Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Rating: 5+/5

One of, if not, the best films of 2019, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood demands multiple viewings despite its lengthy run time.

In the late 60s, aging actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) is only getting guest spots on television shows, and is fearing he is becoming a has-been. His long time friend and stunt double, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), convinces him his career is far from over and assures him he will be by his side every step of the way. After driving back to Rick's home, the two men spot Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) and her husband Roman Polanski (RafaƂ Zawierucha), who live next door to Dalton.

Once day, while Rick is off shooting an episode of a television western, Cliff picks up a young female hitchhiker that he's been seeing around town. He takes her to her home at Spahn Ranch, where Cliff immediately gets an unsettled feeling by the state of the former filming location and the people who are now inhabiting it. Putting the bizarre day's events out of his mind, Cliff goes back to pick up Rick and the two carry on with their lives, completely unaware what sinister things are being planned in Hollywood.

Though I have a strong love for film, I have a pretty gaping hole in my watch history where Quentin Tarantino is concerned. It's not for lack of wanting to see his movies, because I most certainly do, it's just they tend to be very long, so they're not exactly the first thing that comes to my mind when I sit down at night to watch a movie. With Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, that whole thought process fully disappears. With a runtime just shy of three hours, I have watched this movie twice within a roughly two week span, and even though I just saw it a few days ago, I could easily sit down and view it all over again. This movie uses every moment of its lengthy duration, making the time seem to fly by. When watching this movie the second time around, I found myself eagerly awaiting certain scenes' arrivals. It almost came as a shock to me when the film's climax started to be set up, because I couldn't believe I had already sat through over two hours of the movie. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is as quick witted as it is paced. Every second of it is worth watching.

When I had heard that Tarantino was going to be making a movie about filmmaking with the Manson Family as part of the backdrop, I was conflicted about whether or not I was going to see it in the theaters. You see, I absolutely love films that focus on the older days of Hollywood, they are some of my favorite types of cinema, but I have never been someone who is overly drawn to information about the Manson Murders. In fact, I have actually tried to steer clear of seeing, reading, or hearing too much about that horrific day in history, because it bothers me too much. So for that reason, I waited until it came out for home viewing to finally watch it. Thankfully, Tarantino has never been one to focus on full historical accuracy, and tends to write history the way he wants. This film shows his absolute love for filmmaking and the decade in which Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was set, and I do regret not getting a chance to see it in theaters, because it is a movie that I know would have made for an amazing theater experience.

Other than the masterful script and equally clever cinematography, what really sold this movie for me was the superb performances by its cast. Though I am sure my opinion is a very unpopular one, I have never been the biggest fan of Leonardo DiCaprio or Brad Pitt. I don't think they are bad actors or anything, I've just never been as over the moon about them as others can be. For this movie though, my previous opinions on them entirely go out the window. This movie is without a doubt the best thing I have seen either actor in. Brad Pitt's take on Cliff Booth may actually be one of my favorite male performances I've seen in a long time. His performance seems so effortless and natural, and can also deliver some brilliant comedic moments. The same can be said for DiCaprio. His character is a bit more over the top, but that makes sense considering he is the movie star of the fictional duo. He is absolutely fantastic in this role, and his chemistry with Pitt is completely undeniable. Margot Robbie's take on Sharon Tate is also 100% worth every ounce of praise it receives. Though she's not in the film nearly as much as the Brad or Leo, her scenes leave a lasting memory in your mind as the movie comes to a close. It also makes you deeply wish that Tarantino did in fact have the ability to rewrite history.

I've tried incredibly hard this year to see as many films that I could that were predicted to be Oscar nominees, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is one that I am definitely going to be pulling for at the Academy Awards. It may not be able to win everything it will be nominated for, but I'm really hoping that it can at least get best supporting actor for Brad Pitt as well as best original screenplay . There are few times that a filmmaker can capture the love for cinema in the way that Tarantino did with Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, making it the dream film to watch for anyone who finds movies to be a major part of their lives.