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Review: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
A faded television actor and his stunt double strive to achieve fame and success in the film industry during the final years of Hollywood’s Golden Age in 1969 Los Angeles. IMDb
Full disclosure–I saw this film when I was not well. Still…I have not seen such an overhyped, meandering, flabby film in a long time. Tarantino has trumpeted this as his best film yet. Really?
I admire Inglorious Basterds, love Pulp Fiction and was completely freaked out by Reservoir Dogs. This, sir, is no Pulp Fiction.
Tarantino’s studio needs to reign him in…or he needs to listen to his film editor more. As a friend of mine said–this film thinks it is a lot cleverer than it really is.
I cannot believe I am saying this but there are actually too many in-jokes, too many nods to old Hollywood and waaay too many cameos. Viewers need an historian-like interest in the film and TV industry to get all the references.
A notebook might help to jot them down–or perhaps a bingo card? Michael Madsen? Tick. A close up of women’s feet? Tick. Got cameos from the children of every actor who ever appeared in a Tarantino? Tick (yawn). Got a jarring too-loud soundtrack of dubious ‘era’ music? Tick. It sounded like it was being played mono instead of stereo on purpose. Yuck.
The only good moments were the Mommas and the Poppas at the Playboy mansion and Leo’s tongue-in-cheek, cigarette-in-hand TV performance.
Got a story? Just barely. Apparently, the director was worried people would not be able to follow multiple storylines–why not? We all followed the jump cuts in Pulp Fictio –are you saying we’ve all grown old and slow…or is that just you?
I would suggest there are not multiple storylines, just a few changes of time period in what is a single line narrative. And a thin narrative at that.
The story noodles around for (literally) months of Rick Dalton’s (Leonardo Di Caprio) and Cliff Booth’s (Brad Pitt) lives as they chase TV work, meet hippies and Charles Manson, make spaghetti westerns and ultimately arrive at the Tate murders.
Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) floats through proceedings like some eternally happy, angelic presence. And speaking of…I will not give away the ending, in case you haven’t seen it yet, but I will say this–the hint is in the title.
Tarantino may believe he is paying homage to Sergio Leone (Once Upon a Time in the West/America) but he’s really referencing every fairy tale ever told.
That is what this is–a fairy tale of heroes and princesses, of what the director wishes had happened in Hollywood in 1969. Only with more feet.