an amazing child performance while being along side Leo. She was awesome! Also, while we didn't get that much Manson, this is cool as a sort of prequel to the next season of MINDHUNTER where we'll see Damon Herriman in the same role. A Tarantino/Fincher cross-universe is what I need in life.
EDIT: This is Tarantino's swan song. 5 stars.