Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood ★★★★★

Watching a film three times in the cinema on its first release is pretty much unheard of for me, but how could I resist revisiting my favourite film of 2019 [admittedly I’ve watched a shockingly low number of new movies] when in Los Angeles, and in Quentin Tarantino's own personal fiefdom, the fabulous New Beverly Cinema? Well, I didn't resist it and it cheered me up no end after a lousy day.

The cinema was festooned with Rick Dalton posters and the concession stand was full of 1969-era candies (I had to take their word for this). We had 1969-vintage trailers and commercials (the trailer for Rosemary's Baby is fantastic and subtle) and extras thrown in by Mr T - such as the adorable full version of Rick Dalton singing Green Door on the Hullabaloo TV show. The added value really upped the experience.

Naturally on third viewing I didn't find the movie as moving or exciting as I had first time round, but not far off it. I was really able to appreciate the skill of QT's technique. The delirious camera sweeps into the party at the Playboy Mansion, and over the drive-in screen to descend into the nether lands where Cliff resides in his trailer. (The drive-in is playing a commercial that we had just watched in our cinema.) The precision of sound editing, such as the tonal shift in the Mamas and Papas song as an ominous car rounds the corner. The beauty of the music choices casting a prism on the visuals - a radio commercial on Roman Polanski's car talking of being Numero Uno; the discarded Bernard Herrmann score to Torn Curtain as Cliff explores the Psycho-like ranch-house; the refrain of Baby you're out of time as dusk falls and the neon signs strike up. It's a bravura display of mature skill.

As you would expect in this venue, the humour played extremely well, and with such an audience, it seemed even funnier than before. I stand by my verdicts on the performances. Pitt and Di Caprio are outstanding - subtle, moving, hilarious. Margot Robbie has a shine in this role that is spooky. Margaret Qualley gives the standout supporting performance. Al Pacino discovers his old spark.

Now I just need to find out who is that buxom beauty in the photo in Cliff's trailer. And discover a few of the music cues. And look into some of the films referenced. It can now go on the back burner for quite a while but tonight won't be my last visit to this fairytale.

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