Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood ★★★½

Likely Tarantino's loosest film, and his most enjoyable since, let's say, JACKIE BROWN. And I might be saying that because ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD's hang-out vibes closely resemble it and DEATH PROOF. I really liked this for the most part, the way it feels like a Tarantino film shed of a lot of fussiness that irked me in DJANGO and HATEFUL and even the KILL BILLs. It's got sharp dialogue without the stylized prattle; a narrative that's full of digressions, but not contrived and non-linear. The lack of an adherence to a classifiable structure works because it's fun to follow the characters in this lovingly recreated 60s Hollywood—and the history in this! Here Tarantino moves beyond pop culture references (like say, name-dropping Kane from KUNG FU or talking about the Delfonics) and weaves in a real sense of film and television history in such a genuine way. The performances by DiCaprio and Pitt really anchor this, and the supporting cast is uniformly excellent as one would expect (hat tip to Robbie's Tate, which is a really complex performance wrapped in real-world baggage). I do have my reservations about the ending—something doesn't quite sit right that I can't put my finger on. Something about the horrific violence or the way its alt history plays out, or the combination of the both. But unlike Tarantino's output in the last decade (for me at least), this one just begs to be seen again.

James liked this review