Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood ★★★½

Good Things:
1. “I always throw myself on the floor just for fun, even when I’m not being paid.”

2. The scene on the ranch is so tense. It's amazing.

3. DiCaprio's glare when Pacino is guiding him by the arm. Subtle, and brilliant.

4. The cut away from Pitt while he's holding the harpoon gun. This is a masterclass. The tension is building, we're engrossed, and then with a single shot Tarantino let's you know what's going to happen. He doesn't have to show the events. It's like a photo of a glass of water too close to the edge of a table. We all know where that water will end up, without having to see it. So then, just as we're all leaning in expectantly, to see the event that we are certain must occur, Tarantino cuts. He cuts away. Just brilliant.

5. Watching Tarantino now feels like watching Hitchcock. There's this sheen and polish like a signature on every movie. Also he has the best soundtrack tastes of any director. Possible exception for Wes Anderson, who is very much in the Hitchcock category too.

Bad Things:
1. When Al Pacino is recounting his last night some of his lines are accompanied by footage of the exact events occurring as he says them. He mentions pouring a drink, so the camera shows him pouring a drink. This is a rookie mistake, if either the footage or the dialogue is establishing that fact then the other media should be used differently. I feel like Tarantino knew this, and always meant to put something else in the montage but never found it and eventually gave up. That or he tried to do it without the shots of pouring whiskey etc. and the montage moved too slowly and needed more cuts for energy.

2. There's a lot of padding. I'm not sure what percentage of the movies and tv shows that we see clips of is play-within-a-play scenarios still laden with meaning. Yet, it often just feels like Tarantino stretching his muscles, and these scenes are just reminiscent of a cool era, without adding artistic merit to the movie. I enjoyed all of this stuff, so this isn't much of a fault, but the movie was definitely longer than it needed to be. There should have been harsher editing on scenes of walking up staircases, and flash backs to bounty law.

3. This isn't exactly all style no substance... but it's close.

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