Jesse’s review published on Letterboxd:
Just magical. Experiences such as this are rare enough in the world of contemporary media to begin with—even rarer that we get to experience a picture of this nature in theaters across the world, and rarer still that we're allotted any opportunity to witness it projected on glorious celluloid. So for all that alone, I have to extend my sincerest gratitude to Quentin for gifting Once Upon a Time in Hollywood to us all. I really needed it.
The entire time I watched this, I couldn't get the idea out of my head that this film is Tarantino's equivalent to Call Me By Your Name; but I mean that less in content and more in atmosphere. I've only visited Los Angeles a handful of times, but there's no denying how attached I've since become to that town. I've made some of the greatest memories I'll ever have there; and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood essentially serves as a $10 direct flight back to the city of angels. It's oddly comforting in that way.
Now, I was however 26 years late to the party that was 1969, and while I never got to experience that period first hand—Tarantino created a world so achingly real and authentic that I now feel as I was actually there somehow. This whole film is alive, with a heartbeat that beautifully fluctuates in speed throughout. The length was never a bother, as I deeply appreciated Tarantino's languid meditative pace-which allows us to truly soak up every element here and just wallow in it. I could seriously watch endless reels of Brad Pitt speeding down Hollywood Boulevard—or Margot Robbie's spiritual Sharon Tate absorbing audience reactions to her films.
I'm honestly kind of surprised I feel an affection as strong as this, for my opinions on Tarantino are a little complicated. I love most of his films, and he's largely responsible for introducing me to a new level of cinema years ago, but it's really hard to get past his ego-and based on all the interviews I've seen with him, lets just say I can't imagine he's the nicest guy in the world. Like how much salt am I supposed to take with his work? Because it tastes like more than just a grain a lot of the time.
Then there's his abrasive self-indulgence, which most times irks me to no end, but when he finds a way to truly earn that indulgence on any level—I eat it up. The indulgence here feels doubly earned, simply on the principal that Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is probably Tarantino's most personal work, but it even goes beyond that.
I'll have more to say the more I return to this again (and again). I went into the rewatch expecting to pick up on a lot more as far as personal analysis is concerned, but its so hard for me to not become totally immersed in this world that I had no time to step back and look at it from that lens while watching. It's only once the end credits start rolling that can I truly start putting all the pieces together, and I'm still struggling to do so. I'll say this, the finale might be problematic—but its open-ended nature feels profound in that it's creating necessary conversations. Then came the ending, and I was intensely moved to a shocking degree—tears welling up and all. Might just be beautiful.