Articles, Blog

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood | Hollywood Movie Review by Anupama Chopra | Quentin Tarantino


Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is
a many splendored thing. It’s dazzling and meandering, brilliant
and indulgent, sparkling but also stretched. Quentin Tarantino’s 9th film is a portrait
of the classic age of Hollywood movies and the people who made them. It’s soaked in nostalgia. It’s also a showcase for
outsized, old-schoolstardom, with Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio
delivering terrific performances. I first saw the film at the Cannes Film Festival
and then again this week. I can’t tell you that I loved it. But I felt richer for having watched it. As the title ‘Once Upon A Time…’ suggests,
this is a fairy tale. But it’s a fairy tale marinated in melancholy. Because the plot hinges on
horrific real-life events. On August 9th, 1969, actress Sharon Tate, who
was eight-and-a-half months pregnant at the time, and a group of her friends,
were brutally murdered in Tate’s home by cult leader Charles Manson
and members of his gang. Tate’s husband, the celebrated director
Roman Polanski, was abroad on shoot. The multiple murders sent shock waves through
Hollywood and are widely seen as the end of an era. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
climaxes with the night of the murders. The film is constructed as three days in the
lives of the principal characters. But the film isn’t centered on Tate or even Manson
and his makeshift family of mostly young girls. The focus is on Tate’s neighbor Rick Dalton,
a fading actor who’s clinging to his fame. And Rick’s stunt double Cliff Booth,
who’s described as ‘more than a brother, less than a wife.’ Rick was once the star actor on
a television series called Bounty Law but now he’s mostly doing
guest roles as the villain. He’s drinking more than he should. His face is weathered. When an agent, played with delicious glee
by Al Pacino, warns him that audiences are going to stop rooting for him,
Rick is reduced to tears. So Cliff loans him his sunglasses because
people, especially the Mexican car park attendants, shouldn’t see Rick Dalton cry. Cliff seems impervious to any such insecurities. He lives in a trailer with a ferocious dog
named Brandy. Cliff seems unafraid of what
life might throw at him. We’re told that he may or
may not have killed his wife. In one scene, he takes his shirt off
and we see scars. We can sense that Cliff is
capable of serious violence, but Brad Pitt plays him with this languid ease
and industrial-strength charm. Cliff and Rick’s bromance
is the heart of the film. Even when the narrative becomes inert,
their chemistry sustains entire scenes. DiCaprio is wonderfully free of vanity – there this tragi-comic scene in which Rick chats
with a child actor during a lunch break. She’s an eight-year-old devotee
of Method Acting. Her dedication and his own inadequacy
reduces him to tears. As I watched, I wondered: would any Bollywood
star have agreed to do Rick’s role? Incidentally, Julia Butters who plays the
child actor, is flat-out terrific. This character deserves her own spin-off movie. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood languorously,
over two hours and forty one minutes, immerses us into a distinct place and time. Tarantino fills the screen with references
– some real like TV Guide magazine, which used to be a Bible, and others fiction. The production design and costumes are fantastic. But this isn’t a film
propelled by dramatic tension. A sequence in which Cliff lands up
at a ranch where the Manson family lives is genuinely unsettling, but there are
enough stretches in which the narrative sags because people are just hanging around, talking. If you don’t get all the innumerable pop culture
references, the spell isn’t as magical and emotionally, the film quite doesn’t connect. The character of Tate especially feels under used
– she’s more like an idea than a person. The film ends with a burst of violence
that’s almost cartoonish. Like in Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained,
Tarantino is once again, tweaking history. But you need to know that history to get what
the director is trying to do here. My suggestion is do a little homework before
you see the film – read up on what happened. And go in ready to be transported
to late 60s Hollywood. The film is a revisionist fairy tale
and a time machine. It’s a slow burn that’s worth it. One more suggestion – prepare to willfully
ignore the warnings about smoking and psychotropic drugs. A lot of characters are smoking so
those warnings are practically in every frame and they really mess with your movie experience.

100 Comments

  1. Ashutosh Sampat Author

    I like watching critics giving their opinions but in the end the fact is no matter how bad/good a certain movie is ..the entire team would have worked their ass off to make it. Whereas a critic no matter how intelligent they are is ultimately sitting at a studio after a probably day's preparation and criticizing someone's hard work of 180-200 days. Life's indeed unfair😅

    Reply
  2. Chandler Bing Author

    Actors are driving and showing off recreated old sets majority of time otherwise it is a decent watch but a total waste of talented cast.

    Reply
  3. vamsiB13 Author

    I don't understand our Censor board. They muted the words Ass, bastard but kept Fuck/fucking. You have already given it A certificate. Why do you have to mute the damn words and the smoking warning signs are ridiculous.

    Reply
  4. zack brown Author

    Anupama please stick to your Bollywood reviews …..you have no idea what you talking about …..you just took exact words from different Hollywood critics and just repeated those exact same words

    Reply
  5. SuBhaYU BiSwaS Author

    Anupama we hope you are a sensible person but still two third of your review is nothing but spoiling the movie. What happened to the creativity of critiquing a film?

