Written (using a mix of real-life and fictional characters) and directed by Quentin Tarantino and starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood is a fairy tale re-imagining of the night of August 8, 1969 when members of the Manson Family murdered actress Sharon Tate and her unborn child, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, celebrity hair stylist Jay Sebring, aspiring screenwriter Wojciech Frykowski and 18-year-old visitor Steven Parent.
This story and case hold a special place in my heart. Let me explain… When I was 9 years old I read my older sister’s copy of Vincent Buglosi’s Helter Skelter. Reading that book helped develop my curiosity of the human mind and behavior. That book is the reason I majored in criminology with an emphasis in forensic psychology and pursued an advanced degree in psychology years later. That book blew my nine-year-old mind. I couldn’t put it down as I wondered, what happened to these people to make them think it’s okay to do something this crazy? And to total strangers, nonetheless! That’s a special kind of sickness and all I wanted to do was learn more about it. And those pictures! Whew!
Quentin tells this tale as if things went very differently that night, and it is actually brilliant. At times it is even fun/funny. Unfortunately, at other times it meanders and becomes boring. Most specifically, during all those damn car rides. California provides the perfect backdrop for long car rides with cool music playing, and those rides are a great way to move from scene to scene and showcase some of the cars/music/scenery of the time, but nobody wants to watch a movie with people driving from point A to point B for 15 minutes of the film. (Of course, I’m guessing here. I really don’t know how much time is spent driving with no dialogue, just music. Could somebody please add up how many minutes of the 2:41 are spent with us driving? I’m really interested to know, but I’m not watching it again to find out for myself.)
All that driving is the reason I wouldn’t see this film again any time soon. I felt as if I was taking those car rides myself, but I didn’t need or want to go on an entire road trip. Those rides took me out of the movie and put me back in the theater waiting for the rides to be over after the first two rides. The music was okay, but have mercy on my attention span please Quentin. Geez!
Other than that (some of the editing was choppy) the movie was great. DiCaprio does some of the best acting I’ve seen from him in recent years. For me, he is an actor I find unbelievable many times because I find his voice distracting (I can’t be the only person who believes this to be true. Think about it… of all the movies he’s starred in, he finally won an Oscar for a movie where he wasn’t required to talk very much at all.) I have trouble getting into a lot of his characters because he has a distinct voice and all I see is Leonardo playing (fill in the blank). He seems to do something different with his voice here and it made all the difference for me. Brad Pitt does a fine job as well. I very much enjoyed the nod to Floyd from True Romance (1993), where I first fell for him as the unbathed-looking, petty, druggie, snitch.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood earned 7.5 bloops out of 10. It’s an imaginative, original movie that is worth seeing. I stop short of saying it’s great because it needed more editing. And those car rides were eternal. However, I enjoyed this more mature, nearly profanity free side of Quentin.
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1 = worst ever, avoid at all cost
2 = very bad, forget about it!
3 = poor movie, not recommended
4 = not good, even for free – NO!
5 = so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6 = not bad, could have been better
7 = good movie, worth seeing
8 = great movie, don’t miss it!
9 = excellent movie, a must see!
10 = a masterpiece, go see it now!
What I’m seeing next…
I am still way, way behind in my movie viewing/reviewing. Please hang in there with me while I work on posting all the content I have written up while catching up.
What I’m watching next
8/9 The Kitchen
Other Reviews (Please excuse the look of this section. It is STILL a work in progress.)
The Last Black Man in San Francisco
Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood
If Beale Street Could Talk
What Men Want
Eighth Grade Vice Roma
Mary Queen of Scots Widows The Favourite
Green Book Halloween Nobody’s Fool
Bohemian Rhapsody Beautiful Boy The Hate U Give
First Man Assassination Nation The Oath
A Star is Born The House with a Clock in Its Walls A Simple Favor
The Predator BlackkKlansman Support the Girls
Peppermint Christopher Robin Crazy Rich Asians
The Happytime Murders RBG Won’t You Be My Neighbor
Sorry to Bother You
You Were Never Really Here
Rampage A Quiet Place Ready Player One
A Wrinkle in Time Lady Bird I, Tonya
The Florida Project Black Panther Molly’s Game
The Post Phantom Thread Den of Thieves
All the Money in the World Coco The Greatest Showman
The Disaster Artist Call Me By Your Name
The Shape of Water Marshall The Man Who Invented Christmas
Victoria and Abdul Thor: Ragnarok Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Mother! It Good Time
Atomic Blonde Dunkirk Girls Trip
Spider-Man: Homecoming The Big Sick Baby Driver
All Eyez on Me It Comes at Night The Wedding Plan
Wonder Woman Everything, everything King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Raw Kong: Skull Island Logan
The Girl with All the Gifts A Cure for Wellness Get Out
Hidden Figures Fences Moonlight
Hell or High Water Loving La La Land
Lion Manchester by the Sea Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge Nocturnal Animals Captain Fantastic
Elle Jackie I Am Not Your Negro