December 24, 2019
Box Office $141.06 million;
$30.99 DVD, $38.99 Blu-ray, $45.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for language throughout, some strong graphic violence, drug use, and sexual references.
Stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Emile Hirsch, Margaret Qualley, Timothy Olyphant, Julia Butters, Austin Butler, Dakota Fanning, Bruce Dern, Mike Moh, Luke Perry, Damian Lewis, Al Pacino, Nicholas Hammond.
Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood isn’t so much a film as it is a time machine that transports the audience back to 1969, allowing the viewer to swim in the atmosphere and flavor of the era.
The movie is Tarantino’s love letter to the movies and TV shows he grew up with, providing a vast canvas for him to relish in his specialties of memorable characters, rich background detail, and an indelible soundtrack of period-specific songs.
The story is a tale of contrasting Hollywood paths. On one road is former television Western star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), a borderline has-been looking to hold onto his fame by taking guest spots as the bad guy in the popular shows of the day, when he’s not too drunk to remember his lines.
Dalton is accompanied everywhere by his stunt double, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), who’s even more down on his luck but gets by on a come-what-may attitude despite a shady past that has led to Rick being the only one willing to employ him.
On the flip side is Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie), the up-and-coming starlet giddy over seeing her name on the movie marquee.
And in between them is the Manson family, which gives the film some historical context, grounding it in both a sense of dread and morbid fascination. Of course, anyone familiar with Tarantino’s previous efforts in historical fiction will understand where the real clash of this story is headed.
But as could be expected with Tarantino at the helm, the film transcends the bounds of story to give viewers the experience of living in the fantasy of 1960s Hollywood. A mix of parody and homage, the film is so beautifully shot and faithful to the styles of the time that it just feels like watching a memory — or at the very least, a dream of how things could have been.
In typical Tarantino fashion, the overarching story isn’t so much the point as the individual scenes that comprise it, offering unforgettable bits of dialogue and character interactions, from Rick being reduced to tears by his 8-year-old co-star, to Rick and Cliff providing a running commentary watching an episode of “FBI.”
Even more of Tarantino’s Hollywood is offered up in the Blu-ray bonus materials, which feature more than 20 minutes of additional scenes, from expansions of scenes already in the movie to faux commercials for some of the products prominently featured.
Also included are five behind-the-scenes featurettes totaling more than a half-hour that detail the intricate re-creation of the period.