Monday, July 29, 2019 at 4:21PM
The Artswire Weekly in Brad Pitt, Dakota Fanning, Film Reviews, Kurt Russell, Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie, Once Upon a Time in HollyWood, Quentin Tarantino, Reviews by Mateo Moreno


Quentin Tarantino’s film career has spanned several different genres, made old stars new stars again (Hello Travolta, Hello Forster) and made the film soundtrack very cool again. For his 9th (give or take) film, he jumps back into the backlots of Hollywood 1969, right around the Manson murders. But it’s not so much about the murders. It’s really about the way life was around the Manson era. The way Hollywood was a dancing, bright and flashy, violent scene to be in. Tarantino is one of the masters of finding scenarios that have been done over and over and exploring them differently, making them look different through his lenses. And he does exactly that in ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD, his glorious new ‘ode to Motion Pictures, and the troubles that surround it.

There’s a duel story being told here: one of Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCarprio), a famous TV gunslinger whose career is starting to dry up, and his long-time stunt double and friend Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). Rick wants to reclaim the feeling of his glory days but doesn’t quite know how to do it. Cliff hasn’t been a full-time stunt double in years, so he’s also become Rick’s driver, and he loves it. Taking him from place to place. Though the two of them are close friends, they are complete opposites. Rick is an emotional roller coaster, drinking his way through his sadness, while nothing at all seems to bother Cliff: he’s cool as a cucumber. Rumors abound the film, especially around Cliff, who is rumored to have killed his wife and got away with it; a flashback scene smartly plays up the moment in question without a resolution.

The film plays with time and a distorted reality, sometimes feeling like a film within a film. Whose reality are we watching? Why is there sometimes narration, and if we see an image of the past, like a scene between Cliff and Bruce Lee (Mike Moh), are we to believe it exactly, or is it simply a Point of View memory? Worlds do start to come together, as Rick now finds himself next door to Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) and Cliff starts seeing Mason girls just wandering around the bus stops. However, the most fascinating part of these moments is that we don’t end up following them to the Ranch. We stay with Cliff and Rick, and only when their paths decide to cross into that world, do we explore it.

The movie bursts with small details of old Hollywood and has long sequences that play out perfectly, not necessarily moving along the plot, but adding a ton of character depth (such is the sequence with Rick and a young child co-star on a film set). Where the film goes, it takes it’s time getting to, and that’s one of the reasons to love this film. It feels just like and nothing like a Tarantino film at the same time. Every shot is there for a reason, and it’s all building to…well, I won’t spoil it in any way. But know that it’s a thrilling, nostalgic ride that only he can do. So, stick out your thumb. Hitch a ride. Take a look. You won’t know what you’re missing unless you take a look.


WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY Quentin Tarantino.  STARRING Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie, Dakota Fanning, Luke Perry, Al Pacino, Mike Moh, Kurt Russell, Tomothy Olyphant. Now playing in cinemas.


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