#31 – Once upon a time in Hollywood – Review

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Kurt Russell, Timothy Olyphant, Luke Perry, Dakota Fanning, Emile Hersch, Bruce Dern and Al Pacino.

If Pulp Fiction and the big lebowski got thrown into a blender in Tarantino’s kitchen you’d get this masterpiece.

It was on my 4th watch of this film on Sunday night I realised that I had to talk about it. It’s definitely the most flowing and meandering film by Tarantino. With a story centred around friendship essentially and Tarantino’s love for the 60’s era and the filmmaking of the time on full display. Once upon a time is a love story to the 60’s, the style, the music, the filmmaking of the time and the atmosphere around Hollywood at the time.

Once upon a time in Hollywood pairs Brad Pitt as fictional character Cliff Booth, a stuntman for Leonardo Di Caprio’s television and struggling film actor Rick Dalton. Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate is Dalton’s next door neighbour and their paths cross on the faithful night of Helter Skelter and the manson murders. The film is a study of friendship and has Tarantino wielding his powers at his ultimate level since Pulp Fiction.

Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) & Rick Dalton ( Leonardo Di Caprio)

One of my favourite sections of the movie is when Cliff is fixing the antenna on Dalton’s roof and has a flashback scene. In the scene he’s behind the scenes on a set that Rick is working on, we meet Kurt Russell’s character and find out Cliff killed his wife. That’s right a flashback inside a flashback. We also get to see Cliff beat the shit out of Bruce Lee in a hilarious scene. At the end of all this comedy, action, information and character introduction we cut back to Cliff. He’s on the roof smoking a cigarette and just says “Fair enough”.

Watching Dicaprio play an actor that’s struggling to be an actor is unbelievable. He basically has to be the amazing actor he is, while at the same time be a stuttering and insecure mess of a man. Rick’s scenes as a bad guy in the hippie hairdo and watching the scene play through including the fuck ups he makes are brilliant. It’s a genius way for Tarantino to hide a western inside a 60’s film about Hollywood.

Rick Dalton on set of TV show Lancer

A movie full of cool. The soundtrack in particular is packed with 60’s classics. The soundtrack is on Spotify incase your wondering with commercials and all just incase you want to really inhabit the world of Tarantino’s Hollywood.

The coolest character in any of Tarantino’s films

Cliff Booth claims the title of Coolest Tarantino character for me.

Cliff Booth claims this title. He’s a man that’s always relaxed and in a zen like state for the duration of the film. Cliff can kick Bruce Lee’s ass, live in a trailer beside a drive in movie theater, have the best trained dog of all time, be the greatest friend of all time and even have a laugh as he murders the members of the Manson family that break in. Cliff’s the epitome of cool and effortless charisma. I’m sure a lot of that’s down to just Brad Pitt being himself but Tarantino really developed and created the coolest guy in all his films. Okay I’ll admit the wife killing side of things aren’t super cool I mean not ideal but what can we do. The line he says to Rick as he’s crying outside of Russo and Frank’s as he’s beginning to cry don’t cry in front of the Mexican’s”. This line kills me every time and I don’t know why exactly, maybe it’s the delivery, the absurdity of the actual line itself I dno but it’s hilarious.

Margot Robbie is excellently cast as Sharon Tate. She’s a bubbly and fun person who we get to follow during the course of the film. Tate is clearly a free spirit who’s excited by her new film career. We mostly follow Tate as she runs errands, goes to watch herself at the movies and party at the Playboy mansion. Sharon Tate is such a loveable character that I’m filled with dread for the entire film and waiting for something awful to happen her. In the scene she sees Charles Manson (surprising there’s only 1 Manson scene, I loved it just cut him out almost completely) I was so worried for her and hoping to avoid a violent end for Sharon in this film.

Tarantino also works in some undeniably violent and satisfying re-writing of history in a scene that goes from 1 to 100 in an instant full of comedy and some of the most brutal deaths I’ve ever seen in a film. Not since Inglorious Bastards has there been such glorious violence in a scene I’d much rather actually happened that the true events in history.

A must watch for all film lovers