Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood
The ninth movie from Quentin Tarantino is a dreamy doozy, his most unapologetically Tarantinian film yet. History and conventionality be damned, for QT is behind the camera, and he favors mayhem and a little thing called artistic license. Set in 1969, Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood captures the ’60s film scene and culture as they are dying, and they most certainly die hard. Through the Tarantino storytelling lens, they also die in mysterious and hallucinogenic ways. Making a run at Newman and Redford, we get Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt as insecure, has-been actor Rick Dalton and his trusty stuntman, Cliff Booth, respectively. Dalton’s career has devolved into playing the bad guys on TV’s The F.B.I. while past-his-prime and blackballed Booth is relegated to driving him around and being his confidante. The setup allows Tarantino to go hog wild with the ’60s visuals and soundtrack. Hollywood is a monumental achievement on the art and sound direction fronts. Some of Tarantino’s soon-to-be most famous shots are in this movie, including a crane shot over a drive-in screen that dropped my jaw. The looks and sounds are so authentic that you might wonder if Dalton and Booth were real people. They were not, but they’re based on folks like Burt Reynolds, Clint Eastwood and Hal Needham. The end of the ’60s was bona fide nutty times, and this is a nutty movie. It also manages to be quite heartfelt and moving.