Ian's Movie Reviews
Short Reviews of Movies, Board Games, and Other Stuff

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Watching what is probably Tarantino’s most straightforward of his ten films, I do wonder how much knowing its a Tarantino film affects my viewing of it. And if that’s okay. Because if I was expecting a lot of the Tarantino flare, this movie would be underwhelming. There are also certain ticks he has which can be annoying. But try to take him out of the equation, and this is a really enjoyable movie.

The biggest strength of this movie are the two leads. In an era where box office bank is determined by franchises more than movie stars, the two biggest movie stars in Hollywood presently (though Tommy boy may have something to say about that) are both starring along side each other here. And it benefits the film greatly. Brad Pitt plays to his strengths and provides much of the humour in the film, while DiCaprio gives one hell of a performance as an actor on route to washing up. He’s really something.

I love the look of the film and the “hang out” style of it. There are some things that don’t work for me, mostly with the ending. The “trick” that he pulled has already been pulled before in Basterds, but seems to make a lot more sense there. Doing it again here doesn’t quite feel right. I also wasn’t a fan of the levels of violence that he goes to and how vindictive it feels.  But this is something I’ve had an issue with for his last couple films, especially Django.

Now, I know that this is a Tarantino movie, and over the top violence should be expected, but that brings me back to my next point. Am I responding more negatively because I see the violence as his typical over-indulgence? Does the trick he plays with the narrative context only not work for me because I’ve seen him do it to better effect before? Either way, I did really enjoy the film, but I think there are thematic elements that I completely missed (like the controversial boat scene for example) and some issues with the end. I have a feeling my opinion on this one could change either up or down based on time and another viewing.


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