“Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood” is the latest Quentin Tarantino film in which he both wrote and directed, as usual. Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt are at the center of this unique reintroduction to 1969, Sharon Tate, and the Manson Family. Margot Robbie plays the late Sharon Tate. Al Pacino is in this one with Kurt Russell along serving in a minor role as a stunt coordinator and narrator. Dakota Fanning plays Squeaky Fromme. All kinds of occasionally surprising talent shows up here, which is a staple of a Tarantino flick.
DiCaprio plays an aging actor of mostly western television who is concerned that his Hollywood career is winding down. He is usually in the company of best pal and stunt double, Cliff Booth, played by Brad Pitt. Rick Dalton is the name of this rather amusingly temperamental actor. I have to say, I love the names of these two guys. Dalton lives next door to the Tate and Polanski residence in 1969. Booth has an encounter with members of the Manson Family.
This is Tarantino, so his depiction here isn’t historically accurate. In fact he ignores the history almost entirely, although there are some interesting tidbits of Hollywood history that do make its way in this piece. I would encourage readers to take a gander of the Wikipedia page about this film to get a better idea of what I am referring to.
There’s a quite a bit of traditional Tarantino trappings; lots of swearing, copious amounts of blood splattering, and jarring time jumps at times. If it sounds like I am being critical of this film, here’s my twist. I think this is one of his better releases. I struggled a little bit with getting hooked in at the beginning, however it does get better. I am not a rabid Tarantino fan, but I do find myself interested when I learn he has something new coming out, and I do find him to be one of more unique and creative filmmakers out there. There wasn’t much in the way of cliché predictability here in spite of it being based on real events and real people at the time. I ended up getting very invested in the main characters played by DiCaprio and Pitt. Pitt’s portrayal of Booth had just the right amount of swagger that kept me hooked, especially when he is at Spahn Ranch, where Charles Manson and his family were staying at one time. Bruce Dern is also there with his portrayal of George Spahn, who I had just read was initially going to be played by the late Burt Reynolds.
The performances were all quite good. The recently deceased Luke Perry was there which brought a tinge of sorrow to see one of his final performances.
The film isn’t for the more sensitive of viewers, but it captures the setting of 1969 Hollywood quite convincingly. The characters ended up being quite engaging even if the movie has a few slow moments. The soundtrack was great as well. Sometimes, the flashbacks and time jumps could have been handled better, but overall the movie was more enjoyable than I expected.