Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood (2019) Review

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RATING: 3.5/5

[SPOILERS]

An aging actor and his stunt-double/best friend are struggling to make a huge comeback. These struggles cross paths with the side-plot involving actress Sharon Tate and the infamous Charles Manson.

As displayed in the posters and trailers, this is Tarantino’s 9th film in his filmography. Now as a film that is directed, produced, and written by the man, it goes into that Tarantino formula that many will appreciate and love.

The ensemble cast was great. DiCaprio, Pitt, Robbie, and the rest gave great performances. There were quite of few cameos from certain people who have been in previous Tarantino films that came in which was cool. But yes, everyone did a really good and enjoyable job in their roles. The dynamic the two main leads have with each other was so much fun to watch.

DiCaprio’s scenes where he was participating in the movie shoot was humorous and cool to witness. I liked how he would mess up his lines and everyone on set had to get back into positions. The camera would even turn back to its original position which was funny.

The dialogue was all good all around. Even though a good chunk doesn’t really flow or match well with the story overall, it was still fun to listen to and to be engaged in the world around the characters.

The biggest thing that this movie had going for, was the 60s setting and the style it presented. There were bright/vibrant colors coming out from the screen. Thus making the whole world feel alive. Tarantino did a stellar job at making a film that was reminiscent of the decade as a whole. The opening orange glowing credits and the end credits were a nice touch.

There would be times where DiCaprio’s character, Rick Dalton, would be inserted into some of the television shows and movies of that time period. To really add the effect of him being an actor from the 60s and it was executed very well. For example, he would be inserted into the 1963 film “The Great Escape.” As I said, it was well executed and I didn’t see a fuzzy line around him indicating a green screen.

If one was a fan of 60s music, one would very much enjoy the old-school soundtrack that this movie delivered. As a person that doesn’t listen to a lot of this music, it was nice to hear the retro sounds.

Cinematography for the film was nicely done throughout. It showcased long takes/shots of certain scenes. This was a necessary addition to the film’s 60s style. Tarantino needed to have those long takes in order for the movie to feel like something from the golden age of filmmaking. Because of these long takes, there was importantly no fast-cuts or quick-editing technique.

Now the runtime clocked in at around 2hrs and 40 mins, almost 3hrs. With it being that long, this film was a slow burn. At times it was needed to help build context on the characters and the world. Though on the other side, it does tend to get stagnant and I was unfortunately getting bored, particularly in the second act.

There were scenes where things would just happen or things would just be prolonged for some reason. There were a few times where characters would be driving in a car in the bustling city of Hollywood. They would go on for quite a number of minutes. Or maybe there would be scenes in general that seem to go on longer than they should be.

The ending was…something. I can see why it had many people divided. Basically, the film took place in an alternate reality where actress Sharon Tate survived the Manson murders. It was nice and a bit of a surprise for the movie to go in that direction, but it ended so abruptly. I was left scratching my head. So yeah, I wish that ending could have been handled a bit better.

But I will say the scenes prior to the ending was entertainment galore. It delivered that distinct Tarantino gore and blood. Though it was fairly light compared to others. This may be one of his lightest in terms of gore. But it was amazing to watch DiCaprio and Pitt fight off against some of the Manson family members.

There was a scene early on where Pitts character, Cliff Booth, held his own against Bruce Lee. To which I would say BS, but for a film like this one, I will certainly allow it.

As Tarantino’s 9th film, he delivered the goods, as usual. The film had a great ensemble cast, great performances, a stellar style/look, delivered good music, and should satisfy many people who grew up in the 60s, that’s for sure. Though the slow burn and pace made this a movie I wouldn’t watch all the time. Nonetheless, it was enjoyable to watch.