Tarantino’s 9th is a Slick and Stylish Hit

A Review of "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"


courtesy of Columbia Pictures

This film’s greatest asset is the dual lead performances of Brad Pitt and Leo DiCaprio.

Alex Malfregeot, Staff Writer

Tarantino’s 9th movie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, is one of his best. Like his critically acclaimed WWII film Inglourious Basterds, Once Upon a Time is a reimagining of history. Instead of Nazis and gunning for Hitler, this time it’s the Manson Family murder.

For those who don’t know, in 1969, cult-leader Charles Manson enlisted his followers to brutally murder actress Sharon Tate and friends.  This movie surrounds an alternate series of events leading up to the night the murder is going to take place. 

This film’s greatest asset is the dual lead performances of Brad Pitt and Leo DiCaprio. DiCaprio can really sell himself as a washed up, out of touch, aging TV western star, despite being one of the greatest actors of our time. Pitt’s performance as a cartoony, urban cowboy tough guy is arguably the best part. The movie portrays him as a real-life superhero, befitting his role as DiCaprio’s stunt man. The two have great chemistry under Tarantino’s direction and writing, and just because they are overall master actors at this point.

This movie is also, like other Tarantino movies, heavy in dialogue. While some dialogue-heavy movies put me to sleep, but I find Tarantino’s dialogue to be funny and captivating in most, or all, scenes. Nevertheless, the movie does slow somewhat in the middle, but the acting of Pitt and DiCaprio will certainly keep you awake in the thick of it.

The production and the score are what you’d expect from a Tarantino movie. Without the music, this movie would have felt a lot less 60s. The cinematography is reminiscent of Tarantino’s other movies, with some trippy shots from the perspective of other people watching a movie, as well as on the set of a television show. The camera work also feels inspired by old westerns — especially on the Manson Family’s ranch, with suspenseful, sweeping shots of open spaces.

graphic by D. Crickets

Ultra-violence plays a much smaller role in this movie than in some of his others. But there’s certainly enough of it to keep Tarantino fans pleased. When Pitt’s character, Cliff Booth, fights Bruce Lee, it’s almost like something all the sudden out of Kill Bill. Even at 11pm. when I saw this movie, the house was electrified by the scenes of action in this movie.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a colorful and entertaining experience. It would probably be my fourth favorite movie in Tarantino’s filmography, behind Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill, and Pulp Fiction. If you have yet to see this movie, or any of Tarantino’s movies, I would highly recommend that you check them out whenever you have two hours to kill.