‘Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood’ – A Review

Following an exact three years and seven months after the release of his Western thriller, The Hateful Eight, legendary filmmaker Quentin Tarantino returns to the director’s chair with the release of a new hit film Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood. This comedy-drama tones down on all the blood and instead focuses on a piece of history, putting a spin on things like Tarantino did in an earlier film from a decade ago titled Inglourious Basterds.

In this article, we tackle all the best things about the film. This may contain spoilers, but considering that the events of the movie are based on actual points in history, you may need to brush up on America’s past, specifically Hollywood in 1969.

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According to an interview a few days ago with television talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, Tarantino’s direction was made clear in this film. Once Upon a Time… is set in 1969 Los Angeles at an alternate timeline in which a tragic event in Hollywood hasn’t occurred. Tarantino filmed this project on Hollywood Boulevard but made it look like what it was in his childhood, and it’s done so splendidly. The neon signs of buildings and theaters were lit up to look like you’re living in the 1960s, in an era where partaking in being a hippy was a huge movement.

Tarantino also intended to change world history like in Inglourious Basterds, where a fictionalized version Adolf Hitler was killed in a movie theater. In Once Upon a Time…, the filmmaker gives us a twist on actress Sharon Tate’s untimely fate, and it’s such a lovely way to end the 2 hour and 41-minute film.

 

Tarantino’s third intention for this film is to make this one of his last projects in his filmography list as he has more personal matters to attend to, all the many things that come with growing up and aging. Like Tarantino’s life journey, the film doesn’t show any plot or conflict worth noting but instead navigates its three main characters as they find a happy ending for themselves.

Once Upon a Time… features an awe-inspiring soundtrack with songs like Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson,” and we suggest you add this to your playlists as soon as possible!

The cinematography of the film was excellent, and this is not an exaggeration. Every single shot and frame is to die for. If you could pause the movie at any given moment, you can just see how well-angled the camera work was. Robert Richardson’s work is praiseworthy. (The cinematographer has worked on the Kill Bill films, Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained, The Hateful Eight, as well as Martin Scorsese’s CasinoThe Aviator, Shutter Island, and Hugo amongst a list of other films.)

Our three central actors deliver some of the best performances ever. Once Upon a Time… features the return of Tarantino collaborators Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, the former of whom worked on the 2012 film Django Unchained and the latter on Inglourious Basterds. We also introduce actress Margot Robbie into the Tarantino universe as Sharon Tate.

The most excellent performances, I would say, come from DiCaprio and Robbie. DiCaprio demonstrates his fictional character Rick Dalton’s frustration so well, while Robbie’s Tate is just a gem and angel. We don’t see a lot of Tate on-screen but by the film’s third act, we see why she was included in the story, which ends on a positive note. Brad Pitt plays Cliff Booth, who is a best friend and almost a brother to Dalton.

Dalton struggles in his little story of redemption and eventually learns from a surprising character and co-worker that “the pursuit” of satisfaction is worth the chase and is meaningful.

The three characters encounter members of the Manson Family cult, and by the final act of the movie, the tone intensifies and becomes something you can only see in a Tarantino flick. The actors act their butts off; DiCaprio and Pitt act as actors who try to act their way through the film industry.

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This 2019 Tarantino film also features a grand cast list of supporting characters, including Emile Hirsch, Timothy Olyphant, Austin Butler, Dakota Fanning, Al Pacino, Kurt Russell, Zoe Bell, Michael Madsen, Scoot McNairy, Lena Dunham, Maya Hawke, and more.

The development of the movie’s characters is perfect. In the entirety of its allotted runtime, we watch our characters grow in the Saturday and Sunday of February 8th and 9th of 1969, then watch the events unfold in its final act, which occurs six months later on the evening of August 9th, a crucial event for the life of the late Sharon Tate.

The characters were written in remarkably with a script full of great dialogue: DiCaprio’s best scene is his interaction with an 8-year-old actress; Pitt’s is his ominous encounter with the Manson Family; Robbie’s is every scene she appears in, but one worth noting is when her character is watching a film at the theater.

The plot of the movie, if we can call it that, is great. Better words to describe the story of this film is “the-day-in-the-life” of our characters. In the case of this Tarantino flick, it’s three different days.

Overall, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood is a Quentin Tarantino film worth the anticipation. This 2019 film is almost immaculate in its direction and in its development of characters, but more so in its cinematography and in its acting. We don’t get a definite plot and we could have had more of Robbie’s Sharon Tate, but the aforementioned aspects and elements of the film make up for it. If his proposed Star Trek project is to be his last, then so be it, but he did say he has some smaller ideas that he might work on, so never fret.

Tarantino once again puts his mark on cinematic history, leaving us in awe of yet another fantastic film. For this, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood gets a 9.4 out of 10.

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What are your thoughts? Do you agree? Will you be seeing this movie? Let us know! Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is in theaters today. For more action, drama, and comedy-related news and reviews follow The Cinema Spot on Twitter (@TheCinemaSpot) and Instagram (@thecinemaspot_).

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