Once Upon a Time In Hollywood is billed at Quentin Tarantino‘s 9th film, even though he’s made more if you count short films and anything before Reservoir Dogs.
Beginning on the weekend of Saturday February 8th 1969, the only real constants are Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), a movie star whose best days are behind him, since he was best known for the TV series Bounty Law, which was cancelled eight years ago, because he wanted to make movies instead; and his stuntman, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt).
But for the majority of the rest of the cast, they’re merely extras, passing in front of the camera from time to time – such as when Damian Lewis makes for an amusing Steve McQueen, and I got more of a buzz from the fact that there’s an opening scene walking through the same airport as at the start of Jackie Brown.
Once Upon a Time In Hollywood is meant to be Tarantino’s homage to the last days of the Golden Age of Hollywood, but all I saw was that there’s no cohensive story to this whatsoever. It’s just a series of random scenes, whether it’s Leo filming some scenes from his film, Brad having a fight with ‘Bruce Lee’, Kurt Russell popping up and doing not very much, Margot Robbie (as Sharon Tate) going to watch her own film in the cinema (trying desperately to convince the staff that she is who she says who she is), and so on.
Overall, this is a real mess of a movie and an exercise in pointlessness. There’s just nothing that goes anywhere in it.
For a change, there’s almost zero swearing in a Tarantino movie, and – thankfully – a complete lack of the N-word, particularly favoured (and overused) by the director in both Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight. Sadly, however, in terms of the running time, it’s also in the same “near-3hrs” ballpark as those, and similarly, really doesn’t need to be.
The film tries to earn its 18-certificate within the last 20 minutes, even though I was trying to rewind bits to get a better look because it takes place in the dark. It was the only moderately interesting part of the whole movie.
If Tarantino is to make a ‘final’ movie and claim it to be his 10th, he’s really going to have to push the boat out – and for the first time in around 20 years.
Running time: 161 minutes
Release date (Blu-ray): December 9th 2019
Studio: Sony Pictures Releasing
Format: 2.39:1; 1.33:1 (Bounty Law, Interview Segment, Operazione Dyn-O-Mite!, & Red Apple Cigarettes Commercial); 1.85:1 (The 14 Fists of McCluskey)
Cinematographic Process: Dolby Vision, Anamorphic Panavision, Spherical (some scenes), Super 8 (one scene)
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Producers: David Heyman, Shannon McIntosh, Quentin Tarantino
Writer: Quentin Tarantino
Rick Dalton: Leonardo DiCaprio
Cliff Booth: Brad Pitt
Sharon Tate: Margot Robbie
Jay Sebring: Emile Hirsch
Pussycat: Margaret Qualley
James Stacy: Timothy Olyphant
Trudi Fraser: Julia Butters
Tex Watson: Austin Butler
Squeaky Fromme: Dakota Fanning
George Spahn: Bruce Dern
Bruce Lee: Mike Moh
Wayne Maunder: Luke Perry
Steve McQueen: Damian Lewis
Marvin Schwarz: Al Pacino
Sam Wanamaker: Nicholas Hammond
Abigail Folger: Samantha Robinson
Roman Polanski: Rafal Zawierucha
Francesca Capucci: Lorenza Izzo
Voytek Frykowski: Costa Ronin
Charlie: Damon Herriman
Gypsy: Lena Dunham
Katie: Madisen Beaty
Sadie: Mikey Madison
Clem: James Landry Hébert
Flowerchild: Maya Hawke
Lulu: Victoria Pedretti
Snake: Sydney Sweeney
Froggie: Harley Quinn Smith
Delilah: Dallas Jay Hunter
Blue: Kansas Bowling
Tadpole: Parker Love Bowling
Sundance: Cassidy Vick Hice
Butterfly: Ruby Rose Skotchdopole
Angel: Danielle Harris
Happy Cappy: Josephine Clark
Business Bob Gilbert: Scoot McNairy
Ernesto The Mexican Vaquero: Clifton Collins Jr
Bartender on Lancer: Marco Rodríguez
Movie Theater Manager: Ramón Franco
Book Store Man: Clu Gulager
Billie Booth: Rebecca Gayheart
Randy Miller: Kurt Russell
Janet Miller: Zoë Bell
Sheriff Hackett on Bounty Law: Michael Madsen
Unknown: Tim Roth (scenes deleted)
Mary Alice Schwarz: Brenda Vaccaro
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.