Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

I keep rewriting this first paragraph, but they’re all basically me gushing and screaming over my favorite director, Quentin Tarantino releasing a new movie. As of writing, I’ve seen it twice and have plans to go again in a couple days. The DTLA Alamo Drafthouse finally (FINALLY!) opened, so I thought it was an appropriate venue for my first viewing and an appropriate film for my first trip. Unfortunately, because they were still in preview mode, they lost my order and I was hangry and frustrated and distracted as all hell. So I used A-List to get in another screening hte next day. But the one I’m truly excited for is seeing it at Tarantino’s own New Beverly theater. The earliest I could get tickets for was nearly two weeks after opening. So that’ll be fun, but let’s talk about the movie

Tarantino has described this movie as his Roma, a nostalgic film that captures a snapshot of the time and place he grew up in. Set in 1969 Los Angeles, we meet Leonardo Dicaprio’s Rick Dalton. Rick was once the star of a big tv western, but in recent years he’s been reduced to villainous guest appearances. His stunt man Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) has even fewer prospects in his craft, and spends his days as a driver and personal assistant to his ride or die BFFF. To really drive a stake thru the heart of his dreams, Dalton lives next door to up and coming actress Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) and her big shot director husband Roman Polanski. And we all know how her story turned out, or do we?

Because it’s a Tarantino movie, it no surprise that I absolutely loved it. In spirit, it felt most like Inglorious Basterds, a sprawling ensemble whose storylines converge in some riveting revisionist history. Like Basterds, there is A LOT going on. It is gonna take a few goes to piece it all together (even without the distractions of the first), but already from one soak it all in screening to one see how it fits together screening my love for it has gone up. Basterds actually worked similarly for me. I was underwhelmed on first view (or maybe I was really overwhelmed) but I grew to love it just a little more and just a little more with each viewing. Right now, I’d rank Basterds as my third favorite Tarantino (but the top three have minimal separation…Reservoir Dogs and Kill Bill before you ask), and Hollywood is prolly smack in the middle. Still, even the bottom of my Tarantino list (currently Django Unchained) is still a pretty awesome movie.

I will say that this is by far the most self indulgent film my boy has ever made, and that’s saying something. So much of it felt like he was doing things just because he could. For me, there is no self I would rather indulge, but even I found myself wondering if certain bits were necessary. I still loved it, but I get that it could be a turn off for some.

The casting, as always, was perfection. Leo and Brad are an EPIC duo that will go down in Hollywood (and possibly awards) history. I could watch them do their thing (together or apart) all day and if there’s ever a ten hour cut, I will watch every second of it. Margot Robbie is angelic and I couldn’t take my eyes off her. But there’s so many great bit roles as well. A fun game is spotting famous famous in the supporting cast and trying to remember their connection to Tarantino. Hardly a scene goes by without someone memorable. Also fun is spotting all the usual signature flourishes, something he plays up as well in the mid credits

All of this is to say that I am very excited for the next round on Tuesday. And I gotta start thinking of a good drinking game for next year’s Single Awareness Day Blood and Booze

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

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