Once upon a time in Hollywood
A review by a suburban twenty something year old who has zero credibility as a movie critic, lives with a healthy true crime addiction and a dedicated spot in her heart for Leonardo Dicaprio
Perhaps before I start talking up the film I should preface that the precious space in my heart for Leo (as the world affectionately has come to know him) stems from a prepubescent crush I had 20 years ago. I would play “Titanic” in our backyard pool by pretending to be holding on for my life off the edge of my boogie board, hoping that my Jack Dawson would come to my rescue. My crush was so secret and sacred that when I won a carnival game at the Orange County Fair and chose a framed headshot of dear Romeo as my prize, I made sure to hide it’s existence from my grandparents. When I made it home, I was so ashamed of my feelings for Leo that I broke the plastic frame open, took out the picture of boyishly handsome man with slicked back blonde hair and hid it under my bed. And there he stayed.
I hid him away and forgot about him for years. Until I rediscovered him while watching hit movies like ‘Catch me if you Can’ and ‘The Aviator’ in my Aunt and Uncle’s living room on warm Colorado summer nights.
And at 16 I saw the movie ‘Blood Diamond’. Holy shit I wanted to be Jennifer Connelly’s character, and that was going to be my life. I knew right then and there, I wanted to be a journalist and save the child soldiers in Uganda and harness the power of writing for the good of World, expose the evil truths for the good of mankind or something like that. And a bonus would be meeting a gruff and rugged South African man with a flicker of tragedy in his Eyes to come through and aid in my efforts in making the world a better place.
Okay, so, now that I have officially put my high school daydreams out there for you all to mock or let’s face it relate to…let’s move on.
So it’s not ground breaking journalism to gush about Dicaprio being a great actor worth every academy award that he hasn’t been nominated for. How many Scorsese films do you have to KILL IT in to get more than a nod by those academy people anyway?
I will defend Leo and any choice of film he chooses to star in until the death. Now that we have established my some what embarrassing fan girl status… We can move on to the topic at hand. Sunday morning I took myself on a day date to see the most hyped movie of the year, “Once upon a time in Hollywood”.
Quentin Tarantino’s newest film, starring my Leo, Margot Robbie, and Brad Pitt is set during the waning of the golden age of Hollywood and follows a television star with a diminishing career and his best friend/stunt double as they navigate through a changing film industry and the counter culture of the hippy movement. Rick Dalton (Dicaprio) and Cliff Booth (Pitt) are fictional characters that find themselves fated to interact with real-life Hollywood royalty of the time.
Margot Robbie plays the beautiful, happy, care free Shannon Tate. The rising of Tate’s career mirrors the fading of Dalton’s as she establishes herself among the Hollywood elite and generally shines as an amazing, vibrant person. What brings them together is a fantasy that Tarantino compiles from real life and the fictional as they share a zip code and a cul-de-sac on the infamous Cielo Drive.
After a few very close up foot shots, Dicaprio tears, and Brad Pitt one-liners—we end up on the infamous hot summer night of the Manson family’s murderous crusade as they set out to enact helter skelter.
The bulk of the movie was some-what conventional in the way that made me forget I was watching a movie in 2019-and instead was actually enjoying a film from a different decade. The absence of super heroes, over-the-top special effects, or a plot about our looming dystopian future was refreshing. The nostalgia of a golden age that I never experienced resonated with every drag of a self-rolled cigarette, every shot of that vintage Porsche (Robbie) drove down Sunset and every step taken on a stale, dusty western movie set. You want to be there.
The inevitable horror of August 9th 1969 stays lingering in your mind throughout the film, there’s a part of you that doesn’t want it to come—but then again you are watching a Tarantino film so there’s a part of you that cant wait for it to come. To continue with my unapologetic honesty, there are really not a lot of things more satisfying than a Tarantino blood bath. As expected, he delivered it in this alternate reality fairy tale. And he did in such a way that all I could say was, “FUCK YA”. As a true crime addict, the end of the movie where the Manson crew find themselves breaking into the wrong Cielo Drive home, here they encounter a tripping on acid Booth (Pitt), a margarita gulping, pool lounging, Dalton (Dicaprio), a very good girl (dog) Brandy, and Dalton’s new Italian wife instead of the sleeping Sharon Tate and her posse, brought me so much joy that if it were physically a ‘thing’ I could hold and keep with me in my closet Marie Kondo would approve. Because as someone who spends a lot of her free time consuming true crime stories all the while wishing the world wasn’t a shitty place and that sweet angel babies who get their lives taken from them get justice, this movie provides so much satisfaction.
Tarantino gave us the ending the world deserved. It was a metaphorical “fuck you” to the cult leader and his misguided followers. A fairytale in the true sense of the word, “Hollywood” gave us the chance to pretend that the bad guys lose and the good in the World never dies. It’s a story about hope, it’s a story about love and truth and most of all it’s a story about us. We all have a little Dalton, Booth, and Tate in us. The human condition even through the lens of Hollywood idealism resonates in this tale. And if that doesn’t sell it for you, picture this–Leonardo Dicaprio with a fucking flamethrower.