    Reply
  6. Deepak Kumar Sahu Author

    Lack of a mystery box plot device (Will hans landa be defeated by Bastards, Will django get his wife back, who is the mole in the shop) the movie rides on nostalgia, hence falls short to the quentin expectation.

    Reply
  7. Clapperchatter Author

    Eloquently told and fairly balanced. Thankfully however, I saw the movie yesterday before stumbling on your review. I will say too much detail is exposed for anyone who hasn't seen the film. THIS REVIEW CONTAINS A LOT OF SPOILERS!

    Reply
  8. Sidhant Gacche Author

    Why the hell mention plot points from the movie in the review? are you fucking kidding me? seriously.. i stoped halfway through but still felt like too much.. Ma'am please learn to review without giving the movie away.. If you can't.. watch a few videos of Jeremy jahns or Chris Stuckman.

    Reply
  9. Jeff Basos Author

    How fucking stupid is this reviewer? Somebody tell her,film review is about objectively analysing a film, not narrating the the entire goddamn story. I'm never watching this shithead again

    Reply
  10. Sanyam Khurana Author

    Ma’am you cannot NOT put the smoking warning signs in the movie. It’s in public interest. And if it hampers the movie Watching experience, so be it. Smoking kills a person, movie experience doesn’t. Let’s know what is more important.

    Reply
  11. Prince_Sajith 1999 Author

    Please stop giving out so many details and scenes about the move in your review. I had to stop watching half way through as too much was being given out.
    I'd much rather appreicate the kind of non-spoiler reviews put out by a Jeremy Jahns or Chris Stuckmann.

    Reply
  12. Surabhi Chauhan Author

    Beautiful! And how amazing to have such an important film industry person be vocal about the warning messages against smoking. Really ruins the experience

    Reply
  13. AndroidCovenant Author

    See that's the problem with the movie. The reviewer is expecting me to read up on what happened to Sharon Tate in order to get the full emotional impact of the climax. That's not good storytelling. That's not what I spent $25 at the movie theater for.

    Reply
  14. sashi247 Author

    My review of this review.
    She narrates you the story and scenes and tells the climax. So DO NOT WATCH THIS REVIEW if you do not want to know what is coming in the movie.

    A. Don't read anything, go watch the film. You will get through the "yawning" phase in which Quentin sets the premise and makes you familiar with the characters.
    B. After that it brews to moments of madness with some stunning acting so eat your popcorn slowly.
    C. After watching do read on what has happened and find out more about the story.

    D. It's not your average bloody Tarantino movie so be prepared for that.

    Reply
  15. Cornelia Amiri Author

    When I saw it I thought the acting was superb but the story fell a little short. But now that I think back on it I actually think it was better than I realized. They're aspects of it, what Tarintino was trying to do that takes a moment to jell in the mind.

    Reply
  16. Abhishek Beniwal Author

    Why mention Roman Polanski as celebrated director but not as a pedophile and convicted child rapist? He was convicted of a crime and hollywood still kept on working with him, it took till 2016 for hollywood to have a conscience that you can't separate art from artist and its the praise of their art that emboldens them to commit such crimes and get away with it. Sorry Anupma but if you want to mention Roman, you should always prefix it as convicted child rapist. Or you are committing the same mistake that hollywood did for about 40 years till #metoo started trending and Trump got elected.

    Reply
  17. Rock n Roll Author

    Ma'am, you forget to mention the strength of stardom being brought to this movie by Leo, Brad and Margot, there is crazy following of these stars and they are capable to impress common to class audiance. However, your review is excellent, and you are looking fabulous today!

    Reply
  18. Chaitanya Rona Author

    I don’t think Review has to relive the story plots and conflicts. Thank god I watched it before this review. Never watch your reviews again without watching a movie before.

    Reply
  19. Somya Mathur Author

    Okay, so first there is NO spoiler in the review. This is one of the very few movies which requires from the viewer to know the history. Anupama merely made you aware of the history. If you know about the infamous murders and the effect it had on the people in 1969, you will understand the movie more and it will keep you engaged. I guarantee you that. Without it you will not understand the lonngg ‘Manson Family Ranch’ scene or why Sharon Tate is even there and it will leave you wondering ‘what’s the point of this movie’.

    Its an honest review and doesn’t brand it as a must watch only because it’s a Tarantino movie.

    Oh! There is one spoiler though, Anupama Cliff’s wife plot was an ‘aahaann’ moment for me. It left me intrigued. Throwing it in the review diminishes the effect it can and will make on the audience.

    Reply
  20. anwita sarin Author

    Tate was more like an idea than a real person because of her short lived life…it hit me when you said this line…perfect analogy!!

