Once Upon a Time in Hollywood ★★★★★

Tarantino is one of my favorite filmmakers and I was happy to see his newest film as soon as I could. I wouldn’t say he’s batting a thousand but his knowledge and love for the art form is clear to the many packed theaters I’ve seen his work in. This film has some lesser tropes I have grown to not like in his films. Pointless narration, meandering plot threads and lots of feet. However, I feel this is Tarantino more true to form, without the gimmicks.

The gloss of 1969 Hollywood is dazzling, full of pop culture references, movie posters, and fun characters. I appreciated the attention given to authenticity. Having logos for real television stations during the news segments added a lot to the film. There are long takes of Brad Pitt driving his car through the streets of 60’s L.A. and yet the illusion is never broken, as every block he goes down feels as real as the last.

It is very dialogue driven and the plot itself, while unpredictable, is fairly simple. What really kept me invested were the characters and the performances. I feel this is both Brad Pitt’s and Leonardo DiCaprio’s best performances to date. They were excellent both together and when they were off on their own adventures. This film reminded me of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in many ways, but their dynamic reminded me a lot of Depp and Del Toro. Fear and Loathing in Hollywood maybe? A few other characters should’ve been utilized more, but Rick and Cliff worked and I think that’s more important.

The film is more comedic in tone and has some ridiculous moments, but at its core the film has more to say. I would like to get into it but it’s a lot, and I’d like to see this film a few more times.