'Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood' Movie Review with Casey

Aug 2, 2019

Despite the fatigued title, director Quentin Tarantino's (The Hateful Eight, 2015) 9th, full-length, mainstream film is an interesting and fond revisiting of 1960s California and a strange interpretation on a historical tragedy. 

Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant, 2015) and Brad Pitt (Allied, 2016) are an actor and stunt man straining to hold their grasp on fame in 1969 Hollywood. Gradually braided with this fictional story are some of the real-life events leading up to the shocking murder of Hollywood actress Sharon Tate (Margo Robbie, Mary Queen of Scots, 2018), the 4 guests in her home, and her unborn fetus by 4 followers of cult leader Charles Manson. 

Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood has Tarantino's expected over-the-top violence, fully realized settings rich with shiny cars and dazzling movie theater marquees, and silent moments of quirky humor. It reminded me of the other Tarantino films Inglorious Basterds (2009) and Django Unchained (2012) as it addresses an infamous part of dark history taking viewers in a different direction to what might have happened if things had been different. 

Many scenes are designed exquisitely with informative cinematography and genuine, everyday dialogue. But the film felt like 2 different stories or 2 different ideas. First displaying the mundane egotism of Hollywood acting then the ominous hope of celebrity and success crashing into a dirty underworld. They don't quite blend together, and the film spends too much time on the relationships and workings of Hollywood insiders. A little less time spent on the behind-the-scenes Hollywood stuff would have helped the film feel less aimless.

It isn't Tarantino's best work, but it's still a fun visit to a different Hollywood era.