Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood ★★

(who sat next to me at my screening? my 9th grade ex! that misery was perhaps the most enjoyable part of the film)

The end of this movie proved that Tarantino should stick to what he knows best- despicable people beating the shit outta each other until they're gored-out husks. It was the only thing my audience seemed to care about- hell, it's why they came to a Quentin Tarantino movie. In a vacuum, the ending is a morbid delight, a sadomasochistic fantasy whose catharsis is only matched in his previous eight movies. It's an ending that, when scribbled into a screenplay beat sheet, indicates a perfect subtext to round out the story's flirtations with the silver screen dream. A shame then that this ending is preceded by over two hours of unintelligible garbage.

With scenes, ideas and characters so thin you'd expect to find them in a microbudget debut, this whole movie screams of pomposity. As though we're supposed to hang off of every terrible word that Tarantino gets to fall out of Brad Pitt's slack jaw. Most of the cast brings their a-game to more or less hang the director's dirty laundry of a script to dry. The dialogue is flaccid and moves the film along at a negative speed, and we're all expected to give a shit? We're told to, almost note for note, when a narrator comes on during the film's climax to spell out the thesis of the movie using what very well might have been the script's scene description.

This is a film that, at its core, feels cheap. While on its surface, it is also among the least technically satisfying movies in his thankfully nearly-finished career. The cinematography is rarely doing anything of interest and rarely makes a case for shooting on film in the first place. Even the basic period detail feels phoned in. The in-film television shows are only vague impressions of what the industry was actually churning out in the 60's, along with the surface level Hollywood we're given here. It's among the worst-looking $90 million prestige picture I can recollect and it begs the question of where that money went (a rhetorical one- it's the underused cast).

It's a lot of plodding that gets to nowhere in particular- and trust me, I get it. I know what he's trying and failing to say. That being said, it would be hard to call this trying. Whether he knew it or not, Quentin summed up the experience of watching this movie in a single shot. After Cliff picks up the unfortunately named Pussycat, her feet are smushed against the windshield, so heavily in the foreground they might as well be leaning against the camera lens. It's a tired, overrated artist shoving his dirty, ugly, fetishized art down your throat and demanding your praise. I hate this movie more and more with every passing minute.

**just found out that he has repeatedly referred to this movie as his 'magnum opus'. Yeesh.**