Writer and director Quentin Tarantino has done it again. Tarantino‘s latest film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood hit theaters July 26, 2019. The plan is to make a total of ten films. This being Tarantino‘s ninth film, many are calling this his ‘love letter to 60s LA‘. So far in his career Tarantino has written and directed films such as:
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a collection of moments. But, unlike his other films this stands as his most laid back production. Just by looking at it you can see Tarantino‘s love for cinematography and history of cinema. Being so close to his tenth it’s no wonder he is getting a little sentimental.
The cast of this movie includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, and Margot Robbie. The story revolves around Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt‘s characters, Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth, who are an actor/stunt double duo battling addiction in 1969 Hollywood along with some of Sharon Tate, played by Margo Robbie. And let’s not forget a sprinkling of the Manson family.
In a recent interview, Tarantino expressed that if Brad Pitt had not accepted the role he was looking to Tom Cruise as an alternate. Which would have been devastating considering all the talk of their chemistry. Many were anticipating Tarantino‘s film. This opening (40M) dethroning Tarantino‘s record-breaking opening for Inglorious Bastards 38M. Fans went to Twitter to express their satisfaction with the film.
Overall the film’s caused quite a hype. I was excited to see it. As a film student and writer, I can assure you that Tarantino is an inspiring creator. That being said the film, while wonderfully produced, was a little hard to swallow.
Here’s two things you should know before watching.
It’s Definitely the 60s
The world-building in the movie was absolutely astonishing. The cars, clothes, streets, stores, and even music screamed the 60s. Multiple references to hippies and the distaste of them during this era were expressed by Rick Dalton. The obscene use of cigarettes and drugs.
Pop music of the 60s was used heavily with hits such as “Mrs. Robinson” by Simon&Garfunkel. There were still old mobiles on the street and every car had circular headlights. Things were cute and pastel. They even went as far as to rework a whole street to give off that 60s vibe.
There were a lot of long shots and camera movements. The camera dances around the various sets giving a feel for the amount of work, blood, and tears that went into the costuming. Extras were a plenty to give this a real-life feeling. An example being a beautifully shot wide angle of Rick in his pool while down below 60s cars drove by, authenticity was priority.
In a way this film was very 4th wall breaking giving the audience a behind the scenes look at what it takes to make a movie using westerns as the stage.
There is a lot going on…?
We follow three stories, each giving us a little taste of the successes, failures, and in between of each character. I truly felt the first half of the movie spoke to creators.
Rick Dalton rose to the top and feels fallen, washed up. While he’s a wonderful actor his confidence is shaky at best. One of my favorite scenes was between him and a child actor within the film. She aspires to be all she can be even at eight years old. Rick recounts to her the story in a novel he is reading which is closer to reality than he would like. She realizes this and in a later scene that they film together, she tells him, genuinely, that his acting was the best she had ever seen.
Cliff Booth has been long for stunt double work. His job now is to be by Rick‘s side. He is a true friend through and though giving us a peek at happy modest living with his dog. He’s a handyman using his stunt man abilities in one scene to climb up and fix Rick‘s TV antenna.
Sharon Tate, while also being a focus of the movie, is more removed. She lives next door to Rick, and at the end of the movie, they cross paths once more. Her scenes have little to do with Rick and Cliff or their narrative. The only commonality between them is their acting status.
Narrative wise, there is a lot to be said. There were moments that were jarring and didn’t quite fit. For the most part, it seemed that the story centers around Rick and Cliff, but then there is also Sharon?
Then you could also say this is an ode to Hollywood and film making. The latter sounds closer to the truth. There is a lot going on but at the same time, there is nothing. If you are expecting a beginning, middle, and end then you need to know this isn’t a conventional movie. No story arc, no three-act structure.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
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Words: Dakota Burnsed | Photos: IMDB