Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood ★★★★

The star rating for this film is going to keep changing in my mind probably on a minute by minute basis. 

My first thought leaving the theater was that the film was all story and almost zero plot.

On the one hand, this is in many ways something that I’d longed for Tarantino to make again. A relatively down to earth, character driven story. Lately I’ve missed the small-time, far more simple storytelling of his early days compared to some of his often cartoony post-Kill Bill tones. 

It’s also starring a butt load of actors that I love giving fantastic performances. DiCaprio is a particular standout. In many ways, this kind of insecure baby is probably a Leo I prefer more than the monstrous Calvin Candie. 

The cinematography is gorgeous, I loved watching Pitt drive around with multiple songs taking up his drive, love the cast, and generally found there to be a multitude of scenes that I thoroughly enjoyed. 

But, man, there’s some things I can’t shake. The film has almost no plot. It’s genuinely “lets just spend some time on set with these guys” and watch clips from their past work for large stretches. I enjoyed the scenes, but kept waiting for something to happen.

I’ve often seen the film compared to Jackie Brown, which feels right, though the difference is that all of those characters, within their conversations, are scheming and backstabbing. None of that is happening here, it’s largely content to just hangout with them and examine this career and city/culture at a tipping point. 

The pacing and languidness of the film really threw me. There are multiple (long) scenes that I often felt like I wasn’t sure why it was in the film. And then the final 20 minutes just really threw me. It’s like if Jackie Brown turned into Kill Bill out of nowhere. 

I’m still wrestling with it, but look forward to revisiting it. Far more interesting to me than his last two films, but there were still a number of challenges for me with it. 

It’s very likely my opinion will change after another viewing and talking to more people. It’s a lot to chew on, no doubt about it.

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