Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood ★★★★½

Quentin Tarantino sets his feet up on the side of history that his imagination creates, one not without its flaws (perhaps gone by too uncritically, though Tarantino's observational lens is a lot more forgivable here), but nevertheless a casual and playful try at decade's past. A mile a minute on touchstones and controversy, without losing its effortless attitude. Tarantino's range when it comes to seeing the past at different angles is very much appreciated.

I also adore Tarantino's visual language here. The dude hasn't lost a step from his best work, willing to convey so much while keeping his primary focus somewhat ambiguous. Some scenes or shots last a lot longer than I expect them to, but in ways that feel comfortably rhythmic in pace, and provoking in what else is left to say after another director would have left the point at that. I appreciate that beneath something so brilliantly watchable and technically satisfying going the extra mile on smaller details. Sometimes my judgements on the film's history are leaning in favor of its point, sometimes against, but I haven't yet found a judgement that made me feel like it wasn't worth having that thought in the first place. Or like the film wasn't worth seeing.

Tarantino has again practiced maturity as a parallel to his grandiosity. It might not be his first time in this lane, but his interest in a scene's multi-layered expression while still containing this consistent aesthetic (one half history, half his own, making for a dense landscape of movies and music as a constant backdrop,) that in my mind puts him above most other American auteurs working today.

If you're upset that Margot Robbie didn't get recognized for this role at the Oscars, it was probably because one of the five Supporting Actress nominees was... Margot Robbie. She just got nominated for her role in Bombshell. Brad Pitt on the other hand is more a co-lead than a supporting role, but I'm just glad he got his win. And Leonardo DiCaprio needs to hold children hostage more often; a great performance and a terrific scene, from him and from the young Julia Butters. That's not really a spoiler by the way, in case you were wondering.

The epitome of the invented, brilliant, complicated, contradicting, and sweltering spectacle that is 1969 Los Angeles... well, besides Model Shop. It's second to Model Shop. Because everything is second to Model Shop. Citizen Kane is second to Model Shop.

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