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Wednesday, February 1SOCIAL MEDIA

Movie Analysis: Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Directed by: Quentin Tarantino

Writing Credits: Quentin Tarantino


Leonardo DiCaprio – Rick Dalton

Brad Pitt – Cliff Booth

Margot Robbie – Sharon Tate

Emile Hirsch – Jay Sebring

Margarat Qualley – Pussycat

Timothy Olyphant – James Stacy


Quentin Tarantino fights the future in a funky, unusual, sublime way, Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood, shows no indicative signs of an artist losing his edge—QT remains in total control of his craft from the first frame to the last frame. And yet its creator’s anxiety, the one that seems to have inspired a premature exit strategy, is written all over the movie. It’s a song for a certain age of American pop-culture that may really be about the writer-director exploring with his own certain oldness.


Set in 1969, Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood takes place at the end of an era, a big moment of transition for the entertainment industry, when the New Hollywood was rushing in fast to kill the old one. In one of his usual brilliant exploitations of star power and image, Tarantino casts Leonardo DiCaprio—whose once-unblemished baby face has finally begun to show its first true signs of middle age. Dalton, a real person, Tarantino would have attempted to revive his career, throwing him a comeback role in one of his own Westerns.

Dalton spends most of his days roaming around Los Angeles with his friend. Booth’s only real claim to fame is the rumor that he killed his wife and got away with it, a bit of backstory that Tarantino disquietingly just let’s sit there. He’s a more mythologic, blank one than the confused Dalton. Booth and Dalton hang out sometimes at the latter’s swanky Hollywood home, which happens to, they sit right next door to Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate’s house. If the film has a third lead character, it’s the very non-fictional Tate (Margot Robbie), going about her own life in the outskirts of the faded narrative. Tate, was murdered in 1969 by the Manson Family (Hollywood was originally slated to open on the anniversary of her death this August until cooler heads or public outcry prevailed), and the movie keeps the possibility of that impending real-life tragedy flowing throughout.

A “hangout movie,”. The director also hasn’t planted his foot this deeply into the real world for a couple of decades. Tarantino has mostly flown around in a genre convenience of his own creation. His characters are real people this time, in multiple respects.

Like some of his earlier work, Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood often feels more like a collection of great scenes—like a skillful motion album than a narrative side. A flashback where Bruce Lee (Mike Moh) waxes rhapsodic about Muhammad Ali, before somewhat weakly getting dumped into a vintage car by Pitt’s shit-talking, But there’s a strong through-line running straight across the film’s leisurely two hours and 40 minutes, and it’s a deep respect and empathy for actors and their relationship to their craft, reputation, and waning celebrity—not so shocking coming from Tarantino, who loves to launch rescue-operation comebacks for faded stars.

In a wonderful mid-film passage, he drops Dalton onto the set of a TV Western, having him trade on-camera, sequence pulls DiCaprio’s character from the insult of a blown take to the ecstasy of a nailed one. And for all the possible discomfort that folks have felt about Tate’s role in the story, Hollywood’s most moving moment may be the scene where the actor attends a public screening of The Wrecking Crew, and Tarantino frames Robbie’s face in close-up, soaking up Tate’s reactions to how the crowd reacts to her scenes. Is her joy, her profound feeling of evidence, so different than the one splashed across Tarantino’s face during the six-minute standing ovation that occurred at that last night’s premiere?

All the while, Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood keeps reminding us of the shade of imminent danger: the Manson girls, walking around the border of the story, until they enter it’s proper. The movie operates so pleasingly as a slice-of-celebrity-life that I almost wish this element wasn’t part of its blueprint, or at least that Tarantino brought the two strands together in a way that felt less defensive and, well, pulpy. The future is the enemy. In Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood, it looks an awful lot like difficult teenagers.


Review by Vigneshwar