Once Upon A Time In Hollywood has to have been the most anticipated movie of 2019, and for good reason; the reason is Quentin Tarantino. You know you are going on a ride, so buckle up. Let me also say that Tarantino was as indulgent as usual, and likes to take his time and use his red herrings. Some of the things he does with his craft drives many reviewers and even fans up the wall, and Quentin is not going to hold your hand or do your homework. I’m not going to dwell on this, but I was stunned and shocked that so many people, both reviewers and the general audience, did not get it. One couple in the row in front of me actually walked out in the middle of the movie and never returned.
This movie really had no plot at all. To many, this, along with the meandering path and several dead ends, was a deal-breaker. I’ve said too much already. Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth. Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt. No matter how you toasted it, it sizzled down to these two guys. Dicaprio gave the best performance of his career, and Brad Pitt and his canine buddy somehow managed to steal the show. Rick Dalton was a talented but alcoholic Cowboy TV Star whose best days were in his rear-view mirror. His self-doubt, like his intermittent stutter, was getting worse. Cliff was his best friend, chauffeur, gopher, handy-man, drinking buddy and stunt double. Brad Pitt was born to play this part and he crushes it. He was a badass and he was fearless. How bad? He kicked Bruce Lee’s ass without even breaking a sweat. That is how bad.
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood was a scrumptious mixture of fact and fiction. It was a beautiful movie with breath-taking attention to detail. The visual effects don’t get much better, but the acting was without peer. There were a couple of scenes with DiCaprio that will blow your mind. One was in his actor’s trailer where he was berating himself for blowing some lines and being such a worthless alcoholic. The scene was brutal. He swore off the booze, but that lasted about 2 seconds as he dug into his dungarees for his flask to give him courage to live up to his convictions. The other was a two-part scene with the 8-year-old Trudi (Julia Butters). DiCaprio gives the performance of his life in the kidnap scene, but watch out for this kid. She was amazing.
Nothing, other than an outright Spoiler dump can possibly prepare you for how the movie ends. Anyone who watches this movie that is not familiar with the events of August 1969 will not have a chance of ‘getting it’. With Tarantino’s track record of movie-making and historical manipulation, you know something is coming, but you’re not sure what. I really can’t say much more, other than it did not disappoint. Those who complained about loose ends, dead ends, too much talk and not enough action, should be satiated by what went down. If you’re not, then the easy path for me to take is to say that you just didn’t get it. I know this makes me sound like a jerk, but I have little recourse.
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood was a beautiful movie. Tarantino’s heaviest cross to lug up to Calvary was the fact that he made Pulp Fiction. Nothing can compare to that masterpiece, but this one comes close…in its own way. This film, compared to his other body of work might be considered to be only routine. Compared to everything else, especially the dreck that is most of the other movies of 2019, it is outstanding.
How special? There is not one N Word uttered in the entire movie. There is no Samuel Jackson, either, who dominated The Hateful Eight. No cameo whoring from Tarantino either, but there were feets…lots of feets. I can’t say a lot more without major Spoiler Alerts, so I am just down to telling you what I think about this glorious mess of a film. If you are not a Tarantino fan and do not have a clue as to who Charles Manson was, you will probably not like this work of art. The scene at the commune was almost hard to believe, it was so tense and so real. If you are hopelessly impatient and demand perfection and political correctness, the sheer length of this movie will wilt you. If you are a fan of great movies and patient, you will be rewarded by this great film.
9.0/10.0 With the Goatesians Seal of Approval for those who love great films