Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood

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Wick's Review

Created Aug 04, 2019 06:33AM PST • Edited Aug 16, 2019 05:55PM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Perfect 5.0

    Hollywood loves Hollywood, always has and still does, especially Quentin Tarantino, local boy made good. He has outdone himself with Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood, which is quite simply Peak Tarantino.

    It’s literally AND figuratively about Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: true crime events that happened there AND a morality tale about the movie & TV industry based there, the latter more than the former.

    Indeed, Quentin unspools a subversive love affair with Baby Boomer TV addiction: Mannix, Combat, Green Hornet, The FBI & Bounty Hunter. That last one is fictional, a vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio’s faux star Rick Dalton, loosely based on Burt Reynolds. Rick Dalton is a man facing his limitations in most dysfunctional fashion, heavily boozed-up. It’s a classic Leo DiCaprio role, being yet another forced march.

    The smartest characters in the movie are all female, especially an 8-year old girl who is the best woman Rick Dalton ever meets. She makes him a better man, briefly. The other is Sharon Tate, who is shown as a deeply beautiful woman who reads serious literature, which she then gifts to her husband, Roman Polanski.

    Thus, any feminist critique of Tarantino’s movie is hogwash. Not only are the women smarter, they’re also treated as equals in Quentin’s horror tinged revenge fantasies. Spectacular deaths come with the territory.

    Margo Robbie & Brad Pitt play the movie’s two best characters, not to mention the two sexiest.

    • Robbie sashays spectacularly as poor Sharon Tate. Hollywood legends should all be this pure.
    • Pitt is sexier than any fiftysomething man has ever been as Cliff Booth, the stunt man, gofer and iconic Western character who serves as Rick Dalton’s running buddy. Pitt spoofing Hollywood is a hoot all by itself, plus Tarantino brings out the funnies in him, as he did in Inglorious Basterds.

    Moviestars aside, TV stars & celebrities too, it’s the film itself that makes Once Upon a Time special. Tarantino is at his best when his movies are grounded in reality: the Nazis and WWII in Inglorious Basterds, African-American slavery in Django Unchained. His styling then has something substantial to spoof. Where movies like Pulp Fiction are nothing but style, Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood is totally styling, yet leavened by the heaviness of the Manson Murders. Like I said up top — Peak Tarantino.

  3. Really Great 4.5

    Brad Pitt & Margot Robbie are terrific, while Leonardo DiCaprio impressively grimaces his way through.

    • Pitt deserves a Best Supporting Actor nod. His mix of swagger and chill defines California cool.
    • Robbie infuses poor Sharon Tate with a lightness of being that is a wonder to behold.
    • DiCaprio is a master of tortured characters, with a 2nd rate Hollywood star a classic of his genre.

    Lesser Characters

    • Emile Hirsch as Jay Sebring, real-life hairdresser to the stars and Sharon Tate’s unrequited lover
    • Manson Family
      • Margaret Qualley as Pussycat gets the most scenes and lines.
      • Austin Butler as Charles “Tex” Watson, Manson Family murderer
      • Dakota Fanning as Squeaky Fromme, who would attempt to assassinate President Ford.
      • Bruce Dern as George Spahn, on whose ranch the Family squatted
    • Timothy Olyphant is ideally cast as a tough guy TV star, a role he plays in real life.
    • Julia Butters jumps offscreen as a precocious child star.
    • Mike Moh certainly carries Bruce Lee’s swagger.
    • Damian Lewis underwhelms as Steve McQueen. But then, it’s a tall order playing Steve McQueen.
    • Al Pacino chews scenery as a Hollywood agent.
    • Kurt Russell lights up the picture as a stunt coordinator, and does double duty as the narrator.
  4. Male Stars Perfect 5.0
  5. Female Stars Perfect 5.0
  6. Female Costars Great 4.0
  7. Male Costars Great 4.0
  8. Perfect 5.0

    Once Upon a Time opens with the Columbia logo lit like sparklers … and Tarantino’s ode to Hollywood is off and running. Sparkling opening aside, it’s the ending that is shocking and – to some – controversial.

    Tarantino is such a great filmmaker that he broke the curse of the foregone conclusion with a final twist of movie magic as the movie reaches its throat-catching climax. This pushes his film into perfection.

  9. Direction Perfect 5.0
  10. Play Perfect 5.0
  11. Music Perfect 5.0
  12. Visuals Perfect 5.0
  13. Content
  14. Sordid 3.3

    Yes, there is death by flamethrower and it gets self-respecting Tarantino fan cheering and laughing.
    Deal with it.

  15. Sex Titillating 2.0
  16. Violence Savage 3.9
  17. Rudeness Nasty 4.0
  18. Glib 2.0

    Nevermind the highly surreal circoreality.
    It’s the observations about Hollywood that are interesting in the long run.

    • Hollywood is shown as a stratified society almost Roman in its class hierarchy, with the beautiful people atop the heap.
    • Hippies are rejected by old-school folks, but it happens the hippies being rejected are the Manson Family, infamous mass murderers.

    USA Today – Everything you should know about Sharon Tate’s life when you see ‘Once Upon a Time’

  19. Circumstantial Surreal 3.0

    Shhh, can’t give it away.

  20. Biological Surreal 2.1
  21. Physical Natural 1.0

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