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Review-Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019) – Houghton STAR – The Houghton Star

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There is no doubt about it, Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is amazing! Typical of Tarantino, it’s a fun film full of heart and love. Of course, those interpretations are subjective if you know anything of his filmography. Tarantino is very much one to push the limit in movies, a fact that I admire and love about his work. His lack of care about what other people think of his films really just unleashes him to create the wildest movies ever. OUATIH is probably Tarantino’s most relaxed film, toned down in violence, it delivers wonderfully in ways completely unexpected from the director. However, it should be of no surprise that he would flip the script and surprise audiences with something so uncharacteristic of himself.
OUATIH is a simple film. There are no real convoluted plot points or anything out of the ordinary. The movie takes place in a day of the lives of actor Rick Dalton and his stunt double, Cliff Booth in late 1960’s Hollywood. Rick, played by the marvelous Leonardo DiCaprio, is an actor who has fallen out of the limelight after leaving the television show that made him famous to pursue his acting career in movies. As with any gamble, there is a chance it does not pay off and, in this case, it does not. By his side, is his stunt double/friend Cliff Booth, played by Brad Pitt who offers both support and understanding in his buddy’s time of hardship. As an aging television star, Dalton has to come to terms with the fact that he is not only older but also not as popular as he used to be. Being in the limelight for so long makes this transition incredibly hard for him, and DiCaprio plays the part of a struggling and insecure actor so unbelievably well. There’s irony in there somewhere. The situation is made worse for Dalton when, living next door to him is up-and-coming movie star Sharon Tate and her husband, big-name director Roman Polanski. In a world of shining and fading stars Rick struggles with where to take his career, often abusing alcohol as his vice. 
Meanwhile in the outskirts of Hollywood, trouble grows in the form of the Manson family cult. Charles Manson was a talented manipulator and white supremacist who feared an “apocalyptic race war.” He formed his cult in college by targeting those who were socially inept or emotionally insecure. Over the next couple of years, he formed a “family” of about twenty individuals; through LSD and “unconventional sexual practices,” he was able to turn them into his dedicated and devoted followers. For those of you who are unaware, this was a real cult. They were responsible for the deaths of seven individuals, namely actress Sharon Tate. Though the only events depicted in the movie are the attempted murders of Sharon Tate, it is nonetheless important to provide a backstory of history. Under the commands of Manson, he ordered his followers to “kill them as gruesomely as you can.” Later one of the murderers admitted that they killed Tate because, “we wanted to do a crime that would shock the world.” So, when watching this movie, I knew how it was going to end. Or I thought I knew. Tarantino often rewrites history in wonderful ways and this movie is no different. The end of OUATIH is one of the most absolutely insane things Tarantino has done. 
The acting in this movie is wonderful, DiCaprio and Pitt both manage to be loveable and relatable as they realize their place in a tumultuous movie industry is constantly changing. Meanwhile Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate is a wonderful depiction of the golden age of Hollywood, its beauty, elegance, and grace, all destroyed by a senseless act of violence. It was what truly changed movies forever. The setting is beautiful. Tarantino completely remodels all of Los Angeles to fit his 1960’s childhood dream. The scenery, the sets, the costumes, it’s all gorgeous. Getting a behind the scenes look at how movies are made is an interesting change of perspective. The score and soundtrack are also great; using classic songs that just helped me to fall in love with this movie. It is a completely unique experience that had me fascinated and intrigued all the way through.
When I first saw this movie, I was kind of disappointed; this was the guy who gave us Pulp Fiction, Inglourious Basterds, and Django Unchained, where did it all go wrong? Yet at the same time I was completely smitten with this world he built, and I had no idea why. It was not his style, but at the same time it was, it felt different and that’s why I loved it so much. Throughout it completely subverts your expectations and builds up tension in an amazing way with fun characters and a real story. It’s magnificent. This movie has since become a comfort movie to me, one that is relaxing and fun until the final act of mayhem. Ultimately it is a movie I enjoy completely and sometimes competes with Pulp Fiction in my mind for the best Tarantino movie. It offers everything I want and amazes me with every watch. I strongly recommend this movie. ★
Final Grade: 10/10 (A+)
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