ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD – 6
In a word: Disappointing
Titillated by the previews and the heavy-hitters cast, we were expecting non-stop scenes full of action, Hollywood nostalgia and heart-wrenching plots that simply didn’t deliver, not until the ending, that is. With the picture stretching 2 hours and 40 minutes, it seemed director, Quentin Tarantino did all he could to drag out the movie with unnecessary scenes and/or some painfully elongated, that it digressed from the story lines. Lots of movie shots inside the vehicles.
One example of wasteful scene time was Actress Margot Robbie who actually does a good job of portraying Sharon Tate (who was murdered by the Manson Gang in 1969). In one long and boring scene, Tate is enamored with herself having been cast in a Hollywood movie. Upon seeing a marquis with her name displayed as one of the stars, she walks across a street and enters the theater where the camera watches her watch herself on screen amid the audience. This was easily about seven minutes, or more, of valuable film time that could have been omitted and no one would have known the difference.
This film takes place in Los Angeles in 1969, where the two lead characters are Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), former star of a western TV series and a hopeless alcoholic, and his longtime pal and stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). Both are struggling to make it in a Hollywood they don’t recognize anymore. Thank goodness they were the lead actors or the rating would likely have been less.
The simulated movie shots about making movies are interesting as are the primary characters, including Al Pacino who plays a very small role as a Hollywood producer, seemingly to add star power to the movie.
In the concluding scenes, the film evolves into a wrap-around set of scenes at the Spahn Ranch, well-known from 1969 as a hippie retreat where Charles Manson and his followers resided. The night of the first killings are carefully fictionalized by Tarantino so as not to offend/disturb friends and families of the actual victims. Yet, one may wonder if that should not have been woven into the story with the Manson factor. Nevertheless, if you enjoy extreme violence, stick around until the closing scenes where Tarantino lets the actors fly with a heavy dose.
In all, I found myself restless in several parts of the movie, but engaged in others. I think Tarantino would have done himself a favor had he lopped off at least 30 or more unnecessary minutes. The movie had potential, but fell short because of the boring scenes.
I give it 6 out of 10.