Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood ★★★★½

“When you come to the end of the line, with a buddy who is more than a brother and a little less than a wife, getting blind drunk together is really the only way to say farewell.”

‘Once Upon a Time In Hollywood’ is a chilled blast from the past told like a fairy tale. It’s both aimless and yet meaningful with the commentary on the new era in Hollywood. The movie pays tribute to old Hollywood, film making, Sharon Tate, stunt work, and actors. This is perhaps Tarantino’s most personal and mature movie his made, until the last 10 minutes (which I love) goes complete ape sh*t.

I can’t think of any other director where the passion and love for movies is so transparent through Tarantino's craft. He’s such an old school film maker that he and Martin Scorsese are the last golden age directors, as every new release feels like an event. In this movie, Quentin presents 69’ Hollywood at its peak, as he remembers it from his childhood. He manages to rebuild classy LA thanks to the crew and creative team.

Bright neon lights, fashionable clothes, and late 60’s automobiles. There’s a couple of scenes where Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), drives around LA and there are long shots that shows off the environment and it’s amazing the amount of detail and effort went into the setting - with Robert Richardson brilliant Cinematography bringing it all alive.

Leonardo DiCaprio was absolutely excellent as the fading Western star, Rick F**king Dalton. Dalton, a self-centered, yet vulnerable actor that you both laugh and pity. I will often forget about DiCaprio comedic chops, something similar to Ryan Gosling. I also like the subtle stutter that’s sprinkled through out, which is sad when given some thought that it’s something he’s got to deal with. There’s a heartfelt scene where Dalton tells his young co-star about a book his reading and mid way through explaining the story he realises it mirrors his life, and breaks down in tears with me crying with him. Yep, I teared up in a Tarantino movie. Leo was the pulse of the movie.

Brad Pitt was amazing as the deadpan and cool Cliff Booth. This is probably my favorite performance from him. Cliff’s main character trait is his strength and he demonstrates it multiple times, but leaves the scene before anything can escalate. The chemistry between Leo and Brad was electric. Pitt was the meat of the movie.

Margot Robbie was an absolute delight portraying the late Sharon Tate. Despite her slim screen time, but whenever she has screen time, I couldn’t help but smile. I instantly fell in love with her and it’s painfully to think something so sweet and pure could be taken away from us by brainwashed zombies who don’t deserve a life, just a jail cell. I thought her portrayal in the movie was a beautiful tribute and how they handle her gives new life into her legacy.

There’s a great scene where Sharon Tate watches a movie in cinemas that’s she’s in, but instead of Margot Robbie re-creating those scenes, they just show the real Sharon Tate in the movie. Now people were left a bit confused over this decision, although it’s clear to me that erasing the real Tate out of the movie would be more disrespectful to her memory, so leaving her in is a touching tribute to her career and her work. Robbie was the heart of the movie.

The other supporting cast all did terrific with the little screen time most of them had. Kurt Russell makes a welcoming return as a character that I assume is Stuntman Mike from 'Death Proof' - either way still a welcoming presence. He’s also the narrator and I find it hilarious whenever he tries to pronounce Italian movie titles. Al Pacino was a blast to watch as the tight and yet colorful producer. Mike Moh portrayal of Bruce Lee may have sparked some controversy recently, but I thought he was entertaining regardless and I don’t really think it mocks his legacy at all. I mean, this is the same director who made a four hour movie honoring the legend. Margaret Qualley was crazy good as the hippie girl who’s brain washed into a cult family. It’s crazy to know that Damon Herriman has played Charles Manson twice in the same year and month for this movie and the TV show ‘Mindhunter’, which you should totally check out by the way.

Julia Butters, Luke Perry, Timothy Olyphant, Dakota Fanning, Bruce Dern, and Damian Lewis - a stellar cast that did a stellar job.

After letting the film sit for awhile, there’s so many memorable lines that I would often catch myself recreating just from memory after seeing it twice. There’s so many great moments as well. The lights of LA coming to life at the dust of dawn, or the suspenseful scenes that actually got me feeling tense watching it. Without spoiling anything, but the Spahn Ranch scene where the Manson family stares down a defenseless Cliff Booth as he tries to speak to an old friend was terrifying - reminds me of the opening scene of ‘Inglorious Bastards’, in terms of building up tension that you wait in anticipation to explode.

Still, I think this is the best representation of the Manson family I’ve seen in any movie...by portraying them as absolute buffoons.

And of course with it being a Tarantino movie, the music is lost treasure revived for a modern generation. Always fantastic and incredibly catchy. I can’t think of anything better than Cliff driving around LA with the song ‘Bring a Little Lovin’ playing in the background.

Overall rating: I’ve seen this movie twice already and I still have a desire to watch it again. This is slowly creeping up to being my favorite Quentin Tarantino movie, but time will tell I guess.

Matthew L. Brady liked these reviews

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