I’ve written a review of Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood for Gunaxin. Click here to read! As with all of my reviews at Gunaxin, here are some more thoughts I couldn’t find space for in the review itself.
* The official title is Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood with points of ellipsis, seen on the title screen in the movie proper and on IMDb. (The film posters, however, have it as Once Upon A Time In… Hollywood. Who’s to say?) Although there were no demands from the studio to keep this punctuation in the title (similar style demands were made of critics for Everybody Wants Some!! and The LEGO Movie), it certainly hammers home the humor of Tarantino’s fairytale; it’s also a throwback to one of his chapter title cards in Inglourious Basterds (“Once upon a time… in Nazi-occupied France”).
* STAY FOR A MID-CREDITS SCENE. I’m a big fan of outtakes and bloopers; while this doesn’t quite qualify (you’ll see what I mean), it’s certainly fun as hell to watch. Also, this isn’t the first time Tarantino has stuck a tag at the end of his movies; there’s a small outtake in Kill Bill Vol. 2, little quick splices of bloopers during the end credits of Grindhouse/Death Proof, and a tag which plays into Django Unchained’s final title screen.
* Those of you looking for witty dialogue in the vein of “Royale with cheese” or “Madonna’s big dick comin’ out of my left ear,” I ask you to put that notion aside. Here, Tarantino defines his characters through more personal, intimate moments than with trivial dialogue. This is a more mature, slow-handed filmmaker given room to play, allowing our eyes to work harder than our ears, and it’s definitely a “show, don’t tell” kind of movie. Besides, with all of Cliff’s and Rick’s struggles, do we really want to hear any pop culture references which would detract from their already-compelling stories and actions?
* As noted in my review, I love the use of the Sharon Tate tragedy as the sword of Damocles which this film lives under. It’s an odd thing to be tense without being tense, but Tarantino makes it work for this film. This tension is another main character of Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, being just as living and breathing as the humans which dot the film. This cast of seemingly hundreds – you can spot Halloween sequel star Danielle Harris, former Spider-Man and Von Trapp family singer Nicholas Hammond (he was Friedrich), Dakota Fanning, Martin Kove, Maya Hawke (fresh off her lovely turn in “Stranger Things 3”), Michael Madsen, Clifton Collins Jr. (a personal favorite of mine since The Replacement Killers), Clu Gulager, and a whole host of others – coalesces to fund the transaction this film makes with you, and they make sure to give you every dime’s worth.
* At one point, I swear, Brad Pitt looks exactly like a young Robert Redford. It’s a scene where he’s on the left side of the frame looking off-screen in profile view. Honestly, I couldn’t tell who I was looking at, Pitt or Redford – it’s that eerie.
* To those of you watching this in multiplexes on a digital projector: can you tell me if, at every fifteen minutes or so, you notice a lot of print damage? It comes in the form of black scratches which appear very quickly. Our screening was in 35mm, and this simulated print damage served as cue marks, the little blip in the corner of the screen which used to be a projectionist’s cue to change reels. I don’t know if the digital packages had this little thing happening, but I’d like to find out. Let me know on Twitter at @EddiePasa or on Facebook at DC Filmdom.