“Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood”

Quentin Tarantino’s homage to Hollywood, 1969, is a visual masterpiece.  Not just a period piece with people in costumes on period sets.  Tarantino went full scale and had parts of Los Angeles set decorated to appear as if it were 1969.  Streets filled with cars from the era, billboards and ads, and extras all wearing era appropriate attire.  I couldn’t really detect any hint of green screen in use, and searches on the Web insist they simply weren’t used.  This was all practical; built when needed, decorated regardless.  And the result is stunning.

The movie itself follows the death throes of Rick Dalton’s (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) acting career.  Once successful in movies and TV, he finds himself relegated to guest spots as the bad guy on episodic TV shows.  Along for the ride is Rick’s long time stunt man and friend, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt).  While this pair is fictional, they do often interact with people straight from the history books, such as Rick’s new neighbors, director Roman Polanski (portrayed by Rafal Zawierucha) and his wife, actress Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie).

The story moves along fairly briskly as we watch Rick try to be relevant again, and Cliff just trying to be content.  Of course, it all builds to a head as our heroes and their neighbors cross paths with the infamous “Manson Family” cult.  While it might not all be 100% historically accurate, it is an engaging trip lovingly crafted.  (With, yes, lots of shots of people’s feet.)  The runtime is 2 hours 41 minutes, but it certainly isn’t noticeable, at least it wasn’t to me.  (A blurb on IMDB indicates the original cut was 4 hours 20 minutes, and if true, that’s going to make for plentiful deleted scenes when the Blu-Ray is released.)

Final Grade: A

 

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