Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood (2019)

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WRITING (Quentin Tarantino): Tarantino gives us a story that we may not have expected from a movie said to be set around the Manson murders. It’s used as a backdrop, but it plays a minor role in the overall story. One of the major storylines is that of Rick Dalton, where we follow his career as an actor and his relationship with Cliff Booth. Sharon Tate’s story just really gives us a lens into one side of the world, but the two big players are Dalton and Booth. The pacing between all of the characters works for the most part. Sometimes it’ll go back to another character and we’ll be thinking “oh right, they exist.” It all really makes sense, though. The story is compelling and emotional and lacks a lot of Tarantino’s enthusiasm that many films such as Django Unchained and the Hateful Eight have. Not having those explosions of violence actually make for a nicer story where the characters matter more than the violence. It was also very nice to see a film that focuses a lot about filmmaking, since I’m ingrained in that world for my career. 10/10

PERFORMANCES (Quentin Tarantino): This is Leo and Pitt. They bring their absolute A-game in the film, so much so that Pitt might even outshine Leo. Everyone else is also fantastic. Margot Robbie does an amazing job using her dancing and body language as her dialogue. 10/10

CINEMATOGRAPHY (Robert Richardson): The camerawork in this film was incredible. It looked beautiful while also being impressive to think about how they managed some camera moves. You can tell there was heavy influence from films from this era. 10/10

EDITING (Fred Raskin): Editing was used very creatively in a lot of scenes in this film. It was used for comedic delivery and to help with the depiction of memories and imaginations. It was smooth and I found no problems. 10/10

VISUAL EFFECTS (John Dykstra): The VFX in this film were incredible. It all looked very realistic and none of it felt fake or computer-generated. 10/10

ENJOYMENT: This movie is fun as hell, of course, because it’s Tarantino. The music is fun as well. The ending scenes are also incredibly satisfying. 10/10

MUSICAL SCORE (Various Artists): The soundtrack of this film is just like any Tarantino post-modern film. He throws in music he loves. It doesn’t have the impact that Pulp Fiction’s score had, but it works. It all fits and some of it is perfect as backdrops to some scenes. 9/10

SOUND (Wylie Stateman): The sound design was outstanding. The hits and guns all sounded impactful. Everything had a punch to it that a Tarantino movie needs at the very least. The sound mixing, however, had some iffy moments. There were moments where an off-screen character would sound as if they were right in front of frame. Even if they’re just slightly off-screen, they need to have some kind of change in audio. Those moments are few and far between, though. 7/10

PRODUCTION DESIGN (Barbara Ling): The design of this period piece is incredible. It feels like the ’60s in every way from the costume design to the set design. Even the details in the production equipment on film sets was perfect. 10/10

OVERALL: “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” brings us a more grounded Tarantino film that is similar in tone to Pulp Fiction and gives us almost a love letter to the ’60s and the film industry in that time. Some technical choices stopped this film from being perfect, but it’s still a fantastic Tarantino film.

95/100

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