Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood ★★

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a frustrating and baffling film that I believe will disappoint most moviegoers. I haven't been a Tarantino fan for awhile now, I used to be but I grew out of liking his films sort of like how a kid grows out of their old clothes. Despite this, I went into the theater with zero expectations because I try to never write off a filmmaker, however naive that might be. The first two thirds of the movie are actually fairly strong, flawed but effective. This stretch of the movie represents some of Tarantino's most mature and reflective filmmaking, where Tarantino ruminates on the culture that drew him into making movies in the first place. There's a dumb, now infamous, dream sequence involving both a murder and a fight with Bruce Lee that's honestly cringe-worthy and not funny but, despite this part and before the ending, the film isn't as shallow or corny as the other Tarantino films and it even has some moving scenes; like DiCaprio pathetically ruminating on his acting career and, oddly enough, Brad Pitt feeding his dog. The high points are a key scene involving Pitt's character visiting Spahn ranch and another where DiCaprio's character proves his acting worth on a western TV show. In these scenes, one would think the movie is going somewhere substantial and compelling but the final third is woefully disappointing. It's hard to write about it without spoilers, but I'll just say it's the kind of ending that doesn't just sour everything that came before, it will downright make you question the validity and judgement of all those who enjoy this kind of crap. It shows both Tarantino's perpetual infantilism and the reactionary conservative side of him that his fans always like to pretend isn't there. The ending is also, on a structural basis, flimsy and unconvincing. Tarantino might show off some of his best film directing here but he also shows off his weakest writing; delivering a work that is so conceptually weak that the entire audience I saw it with laughed in nervous disbelief during its finish. Judging by the audience's reaction, Postmodernism seems to be totally finished off in American art and justifiably so. OUATIH is a film that essentially ends up as fanfic made with a hundred mil, a film that is less a movie than a lame, half-baked, would-be paean to its author's wet-dream fantasies that were hastily written down before jacking it to Bonanza. To say that it's all fruitlessly indulgent is like pointing out that Mount Everest is tall or that a pool of water is wet. For too long, QT has gotten by on dumb jokes inspired by stereotypes and the window dressing of other films. His movies will age as poorly as the shits my dog took on my front lawn this morning. I'm sorry, but if this is true cinema, it might as well be dead.

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