Then there’s the “Tarantino” element to the story. In a way, Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood is a tribute to the Hollywood of the 60s. While Dalton and Booth are creations of Tarantino, he places them in the real world of 1969. Dalton is the next-door neighbor of Roman Polanski (Rafal Zawierucha), Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie), and their third wheel Jason Sebring (Emile Hirsch). On the other side of that coin, Booth becomes enamored with a young woman P***y Cat (Margaret Qualley), who introduces him into the world of Charlie Manson and his family living at the Spahn Movie Ranch in Chatsworth.
Using a little movie magic, Tarantino ramps up the nostalgia and sticks his cast into films and television shows of that time. One cool moment is learning that Dalton had been cast in the Steve McQueen role in The Great Escape, but fired when McQueen was suddenly available. DiCaprio is then shown in the original film. Yes, very cheesy, but fun to watch this Forrest Gump moment. It’s there as a testimony to the brutal, unpredictable nature of stardom. A single random event can launch you into stardom or sink your career with the Titanic.
What frustrated me most about Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood was its style of storytelling. This is not necessarily a linear story, but more a slice of life of Dalton and Booth. We follow what they do for a few days, and exciting things happen to them along the way, and it all leads to the infamous night at Polanski’s home and the Manson family. My problem is that as your watching Dalton attempt to resurrect his career in the Western, there’s no sense of direction that would naturally lead to the film’s ending. Dalton and Booth are basically wind-up toys that are let loose and hops around the table with no sense of where they’re going, which can make a long movie like this one, feel even longer.
“…the most positive and optimistic film from Quentin Tarantino…which may piss off a lot of his fans.”
Although I’m not a fan of slice-of-life storytelling in my films, DiCaprio and Pitt created these two fantastic characters. We feel a great deal of sympathy for DiCaprio’s Dalton aging actor and admire the moral compass of Booth. It all ends on the sweet note of friendship. At over two-and-a-half hours, Tarantino creates a wonderful tale capturing our interest as scenes are stretched out and in less capable hands, it would have been cut down to a standard ninety-minute flick. While I liked the film overall, I wouldn’t necessarily call it the quintessential Tarantino film.
"…"A single random event can launch you into stardom or sink your career with the Titanic.""