    Reply
  21. Meezan Hampstead Author

    Have seen it twice now, the first time on a superscreen and today on 35mm, mind blown on the latter.
    This is definitely the best of Quentin Tarantino's recent output and stands head and shoulders above all out there now.
    This is a film that can easily be watched multiple times, so layered and so much detail
    Tarantino is that guy that sat glued to the TV and there are so many references to shows that he devoured, some say that the Rick Dalton character was partly based on Pete Duel from Alias Smith and Jones, who battled with depression, alcoholism and eventually died of a self inflicted gunshot wound to his head. Rick Dalton in a soliloquy threatens to blow his brains out after messing up his lines due to consuming eight whiskey sours the night before.
    A rumour is that Gene LeBell did in fact manhandle Bruce Lee on the set of The Green Lantern, substitute Cliff Booth for Gene mixed in with a bit of Paul Newman and Hal Needham, who was Burt Reynolds stuntman and you have Brad Pitt's character.
    Acting in this film is off the charts, forget about Margot Robbie not having many lines what about Roman Polanski one of the most influential Directors ever, I think he had one sentence in the entire movie.
    Scenes and Dialogue have not been wasted in this film, would be interesting to know if Tarantino will release a Directors Cut with material that has been cut from this particular film.
    I for one would pay to see it at the Cinema
    The scene where Brad Pitt gets up on a roof to fix an aerial, hardly anything happens but rather like the entire film it is riveting.
    This film really is a love letter to the forgotten people from the film & television industries in the Sixties & Seventies and I cannot wait to see it again.
    Highly Recommended.

    Reply
  22. Raj Singh Author

    I did not find any script…it was just stretched without any objective…he was just trying to give experience of 1960 and I was expecting some sort of plot….but I like the style of actors and hippy culture …I did not find any objective moving from one point to other ..it was just flow ……

    Reply
  23. Les Grossman Author

    Tarantino wanted to do a movie with 'a day in the lives of main characters' style , without melodramatic story. It's a hangout buddy nostalgia movie. It's one of his top 3 best films. Waiting for the 4 hr extended cut

    Reply
  24. Rabbi Steve Author

    As I said in reply to the reviewer's opening comment, I loved the movie, have seen it three times and will see it least three more times.

    I think you might want to mark a review like this, with at least "mild spoilers".

    Reply
  25. Siddhanth Shetty Author

    its not a review, its a spioler talk discussion shit. what the fuck is wrong with her man??!!
    i might sound very disrespectful but as a movie enthusiast this video hurt me.

    Reply
  26. Abhirup Sen Author

    Liking video coz of last statement .. those messages 🙄 graphics are slightly better(inconspicuous) than they were a couple of years ago at least

    Reply
  27. Osvaldo Esquivel Author

    Stop showing your face and talking about the movie, i didn't click on this clip to see you..
    I want to see a clip of the movie without your commentary…

    Reply
  28. padma prasad Author

    Literally she shouted out most important scenes n movie 🙄 are u literally mad to spill out the climax n here ?? Most stupidest review , thank god I watched the movie then came here to see what’s this lady Nolan’s take on this movie ,

    Reply
  29. Revanth Author

    The best review I've watched. You spoke my mind. But next time refrain from revealing plot details.

    It's true that Sharon's character was underused. But there's a reason for it.
    Tarantino was paying a homage to Tate. Her presence was often ghostly and spiritual, with very little dialogue.

    Reply
  30. Kushagra Dubey Author

    Anybody who knows a thing or two about Tarantino or Hollywood will know for a fact that this is the most humane and mature Tarantino film ever.. it wonderfully breaks typical narrative arcs and the scenes are free flowing which make them all the more amazing. In a series laden time, we needed a film like this to prove why Cinema is cinema and nothing can come close to it !

    Reply
  31. Jaspreet Singh Author

    I enjoyed the acting and some scenes were well directed. I do feel that it way too long and mostly the story went no where with the exception of the last 30 minutes. Not Tarantino’s best movie but ok to watch once

    Reply
  32. sahil kapoor Author

    To be honest I thoroughly loved the movie. Of course tarantino vilonce is 💥💥 but one of the main reason I watch is long conversation and music.
    It was gr8 that you mentioned the Sharon tate history but please refrain from revealing plot details.

    Reply
  33. mhatesrvnticha Author

    No sly comment about brad pitt's body and overtly surgical face?? Ohhh he is from Hollywood, how can anupama be sly about that? She can only be sarcastic about bollywood. Bloody hypocrite.

    Reply
  34. Monal Thaakar Author

    You should tell people to just read up about the murders and go for the movie, and not reveal that Tarantino has "tweaked history"! what an irresponsible comment for a movie reviewer to make. Even my friends successfully told me what they thought about the film without revealing all the details before i saw it!

    Reply
  35. Joseph Davidson Author

    Cool, white dudes, killing evil hippy bitches. Aggressive, stupid, graphic, self aggrandizing, shittyness. Terrible. Are you for real???

    Reply
  36. Rajkamal Goswami Author

    Who is this? And what credentials does she have to review a Tarantino movie? Oh right. Because her husband made a revisionist fairy tale, called 1942, which no one would have given too hoots about if not for RDB's songs and Manisha's heaving bosoms in them. I am sure she read about 1942.

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *