Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood visits 1969 Los Angeles, where everything is changing, as TV star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his longtime stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) make their way around an industry they hardly recognize anymore. The ninth film from the writer-director features a large ensemble cast and multiple storylines in a tribute to the final moments of Hollywood's golden age.
Rick's use of "beaner" as a derogatory term for Mexicans is not anachronistic; the term first appeared in print in 1965 and is said to date back to the 40s. Of course, it would be anachronistic for the TV show "Lancer" (set in the Old West) to feature the word, but such shows were often filled with historical inaccuracies anyway. See more »
During the '90s if you said to me, "in time, Leo DiCaprio will be one of the most masculine actors in Hollywood" there isn't a chance in hell I would have believed you.
For a long time he had a scrawny build and a youthful face. Like most moviegoers, I didn't regard him seriously as a tough guy until I saw "The Departed" in 2006.
"The Wolf of Wall Street" and "The Revenant" followed, and they cemented his place as a rugged leading man throwback. He does not disappoint in this movie as Rick Dalton when the scenes demand it.
Brad Pitt, who was always convincing in such a role since the start of his career, plays his character Cliff Booth to perfection. It's probably my favorite Pitt performance other than "Twelve Monkeys."
Director Quentin Tarantino designed this film in a way that each scene serves the function of creating likeability and credibility for its characters, not necessarily advancing the plot.
And in this day and age of "toxic masculinity" and when studios want five foot tall women to take over men's roles, he made many bold moves. Dalton and Booth aren't afraid or ashamed to kick ass and take names. Yet, unlike Tarantino's previous work in which a head exploded when it took a round from a small caliber pistol or torrents of blood gushed from minor wounds, the violence isn't cartoonish.
Yes, the movie is a love letter to Hollywood, and people who have lived in L.A. probably appreciate it more than outsiders. There are references to and visuals of Forest Lawn Cemetery, Burbank Boulevard, Toluca Lake, Van Nuys, Panorama City, etc. that caused my brain to smile during the film-- especially because these places that I've seen ten million times in person were shown in a '60s style. A meta reference that caused my audience to chuckle: at one point Margot Robbie's Sharon Tate character sees spotlights oscillating at "the porn theater" down the street from a restaurant. "What is going on at the porn theater?" "A premiere." "Porn theaters have premieres?" In fact, it's The New Beverly Cinema, the theater that Tarantino now owns and that played porn films during the '60s and '70s.
I'm ashamed to admit that, like most Americans, although I'm very familiar with Charles Manson's history, I knew little about Sharon Tate and almost nothing about Jay Sebring. Tarantino did an excellent job of making them three dimensional people rather than background characters who served the plot. Ironically, if anyone is a background character whose brief appearance serves the plot, it's Manson himself. Such direction honors Sebring and Tate.
I have one complaint about this film. With all due (immense) respect for Tarantino, I agree with critics who stated that Robbie was underused. A couple of years ago I stated on this blog that "I, Tonya" was the best film of 2017, so I've known for a while that she is a phenomenal talent. YET I personally don't know how her role could have been expanded without blemishing the film. She did an outstanding job in this film, especially with her facial expressions at a movie theater, yet Tate's real life story has almost nothing to do with Dalton and Booth's fictional lives. It's like if the Angels used Mike Trout in an optimal pinch hitting role in the sixth or seventh inning of five consecutive games, and he hit grand slams every time. No fan would want to interfere with that streak, yet you would think that his team is severely unserved with him on the bench for most of the game.
I rate this film 9 of 10 stars. It's my third favorite Tarantino film, and it caused me to break my rule about not applauding in a theater unless someone who worked on the film is in attendance. I applauded during its climax, and the odds are good that you will as well.
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