Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Best Scene: The ending
Best Character: Cliff Booth
"Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" is the ninth from writer/director Quentin Tarantino, the film genius behind "Pulp Fiction," "Kill Bill" and "Django Unchained." Taking place in 1969 Hollywood, the story follows Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), a faded western television star trying to achieve success as a film actor. Alongside Rick is his stunt double and personal driver Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) who may or may not have killed his own wife.
Tarantino is one of the most brilliant screenwriters working today and is well-known for connecting multiple storylines in a cohesive, tension-building manner. We find him doing that same thing with "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" when we find out that Rick Dalton lives next door to Roman Polanski and his wife, actress Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie). Tate, of course, was one of the victims of Charles Manson and his murderous followers in 1969.
When Cliff follows a teenage girl to Spahn's ranch, where the Manson family is holed up, things start to collide.
The film takes place over three days before taking a six-month jump to the infamous day in Hollywood's history.
Don't let the Sharon Tate plot line fool you. Tarantino likes to rewrite history much as he did in "Inglourious Basterds." His latest movies tend to be fantasized versions of history, and "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" is no exception.
While the plot summary makes it seem as though it'll be incredibly violent, Tarantino's latest is actually one of his tamer films in terms of violence (although when the violence does show up, it is brutal).
Instead, the film relies heavily on dialogue and humor. Like many Tarantino films, the humor is plentiful. Tarantino has a specific style of dialogue that shows itself here, and it will remind many of the humor from "Pulp Fiction." It has a sense of light-heartedness to it that makes the subject matter much more enjoyable to watch.
Robert Richardson has been Tarantino's cinematographer since "Inglourious Basterds" and has done no less of a job with each successive film. In fact, "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" is undoubtedly Tarantino's most beautiful looking movie. However, in addition to having a talented cameraman, what makes the visuals so fantastic is Tarantino's decision to transform the streets of Hollywood to match the exact look the city had when he when just a kid in 1969.
As always, Leonardo DiCaprio blows it out of the park with his latest performance coming off "The Revenant," which gave him his well-deserved Oscar win. Brad Pitt gives one of his best performances as Cliff Booth and Margot Robbie performs perfectly, despite having less screen time than the two leads.
"Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" may be known as a classic in the future, similar to the way we now see "Pulp Fiction." It's one of Tarantino's most brilliantly written films, and the performances are some of the best of the year so far. Go to the cinema and see this one as soon as you can.