Quentin Tarantino holds back in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

Erik Jimenez/Staff Writer


If I’m being honest, I would probably consider “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood” to Quentin Tarantino “worst” film to date. Even if it’s not top-tier Tarantino, it’s still has too many positives coming from Tarantino’s signature style of directing that I would still recommend Tarantino fans and those who want a break from all of the big action blockbusters.

The film takes place in 1969 Hollywood and follows a day in the life of aging Western star Rick Dalton(Leonardo DiCaprio) and his best friend/stuntman Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). Dalton also lives next door to 10050 Cielo Drive, the new home of Hollywood’s new “it” couple, director Roman Polanski (Rafał Zawierucha, who doesn’t fully matter in the movie) and actress Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie).

If that latter name sounds familiar it’s because Tate was one of the victims of the infamous Manson Family Murders murders that took place in 1969–around the same time the movie takes place.

Yeah if you haven’t guessed, these characters eventually get involved with the Manson Family and their infamous crimes but in ways that are surprising though admittedly somewhat underwhelming. If you were like me and expecting Tarantino to do to Charles Manson and the Manson Family what he did to Adolf Hitler and the Nazis in “Inglorious Bastards,” I got some bad news for you–lower your expectations.

“Once Upon A Time in Hollywood” is less of a thrilling bloodbath like “Inglorious Bastards”, “Django Unchained” and “Kill Bill” and is arguably Tarantino’s first step into full all-out comedy.  Tarantino’s dialogue has always been known to be funny, but they were always used to either emphasize the violence that happens often in his pictures, or to give development and history to his characters. A lot of the jokes here are used at the expense of the characters especially DiCaprio’s. He has easily some of the funniest scenes and lines in Tarantino’s filmography.

The acting is all top notch due to DiCaprio and Pitt having the most material and great performances; not only are they both Oscar-Nomination worthy, they establish these characters alongside Jules and Vincent from “Pulp Fiction” to arguably be the best character duo Tarantino has ever created.

Margot Robbie is also charming as Tate, but the only issue with her is that, believe it or not, she doesn’t play as big a part of the story that one would think. In fact, the story is a rather big disappointment due to Tarantino somewhat wasting an opportunity to go wild and wacky and involving the Manson Family more into the main conflict of the film. 

Tarantino changes history here like in “Bastards” but it feels like he was uncharacteristically realistic and not too bombastic for the pieces set up to him with this concept. Tarantino seemed more interested in replicating 1960’s Hollywood than he was trying to satisfy those who were expecting his typical comedically violent faire.

But the movie does look beautiful. Tarantino’s love for this age of Hollywood is present in every scene. It is a literal time machine of a movie and there is enough material in it to be impressed by it and give it a watch.

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