A Perfect Representation of White-Hollywood's Wet Dream- Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood (2019) Review
As the lights went down in theater number 17 at the AMC in this small town of Plainfield, and the opening teaser trailer for "Queen and Slim" began to play on the big screen, the group of middle-aged to boomer, white males in the cramped, dark theater sat in what one could call *crickets* silence.
I looked over to my boyfriend, and said, "I can't wait to see this movie." Per usual, I'm giving him a play by play of every trailer and offering whether or not we should pay to see it, but outside of our small bubble, one could cut the tension with a knife. The disconnect between me and this films general audience in that dark theater was symbolic to my disconnect to the actual film itself.
"Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood" is the newest film by Quentin Tarantino, and it is a perfect representation of white-Hollywood's wet dream. It is a tribute to the "good ol' glory days"- when white males dominated the film scene, when "the Mexicans" (as Cliff stated) were just their valet drivers, and when there were only two black people in this entire movie, and they played extras in a pool mansion party, but no one would have noticed. Yeah, the good ol' days.
This movie is about Rick Dalton (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) and his "more than a brother, but less than a lover" best friend, and ex stunt double, Cliff Boothe (Brad Pitt.) Leo and Pitt are the country accent, film duo I never knew I needed. Rick Dalton is the has-been actor, struggling for relevancy and battling his inner insecurities, and Cliff Boothe is his glorified personal assistant, with the wit of a thousand men.
"There were moments when the character felt so morbid, and the entire theater around me was laughing in unison, but there I sat, with deep pity for him."
This movie is also about the end of an era in Hollywood- when yuppies and conservative ideals slowly stopped running the basis of acceptance for society and the age of "hippy"-ism, protests, and rejection of the status quo edged its way in. Leonardo's Dalton is a massive denouncer of said "new age." He repetitively refers to "hippies" as a derogatory term. Without giving away too much, I have to say that I felt genuinely sorry for Rick "MF" Dalton in some moments. He clearly struggled with his own dwindling stardom and his place in the quickly shifting business. There were moments when the character felt so morbid, and the entire theater around me was laughing in unison, but there I sat, with deep pity for him. Leonardo delivered the audience self-actualization, humor, self-pity, and versatility through his ping-pong back and forth between the many characters and emotions of Rick. Needless to say, he absolutely killed his role, and alongside him was the ever-charismatic, never-aging Brad Pitt, who continuously proves that he is the most charming man on the planet, with abs carved by Renaissance sculptors. Cliff Boothe, his dog Brandy, and the dynamic between him and Dalton are what helped round out this film into not just a toast to an era, but also a toast to friendship.
There were moments of this movie that dragged more than others, and there were moments that made the entire theater shake with laughter. Then, there were moments like that Bruce Lee scene that reminded me that this movie had little regard or respect for anything that wasn't a part of the "Rick Dalton fantasy land." And, maybe that's the point. This was "once upon a time" in Hollywood, before individualism, diversity, and Charles Manson and his brainwashed followers took its pure, white innocence.
With that being said, there wasn't a clear connection offered between the Manson girls, or even Manson himself, and our two main characters. We don't see enough of Manson and his cult, and we don't see enough of what's happening on Spahn Ranch. There was little use of the amazing acting chops of actresses like Dakota Fanning and all of the other girls of the ranch. They were more like extras, with little to offer to the plot. That may also be the point. Everything is almost irrelevant or out of reach in this movie, if it doesn't directly pertain to Rick and Cliff. Margot Robbie's Sharon Tate is mostly a beautiful enigma to Rick the whole time, and therefore to the audience as well. It was a perfectly constructed world of 1960's Hollywood, with an outside force trying to break down the walls of its perfectly neon lit, traffic free, pop-culture world.
Finally, in the most Tarantino-like ending, Cliff Boothe and Rick Dalton single-handedly save Hollywood from this force. Nothing ever has to change. This movie was good in many ways, but in every other way, it did not connect to me. There was what I thought this film would be and what it actually was. While the final act is playing out, and the entire theater around me is erupted in boisterous laughter and claps of agreement with what's happening on screen, I'm laughing as well, but because it was absolutely ridiculous, and I find the over-use of the word "fuck" utterly enjoyable. This movie just wasn't for me, and that’s perfectly okay. It was still beautifully shot, with some unforgettable dialogue and hilarious moments.
Jacindable Rating: ★★½
starring, Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Emile Hirsch, Margaret Qualley, Timothy Olyphant, Julia Butters, Austin Butler, Dakota Fanning, Bruce Dern, Mike Moh, Luke Perry, Damian Lewis, Al Pacino, Kurt Russell, and more
written and directed by, Quentin Tarantino