Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood ★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Early in Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood, Brad Pitt's character sees a young girl (played by Margaret Qualley) and smiles to her. She smiles back, then flashes him the peace sign. He flashes it back to her. Mrs. Robinson is playing on the car radio.

I rolled my eyes.

I loved Tarantino once, but I don't think he's for me anymore. This does seem like a cumulative conclusion of his career up to this point (messing around with history like in Inglourious Basterds, icons like in Kill Bill, time in narratives like in Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction [and others, of course], unearthing old talents and revealing the tricks they could do all along like casting Kurt Russell in Death Proof , doing another modern take on a Western like Django Unchained and Hateful Eight, etc, etc), but it's becoming tiresome for me. Tarantino has a lot of tricks, but there's a hollowness behind them that's wearing thin for me, especially when he churns out films as bloated as this one. Everything is a reference that's twisted upon its head, everything's a comment on a comment, and even his own, new scenes are starting to feel like he's commenting on his old ones (the Nazi-thing here sure is something). His movies look great, but there's so little under the hood, and the more he tries to make his films feel like he wants to talk about big, important things (like America and Sharon Tate and Manson and westerns and Hollywood), it somehow just reveals how little he really has to say about it all.

But, still, I was entertained. I had fun. I enjoyed the climax, which was somehow both uproariously hilarious, shocking and horrifyingly sad. It's too bad that a whole lot of the film is so thoroughly, completely unnecessary in order to get there. Sure, there's fun to be had along the way, and Tarantino adds some wistfulness to what's become his usual mix of comeuppance (Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained) in his wrestle with how cinema is the lie or fairy tale we want to believe, where the bad guys are taken down and the good guys triumph, but the road to get there just isn't very well told.