Movie Review: ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ – Tarantino’s love letter to the industry!


If you’re a Tarantino fan you’ll like it. If you are a Leonardo DiCaprio fan you’ll definitely enjoy it. While not as action-packed or audacious as other Tarantino movies, ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood‘ serves as a platform for two amazing actors doing what they do best – PERFORM! DiCaprio is brilliant and Pitt rides shotgun as co-star and manages to ‘mute’ his own star power – that alone takes skill. QT takes time to explore little nuances of the industry. It might be boring for the casual fans, but for a movie lover and QT fan it’s another gem 🙂



I’ll be completely honest.

This is a movie about making movies. That’s REALLY all this is about.

if any other director made this, it would bore me to tears. But Quentin Tarantino made it. and that makes all the difference in the world.  See, QT has a way of making mundane shit look and feel…cool. He makes normal words feel acrobatic. He makes everyday shit seem slightly OFF…like something you’ve heard before, but NOT quite like this. Pointless banter becomes unforgettable quotes (see, Pulp Fiction. Classic)

And THAT is the real strength of ‘Once Upon a Time In Hollywood’.

Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Rick Dalton, (star of TV show ‘Bounty Law’) an aging actor in the middle of a career crisis. Once an A-List star of film and TV, he’s struggling to find meaningful roles as the industry around him is changing. He becomes an industry ‘heavy’ (playing the Bad Guy for protagonists) and risks being typecast into obscurity. He turns to alcohol, which leads to depression, which has him contemplating suicide. Which brings us to the next star…

Brad Pitt plays Cliff Booth, Rick’s stunt double and faithful hetero-Life mate. These two are all but glued to the hip. Being partners for nearly 10 years, Rick absolutely relies on Cliff, and vice versa. It’s weird watching Brad Pitt with his undeniable star power play such a doting second-man to Rick, but that’s the fun of the movie. It showcases two of the BIGGEST IRL Hollywood stars as two washed-up has-beens.

Margot Robbie co-stars as Sharon Tate – the IRL Hollywood starlet who fell victim to homicidal cult leader Charles Manson. Robbie looks absolutely delicious no matter what she does (Focus, Suicide Squad, Wolf of Wall Street), and this is no different, playing the doomed victim with all the vivacious charm of a naive young blonde with the world at her fingertips.

The REAL star of this movie is the movie itself.

I know that sounds weird AF, but this is Tarantino’s inside look at Hollywood; Hey, here’s what we really go through and sometimes the shit ain’t pretty!’

He takes his fictional tale and sets it against IRL events, creating revisionist history in the same vein of Forrest Gump. There are a litany of great co-stars (Al Pacino, Kurt Russell, and newcomer Mike Moh, who basically CONJURES the spirit of Bruce Lee!) and everyone has their juicy moments because again, Tarantino.

There’s even a wraparound subplot of a young Charles Manson’s killer Family looming menacingly in the background. (That’s all I will say about that.) Most importantly we get to watch two amazing actors completely disappear into their roles. Brad Pitt is great and Margot Robbie does a lot with very little, but Maaan look, DiCaprio takes acting to an entirely different level.  Allow me to explain…


There is a scene where Rick Dalton (stumbling, fumbling and stuttering off-camera) is filming IRL 1960s TV show ‘Lancer’, co-starring as the ‘heavy’ (Bad Guy).  We watch the scene being filmed and Rick totally TURNS IT ON and transforms into an acting Tour-De-Force! I mean, this guy lights up the screen! Suddenly you realize why Rick was famous in the first place. You’re rooting for this guy to WIN.

Then in the blink of an eye, Rick flubs a line and reverts back into being Shitty Stuttering Rick the Alcoholic Has-been. The director yells at him to ‘keep going!’ and Rick does everything short of having an epic meltdown. He then reverses course and jumps BACK into being amazing. It’s hilarious AF and a little bit uncomfortable…

but thats when you realize you’re actually watching IRL DiCaprio bring this whole ridiculous moment to life – playing a character who is acting as someone who is acting as someone. The whole scene is meta as FUCK LMAO! – It’s a jaw dropping moment.

That scene alone sums up the entire movie.

‘Once Upon a Time’ is 2 hours and 40min of getting a glimpse behind the curtain – the moving and shaking of Tinseltown. The grimy realistic background of the Glitz and Glamour. It is NOT a pretty sight. There is a lot of blue collar work to make a star look beautiful and its totally fun to watch!  its a collection of wacky moments peppered with bits of plot. And, just for shits and giggles QT throws in the dark Manson tragedy with his little twist (You’ll love it!)

Because of course, Tarantino.

Overall, not much happens in ‘Once’ as far as action/adventure goes. My recommendation is to watch this at home on a rainy day when not much is going on. (That’s how I watched it and it was PERFECT). I skipped seeing it in theaters because, quite frankly I wasn’t sure just WTF the movie was about LOL – and I was right. This movie takes time to let it unfold and enjoy, free of distractions.

I will sum up the movie the same way the prodigious 8-year old female co-star of ‘Lancer’ said to Rick after finishing their scene:

‘That was the best acting I’ve ever seen in my whole life!’

She was right.


(4 out of 5 Stars)


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1 Response to Movie Review: ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ – Tarantino’s love letter to the industry!

  1. Pingback: BAD BOY NERD: Ranking All 10 Quentin Tarantino Movies! (Yes, I said TEN) | Bad Boy Nerds!

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