Years ago, a video rental store worker decided from hours of watching VHS tapes that he wanted to build upon those old movies using his own original movies. Eventually, he wrote and directed a freshman hit, Reservoir Dogs… then two years later, his tribute to older cinema trends, Pulp Fiction, struck Oscar gold. Now, Quentin Tarantino’s tenth feature film celebrates the new using old fashioned cowboys and gunfire; it’s… Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood.
First off, Leonardo DiCaprio nails it as a famous TV star who may soon hit dusk point, his tears that stutter between a rough, tough speech could help him achieve a second Oscar win come February! Women in the audience will particularly love Margot Robbie’s portrayal of Sharon Tate, especially when she gets jiggy while listening to her movie’s soundtrack before the mezzanine lights go out. Robbie is just one of the expert actors here who knows how to tell a story through the eyes! Beautiful, loud fashions also explode in a whole party right beside Playboy Mansion’s waterfall pool as the slutty hippies outside are seen hitchhiking on the street! Wow! What a recreation of 1969!
Although here, Tarantino’s biggest filmography problem blares louder than ever before: the movie is too long for its own good. It doesn’t help that the otherwise masterful screenplay must juggle three different subplots. One revolves around the protagonist’s Western TV show, one revolves around his stunt double, and one revolves around Sharon Tate watching herself onscreen. Too many minutes pass between these stories to care, and too much of it goes to the least interesting one of all: that of the stunt double. Continuing the immoral behavior that drags this movie down, there is included for no real reason a presumedly mandatory shot of Brad Pitt shirtless, which disrupts the tone established a couple scenes before by the wonderful usage of the song, “Mrs. Robinson.”
Yet this movie gets some critical concepts about actors correct, including the fact that actors should stop accepting roles to merely sustain their public images. It happens all the time today: Brie Larson undid her talent by playing Captain Marvel, and Michael Keaton did likewise with his fake Dumbo accent. This screenplay’s interweaving stories about stories remind the filmmaking industry that fame is unimportant, but rather- what message to communicate to followers is what’s important. Right now, such humans are being turned into ads with the power of Photoshop, autotuning, and million-dollar makeup jobs to draw followers onto their pedestal.
That reality of the acting business is made transparent by the presence of a young girl who behaves with the professionalism of an adult, while an eighteen-year-old hippie kicks a couple of bare dirty feet all around like a child does. It’s not Kim Kardashian who deserves respect for letting her face get plastered onto every ad, billboard, and magazine cover in sight, but these background actresses who play the hippies in this movie, as they clearly worked well together! Actors such as these really know how to bring out their vulnerability to total strangers!
In creative efforts to help these actors do so well, Quentin Tarantino possesses an incredible superpower behind his typewriter… each word written has many layers of depth to express his colorful characters. Each one is realistic yet an exaggerated stereotype, while their conversations sound natural yet require multiple viewings to appreciate. As for the way he crafts violence, it’s approached a little different here, the borderline NC-17 content remains held back until the climax. Then the satisfying bloodbaths hit in overtly insane ways with the promised shock value, landing on the perfect ending note to complete the film’s perfect starting note.
That’s the cunning power of Quentin Tarantino’s works: At first viewing, you may think, “Ugh, enough talking, I just want to watch these foul-mouthed losers get their heads blown off!” Then from the long runtime, all you remember is one or two graphic moments, which compels a desire for watch-round number two. But then, you somehow end up watching not for a Texan who carves a swastika onto a Nazi’s forehead, you instead watch for the detail present in the lengthy conversations… you would never guess that Jews and Germans have different ways to hold up three fingers! Case in point, the more frequently I watched Pulp Fiction, the more I could let go of any shock value from its foul content, and the more I caught on to its deeper themes about dangerous pop culture pride, and even took it a step further by writing a blog entry about how it aligns to Christianity.
That same type of energy enlightens Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Johnston, Nick. “The teaser for Tarantino’s ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ is here.” Digital image. Vanyaland. Redefined, 20 Mar 2019. Web. <https://vanyaland.com/2019/03/20/teaser-tarantinos-once-upon-a-time-in-hollywood/>.
Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood. Columbia Pictures. Web. <https://www.onceuponatimeinhollywood.movie/>.