Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood ★★★★★

A Tarantino with heart, his first since Jackie Brown. Which is one major reason why this has become my new favourite Tarantino.

The other major reason is of course that it is a Movie Movie, positively dripping with nostalgia for the movieverse of 1969 and what had come before. The great thing about watching it is that you know Tarantino has done his homework thoroughly and his imaginary characters will combine exactly with the people and slot into the events of Hollywood in that year. It's wonderful to hear from Steve McQueen briefly, have Mama Cass lead Michelle Phillips and Sharon Tate to the dance floor and witness Bruce Lee in a hilarious squabble with Brad Pitt.

I don't believe in spoilers on here, especially not with a new release, so there's plenty I won't mention. But it all works. Tarantino is in complete control of his universe and only occasionally becomes self-indulgent. The friend that I saw it with also loved it but felt that some parts were too slow and were included not for character development but for the sake of Hollywood nostalgia. Exactly the reason I give it an extra half star than him. Its recreation of the time is flawless - production design and digital assistance immersed me in this world. And, being a Tarantino film, do I even need to mention that the superb musical choices were a huge source of pleasure?

DiCaprio and Pitt are fantastic. Leonardo's insecure film star (inspired by Ty Hardin apparently) is a lovely portrayal, the luck that got him where he is seeping away before his eyes and leaving a slight stammer in its wake. Brad's is a cocky creation, with a knowing cynicism smirked across his face, yet also the more empathetic of the duo. (And how the hell does he still have a six pack nearly 30 years after Thelma and Louise?) Margot Robbie is glorious as Sharon Tate. The scene where she goes to the cinema and watches herself onscreen with an appreciative audience broke my heart.

If this really is Tarantino's last film, he could not be going out on a higher note, for me at least. The beautifully bleak version of California Dreamin' by Jose Feliciano that features in the film is something of a touchstone for the mood that lingered. I'm looking forward to having this dream again.

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