Once upon a time in Hollywood

Quentin Tarantino, USA, 2019

I know some didn’t like this, but I thought it was great! The 2h45min running time didn’t even piss me off like some (cf Nuestro Tiempo).

Leonardo Dicaprio is brilliant. He’s playing an actor, and is shown in many roles – there is so much acting! And all of it good. On the other hand, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of Brad Pitt’s character. He didn’t seem like an actual plausible person, more just a device for much of the action.

The ending surprised me. It’s violent, though the violence so over the top and unreal, it’s almost cartoonish in that way of some Japanese films at the turn of the century. It becomes the fairytale ending that Hollywood would have liked. And then I realised the whole thing is a fairytale (hence the title) and a comment on reality versus the unreal gloss put on things by Hollywood movies (and can we extrapolate that idea to social media, too?).

So even though it’s a touch overblown and indulgent – some sequences only exist surely to allow the big star cameo appearance (Kurt Russell, Bruce Dern) – Tarantino’s love for, and knowledge of, cinema really comes through. The contrast of European-style films of the period, for instance, with Hollywood is beautifully done. It may have a sprawling, spidery kind of narrative, but I liked that; story isn’t everything, despite what the digital marketeers would have us believe. Much of the humour and dialogue had a Jackie Brown feel, and I love that film. An excellent addition to his back catalogue.


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