Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood ★★½

OUATIH is the best and worst of Quentin Tarantino rolled up into one oversized package and a good illustration of how a movie can be both really smart and really stupid at the same time. On the plus-side: Brad Pitt oozes old-school movie-star charisma (every one of his line readings is a sly delight) and the “Spahn ranch” sequence is gangbusters (Tarantino has always excelled at Hitchcockian set pieces). On the other hand, the western T.V. interlude drags (it’s not a coincidence that QT's three longest movies have been the ones he’s made since the death of his original editor Sally Menke); and the revisionist ending is really juvenile, predictable and a good example of a director repeating himself to diminishing effect. Tarantino’s “thing” has always been his dubious desire to provoke viewers into cheering on movie violence. Over time, he’s figured out that the most respectable way to do this is to have that violence meted out against characters who “deserve” it (e.g., Nazis, slave owners and the Manson family). Not within hailing distance of the great JACKIE BROWN.

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