This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Pippin’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
A little warning before heading into my review: I wrote this right after seeing the movie, so my emotions are kind of heightened right now.
When I walked out of the theater, I thought to myself "I liked that. Wasn't amazing, but I liked it." However, as I was thinking and talking during my car ride home I realize now that I have no clue how I actually feel about Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. All I know is there are multiple things that made me pretty upset.
As most people who follow me know, I am a huge fan of Natalie Wood. She means quite a lot to me. Some people are saying they like how Cliff and Cliff's wife (If she was given a name, I didn't catch it) are parallels to Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood. How could you like that? It's one of the most distasteful things in the film. In the scene, Cliff's wife is just berating Cliff and it appears that Cliff is a great guy who is married to "The Bitch™".
This is no critique of Robert Wagner. This is a praising of him. Cliff=Robert Wagner. Making Cliff look like this great guy who is only violent to "bad people" (Bruce Lee, the Manson family, his wife) makes the audience feel like he didn't actually do anything. During the argument on the boat, Cliff is completely silent and his wife is the one yelling. It's pretty much 100% agreed on that Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner were equally yelling at each other during the real night.
If you somehow don't think the scene/parallel is wrong, please explain. I have no idea how this could be perceived other than a slap in the face to Natalie Wood. I read an article saying that it makes Cliff the anti-hero of the story that you don't know if you should root for, but the main reason I don't agree with that is because I don't think Tarantino is smart enough for that.
Speaking of Bruce Lee, I thought Tarantino liked Bruce Lee? He made Bruce Lee look like an arrogant jerk who is not nearly as skilled as people thought he was. Why would Tarantino do that? Why? Another move that is just a slap in the face. It would have been much more powerful if Bruce Lee easily beat Cliff in a fight and said something about how Cliff was being arrogant. I don't know.
I guess Tarantino decided that if he was gonna let Sharon Tate live he had to make Natalie Wood and Bruce Lee look awful!
For someone who is called "a master" of writing dialogue, the forced exposition in this movie was really bad. There were info dumps littered throughout the beginning, and even in the middle.
I was so worried about this film being distasteful towards Sharon Tate I didn't think about anything else that Tarantino could possibly do. Tate is done probably the most tasteful of everyone, but even she is dreadfully underused. Tarantino should have just cut out Roman Polanski and had Sharon Tate having a grand time by herself, maybe referencing him here and there but never showing him.
This movie is also way too long. Long movies are great, but, uh Tarantino? Make sure your movie absolutely needs it. Restraint is a great skill. Maybe my thoughts will change, but overall I enjoyed some parts of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, but there are quite a lot of aspects that just really, really irritate me.