Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood ★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Hollywood can only play itself. Key here is how the whole thing is designed so it pulls the rug from under QT's own postmodern posturing to deliver the most heartwarming moment of his filmography right at the end. A film of friends, almost Demme-esque in that regard, while also the first of his since Jackie Brown to truly build off of what he found in Pulp Fiction's meandering script structure. "Love letter to Hollywood" is easy, everybody does it, but of all people of course it was Tarantino the nostalgist who would end up making a love letter to Sharon Tate. His best since Deathproof, maybe his best, period.

Fascinating that this late in his career (Hateful Eight already seemed to point in this direction) he would start trying his hand at such different rhythms, this is a slow and often quiet movie, scattered bumbling all around the place like whichever of Altman's L.A. tours you prefer, horny all the way because that's how this world operates. It allows QT to accumulate a sentimentality that is nowhere to be found on any of his other movies, to showcase his adoration of audiovisual muzak, "media crap", in a way that is finally more charming than it is ironically detached or pure adolescent encyclopedic snark. What in Basterds felt like counterfactual for the sake of vengeance here feels like counterfactual for the sake of a good hangout, for the sake of a gift to the departed and what they dreamt of when they dreamt of The Movies.

Rick Dalton, avatar of media crap, gets to climb the ladder of this world of surfaces half by accident, half by absent-mindedly preventing irreparable trauma. Manson is in it only for one scene, Tate meanwhile gets to hear people enjoy her performance, and then some. It all truly suggests ridiculous fantasia as reparation, or at the very least coping mechanism. Do I buy it, all this sincere love for Hollywood and its exploitative fetishism? Nah, not really. But Quentin sure as hell does, his whole career is indebted to this era, and that's the driving force of the whole thing. For the first time ever we have a QT movie where we're talking about affection, how's that for a change?

Plus all the superlatives: DiCaprio is a machine right now, Pitt is on cruise control but it's perfect casting, Robbie has never been better. Editing is fantastic. Compositions are just annoyingly pastiche-y enough. And that little girl, plus casting Dakota Fanning for a minor role afterwards? Chefs_kiss_hand_motion.gif

Alternative title: Behold the Valley of the Dolls

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