Monday, 19 August 2019

Film: 'Once Upon a Time Hollywood'

Quentin Tarantino's new film (Final one? Yet again?) was, at just 20 mins shy of three hours long, something of an endurance test for me. It wouldn't have mattered so much if the first couple of hours had been really gripping -  or even plain moderately interesting - but, apart from a very few moments of wry humour plus a little dash of violence (most of which is reserved for the final twenty minutes, and fairly graphic, as is only to be expected from Tarantino), I found it all something of a drag. 
The set-up is okay, quite original as far as I know, but hardly substantial enough to sustain interest for a period of what is longer than a lot of other entire feature films. 

!969, mainly in Hollywood - fading film star (Leonardo DiCaprio) whose usual screen appearances as sharp-shooter cowboy is now reduced to guest slot appearances on TV. He and his stand-in stunt double (Brad Pitt) are practically joined at the hip, mooching around, drinking their idle time away in fraternal amity (and both smoking like chimneys), living in plush Hollywood celebrity-area residences. Pitt's character lives with his dog next door to director Roman Polanski's and his wife, film star Sharon Tate's, spacious home (she played by Margot Robbie). The film starts a few months before and leads up to the time of the Charles Manson 'Helter Skelter' murders. We recall from the news at the time of a group of Manson's 'hippy' followers, high on drugs, who'd got into Polanski's house (he himself being in Europe at the time), committing several grisly murders including that of the heavily pregnant Sharon Tate. I'll say no more on that score.

Although Margot Robbie as Tate gets third place billing, she doesn't really have that much to do. Probably her longest scene is when she goes alone into a cinema to watch, with great pride and satisfaction, one of her own films, pleased at the positive response to her screen appearances by the surrounding audience.

I am a fan of Tarantino's films but I'd definitely say that this is his weakest one of all, not exactly a good one to go out on if that is what is intended. Overall, it's nowhere near as violent as his other films and though I was tensing myself up expecting to see a finale of major bloodbath dimensions when it came he didn't go quite as far over the top as I was anticipating. 
A major compression of the film by reducing its playing time by one full hour would, in my opinion, not go amiss. It can take it, and there'd be the gain of taking out those many intervals of ennui. However, yet again (as you can see by ratings from other sites) my view is not widely shared, so in disagreeing with how I feel you'd be part of a majority. 
Oh, and by the way, Brad Pitt's dog doesn't come to any serious harm - only some rather cruel teasing...............6.

(IMDb...............8.2 / Rott. Toms..........3.77/5 )


  1. Tarantino for me is marmite....I like an occasional film of his and hate another......having said this what is more true is that I often like just part of one of his films...not its entirety
    If that makes sense

    1. "I often like just part of....his films" Succinctly put, JayGee, and expressing my own feelings as well, ever so precisely. You might find it harder to like part of this film more than some of his others, though I must admit the pretext is quite a novel one, though that's about it.

  2. I can't with him, Tarantino. He feels too try hard to me; too "look at me."

    1. Yes, there's certainly that element to his films, Bob, he being a very distinct presence behind the cameras - and that no less in this than in others, though he has made much more violence-soaked features than this. This seems a curiously half-hearted affair to bow out on if that's what he's now going to do.

  3. I really appreciate your perceptive review of this film, Ray. It received a lot of (the usual) hype, but something told me that it wasn't going to be very good.

    Ironically, when I was in my early 20's I lived in a Beverly Hills house very near the one where Sharon Tate was murdered - but I was there over a decade after the murders took place.

    I recently wrote a blog post about it - called "Near the Ghost of Sharon Tate."

    Do you still have any cats, Ray? My cat Scruffy died last autumn and I never got over it.

    1. It's an odd film, Jon, and you'd know exactly what I mean if I told you what Q.T. has done with the Tate story at the end of the film, though I shan't. Some may feel cheated but there's a clue in the film's title, only apparent when one has watched it through.

      I've just read your blog on your association with the area and it's certainly a spooky tale. That Ferrari lady (maybe with a name like that she thought she had a right to be reckless!) sounds like a bitch who needs to 'win' all the time and just wanted to throw her weight around, which might well have been considerable for all I know. And you were the 'lucky' one who crossed her - perhaps as a result of the vibes of that locality. It's a story worth the telling.

      Very sorry to hear about your own dear little 'Scruffy'. I know the feeling of loss only too well as two years ago I lost both the cats I had at the time, Blackso and Noodles, both dying just four months apart. I'll spare you the details as they're bound to bring up resonances with your own loss.
      But not only have I got another feline resident - 'Patchie' 13 years old - who came from a house round the corner and I amicably agreed with the owner that since he wanted to move in here that was fine - but I've attracted THREE more, though these times I've no idea where their (former) homes were, and no one has advertised them as missing. I'm happy to have them all but the expense in food, to say nothing of the worry! Only Patchie is registered with a vet. I simply cannot afford to make arrangements for the others. So if and when something happens to any of them it'll be yet more concern.
      I just seem to be a magnet for the creatures who are probably sending out signals on the pussy-telegraph that I'm a soft touch and will give them anything they want - and I do. Heigh-ho!

    2. I'm so glad that you have more kitties in your life, Ray, they are great companions.
      But, as you said, the food and upkeep costs a lot - and vet care is astronomical.

      I still have two cats. Scratch (also known as Kitzee) is now 14 yrs old and Bosco (my black cat) is 5.

      Anyway, take care...and love to the kitties (and you)!

    3. Thanks, Jon - all my love to dear old Kitzee and to the relatively youthful Bosco, as well as to you, naturally.
      I'd forgotten whether or not you had other cats and I'm so relieved to learn you have these two. My little group are the only individuals in the world I regularly talk to, even if getting responses is, well, problematic. But it does help to keep one sane, even though we both know that there'll be heartbreaks coming down the line. Still, they enrich life like hardly anything else.
      Very best wishes to all three of you.

  4. An hour too long
    De caprio was excellent
    Liked Damian Lewis ' cameo
    Some good set pieces
    Got bored

    1. Leo is proving himself to be quite the versatile one in his recent films.
      I knew Damian L. was in this but forgot while watching. Now I'm trying to think back as to which one he was.
      The "hour too long" was virtually all in the first half. Much too much unnecessary rambling.

  5. Just a note to let you know I haven't seen any movies in ages but I still read your reviews.

    1. I assumed that you still read them now and then, Dr Spo, though as they'll shortly be getting a bit more infrequent you may start finding it easier to keep up with them.