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  • Writer's pictureMax Markowitz

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

The Celebration Of A New Era


Quinton Tarrintino is a very acclaimed filmmaker. Most of his films have received critical acclaim (and controversy but what great film hasn't?) His new film Once Upon A Time In Hollywood will not disappoint his fans. Set in early 1969 Los Angeles, the film is about struggling actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo Dicaprio) and his stunt double, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). Rick was well known in the early 60s by starring in a popular television western but he is struggling to transition to film. He lives next door to Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) who seems to have everything going for her and remains free-spirited. 


The 1960s is probably one of the most memorable historical decades. So much has happened and 1969 seemed to be a year where so much was changing. That transition from the 60s to the 70s included changes in fashion, culture, politics, lifestyles, and youth. The country seemed to become more modern in a manner that was obvious but not overt. 


Once Upon A Time In Hollywood really seems to celebrate this as it's the celebration of a new era. It's been said already that Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is Tarrintinos love letter to the 60s and I agree. The dynamic culture of the 60s could be seen everywhere you looked, but there was nothing sad about it. It looked like one big party which of course was not the case. There was a lot of tragedy and injustice but the end of the 60s seemed very symbolic in possibly starting anew and that's what I took away from the film. 


What I find to be quite sad is that we did start anew in the following decades but we are quickly spiraling backward again.  While we have come so far as a country, we are in many ways heading right back to where we started. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood gives audiences this message without making them realize it or having to think too hard. 


Given Dicaprio’s absence from cinema for a few years, I don't know quite what to make of his performance. It's as though he's just returning and as though he never left at the same time. He seemed to do pretty well and stay in character throughout the film but sometimes that's not always enough. Perhaps, I just need to get use to seeing him onscreen again. A lot of people probably do which is actually not a bad thing. I really enjoyed watching him again. 


I find Brad Pitt to be one of those actors who never lets audiences forget who he is (not intentionally). This makes it difficult for me to study his characters. I really do try but I almost never can. Not once for the entire 161 minutes of Once Upon A Time In Hollywood did I think I was watching Brad Pitt. I have absolutely no idea what he did or how he pulled it off but I really saw his character and his character only. The chemistry between him and DiCaprio was really quite touching which is not something Tarrintino films usually make you feel. 


Margot Robbie was not in the film as much as I would have liked but she was magnificent. Tarrintino wrote his Sharon Tate very specifically and Robbie completely embodied the part and not just physically. Her expressions, laugh, and manner of speaking was just so overly pleasant but so real. There was nothing fake about her. She truly was this very happy person who didn't care about legacy and just enjoyed living life. She enjoyed randomly running into people she knew and having a good time. 


There's a scene where she goes to the movies and laughs when audiences laugh at a scene where she falls on the floor. That scene really punched me in the guts because of course, we all know what happened to Sharon Tate. Tarrintino has a history of changing the truth of historical events. We all know the tragic fate of Sharon Tate and Robbie’s depiction of her makes us miss her that much more. She had a beautiful innocence to her, she was a breath of fresh air whenever she entered a room. Her innocence was childish but not immature. It was very warm, sacred and lovable and so is she. Robbie must have felt like she knew this woman, she knew this innocence and she used it to achieve a perfect performance. I also feel she wasn't really sexualized at all which absolutely contributed to her character development. When I watched her, all I saw was who she was and how she was feeling. That's the way it should be. 


The script, score, and cinematography were all very colorful and very stylish. The whole film is and its marketing did not do it justice. The films final act is very violent but it's beyond hilarious. At least, I think so. My brother and I laughed so hard, I'm still laughing as the scene’s still playing in my head.


Overall, I greatly enjoyed Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. It's juicy, funny and gorgeous but it's only for Tarantino fans. If someone who's never seen his films or disliked his films love this movie, I'd be very surprised. If you're in awe of his work, go get some tickets! I assure you, you won't be disappointed. 

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