yondu4’s review published on Letterboxd:
While it's not without it's fair share of problems,this second watch cements it as not only one of my favorite Tarantinos but a new favorite film period.I actually enjoyed it even more the second time where all the anxiety of the hype,as the whole "Will it live up to expectations or disappoint?",was gone and I could just sit back relax and have a great time.While both theaters I went to see it were surprisingly empty for a big premiere like this(How sad really,the biggest ensemble of the decade led by arguably the second hottest director working today and no-one really seems to care)they had their fair share of massive Tarantino fans who clapped and cheered at the right moments making my screenings all the more delightful.
Speaking of the cast,what I was most looking forward to see was Leo & Brad in the same shot and although they both work wonderfully on their own,they are dynamite when they combine their forces.If anyone was going to make this unlikely duo work and reach its full potential,it was going to be Tarantino as the characters he crafts are unlike any others in that they feel like real people with real problems which makes it all that easier for the audience to relate to them.
Leonardo Dicaprio is marvellous as the actor Rick Dalton who realizes his career is going downhill and has to come to terms with being a fading star.He deliveres possibly the best scene in the entire film(outside of the climax)because his outburst of anger,apart from being absolutely hilarious,is also extremely relatable as I've been in his place many times and really felt for him at that moment.
But if a gun was point at my head and i was asked the question "Leonardo Dicaprio or Brad Pitt?" I would've have to go with Pitt on this one whose performance is nothing less of oscar-worthy.I feared that since he is playing Rick's stuntman,Pitt's Cliff Booth would be more of a second hand to Rick than a fully fleshed out character.That could not be further away from the truth,however,as Brad Pitt is the best he is ever been in quite some time and nearly every line he says or every punch he gives is pure gold.He is the driving force of this film,preventing some fairly slow scenes from ever getting boring,and the climax would not work without him.
As you would expect when you go to see a film from a filmaker as experienced as Quentin Tarantino,many aspects of the film are pitch-perfect from the soundtrack to the cinematography.But where his direction shines the most is the way he brings 1960s Hollywood to life and succeeds at giving people like me,who were not live at the time,an idea of what it was like living there.While at first I criticised the film for having quite a few "pointless" scenes where characters just wander through the streets of Hollywood,on second viewing I realized these scenes are essential in creating the 1960s atmosphere and really pulling the viewer in.The scene where an amazing re-imagining of "California Dreamin" starts playing(Where does he find these tracks??) and the characters drive in the streets at night and all the signs start to lighten up,may as well be the most beautiful scene in all of Tarantino's filmography.I do wish it was slightly longer but it was perfect for while it lasted.
Although my second viewing reasonably reduced the problems I had with the film,I still have one or two major ones that prevent me from putting this on par with Inglourious Basterds or Pulp Fiction and calling it a modern masterpiece.My biggest one is that Margot Robbie's Sharon Tate is significally underused and doesn't really bring a whole lot to the film.Robbie is pretty good in the role but the scenes featuring her are much less intresting than her male counterparts and I think the film would've been the same without her.In addition to that,although Kurt Russel's narration is a big improvement over Quentin's in The Hateful Eight,it was pretty fairly hard to sit through on second viewing.I do understand why Tarantino likes to use narration in his films but it's a technique I'm not a big fan of(Unless it's Scorsese)as it takes me out of the film.Lastly,the film bounces from movie sets to movie theaters to films featuring Leo's Rick Dalton,and the editing doesn't always work which is surprising considering it's the man behind Pulp Fiction.
So what was this all about?Was it a fun ride from a director who is very passionate about this time period and it was him paying homage to his favorite era of cinema?Or was Tarantino trying to show how Hollywood reverses roles turning the good guys into bad guys(the hippies)and living legends into jokes(Bruce Lee)?It's too early to tell and I need to do some digging before I decide for myself but either way the end result is nothing short of excellent!
On an overal scale,while Once upon a time in Hollywood is not the decade-defining masterpiece I had hoped nor did it comment on the current state of cinema when compared to the golden age of Hollywood like I was led to believe(stupid Youtube videos),it is a fantastic original picture from one of the best directors working today and it fully succeeds at bringing this unique era to life.This is Quentin Tarantino's "The Big Lebowfski" and it glorious!Although I see why some people may dislike the climax,it is the first time I see the entire theater unanimously clap in pure excitement and I loved every second of it on both watches.I find it kind of annoying that people are more intrested in silly accusations and controversies than supporting an 100% original film that is the vision of a true auter in an age where films of this kind are few and far between,seriously check what your local theater is playing and try to see how many original pictures you can find.And Then try and see how many of these are of this caliber.The answer is:Not Many.
Thanks a lot Quentin,please don't stop making movies.And for the Love of God don't end your career with friggin Star Trek JEEZ!!!