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Review: Once upon a time in Hollywood [2019]

“Once upon a time in Hollywood” has been on my radar for a long time. Of course it was, it’s a Quentin Tarantino movie with a stellar cast. And since I liked most of his movies, I was bound to like this, one, too, right? Right 🙂 I did enjoy it a lot, actually. It’s a typical Tarantino movie, from his obvious foot fetish to his gory fighting scenes.

The movie is, as advertised, a love letter to Hollywood. It’s a about a has-been actor (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double / best friend (Brad Pitt). It’s also about the Charles Manson, his “special” family and the Tate murders. How are these two stories connected? Well, I will let you discover that yourself, but I will say that I felt the two storylines took a long and insufficient time to collide.

I definitely needed more of the Manson family. Crazy as they were, it would have been nice to see more of their leader, of the dynamic between the youngsters, what they believed in and how they got to Sharon Tate. But, from the little we got, I very much enjoyed Margaret Qualley, Austin Butler and Dakota Fanning. All stars (some in the making).

Although I very much enjoyed seeing so many celebrities in 2 minute roles, by the end of it, it felt….too much? It felt like less of a cameo, and more of disgrace to waste so much talent on parts like that. I get Al Pacino as the super agent, and maybe Bruce Dern as the Ranch boss. But to have Damien Lewis to be Steve McQueen for 30 second and say 4 lines, or Scoot McNairy to have a couple line of dialogue and fall….well, that’s shameful and disrespectful. But then again, I guess being 1 minute in a Tarantino movie is enough for everybody. I’m just saying to some of these parts could have gone to lesser known actors, and by doing that, it wouldn’t have distracted us from the actual storyline.

As for the main characters, Margot Robbie’s part felt, again, underdeveloped, but she sure looked pretty in it. Leonardo DiCaprio was fantastic as the aging actor, and I loved his almost caricature portrayal of Rick Dalton. Brad Pitt was also really good, although I didn’t feel like he did anything special throughout the movie (seemed like a classic BP performance), with the exception of the end, where we could see him flexing his “acting” muscle. Brownie points for his abs and being so cool at 50+ years old. Is it an Oscar worthy performance? Not really, but I wouldn’t mind him getting it, he deserves it.

Reading this, you might think I didn’t like “Once upon a time in Hollywood”. The funny thing is I DID LIKE IT. Overall, I thought it was very well made film (sets, costumes, cinematography), with a great score and soundtrack (mostly 60s music). The directing was amazing, I loved watching his ingenious shots and the script, for the most parts, was interesting (I didn’t get bored). The acting was great, I loved learning more the industry and to see how movies are shot, and the gory scenes were especially gruesome. I just wanted more in terms of storyline, specifically a more coherent and connected one.

So, yes, “Once upon a time in Hollywood” is a very good movie. Maybe even Oscar-worthy. If you’re a movie lover, you should definitely see it.

9 thoughts on “Review: Once upon a time in Hollywood [2019]

  1. I wasn’t crazy about this one, it’s on the lower end of my Tarantino list. Robbie’s role WAS underdeveloped. She was literally just there to look pretty.

  2. Yep, false advertising to call it a movie about Manson as he (and others) are cameos. Seems to be the way to lure viewers to watch nowadays with these impressive casts (The Avengers, The Expendables, upcoming Little Women) Still, I was entertained and the enigma of Cliff Booth kept me intrigued.

    1. Agreed. Funny thing about the Manson family, I talked with at least 4 or 5 people about this movie (non-movie fanatics) and most of them didn’t know about the Tate murders. So I guess it must be even more confusing for them. One of them actually told me this, it wasn’t very clear at the end. Also, if you don’t know the scandal, then the ending might not be as rewarding as it is, right?

      1. * Spoiler warning!* Tate could have been deeper in the movie and some viewers may not care much about her at the end. To me, the ending is still rewarding without knowledge of Manson and Tate (I hardly knew anything about real murders or real Tate). If Cliff Booth is guilty then the violence and conversation in the car with the hippie reaffirms he’s a bad apple(“police tried to get me all my life, they haven’t got me yet. The day it does, it won’t be because of you”) But you could say Booth redeemed himself to a certain extent, by being a hero and protecting innocent people from danger. The mystery of his past remains intact and a cleverly written character.

        1. Ok, that makes sense. Although, honestly, I didn’t considered it to be a redemption act. In my mind, it was obvious he would save the day

    1. 🙂 I know you didn’t like this and I kind of get why. Some parts were good, some not so much. I just think the script could have been a lot more stronger. I guess Tarantino’s strength comes in directing, not writing

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