DJS’s review published on Letterboxd:
“Once Upon A Time In Hollywood” explores rich cinematic possibilities that demands bold, invigorating confidence of a very mature filmmaker.
Tarantino here projects 1960’s hilly-side LA in a way where you feel you’ve been hanging around in the neighbourhood for quite some time. You rarely get so immersed in the time and space of that period like the way Tarantino composes in this film, and you don’t need to know a lot of references to enjoy it (even if that would certainly help more). The magic obviously lies in the cinematography that conjures something “enigmatic or mysterious or cheery or a little scary” feeling that pours across Los Angeles. The nights in the canyons seem eerie. Part of the brilliance of these feelings that I felt is also the superb choice of songs that are played perfectly against such glorious images. You could sense some foreboding danger around. I found my stomach churning with fear around the final act, as the glorious shot of Cliff Booth walking with his dog in the middle of the night on the windy street in his acid-trip, makes way to the beat-up car approaching in the opposite direction of them, toward the camera, slowly coming to a halt. Chilling!
Rick Dalton’s (played by the terrific, Leonardo DiCaprio) story is both touching and emotional, and his friendship with Cliff Booth (played by effortlessly cool, Brad Pitt) is very moving. They can’t get better than this. I realise well their characters are much trickier to play than they make it look like.
This is a very sophisticated, high-value entertaining, enrapturing yarn of a film that barges into a dynamite third act, delivering catharsis that feels genuine in a way without the help of its schmaltzy nostalgic references (even if they are indulgent and fun). It’s a testament that Tarantino excites and revels the filmmaking audience in such delightful glee that is part of his brilliant form and persona around it.