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Once Upon A Time In Hollywood [Review]

Updated: Aug 28, 2019

Film: Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Kurt Russell & Al Pacino.

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Review by: Wade Swift

Rating: 4 out of 5 X's

It's been nearly four years since we've heard from one of Hollywood's most eclectic and storied directors, Quentin Tarantino. Who deviates quite heavily from the direction of his last few films and sees the 56 year old director getting back to basics, paying homage to his hometown of Los Angeles. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is a "Day in the life" (3 days to be exact) of three very different individuals each in completely different stages of their lives and careers, all just looking for a piece of the Hollywood pie. The kicker, they also happen to be living in the Hollywood Hills during the time of the horrific and now infamous Manson family Murders that took place on August 8th, 1969. But let me just stop there, because if you're thinking this movie is some type of LA Confidential thriller/mystery do yourself a favor and turn back now. This film is pure comedy through and through, with just enough real life struggle & drama sprinkled in to balance everything out and keep things interesting. It's also important to note that this film and it's plot have a very loose connection to the infamous "Tate Murders" despite early reports during pre production and even after it's release. No, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is an all out love letter from director Quentin Tarantino to the city of Los Angeles as well as an ode to the 1960s. Known as the "golden era" of Hollywood, which was a very transitional period for America culturally as well as in cinema. Shifting from the sort of archaic cowboy era of the 50s & early 60s and into a newer vastly different and more colorful, hippier generation. This movie is a period piece but I believe it's best described as a time machine, successfully transporting you to another place and a different time. Tarantino does this by flawlessly encapsulating the golden era of Hollywood with impeccable detail, taking his time to build this alternate universe and it's characters. Which is really what makes this movie such a breath of fresh air. In an era of rampid saturation in the movie industry, where everything seems to either be a superhero movie or some reboot from the 80s, 90s, 2000s, it's a refreshing change of pace for any film buffs out there. Which brings me to The Wins. This film boasts an outstanding cast of seasoned veterans who's chemistry and cohesiveness alone is worth the price of admission. The comedic dialogue and timing really help you along throughout the "slower" moments. Each role whether big or small was executed perfectly. The protagonists story is told through the plight of an aging American western star struggling to keep up with the times and desperately trying to secure his spot permanently in Hollywood. Leonardo DiCaprio showcases his range as the enigmatic actor Rick Dalton who we join on a essentially a 72 hour emotional rollercoaster ride. He's assisted on his journey by Brad Pitt who delivers arguably his most lovable role as Rick's stuntman/sidekick "Cliff Booth", a man clearly capable of greater things in life however completely content with his place in the industry, playing second fiddle to Dalton. While this movie is mostly based around fictional characters, their are a few real life actors portrayed including Sharon Tate who's played by the effervescent Margot Robbie who delivers an dazzling performance of the once IT girl of Hollywood. Some other notable appearances by Bruce Lee, Steve McQueen just to name a few and of course Charles Manson. Pair that with a star studded list of cameos and vintage, pristine Tarantino cinematography and you've got yourself something worthy of a night at the movies. The losses are simple, for the casual movie goer out there this film may begin to drone on at certain moments, and some may even say the third act takes entirely too long to develop. I'm not here for either. This movie was created for film purests plain and simple, and anyone who's ever been even mildly intrigued with Beverly Hills and the Hollywood industry/lifestyle. The only reason this doesn't get a higher rating is because it just isn't for everyone, a perfect or near perfect movie is something everyone can enjoy and this definitely has a somewhat limited audience. However I believe a good movie will have you on the edge of your seat, but a great movie will have you forgetting about the seat, forgetting that you're in a movie theater staring at a screen, forgetting what year you're in even and this film does all of the above.


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