Sarah E. Mason
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Review
On Episode 356 of The Harold & Maudecast, co-hosts Sarah Mason and Jake Essoe review Quentin Tarantino's 9th film, ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD, starring Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio.
Set in 1969 Hollywood, Rick Dalton (DiCaprio) is an aged-out movie/TV start demoted to playing the Heal in popular TV shows. Cliff Booth (Pitt) is Dalton's longtime stunt double and now driver. If Dalton good just get the attention of his neighbors, Roman Polanski (Rafal Zawierucha), the hottest young director in Hollywood and his actress/ingenue wife Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie), he could get back in the game. The film is centered on Rick and Cliff's stories, separately and together amidst the backdrop of one of the most horrific crimes in American history, the Manson Murders. Tarantino masterfully wades you through the boredom and melancholy that is Dalton's life trying to hold onto his place in Hollywood. All the while, the tension is building as you cannot stop wondering how Tarantino is going to handle what you know has happened in real life. Will he rewrite history as he did in INGLORIOUS BASTARDS? The ending is worth every mundane moment in the film--not to say it is not entertaining. It is purposeful, as Tarantino always is, in its stillness focusing on the story of these two men with the larger point looming about the changing of the guard. It's impossible to discount the parallels to today's Hollywood; the death of the theater experience and actual film in the wake of streaming and digital. It's a grand FU to those trying to dismiss the genius of those who have come before them.
The film is filled with great Quentin-cameos including Michael Madsen, Kurt Russell, Bruce Dern, Al Pacino, Timothy Olyphant, Dakota Fanning, Tim Roth (who's part was cut) and Luke Perry in his last film appearance. Tarantino's longtime Cinematographer, Robert Richardson adds to the beauty and brilliance of this very thoughtful, surprising and thought-provoking film that you will want to see more than once.
SPOILER ALERT! This review and commentary contains them. You've been warned.
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