Dir; Quentin Tarantino. Starring; Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie. R. Color. 161 min.
Just go ahead and hand over the Oscars. That is what all of the millions of blind Tarantino lovers are going to say about his latest outing as they massage his ego like their own genitalia. And that is what “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” is. A jerk-off festival about how many movie references Quentin Tarantino can make with absolutely no reason or true point of existing with an ending that, when you step back and think about it for five minutes, is pretty messed up and a bit classless. Essentially this is three different movies in one and feels like Quentin is on the cocaine again with how all over the place it is.
With his clout, Tarantino has assembled an all star cast of male stars starting with DiCaprio and Pitt alongside old school sugar on top in Al Pacino and Kurt Russell. Oh yeah, I almost forgot about the excellent actress Margot Robbie. So did Tarantino because she basically does nothing here. This is a boys club experience from start to finish disguised as art-house cinema.
After a great “Once Upon a Time”-esque opening, we are introduced to Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), an over the hill actor, and his stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). Side note – in no way could myself or anyone deny that these two all time greats are excellent together on screen.
Rick Dalton’s conventional star power has become stale due to his alcoholism and the hippie culture in 1969. The once superstar is forced to take on bit rolls and smaller parts, the beginning of Tarantino flexing his obscure movie knowledge, ah, I mean muscle? I will give him this, the guest spot with Bruce Lee (Mike Moh) on the set of “The Green Hornet” is phenomenal.
On the brink of becoming a distant memory, Dalton is approached by sleazy agent Marvin Schwarzs (Al Pacino) about shaking up his career. I love Al Pacino as much as the next guy, but every scene it feels like he’s screaming “HOO-AHH” because somebody is holding a giant version of his paycheck behind the camera. With his beloved 1950’s hit series “Bounty Law” in the rear view mirror, Dalton heeds the advice of Schwarzs and gets involved in Spaghetti Westerns (another Tarantino film history reference).
Dang it, I forgot again. Margot Robbie plays Sharon Tate. She smiles, talks with a bubbly demeanor, and is basically a meme of a “Woo-Girl”. Tarantino essentially took her persona from movies and made that who she really was, which she was not. The fictional Dalton lives next door to Tate and her real life husband/director Roman Polanski (Rafal Zawierucha). Of course Tate and other friends were brutally murdered by members of the Manson family. We’ll get to that.
Here comes the third movie in this one movie. While on a day off, Booth picks up a beautiful young hitchhiker that calls herself Pussycat (Margaret Qualley). He brings her back to her home, an after thought movie set ranch owned by a delusional George Spahn (Bruce Dern). It is here that we meet the cult of mostly women lead by Charles Manson (Damon Herriman). At this point, having sat through almost two hours of great shots but content that is empty, it feels like the movie has finally started. Nope. After fifteen minutes of truly excellent Tarantino stuff he sends us back to meaningless nonsense. Plus, another side note – Why does Kurt Russell narrate this? His character is barely in the damn movie!
Finally, the ending. I will not say what happens, but I will allude to things so minor spoilers.
Of course we finish with the Manson family murders of Sharon Tate, or do we? Number one, Tarantino has already done revisionist history with “Inglorious Basterds”. That was spot on. I’m pretty sure almost everyone would agree shooting the crap out of Hitler was awesome. Here, the revisionist history leaves a very bad taste in your mouth. When you initially see um, let’s just say a scene involving a flamethrower, it’s funny. Yet when you contemplate what actually happened in real life it is a bit offensive and tone deaf.
When Tarantino is on he makes classics. When Tarantino wants to say the movie he is making is more important than you, he makes bullshit. The fake-intellectual adventure in egotism that is “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” is the latest example of the latter.
Suck Factor: 5out of 7 (7 means your movie really SUCKS!)
Written by Byrd
The SUCK FACTOR, how it works. We have flipped the rating system upside down. If a film is classic, it gets a 0. Meaning that movie has 0 SUCKS. If a film is complete trash you must avoid at all costs, it gets a 7, meaning this movie really SUCKS!