ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD
* * * ½
(Tarantino's latest romp)
What do Sharon Tate, Charles Manson and a movie star and his stunt double have in common?
As the two-hour and 40-minute movie moves slowly along, there seems to be little connection. But wait. This is Quentin Tarantino, who frequently seems disconnected in his storytelling but somehow manages to pull it all together in dramatic, violent style.
Leonardo DiCaprio plays Hollywood actor Rick Dalton, who has had success playing bad guys in movies and on TV. Brad Pitt plays his stunt double/chauffeur/best friend, Cliff Booth, who lives with his dog in a grungy trailer, while Rick rents an expensive home next door to Roman Polanski. Rick's career is slumping and he is encouraged by a producer (Al Pacino) to make spaghetti westerns in Italy.
Violence has always played a big part in Tarantino movies, and while there is less than usual, it plays heavily through Pitt's character (there are rumors that he murdered his wife) and manifests itself in the closing scenes.
The time is 1969 in Hollywood, and Tarantino makes this a true nostalgic piece, filled with Hollywood nostalgia. Old movie posters and marquees are everywhere. Old TV series are shown on screens in homes and bars. Hippies, movie stars and Hollywood hustlers prevail. Tarantino goes to great lengths to show them all, making the film drag a bit while giving his audience an in-depth look at Hollywood at its peak. He is also possessed with a strange desire to shoot scenes of women's feet and legs. And everyone has a cigarette, or joint, in his or her mouth throughout the movie. There are some strange scenes that appear disconnected, but upon retrospect fit into the rambling story.
Watch DiCaprio as he connects with a young female actor. Watch Pitt as he meets up with Charlie Manson and his brood. The two actors also play off each other beautifully. And if you haven't had enough, stick around for the credits and watch DiCaprio do a mock ad for a cigarette brand.
Tarantino is not everyone's cup of tea, but his fans should love his latest. I was surprised that Joyce enjoyed it.
Rated a very big R, with excessive use of the famous four-letter word, drug and cigarette use, and periodic heavy violence.