This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Jesse’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
At the tail end of the second act, Cliff Booth drives off from Spahn Ranch back towards Los Angeles, and José Feliciano’s cover of California Dreamin’ comes over the airwaves of 930 KHJ. Shortly after, as the song continues, we get a wide shot of Sharon Tate stepping out of the screening of The Wrecking Crew at the Bruin, and the atmosphere that surrounds her feels so unbelievably tangible. There’s nothing like the sight of a twilight sky in Hollywood, and Tarantino captures the space and it’s effects on those that inhabit it with such authenticity. It’s as if I’m there.
There’s also the matter of the films final moments, in which Rick Dalton stares down Cielo Drive before hearing Jay Sebring call out to him from behind the Polanski’s gated driveway. Then, Sharon’s voice cuts through an intercom—and tears immediately streamed down my face. Say what you might about the film as a whole, but the beauty in that moment overwhelms me each time I’ve returned to this. She then invites Rick to come up to her house. The gate begins to open—cued up with the Miss Lily Langtry track, which perfectly accentuates the emotion of the scene. As Rick and Jay walk up the drive, the camera cranes up to what I first assumed would be a sweeping wide of the sprawling Los Angeles cityscape. Instead, we get an intimate glimpse of the moment Rick gets to meet Sharon, Abigail, and Wojciech—before stepping into a new world that of course wouldn’t exist other than up on the screen.
*fade in title card.*
A small detail I’ve learned since seeing Once Upon a Time in Hollywood that’s stuck with me, is the track playing over that sequence comes from the film The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean; and in that film there’s a title card that reads...
“...Maybe this isn’t the way it was, it’s the way it should’ve been.”