Once Upon a Time in … Hollywood – Movie Reviews by Ry!

Once Upon a Time in … Hollywood – Personality of Cinema: Tarantino Style

Tarantino is a name that is revered in the film industry.  An icon in his own right, this director brings about stories that go beyond typical artistry.  What makes a Tarantino film unique is a mixture of character dynamic, dialogue and unorthodox direction.  Having only made eight films (up until this point), the idea of seeing another Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill or Django Unchained makes movie buffs excited.  With his ninth film, he goes back to his bag of tricks to bring an intriguing, dramatically induced but unpredictable story of Hollywood’s Golden Age.  With a strong cast and some unexpected moments, Once Upon a Time in … Hollywood is another achievement from a memorable director.

The film puts its focus on two individuals, Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt).  We follow the actor and stunt double duo as they try to find their place late in their careers.  Having their hey day as ‘lead’ and ‘main stunt double’ pass by, the plot focuses on how they adapted to what is popular in the late 1960s.  At the heart of this film is the relationship between Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth.  Their friendship provides the crux to the overall structure of the film.  Their chemistry, dialogue and layers from their past accolades creates a complex relationship that is wholesome, comical and pure.  Through their interactions together or with others, it creates situations that are layered with poignancy and genuine human moments.  This allows for a central core to develop, keeping the loose threads in-sync.  Like any Tarantino film, it never moves in a linear direction.  What you have is a ‘living the life’ mantra creating drama, comedy and tension through conversations and physical mannerisms.  This allows for every character to have a point, even in delicate touches of typical plot devices or predictable circumstances.  You always have a thought of what ‘might’ happen, but the ideas are subtle to the point that the moments shine a light on their flaws, growth and aspirations.  This is where Tarantino shines, pushing the craft with witty dialogue. 

The writing drives the story, but it also, at times, grazes over character development and awkward transitions.  You can feel the dragging of some scenes, leaving an ideal opening for underdeveloped plot threads to feel forced.  Even as these flaws come to light, it never deviates from the main purpose surrounding Dalton and Booth.  Once in the third act, this is where it lends to an encapsulation of everything that happened before.  As it leads into the epilogue, it creates a wonder that drives how important moments are, even with a lack of story.  Once Upon a Time in … Hollywood is the ninth film from QT that showcases his talents (and flaws) as a writer.  No matter how strong or weak parts are, the film is a worth wild journey.  I say this is worth checking out the theaters for fans of cinema or QT, worth the full price of admission.

Full Score – 4 out of 5 (Full Price)

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