Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Kurt Russell, Dakota Fanning, Timothy Olyphant, Luke Perry, Margaret Qualley, Al Pacino, Mike Moh
Runtime: 2 hrs 42 mins
Rating: M18 (Violence and Coarse Language)
Released By: Sony Pictures Releasing Singapore
Official Website: https://www.onceuponatimemag.com/
Opening Day: 15 August 2019
Synopsis: Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood visits 1969 Los Angeles, where everything is changing, as TV star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his longtime stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) make their way around an industry they hardly recognize anymore. The ninth film from the writer-director features a large ensemble cast and multiple storylines in a tribute to the final moments of Hollywood’s golden age.
These days, any movie that runs past two hours may not go down well with viewers with little patience. Quentin Tarantino probably doesn’t care, because his films often run past the 120-minute mark. His latest work is no different. Are you prepared to spend almost three hours of your life watching his love letter to Hollywood’s Golden Age?
The American filmmaker is known for his indulgent movies which star showbiz’s prettiest people, feature extended dialogue sequences which does little to extend the storyline, and are unnecessarily violent.
This time round, Leonardo DiCaprio is the male lead of the film, a has-been TV star who is beginning to realise that he is not destined for movie stardom. His best friend and drinking pal is his long-time stunt double played by Brad Pitt, who is ageing very well for a 55-year-old.
The two men make their way through the ups and downs of Hollywood, crossing paths with real-life character like director Roman Polanski (Rafal Zawierucha), his movie star wife Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie), as well as actors like Bruce Lee (Mike Moh), Steve McQueen (Damian Lewis), James Stacy (Timothy Olyphant) and Wayne Maunder (Luke Perry).
There will always be a group of people who loves Tarantino’s stylistic works, and this reviewer is one of them, despite having to sit in the theatre for 161 minutes.
If you grew up watching Hollywood movies in the 1960s, you would be familiar with the world Tarantino has created in this film. For the rest of us, the comedy drama film is another indulgent Tarantino project where our eyes feast on attractive people, lingering shots of walking feet, cigarette smoke and cars travelling on the highway. We aren’t complaining though, because the Palme d'Or-winning director has got what it takes to deliver an engaging tale that crosses multiple storylines.
It is evident that Tarantino loves movies. He weaves in plots about TV cowboys, rising starlets and how realistic showbiz can get even before the advent of computer effects. There is a lot of effort put into creating that era’s look and feel, and like his previous films, the soundtrack featuring music from the past is a blast.
The casting is perfect. DiCaprio deserves another Oscar for his powerhouse acting, Pitt may have delivered his most underrated performance yet, while Robbie’s wide-eyed wonder shows how celebrities took their jobs seriously back then. Other familiar faces in the film include Dakota Fanning as a hippie, Al Pacino as a Hollywood agent and Kurt Russell as a stunt coordinator.
The most interesting about this film is how it includes the infamous story of the invasion of the Manson Family. For the uninitiated, this is a real-life tragedy in August 1969 where a group of hippies, led by Charles Manson, murdered seven people (including Tate, who was eight months pregnant at the time). Tarantino takes the liberty to change the story for dramatic effect, and this is also the perfect opportunity to showcase his signature stylised violence. Watching the last moments of the film is like seeing a rich and spoilt brat tearing up dollar notes because he can.
Because the man behind this passion project is Quentin Tarantino, he gets away with being indulgent and giving the world a film that is a mood piece more than anything else.
(Ageing TV stars, a moving bromance and above all, a cruelly practical industry that has evolved over the decades - this is Quentin Tarantino's indulgent tribute to Hollywood's Golden Age)
Review by John Li