Tarantino’s 9th masterpiece loves 1969, and I love this movie.
Quentin Tarantino is, as you all know, a filmmaker with the Stanley Kubrick craftsmanship that makes him so unique. His sense of style and R-rated material has made “Pulp Fiction,” “Kill Bill,” and “Inglorious Basterds,” among others some of the most brilliant action movies of all time.
On a personal note: “Pulp Fiction” is my favorite movie of all time, because of the memorable quotes, music, characters, actors, and stylized violence. But I better get a move on, before I get off-topic.
Now, Tarantino back with his 9th film, called “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” which would have Burt Reynolds in his final performance, if he filmed him in time before his sad departure. We’ll all miss him, and Luke Perry, who just passed away this year from a stroke, and is given a final performance in the film.
This movie is a love story to the films and TV shows of the late 1960s, topped with a Manson Family murder parody in the end. Running for nearly 3 hours, you’re gazing at the famous locations, the classic cinematography, the old-fashioned sets, and the actors who made the movies we admire. And it wouldn’t be complete without being preceded by a vintage Columbia Pictures logo.
For instance, the film’s main celebrity Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) is spliced into “The Great Escape,” the same way Tom Hanks shook John F. Kennedy’s hand in “Forrest Gump.” When today’s flicks use these kind of special effects, it really is quite something.
Another would be a Nazi movie, where Rick uses a blow torch to burn the Third Reich down. Think of what would happen if Kurt Russell was the star of “Inglorious Basterds.” But really credit for convincing us it’s a 1969 movie is cinematographer Robert Richardson.
Rick is the star of the “Wanted: Dead or Alive” inspired western series “Bounty Law.” A Hollywood producer (Al Pacino) considers Rick a has been, because of how he’s been subjected to minor roles on TV, due to his alcoholism. He needs to pull himself together, by taking his next guest appearance seriously.
His stunt double is Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), a Vietnam War bet, who can beat up Bruce Lee (Mike Moh), and has gotten away with murdering his wife. And he finds himself in a hippie commune, where the residents loathe him, and his old blind friend (Bruce Dern)-the one who rented out his place for Westerns-has no idea who he is. This place would happen to contain the Manson Family, but we’ll get to that later.
There are also long shots of fast cars that remind you of “Bullet,” iconic restaurants that remind you of “Pulp Fiction,” and I have no “Star is Born” references to give. All I have is praise and appreciation, and I give those two things to Tarantino for loving nostalgia, violence, taste, words, charisma, and style.
Fans also know about the Manson Family murders, and we’re anxious to know when “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” will offer a taste. I can’t say, but you will be reminded of “Inglorious Basterds,” “Django Unchained,” and “The Hateful Eight.” It all pays off well.
The cast is also brilliant. DiCaprio is fun when he’s channels Burt Reynolds and Steve McQueen, and how he improvises with the script. Pitt has the attitude when he plays the tough guy-nice guy. Robbie makes an impressive Tarantino debut the way she got her Scorsese role in “The Wolf of Wall Street.” There’s also a fresh supporting role from Margaret Qualley as Pussycat, a hippie, who has a minor fling for Cliff. And you get a cavalcade of cameos from Pacino, Dern, Russell (as the film’s narrator), Perry, Michael Madsen, Austin Butler, Dakota Fanning, Timothy Olyphant, Damien Lewis, and Emile Hirsch.
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is a masterpiece-funny, daring, and provocative-and it loves movies and TV. The result: I love this movie.