Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood ★★★½

Best thing: Brad Pitt's visit to the old ranch is really tense and makes a bit of an homage to Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Worst thing: There is an extended sequence of voiceover to fill us in on several months' events. I'm sure Tarantino wants to give us all the details, but we didn't need this much detail.

I normally love the soundtrack on Tarantino movies. Honestly, I didn't like the soundtrack here at all, with the exception of Hush by Deep Purple and California Dreaming (though I prefer the commonly played version). Admittedly I don't have any nostalgia for the sixties since I wasn't born yet while if you play me the Captain Marvel soundtrack (with a bunch of songs from the 90s), every song stirs up memories and feelings.

The other problem was the runtime. I could not feel the runtime on Hateful Eight. I checked my watch 2 hours into Once Upon A Time In Hollywood and I could not believe there was a whole other hour to go.

Margot Robbie was great as Carol Tate, but she doesn't really matter til the last scene and I felt they should have made her more relevant to the main story. I've now heard a bit more about the true life story but I still think this is a problem.

On the other hand, the more I hear about this film, the more it sounds like this film rewards those who have familiarised themselves with the real life details of Charlie Manson and his followers. I didn't think the followers of Charles Manson would matter that much, but it turns out there is a massive amount of information about the figures we see on that ranch.

As much as I would have preferred a fun genre film rather than a film about actors and stunt guys who perform in genre films, I have to give credit to Tarantino for exhibiting a level of subtlety we have not seen for a long long time in his films. (Not since possibly Jackie Brown.)

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is absolutely gorgeous, the central performances from Brad Pitt and Leonardo Di Caprio are brilliant, there are some fantastic moments, and lots of clever little details (like Sam Wannamaker, who funded the rebuilding of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London asking Di Caprio to perform like "evil sexy Hamlet"). However, I really really wish there was a stronger story.

Inglourious Basterds was a bit messy, but it had a definite story. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood struck me as stronger than Inglourious Basterds in so many ways, but the lack of a strong story brings it down to the same level, but I still think Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is a much more interesting piece of work from this very singular director.

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