Review: Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

It's official, he's a has been. 

In Hollywood, 1969 - Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a fading TV star trying to hold onto relevancy with his stunt double, Cliff Booth. (Brad Pitt) Cliff has a chance encounter with members of the notorious Manson family that will eventually change their lives forever.

I've been torn about this movie ever since it was announced. At first, I was bothered by the fact that Tarantino was including Sharon Tate, which I felt had potential to be kind of exploitative. Then the trailers came out, and the film actually looked really good. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that he probably wasn't going to actually show Tate's murder - and he doesn't - but I'm not sure what he does with her even makes her appearance in this film worth it.

To be clear, this movie would be unwatchable without Brad Pitt. It's not that DiCaprio is a bad actor or that Dalton isn't an interesting character, DiCaprio is great and Dalton's predicament is both compelling and sometimes amusing. It's just that nearly every scene he is in for the first two hours of the film drags. For instance, we see Dalton mess up a take on set and pitch a fit about it in his trailer afterwards, but we watch what feels like an entire 20 minute sequence of said scene that we didn't need to understanding that messing up his lines in front of the entire crew is hard for him.  And there are plenty more scenes like that throughout. Booth's story, the one that directly involves the film's antagonists moves at a much quicker pace. This brings me to Sharon Tate. (Margot Robbie)

The only purpose Sharon Tate serves in this film is that of an interlude between scenes. Her arc is literally going to a movie theater to see one of her own films. That's it. That's where nearly all of her dialogue is, otherwise, she's there to look beautiful while we transition to the next scene. It's such a weird use of her considering so many other actors - Dakota Fanning, Bruce Dern, etc all show up for one scene only and are never seen again. And the one part of the film where they could actually insert her into the main plot, we instead get her voice over an intercom. It's a bizarre part for someone like Robbie who is receiving 3rd billing. 

I know there's already plenty of better written pieces out there talking about the violence against women in this film, but it is quite jarring. Yes, the violence "makes sense" within the context of the film, but it's the way its shot that I found uncomfortable. The camera absolutely revels in the gruesome deaths two women receive in this movie, while the man being murdered is largely off screen and is shot with many cuts. There's a clear difference in the way each death was shot. Not to mention, Booth for some reason killed his nagging wife in the past. It's hinted at in a flashback, and then it goes nowhere. It's an excuse for why he doesn't get work, but after watching the glee taken in murdering the women at the end, it seems like an odd choice. In fact, this entire movie is just a bunch of odd choices.

I like Tarantino's movies more than not, but his last few efforts really haven't done it for me. I never expected him to put out films that would become less watchable than Death Proof but here he is with two in a row. This one wasn't for me. 

Recommended: No

Grade: C-

Memorable Quote: "Anybody accidentally kills anybody they go to jail...it's called manslaughter." - Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt)

Comments

  1. I've been hearing conflicting thoughts about this one, and it's making me so curious to see it. I may be bored by it, but the big cast (even if some show up for one scene) makes up for it. Plus, I love DiCaprio and especially Pitt

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's very divisive so you may enjoy it, It just wasn't for me.

      Delete
  2. Clearly this is a feminist masterpiece and we didnt get it 😂 those Western scenes were so goddamn boring. I just cannot believe people liked this movie. It was so hard to sit through 2h whenever Pitt wasnt on screen and his scenes were pretty much only decent because of his acting

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would've edited a solid 40 minutes out of this movie, it's just so long with so little substance in those scenes.

      brb left my feminism magnifying glass at home. Clearly I'm missing something.

      Delete
  3. I want to see this for the cast alone, but nothing other than that has really got me excited for it to be honest!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The cast is great, just most of them are wasted. lol

      Delete
  4. Definitely on different ends with this one. I loved it in ways I never expected to. Then again I'm someone who has had issues with a lot of what QT has done in the past. As for the use of Robbie, I won't waste space rewriting my review, but I loved her role in this and what she represented. And that ending worked for me on so many levels. In a nutshell, I was so surprised by this thing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad it worked for you, I was just expecting more substance with Tate.

      Delete
  5. I thought Leo's scene in his trailer was hilarious! Who hasn't berated themselves for screwing something up? Maybe not to that degree, but that's in part what made it so funny.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That was a great scene but the build up to it was excruciating. They didn't need that, it was fine on its own.

      Delete
  6. Wow, you and I are on different places when it comes to this film as I personally loved it.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I do want to see it but I am not surprised at all by what you mention about the detail in the killing of 2 women. It almost sounds like he knew he couldn't show Sharon tate being murdered so he showed this. Personally, I think Tarantino has issues about women and i still would not be surprised that he is a secret serial killer...oops did I say that out loud:)

    ReplyDelete
  8. I've been torn about this for a few reasons.

    First and foremost I was concerned about the inclusion of Sharon Tate and how her tragedy was handled. I was very young when she was killed but I remember it vividly. That was the year that I became aware of the wider world...and what a summer to do so! Judy Garland died in June, we landed on the moon in July and then this atrocity in August. Yeesh!

    Anyway having lived through it, and in the intervening years having seen her small handful of films, I've always felt very protective of her and I'm glad to hear that she was spared any exploitation. I've heard Tarantino say that in researching the movie he became enchanted with her and part of the reason for including her was to give her more substance than the headline she is often reduced too. So on that point and knowing that her death isn't shown I'm intrigued.

    But I'm very variable on Tarantino and his tendency to not know when to edit things down, I hated Pulp Fiction and several others but liked Inglorious Basterds, and it looks like that's an issue here. And I've heard that the last 20 minutes are terribly violent, not something that encourages me to buy a ticket. However that cast sure is a draw. So I'm basically still on the fence.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tate has zero substance in this movie. She's essentially there to be beautiful while the rest of the screen time goes to other characters. If he was so enchanted by her, he should've given her more to do.

      It does have a very violent end that I find laced in misogyny. I'm sure you've read all the discourse on it, but it bothered me. If you have an issue on how Tarantino edits, this is going to be a rough watch. It's at least 40 minutes too long.

      Delete

Post a Comment

Talk to me, I'm lonely.

Popular posts from this blog

Random Ramblings: The Radio Flyer Conundrum

Thursday Movie Picks - Oscar Edition: Best Cinematography and Visual Effects

Review: Class Action Park