Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

“Lotta killing. Lotta killing.”

Fact and fiction are blended as Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double Cliff (Brad Pitt) take on Hollywood in 1969. Early in the film, being a stunt double is mansplained to us. Rick Dalton is a fading star who needs reassurance from Cliff and practically everyone else. He even channels Gloria Swanson in Sunset Blvd. by repeating lines from his old movies while watching himself on TV. 

Tarantino fashions the film around himself as well. Sharon Tate is shown having dinner on August 8, 1969, at El Coyote, which is right across the street from The New Beverly, now owned by Quentin Tarantino. It apparently used to be a theater that showed adult films and Tarantino references that fact (a cue from the music that always played in a PA before each show at The New Beverly is featured as well).

The Bruin is another theater in the film where Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) goes to put her feet up while watching herself in The Wrecking Crew. Now, I understand that Tarantino has a foot fetish and needs to also feature Margaret Qualley and Dakota Fanning’s feet prominently, as well. But people putting their feet up at movie theaters annoys the hell out of me. It often shakes the whole row and is disturbing, but hey, I’ll digress. 

Making a movie set in 1960s Hollywood also has to feature a scene from Charlie Chaplin’s former hangout and the still extant Musso & Frank’s. The takeaway for me was wow, that place actually had a parking lot back then. 

Roman Polanski, but Cliff especially, liked to drive fast around the curvy roads of Bel-Air. The movie carried the air of the 1960s where people played faster and looser. 

Weirdly enough, both of the main women snore (Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate and Lorenza Izzo as Francesca Capucci). In this film, I paid attention to how women were treated. They were sometimes called names. Cliff would pick fights with men and never women: when some women approached him menacingly in the ranch scene, he threatened a man not them. This established a scene later that Cliff would never hurt a woman unless someone’s life was in danger. 

Now, the editing was so poor that I was praying for the resurrection of Sally Menke. I remember Tarantino’s first film after Menke died: Django Unchained. My friend criticized the editing and I thought he was overreacting. I’ve had no problems with the editing of any of Tarantino’s films since then. 

Cut to Once Upon a Time in Hollywood:

There are a lot of choppy scenes, including a scene in the beginning where alcohol is being poured. Horrible! It’s like they edited it fast to get it ready for Cannes and then didn’t clean up the messy bits later. The "Out of Time" sequence was pretty good. It didn't make up for the rest of the film, but it was solid.

Also, there’s some disjointed organ music in a western scene that was really poorly placed. It made me reminisce for Ennio Morricone’s score in The Hateful Eight. But we can’t have it all. There’s some thoughtful things thrown into the mix with some other things poorly executed as well as some narcissistic main characters. 

In fact, most of the actors resembled the real characters they played. At least that’s what I thought until Margot Robbie watches Sharon Tate in a film where it’s supposed to be her and they obviously look so different. Other than that, Robbie channels Tate and does a great job of playing the character (the actual movie shouldn’t have been shown-they should’ve recreated the scene with Robbie just like they created Rick Dalton’s universe by featuring several films within the film). 

I also enjoyed the brief moments with Al Pacino and Bruce Dern.

Overall, worth a watch, but I’m not writing home to Mom, demanding an Oscar for anyone involved in it, or placing it at the top of my Tarantino ranked list.  

“Who knows what can happen?”

Vegan alert:
-A dog is fed rat-flavored dog food. 
-Rick eats a chicken leg. 
-Cliff makes mac’ and cheese. 
-Velveeta packaging. 
-Rats shown struggling in a trap set for them. 
-Someone wears a hat with an animal print band. 
-Reference to using a large amount of money for chicken mole. 
-A dog is slapped. 
-Cliff wears a snakeskin belt. 

Vegan points:
American Humane Association disclaimer, “No animals were harmed.”

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