Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction) has made quite the name for himself as a filmmaker. In 1992 his movie Reservoir Dogs became an instant hit after being screened at the Sundance Film Festival. Then in 1994 Pulp Fiction won over audiences with its non-linear style of storytelling and its eclectic soundtrack. Since then he has had numerous hits and has been nominated for five Academy Awards, winning two of them. This month he brings his latest foray in storytelling, Once Upon A Time...In Hollywood, to the big screen. With much hype and buzz surrounding the film, it will no doubt become a cinematic hit.
Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio; Titanic, Inception) is a washed-up television actor and a has-been who has become the "heavy" while guest-starring on other hit shows. He feels as if life has passed him by and he is no longer relevant in Hollywood. One could argue that his best friend is his stuntman, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt; Mr. & Mrs. Smith) and the two of them spend much of their time together with Cliff acting as Rick's Chauffeur and handyman. When producer Martin Schwarz (Al Pacino; The Godfather) plants the seed in Dalton's head that he will become a joke, Dalton starts to have a midlife crisis.
However, the year is 1969 and Dalton's new neighbors are Director Roman Polanski (Rafal Zawierucha; Jack Strong) and Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie; I, Tonya), which makes him very happy at the idea of living in an "A-List" neighborhood and being "one pool party away" from a role in one of Polanski's movies. Meanwhile, Charles Manson (Damon Herriman; 100 Bloody Acres) and his band of hippie followers are plotting against Polanski and Tate in what would eventually become one of the most infamous murders of all time.
Tarantino has a reputation for long, bloody and curse-laden movies, sometimes to the chagrin of critics and moviegoers. Once Upon A Time ... In Hollywood ticks off the first box with a running time of two hours and forty-one minutes but doesn't offer the numerous f-bombs and frequent blood splatter we have come to know from him, at least not until the third act. It does, however, have the look and feel of other Tarantino movies with various storylines converging into each other and with several cameras pans to offer a variety of perspectives of the same scene. It does offer a seemingly more mature script that once again shows a little different side of the iconic filmmaker.
Tarantino also has a way of perfectly casting his films to give the audience a well-rounded experience. DiCaprio is magnificent showcasing his acting skills beautifully. I would dare say this performance was better than his grizzly frontiersman from The Revenant. He and Pitt have an easy chemistry that makes their almost brother-like friendship believable. I feel this is also one of Pitt's best roles as well. Robbie is somewhat of a throwaway as Tate because, while she looks similar to the slain actress, her character doesn't add much to the overall plot.
While I wish Tarantino would learn the art form of brevity, a.k.a sometimes less is more, I couldn't help being engaged in the story for most of the film ( did I mention the two hour and forty-one minute run time?). DiCaprio offers a master class in how to act in a film in order to win an Oscar and the rest of the cast support him nicely. The set designs are fantastic and, as usual, the soundtrack becomes a vital component in the overall look and feel of the film.
If you can appreciate excellent filmmaking, then this is one movie you will need to see as I would be surprised if it doesn't garner a few Oscar nominations this year.