Once Upon a Time In Hollywood (Review)

Nobody smokes a cigarette like Leonardo DiCaprio.

★★★★1/2

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Nobody smokes a cigarette like Leonardo DiCaprio.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is the 9th film by Quentin Tarantino (even though it should be 10 because Kill Bill Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 are each individual movies) and stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt & Margot Robbie, a little bit of Kurt Russell and Al Pacino. And as opposed to what the trailers and everyone else on the planet thought it was about (the Manson Family Murders), this film is just about an actor who is past his prime, Rick Dalton (DiCaprio), and his best friend and stunt double, Cliff Booth (Pitt). It is their journey to try and regain their former glory, in what is the final chapter of Hollywood’s Golden Age in 1969. THAT IS IT! That is the entire plot of this film.

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This is also the least “Tarantino film” in his cannon in my opinion. What do I mean when I say that? Well, I asked my friend when I got home tonight, “What do you think of when you think of a Tarantino film?”. Her first response, “Lots of blood, violence…”. Point being, if you’re expecting something even remotely close to Pulp Fiction, Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained, you have another thing coming. Now is it still a “Tarantino film”? Absolutely. One of my favorite things about his films is that you know when it’s his. He has a distinct style in the way things are shot, the way things are paced, the way everything happens in front of, and behind the camera. Probably more so than any other director that I can think of.

It’s also incredible that people go to see his movies because of HIS name. It helps to have big star names, but besides a few other directors (Spielberg, Scorsese to name a couple…), not many directors will have people flock to a theater because of THEIR names. I love that.

The most honest thing I heard about this film is that it’s a “love letter”. That is just so incredibly accurate. One of the first moments in the film had my favorite sound effects in the history of cinema, “The Wilhelm Scream”. From that one sound bit within the first 2 minutes of the film, I understood why this was a love letter to the old cinema.

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So what did I think of it? It was incredible! DiCaprio gave his best performance since The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), where he should’ve won an Oscar, and proves that he is still one of the best living actors on the planet. And let's remember that this was his first film since his Academy Award-winning role in The Revenant (2015), and my goodness he has been missed. Brad Pitt was beyond brilliant. I would say that this is my favorite performance from him, ever. A close second would be Deadpool 2 (2018). #InvisibleMan #XForce

Margot Robbie was perfectly fine. I’m a little annoyed because I thought she was gonna be a huge role in this! I mean, she played Sharon Tate, and we all know who that is. So it was right to assume she’d be a huge role! Alas, earwax. We were wrong. Her camera time is limited to just a few fluff scenes, and she barely shows off her acting chops. And that’s not her fault, she played it beautifully, but it was nothing meaty about the role. Sad, because I had her WINNING Best Supporting Actress this year, and now I’m taking her off my nominees. Shame.

The rest of the ensemble was great, but nothing to necessarily write home about. Solid work from Pacino (who I’m sure will shine brighter in The Irishman) and Kurt Russell.

What I said to my friend at the end of the film was that this was the “fastest slow burn". Its runtime is 161 minutes. And it’s not like every other one of his films where there’s action, blood and mystery every other second to keep the audience engaged. It’s a lot of setups, it’s a lot of taking the time to show the behind the scenes kind of world of Hollywood, to show us, people, just living their lives, and telling a story. But through the screenplay and performances, he managed to make a movie that I think is supposed to be a slow burn, feel like it was on the brink of exploding at any second. Which it did at the end, and my goodness was it worth the wait.

Here's What I Know...

•Leonardo DiCaprio may have just won his second Oscar.

•Tarantino is a sick, crazy, brilliant human.

•Brad Pitt gave my favorite of his, and maybe his greatest performance of all time.

•Give me more Dakota Fanning, cause she is severely underrated.

•If this film campaigns well, they could do serious damage this awards season.

•Sayuri who is the perfect dog that plays the part of Brandy deserves to be the next Rin Tin Tin.

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Long story short…
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is out now, and you should see it. It is always an important duty to film lovers to see a Tarantino film, and this is no different. Get yourself to the theaters, and experience this the way it was meant to be seen. On the big screen.


Be sure to check out my updated Oscar Prediction Center, now updated after seeing Once Upon a Time In Hollywood


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