Connor Adamson’s review published on Letterboxd:
If Quentin Tarantino keeps his word, then we've just witnessed his penultimate work. Opinions on his filmmaking predications for violence, profanity, and other lack of niceties aside, he has been a unique voice for over twenty years now and the end of his filmmaking career would surely be disappointing. For people who have pretty much universally loved his work like me, it's depressing to contemplate.
And Tarantino seems to realize it as he delivers one of his most quiet and contemplative films of his career with Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. At nearly three hours long, it's a lot to digest and those expecting a typical Tarantinoish violent dialogue porn driven film may be initially disappointed. And true, it does not stand as one of his best works. But it still remains a fantastic work with some near career high performances from Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, which is saying something given their history and talent. This Hollywood fairy tale's staying power doesn't become apparent until the last 20 minutes. Though this is where the film finally indulges in some Tarantino uber-violence, it also delivers the film's ultimate heart and makes all of the various long-winded scenes come into clear focus.
The film is indulgent of itself for sure with long meandering scenes that may seem a little too long at first. Were it not for the magnetic performances from all involved, including a great Margot Robbie, it may not work. But work it does and Tarantino lays on the period references between movies, music, and other elements of late 60's pop culture. If there isn't nominations for set design and costuming, the Academy needs to be forcibly held in those tight fitting turtlenecks.
The film contemplates the death of an era with the end of Golden Age Hollywood and the rise of New Hollywood in a manner mirroring perhaps Tarantino's vision of his own filmmaking death. It's joyous in a very sad way to watch and makes you think on both what Tarantino has contributed and your own contributions to the world.
Mike Moh's turn as Bruce Lee has stirred the ire of some and the gleeful attacks from Brad Pitt against hippies makes some cry out that this is a conservative film. Tarantino conservative? Suuuure. The film is just uniquely him, and if you've lost patience for his nods to the past in his filmmaking style, you may not get much from this. But if you love his masterful cinematography, skilled use of the past, and an all-star cast, then Once Upon a Time in Hollywood will remind you why Tarantino is one of the best filmmakers of the generation.
Here's how it landed on my Flickchart:
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood > Red Dragon
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood > Rear Window
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood < Blue Valentine
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood < Rope
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood < True Grit (2010)
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood > Days of Heaven
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood > Papillon (2017)
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood > McCabe & Mrs. Miller
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood < 28 Days... Later
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood < Monsters, Inc.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood < Return of the Jedi