Once Upon a Time...in HollywoodOnce Upon a Time…in Hollywood
Year: 2019
Rating: R
Length: 161 minutes / 2.68 hours

Quentin Tarantino has changed. While I loved Inglorious Basterds (2009) for its alternate history, and Django Unchained (2012) was another strong showing, it seems like he’s just getting out of his western phase. For his latest film, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood (2019), Tarantino seems to have continued his trend of making very long movies but chose to condense his trademark graphic violence down into an intense sequence that only lasts a few minutes at most  (like The Hateful Eight (2015)). Perhaps he has matured as a director, but that’s what makes this film so jarring compared to his previous work.

Anyone familiar with the Tarantino aesthetic knows that he’s particularly fond of the pop culture of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Consequently, it’s interesting to see how real he’s made this era feel on the big screen. That being said, some of the “fake” movies appearing in this film are shot in a more modern style, which felt off when compared side-by-side to the likes of The Great Escape (1963) or The Wrecking Crew (1968). I will give kudos to the CGI that put Leonardo DiCaprio in these classic scenes, though, as it gave me a double-take. Of course, DiCaprio was a joy to watch as well, and I wonder if Tarantino was channeling some of his feelings into the character.

For a film allegedly about the Manson family murders, there’s a lot of exposition put down before anything happens. As someone who was only peripherally aware of the details of this heinous act, I kept putting pieces together until the surprise twist ending subverted everything. At least there’s a pretty great Chekhov Gun included in the conclusion. This was probably the only thing I found amusing about it (too much shrieking for my taste). In the end, it seems Tarantino had full reign to make the movie he wanted to make, and he certainly made it.

Not your everyday Tarantino film, I give Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood 3.5 stars out of 5.

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