Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood ★★★½

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

This review may contain spoilers.

This is the hardest kind of film to write about. Like anything Quentin Tarantino does, it's beautifully crafted and written well enough that any complaint I might have would sound petty. But at the same time, this isn't really QT at his best. There's nothing here that you haven't seen before, and in fact nothing that QT himself hasn't done better elsewhere. So rather than try to write a formal review with paragraphs, here's a list of some stray observations. Enjoy.

- Quentin Tarantino really, really likes movies.

- Quentin Tarantino really, really likes his own movies.

- Quentin Tarantino really doesn't like hippies for some reason.

- The sound design in this film is very good. The sound editors snuck in a lot of interesting effects that really enhance the auditory experience of the thing.

- When the violence finally erupts, it gets excessive, even for the subject matter. The amount of glee that's evident in the grisly killings of the Mansonites is pretty uncomfortable to watch, especially considering that arguably they were manipulated into committing these crimes.

- On the flip side, it's interesting to see how QT makes a film where there is very little violence for nearly the entire runtime. It turns out he's pretty good at it. "A washed-up actor and his stuntman pal wander around Hollywood" doesn't sound like the premise of a Tarantino film, but it certainly feels like one while you're watching it.

- Less overt racism than many other QT films, but more overt misogyny.

- The scenes with the tough-as-nails child actor were brilliant. She should get a spinoff Netflix series of her own.

- Obviously it would be better if Sharon Tate and her friends had not been murdered, but at the same time I'm not sure it's respectful to erase the tragedy the way this film does. At the same time, though, it would have been incredibly tasteless to actually depict the real events, especially with the kind of cavalier enthusiasm that QT always brings to scenes of violence. Keeping to history but letting the murders happen offscreen would probably be the least distasteful option, but wouldn't really fit with the QT style. I think this is just a game that can't be won.