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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Once Upon a time in...Hollywood

A slice in the life of fading TV star and his stunt double in the months leading up to Charles Manson murders in 1969 Hollywood, Los Angeles.

So, when I first watched the movie I kinda hated it. Felt it was pretty meandering and boring. But on the second watch I didn't feel like I wanted to kill myself at all. It was kinda entertaining. One of the reasons I didn't like it the first time around is because it was not the kind of movie I was expecting it to be. There are only two spectacles in Tarantino's career until now. Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained. Both of them are made for close to 100 million $. So when I heard that the budget of this movie is close to 100 million $ I thought that it was gonna be a spectacle but it ended up being more of a hang out movie. Most of the money went into world building that kinda fades into background as the story takes place. So you will see shots of Los Angeles as it looked like in 1969 but its not spectacularly different from present. There is that contradiction at the middle of this movie.So it's basically a 90 million $ death proof.

In real life the Sharon Tate-Manson murders are very much a surprise to Hollywood. Hollywood is a weird place to work. It is cutthroat. People are nice in front of you and stab you in the back. So they have their own stuff to deal with. Moreover the Manson murders are so random that it caught the victims off guard. The movie treats it just like that. It doesn't build up to any murder or to a grand finale involving manson. It's more of a footnote to the story. Charles manson is in the movie for 30 seconds only.

The movie takes place over the course of 3 days in 1969. The first 2 days are back to back. The third day is 6 months later on August 8th 1969 aka the day of the tate-labianca murders. Most of the story takes place in the first 2 days. We follow fading TV actor Rick Dalton(DiCaprio) and his Stunt Double Cliff Booth(Pitt) as they slowly realize that first they are in very bad place in hollywood with less career opportunities than ever before and they are not able to recognize the changing landscape around them both in terms of the friends they made in the past and the way people that succeed them operate like hippies on street or younger actors on set. One realizes while shooting a TV show and through his agent whereas the other learns it through his adventures in Los Angeles & on movie sets. They decides to leave for Italy by the end of 2 days to make italian westerns for six months and come back on the day of the murders.

The movie has no plot. It has scenes with characters doing stuff. Some scenes work where as some don't. There is a scene in the middle where Pitt hitches a ride to a woman who happens to be part of manson family and once they get to the Spahn ranch where she is staying there is a tense scene that lasts for 10 minutes which felt very mexican standoffish and it works. The scenes with Rick Dalton are good but not as good as one's with Cliff Booth because they mostly consisted of him struggling to act and finally deciding to avoid the embarrassment he faced on the set that day by going to a different country where he is still kinda famous. Almost all of the memorable scenes in the movie come from Cliff Booth even in the ending. He also has a scene with Bruce Lee where they dare each other to fight. Its cool. But there is no connective arc to the movie and Sharon Tate's character felt unnecessary. Because nothing dramatic or major happens with her character. She is just living her life. There are a lot of movies within movie and TV shows within movie and they have been used to a point of unnecessity because even on my second watch I felt that the movie dragged a lot. Tarantino must have been interested in them but not audience.

The movie that most reminded me of this was Adam Mckay's Vice. There are narrations and scenes within scenes that feel cute upto a certain point and works but this movie kinda runs them into the ground. Same thing happens with narration.If you live in Los Angeles then you will feel like you are being transported mildly to a time and place that's different. But beyond few neon signs on streets and few stores with old designs and looks, Los Angeles is not much different between 1969 and 2019. I enjoyed it more on a second watch but still felt quite a few parts of movie to be boring and meandering. The ending is violent and bloody and played for only laughs. No more comments on that in this section of review. It's one of his weaker movies.

Order from best to worst
Inglourious Basterds
Django Unchained
Pulp Fiction
Hateful Eight
Jackie Brown
Kill Bill 1 & 2
Once upon a time in...Hollywood
Reservoir Dogs
Death Proof