HOLLYWOOD—Quentin Tarantino is one of those directors who takes his time perfecting his craft. He has delivered some iconic flicks during his illustrious career. I mean you have “Reservoir Dogs” to “Pulp Fiction” to “Django Unchained” to “The Hateful Eight.” If you want me to be honest I LOVED “Kill Bill Vol. 2,” but hated and I mean hated “Death Proof.” That was the first time ever, I almost got up out my seat and left the movie theater, but that flick was an utter disaster people.
Tarantino’s latest flick, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is a love letter to the industry at a time that cinema was really bursting bigger than ever on the big screen. If you were to ask me to classify the genre this flick falls into, I really can’t. It’s like a mix of a dramatic comedy with a touch of satire. There are fun moments, there are serious moments and then you have dark moments.
Those dark moments involve actress Sharon Tate. We all know Tate was brutally murdered by Charles Manson and his followers in 1969. I was seriously worried how Tarantino would approach this subject matter, and I must say I was surprised with the care that it was handled. There were moments where I was telling myself; there is no way he’s going to venture down that path right? That’s the sign of a narrative that engulfs you. It’s like a journey, and Tarantino’s ability to bring the audience into this world that has hints of realism and elaboration was stellar.
In terms of acting, Leonardo DiCaprio is fantastic, and I mean fantastic as Rick Dalton, a washed up TV actor coming to grips that he is not as popular as he once was. You root for this guy; he’s an underdog, but he can be a pompous ass at times two. By his side is his stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). I was really astonished with Pitt’s role here. Pitt is the heart of the movie in my opinion, and a very strong driving force for the narrative. He makes things happen, and his character delivers far more comedic moments than I ever expected.
Cliff is Rick’s bestie. These two talk about Hollywood, the good, the bad, the ugly and are fond of one another. It’s a friendship that is quite fun to watch on the screen, especially seeing Rick go to bat for Cliff who has been blacklisted to a degree in the industry for apparently murdering his wife and getting away with it. I sensed in some odd way this was a reference to Natalie Wood, but I was not 100 percent certain.
This movie has a ton of great actors I mean Bruce Dern, Al Pacino, Luke Perry (didn’t expect that), Mike Moh is flawless as Bruce Lee, Kurt Russell, Emile Hirisch and Margot Robbie people, what can I say! Robbie is a splitting image of Tate; it is so uncanny that it is quite frankly scary to watch on the big screen. The goofy, quirkiness and carefree attitude that Tate had, Robbie captures it so effortlessly and with charm that it’s a treat to see on the big screen.
I will admit Tarantino has to work on his pacing; there were about a good 20-30 minutes where I was ready to take a nap near the end of the first act and the start of the second act of the movie. The dialogue was just making me want to close my eyes for a few minutes that’s never a good sign for the audience. However, the end, which somewhat comes out of left field totally makes up for it. It’s like there was no violence at all up till the big climax, and when it transpires, its brutal, its vicious, its bloody and it’s awesome to watch on the screen.
Director Quentin Tarantino knows how to immerse his audience into the movie. I mean seeing the 1960s Hollywood, the dialogue, the classic feel of cinema, how watching TV was an event, or perhaps that scene of Sharon Tate (Robbie) watching the real Sharon Tate on the big screen. A splitting image that allows you to see what a charm Tate was as an actress.
Tarantino has to work on his pacing. “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” was about 20-30 minutes longer than what it needed to be. Trimming off that fat would deliver a big punch for the overall impact of the movie. Entertaining, not perfect, but you get what you expect from a Tarantino flick, and I wasn’t disappointed so that is a major thumbs up!