One of the most controversial movies, among “movie fans”, is Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood. The fact that it’s nominated for Best Picture isn’t a huge surprise. The academy has a hard-on for him since his release of Pulp Fiction. Not to mention it was a love letter to Hollywood. While some people called it a long masturbatory fantasy for Tarantino, I’m not as critical. Boasting about a 2 hour and 40-minute run-time, Tarantino has earned the clout to make a long film.
While it was a big departure from 2012’s Django Unchained and 2015’s The Hateful Eight, Tarantino was writing a love letter to what made him a filmmaker. As people love to be critical, they forget that artists can do whatever they want and don’t have to answer to a fanbase. Many times, the base becomes too entitled and damn the films of old. That is completely ridiculous.
With all that being said, it isn’t by far a perfect movie. It is bloated and it didn’t have to use the Manson Family murders as a backdrop. Especially since the film didn’t really build up to anything, regarding it, and created an alt-reality for Sharon Tate. The film was compelling enough for Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). Both fading stars looking toward a future that doesn’t seem very bright at all.
The most compelling scenes was between Dalton (DiCaprio) and Trudi Fraser (Julia Butters). The between takes scene when she was reading her book and asked Dalton about his book, it was an amazing performance of the reality of a fading actor. An all too common story. (Also see Judy). Then it’s followed by the performance of the two during the scene from the western, when he’s holding her hostage.
The Sharon Tate story-line seemed superfluous at best. A story thread that you knew would end a certain way, but Tarantino’s alt-reality conclusion came into play. The end felt more of a gimmick, but gave you more of an insight into Booth’s (Pitt) character: did he kill his wife? While Pitt himself has been getting a lot of award acclaim, while I found his character interesting, I think both commanded a lot in their respective characters.
Rating: 3 stars.