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.

My sincere apologies to all you lovely people out there in Letterboxd land. It seems that I am cursed to dislike a popular movie each year. Quentin Tarantino's "Once Upon A Time In Hollywood" is adored by critics and audiences, so once again, you should just ignore this outlier negative review, see it for yourself, and enjoy the living hell out of it! If you're like most people, odds are you will. The best things I can really say is that I thought Leonardo DiCaprio was giving it his all, I was impressed by how many vintage cars they were able to get for the street and highway shots, and that there was nary an N word to be heard.

Overall, I thought "Once Upon A Time In Hollywood" was weak, dull, and overlong. It had great atmosphere for sure, but the story was a complete dud. There were stretches where it felt like it was going nowhere at all. There's a lot of watching other people watch TV. If you remember the ending to "Inglourious Basterds" and think about it for a few seconds, you can also probably guess the ending of this particular film. So, for me, it was like seeing the same magic trick for the second time - not nearly as amazing and impressive as the first.

Leonardo DiCaprio's character seems to have no arc. It felt like his character was running in place. He's drinking and depressed about his acting career at the beginning, and he's the exact same way at the conclusion, except now he snorts and spits a lot. The audience can only assume that his career picks up after the film ends, based upon an event that seems to have happened entirely by chance. Speaking of that event, does the suspense leading up to the climax really have much of an impact upon those in the audience that aren't familiar with the Manson murders?

Margot Robbie's Sharon Tate is barely a character in this film, despite being the female lead. Here, Tate is just a pretty actor who dances and enjoys watching herself in the movies. She has more to do in the movie within the movie than she does outside of it.

Brad Pitt is Brad Pitt with some fake scars. He's okay, but he's not really doing anything but being himself. Pitt has a useless scene with Bruce Dern, one of my least favorite actors of all time. There are the requisite cameos by a few members of the Quentin Tarantino Repertory Company.

The thing that bugs me the most about this film is the sudden presence of an unnamed narrator two-thirds of the way through the film, something Tarantino's done before. There's a reason that any kind of narration is rare these days. For aspiring screenwriters, it's discouraged from the very beginning as an amateurish crutch. Please don't get me wrong: Quentin Tarantino is clearly no amateur. I just have to wonder why audiences and critics continually give him a pass on something that wouldn't fly in any community college's Screenwriting 101.

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