Zoë 🐝’s review published on Letterboxd:
TW: mentions of sexual assault and abuse
I like when movies or media make me want to go see other movies or media, but there is a point where I go "well, if I'd much rather be watching something else, then there's a problem". That's when a movie reminding me of other things and making me excited for other things crosses over into just being a pale comparison with other media. "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" walked this line really well. Here is a little list of movies I wanted to watch while watching OUaTiH:
-any Tim Holt b-Western (Tim Holt is not mentioned even once in this I just love that little man)
-all of Sharon Tate's movies
-Fists of Fury
I mean, what fun! What other movie from 2019 is going to make me want to go watch The Tramplers of all things!
There were a few other things I really liked. First, while this movie is too long, I did like the 'slow drive around Hollywood' vibe this gave off. I liked the scenes with Rick Dalton on his television shoot. In fact, I liked Rick Dalton full stop. I'm not a huge Leo DiCaprio fan, but I can easily say that he was fantastic as Dalton, and made me grow to really care about Dalton as a character. I liked Margot Robbie too, I thought she captured a wonderful vibrancy and joy that Sharon Tate, from what I can tell from photos and quotes (I have yet to see her on film but I plan to remedy that soon) possessed in spades. I found myself repeatedly getting emotional when she was on screen, particularly when she showed such kindness to all those around her, and of course in the film's final moments.
As for things I didn't like, my least favorite part of the film was easily the Bruce Lee fight. It made me unbelievably angry, and I found it incredibly disrespectful and galling that Tarantino would have so little regard for an absolute trailblazer, especially when he extends far more restraint to other real-life subjects like pedophile and rapist Roman Polanski. If you haven't already, I recommend reading what Bruce Lee's daughter had to say about the scene depicting her father. I also didn't like the treatment of women. This movie ran through the rolodex of sexist tropes; the nagging wife, the over sexualized teenager, a wife being murdered played for a shocked laugh. It would have been nice to meet some other female actresses big at the time, and for women to just have gotten more sympathy or respect in general. I also didn't like the use of some slurs against Mexicans and the casting of abuser Emile Hirsch.
I'm glad I've seen it and I liked it more than I thought I would, but this was certainly a wild and weird and conflicting journey.