Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood ★★★★½

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

This review may contain spoilers.

Theater Visits — 2019

"Why don't you stand in front of the movie poster so people know who you are?"

Happily saw this a second time last night with my girlfriend; second viewing thoughts, feelings, and observations:

-- I love how the one thing connecting these disparate characters is the radio. Regardless of their income or status quo in Hollywood, everyone grooves to the same tunes with the windows rolled down, which is about as Tarantino as it gets.

-- Speaking of, this movie has some of the best driving sequences in recent memory. It seems like a silly thing, but Tarantino has always understood the simple tricks to identify with his characters. Whether that's riding around with them for an afternoon or watching them make their favorite cocktail, you're always getting to know them on a granular level.

-- A second viewing makes me ride even harder for Margot Robbie's Sharon Tate in this movie. It's a fairy tale, guys, and she's the fucking fairy. But really—she's this ethereal presence who dances way above the movie, and the final turns with Rick don't work if you don't have this relationship with her.

-- The opening scene with DiCaprio and Al Pacino is one of Tarantino's best. It gets all the necessary exposition out of the way, both practically and emotionally, by cutting in and out of Dalton's films so that we're getting to know him in a way that's totally precise for his character. Also, it's funny as hell: "It's a flamethrower, Rick."

-- The Manson showdown is a total masterpiece. It's edgy and tense and funny and bloody all at once. The music cue is perfect, lending the scene this feeling of sensory overload that makes the images explode off-screen. Pitt's dog becomes the ultimate Chekov's Gun: when Pitt clicks his teeth, it's absolutely believable that Brandy would do exactly what he needed. Then you layer on Pitt's acid-induced performance, which is one of the most subtle but entertaining "this character is fucked up" bits I've ever seen.

-- I know the ending jumps out with it's violence and it's Tarantino-ness, but I think it totally works. The entire movie prior has been a relative exercise in restraint in terms of Tarantino's typical style, and since the entire third act could be perceived as a lucid wish-fulfillment, it seems only fair that Tarantino's own bloody Tarantino-ness would serve as the visceral embodiment of that. It's almost like he's knowingly ripping himself off—he's too skilled to just wedge a bloody showdown in there cause he can't help it.

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