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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood The Seinfeld of Cinema Grade: B+

Source: IMDB


Before I start the review: I give credit to Chris Stuckmann for the title of my review, I do believe this film reminds me of that show. Anyhow Once Upon a Time in Hollywood tells a story about an aging has been actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo Dicaprio), whom is trying to make his last effort to stay relevant in today's day in age in cinema. Rick is accompanied by his stunt man Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), whom also is his driver as well. During this time period, we also encounter some small moments with Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) and the Mansons as well. Fun fact: My first ever Blu-Ray purchase was indeed a Quentin Tarantino film Django Unchained. This film was also on my Top 5 most anticipated films of the summer, so I was hyped for this. The Cinematography makes me extremely happy, the film is wonderfully shot, bringing you back a retro feel of the golden age of cinema. I would say it's best shown in the third act, during the little montage scene of showing off famous restaurants and cinerama dome theater, but honestly you can go on and on about how many memorable great shots there are in this film. Like Cliff driving around the city for a cool few minutes, the Playboy mansion, Rick Dalton's pool shot, the set Rick Dalton was on, or the opening black and white shot of Rick, Cliff, and an interviewer talk together on the TV set... Like seriously, so much praise in the Cinematography and the sets. The Score was wonderful, accompanied by a great soundtrack. Anytime a film uses the song Twelve Thirty by The Mamas and The Papas, it makes a scene in a film wonderful, many great moments where the soundtrack selections shine in scenes here. The cast was great as a whole, I have no complaints about anyone, will be surprised if the cast of this film doesn't get nominated for an Ensemble SAG award. Leonardo Dicaprio and Brad Pitt are a match made in heaven, both giving fantastic performances, followed by the best chemistry I've seen in a film all year long. Both characters were great, I believe Dalton had a better arc than Cliff, but still loved them both. Rick Dalton is an aging actor, where it looks like his glory days on the small or big screen is behind him, getting by with temporary roles. Rick pushes himself to the max, especially when he doesn't deliver his lines on his first take, which I relate to that scene towards my past life. But when given a great performance, creating new lines due to improv... It brings Rick Dalton a spark, where he feels reborn again. His little moments with a young child actress were both great touching scenes. Rick Dalton is inspiring to not only young up and coming actors, but he's also inspiring to adult actors. Actors act not because of fame/fortune, but because they love their job and love challenging themselves to greater heights. It may not look that way, but you can tell when Dalton delivered in his scene, that spark brought him back to life, always act till you stop breathing as they say. Cliff Booth basically is a character, that goes with the flow with life. Though opportunities have shown little to his current life, he still is grateful for what he has and he just has a good time. Margot Robbie is pretty good as Sharon Tate, I believe her screen time though seems short, but I believe it was a fair significant amount. Keep in mind: This film is centered on Dalton and Booth, the Sharon Tate stuff plays a small part due to the era this film is in. Regardless I enjoyed the Sharon Tate moments in this film, including watching herself at a movie theater, enjoying her performance in a movie... It was cute. I've given Al Pacino a tough time, as far as his acting goes in his current day in age. I loved his early work, but his work right now just feels... Meh most of the time. In this film though given a very small role, I thought he was good, it felt like he was giving an effort this time around, nice more of that please! Mike Moh was dope as Bruce Lee, I thought his scene with Cliff Booth was hilarious and great. For some odd reason there is controversy behind that Bruce Lee scene... Yeah, eat a Snickers bar, you're not you when you're hungry. I really enjoyed Margaret Qualley's performance, Dakota Fanning did a pretty good job as well. I do have a couple flaws to mention. Though this may seem minor, but I would've liked the entire story be taken place all in one day. The time leap doesn't bother me at all, I just felt the way the story was going along, it was going to end by night of the same day... Just my preference, but really not a major complaint. I felt some drag moments here and there, also some moments where they could've been cut out. So the 9th film from Quentin Tarantino... Delivered for me, I found this to be a delightful satisfying film, that is classic Tarantino. I found the first two acts to be pretty good, although one may say it's not a strong narrative, as the two acts feel relaxed and loose, but for me I was enjoying what I was watching. This formula is also commonly used in foreign cinema, where you have a simple plot, but the way the story is told is loose, as you just see characters just talking... I love that style of cinema, so yes I really dig it. Long take scenes of Cliff driving a car for a good period time, is how scenes back in those days played out... You may think it’s “boring”, but that’s how it was back in those days, I found it relaxing and enjoyable. I'm confused as to why people were having complaints, with the scene of Cliff Booth dropping off Pussycat where she partially lived. I felt that scene was a solid example of true suspense. You see Cliff surrounded by a not so good surrounding, as you're thinking Oh No, he's in trouble, these people around this area is a bunch of psychopath hippies. Just because it doesn't go the way you hoped for, doesn't mean the scene is bad, it's a good example of suspense and also a scene where you had no idea where it was going, making a scene that's not predictable is a good thing. I also enjoyed the conclusion of that scene, not only funny but also bad ass too. The third act is unpredictable, bringing an epic final punch towards the story, as I got to say... I loved it, it was fantastic. Nobody saw this ending coming at all, it went to a direction that was completely over the top, but this is classic Tarantino as I just found it amazing. I don't get people complaining about the final act, I mean if you've seen Inglorious Bastards before, this shouldn't be a surprised. The comedy material was pretty damn good, theres a handful of clever jokes that start slow but lead to a great pay off. I feel the story works in two ways. It's a well constructed storyline, that doesn't go through the cliches and tropes you're used to seeing, as it's unpredictable from start to finish. It feels fresh, free, and ending off on a high note. The story also feels like a homage, to an end of a beautiful era in Hollywood and in cinema. I mean you look at modern day cinema... There's barely anything like this, consisting of remakes, super hero films, and sequels that had no purpose in being made. I still believe in cinema, the independent market examples like A24, Bleecker Street, Neon Rated etc has been great these last few years, just audiences just can't get out of their comfort zone and seek out to those films, instead they stay in their nostalgia bubble and super hero stuff. A film like this was made towards those that live and breath film, the craftsmanship, the performances, the music, and the story really hit home. It's ok if you don't care for the film, like I can’t understand those whom generally don’t like it, but making up these delusional ways to feel "offended" by it... Come on, just grow up, this guy respects and honors this era to the core of his heart. Overall, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was great, I feel this will be a top 20 of the year contender easily, as it'll just grow on me as time goes on. I highly recommended this film, support greatness while it's here. Great job once again Quentin Tarantino, this definitely touched strings in my heart, as I look forward to watching this again sometime in the future. I hope this isn't the last goodbye, but if it is, thank you for gracing the big screen for many years, God Bless. -Mitch Smietana

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