Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood ★★★★★

Tarantino is an auteur that can completely operate within a number of genres, yet retains familiar trademarks in every one of his films. ONCE UPON A TIME... IN HOLLYWOOD (2019) is as subversive a film that Tarantino has ever done, just for the shear fact that it’s A.) the least violent film in his career, B.) is as close to a straight up comedy as Tarantino has ever done, and C.) comes across as a fairly conservative film, with reverence for the time of yesteryear, and palpable disdain for hippie culture.

DiCaprio and Pitt, both veteran Tarantino actors, are great in this film. DiCaprio has had a number of memorable roles throughout the decade (including both Tarantino films he acted in), but this might be the best role Pitt has had since THE TREE OF LIFE (2011). He brings such a droll sense of humor to his character: a seemingly indestructible stuntman.

Margot Robbie plays Sharon Tate, and it’s fairly apparent that she is a symbol of innocence and empathy for Tarantino. For a film lover as big as Tarantino, there must be a sense of anger and sadness regarding Tate and the Manson murders. It seems to mark a turning point in Hollywood culture, and not for the better (a major theme in the film, overall). Perhaps that is the reason why all of the violent scenes in the film involve hippies being beaten, mauled, battered, and burned.

However, as great as the acting and writing is, this film is a glorious recreation of 1969 Los Angeles. There doesn’t appear to be any CGI in this film. The one scene I thought was CGI (the drive-in crane shot), was actually done with miniatures. Again, it’s an amazing recreation, especially the soundtrack, which takes on a life of it’s own as each character drives across the city. It’s almost the cinematic equivalent of GRAND THEFT AUTO 5, as each character drives to a destination, accompanied by the sounds of 60’s blaring through their car stereos.

All of Tarantino’s films bear a personal mark, but ONCE UPON A TIME... IN HOLLYWOOD might be his most personal. He grew up during this era. It’s much different for him to alter the history of WWII (INGLORIOUS BASTARDS) than it is for him to alter the history of late 60’s pop culture from his childhood. It’s the work of an auteur filmmaker, in complete control of narrative and mise en scene.

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