Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

By Andrew McManus - Contributing Columnist

Directed by – Quentin Tarantino

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Emile Hirsch, Timothy Olyphant, Al Pacino

Runtime: 185 Minutes

We open this week with the ninth film by Quentin Tarantino. Allegedly he will be retiring after his next film, so the stakes seem high for every film that he puts out. (Could all be a ruse to sale more tickets.) I first learned about this movie from my boss, Brian Listerman. We have similar taste in films, and he showed me the trailer a few months ago. I was excited. The cast seemed A+ (Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie) all fine actors. I’ve only listed 6 actors starring but this film, like the majority of Tarantino’s weaves in and out from main cast to background characters. This is truly an ensemble piece. Like I said I was excited, but his last film The Hateful Eight I thought was a bore. We could be in for more of the same. I didn’t know much about this film. I only knew this would be set in the 1960’s and feature the Manson family murders.

Onto the film.

We open with a retro Columbia pictures logo. It’s Los Angeles and its 1969. Immediately you’re thrown into a different era as what follows that is a black and white commercial and interview. We meet Rick Dalton (DiCaprio) he’s the former star from a western called Bounty Law. Life has been good to Rick, but things would slowly change directions. We continue with a black and white interview involving Rick and his stunt double Cliff Booth (Pitt). They’ve been together since Bounty Law and Cliff now acts as Rick’s driver and right-hand man. The chemistry between the pair is superb and it’s immediately noticed as soon as they both get on screen together. We learn from Rick why Cliff is needed for his stunts. He can jump off horses but if he gets hurt production is at a stand-still. We then learn the true story about why Rick (DiCaprio) needs a driver. The narrator (Kurt Russell) breaks the fourth wall to tell the audience directly, Rick has been arrested too many times and lost his license.

We then meet Sharon Tate (Robbie) who’s arrived in Los Angeles recently with her current husband Roman Polanski. I feel like my readers will know about the Manson family murders; I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say Tate is involved. As soon as we see her on screen, I started thinking about the endgame for this film. This thought was in the back of my head the entire time. Every scene with Tate in it you can’t help but smile. She goes to a theater with her film playing just to see the audience reactions and it’s obvious it brings her happiness. Tarantino did this on purpose. We enjoy her character yet are supposed to know where this journey is taking us.

Throughout this film, we cut between three stories. We see Booth (Pitt) trying to keep busy when directors don’t want him with Dalton (DiCaprio). We see Dalton trying to become the STAR again, while dealing with low self-esteem and drinking too many whiskey sours, and we see Tate enjoying Los Angeles. All of our characters interact with the Manson family, but the most fleshed out in this regard is Booth’s story.

The film shines here when it cuts back and forth and with the “ending” lurking in the back of your head. A sense of dread came to me every time one of our characters interacted with the Manson family. That doesn’t mean this is a “horror” film. I laughed more during this one than I have in many actual comedies. All I will say is this Brad Pitt vs. Bruce Lee. Also, DiCaprio has a pep-talk in his trailer that may win him another Oscar. He was giving the talk to himself.

I want to focus on the technical aspects instead of the actual plot. If I told you much more of the story, I’d be doing you a disservice because the story is REALLY GOOD. The music cuts in and out from 1960’s to cheesy western scores while showing old Bounty Law clips or while Rick is working on new westerns. (He’s now the bad guy in them.) The editing and camera angles are mostly good. There are quite a few shots filmed in the back of the car while Booth drives Dalton around. Makes you feel like you are with them. Also, like I said earlier the cast is spot on. One last side note on the story and Rick’s new work. He works on a show called Lancer starring James Stacy. A real show that aired from 1968 to 1970. Stacy is played by Timothy Olyphant in this film. It was perfect casting as he starred in Deadwood and Justified. Check those out as well.

This film isn’t perfect. I try to stay mindful of other people’s interests and what would most movie-goers enjoy. The length for me dragged on at times. I knew this going in, but some lengthy films keep a higher pace that makes time fly. Also, I wished they had more dialogue from Sharon Tate (Robbie) She was in and out of scenes, but I wish she had a few more scenes of deep dialogue. This may sound likean oxymoron. I’m critiquing the length yet wanting more scenes. I just felt like some unnecessary scenes could have been replaced. If you’re a Quentin Tarantino film, you’ll love this. If you’re a fan of the stars, you’ll love it as well. Just be mindful of the length. Make sure you get the large popcorn for this one. 4 stars out of 5 #SHOPLOCAL


By Andrew McManus

Contributing Columnist

Andrew McManus is Operations Manager for Patties & Pints and its parent company Eflow Development.He can be reached at andrew@eflowdevelopment.com or 740-981-9158

Andrew McManus is Operations Manager for Patties & Pints and its parent company Eflow Development.He can be reached at andrew@eflowdevelopment.com or 740-981-9158