Once Upon A Time In Hollywood... Reviews? (Spoiler alert)


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Upfront, I'm a massive Tarantino fan. But, seriously, I'm bewildered by some of the "5-star" "Masterpiece" reviews landing on this. I watched this the other week and, to be brutally honest, I thought it was a pointless, desperately disappointing train wreck of a film. The only saving grace was a fine performance by Leonardo, which is hardly something to pin a medal to your chest about - what else would we expect!

I sat through the film just waiting and waiting for it to deliver. And it didn't. Except to deliver a now all too familiar farcical Tarantino ending, overdone with gratuitous violence. 

To me, the film's failure can be epitomised by Cliff's (Pitt's character) trip to the Spahn Ranch. What the hell was that about? What did it add to the film? Nothing. It was completely pointless. Sadly, so much of the film was exactly the same. 

Looking for a saving grace of sorts, I feel like this film could have been quite good, if not great, if it simply concentrated on one of the two storylines -- Rick Dalton or Tate/Manson (in the historically accurate sense) -- instead of coupling them together in a fashion that never made any sense to me. It was a coupling that seemed more or less amateurishly shoehorned together with that ridiculous ending. 

I don't know, maybe I'm wrong. I'd love to think I am, as I'm such a big fan. But I use this as a guide: watching Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Kill Bills, Jackie Brown, I could not wait to see them again, often taking on back-to-back viewings immediately. With Once Upon A Time... I left the theatre feeling glad only in the sense that I didn't have to sit through that ever again. 

My overall rating (alongside other QT films): it sits at the bottom of the pile with Death Proof. I don't know which is worse. 

Who else is a fan, has a review on this film? I'd love to hear what others think. 

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I disagree. I thoroughly enjoyed it and will probably go back to see it again. It is different from anything he has done before, and I would argue, it’s nice to see him breaking with the formulas he r

I haven't seen a more self indulgent piece of film-making.  ...well not since our last FOHQnA  

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Agreed! Pretty pointless movie. Leonardo carried it on his bare back.  I would not sit through it a second time. About par with Hateful 8.

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4 minutes ago, Philc2001 said:

Agreed! Pretty pointless movie. Leonardo carried it on his bare back.  I would not sit through it a second time. About par with Hateful 8.

The Hateful 8 is in the bottom half of my rankings for QT films, to be sure. But 95% of it I didn't mind at all. The ending was over the top. But at least it had a singular, coherent narrative. And it also had some stunning cinematography. I can watch that one again. 

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2 minutes ago, ayepatz said:

I disagree. I thoroughly enjoyed it and will probably go back to see it again. It is different from anything he has done before, and I would argue, it’s nice to see him breaking with the formulas he relied upon for success in his earlier movies.

The writing felt far more mature, and the characters more deeply developed than in his previous outings. The whole experience felt less “pulpy” than his previous efforts, and, visually, it was easily his most cinematic outing to date.

That being said, it wasn’t a perfect movie by any stretch of the imagination, but felt more like a director stretching himself to find a new style.

Many great directors before have followed a similar path, resulting in truly exceptional movies in later periods of their career. I would cite David Lean and Alfred Hitchcock as two standout examples.

So, not perfect, but an interesting development. I am very interested to see where it leads.

I think I'd agree with most of that, Iain, if he'd gone down the path of sticking with one of the two storylines on its own. I don't think either was a fully formed concept and they were pieced together in an effort to save each other. They didn't. Not in my opinion, anyway. 

I've heard directorial based homage/love letter to Hollywood sort of comments. And that's fine, but it still has to be a good film. I didn't think this was--not by a long shot. 

Couldn't agree this was his most cinematic piece. Many others sit above it for me. 

Still, interesting to see the differences in the way it's experienced. Cheers. :)

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25 minutes ago, MoeFOH said:

I think I'd agree with most of that, Iain, if he'd gone down the path of sticking with one of the two storylines on its own. I don't think either was a fully formed concept and they were pieced together in an effort to save each other. They didn't. Not in my opinion, anyway. 

I've heard directorial based homage/love letter to Hollywood sort of comments. And that's fine, but it still has to be a good film. I didn't think this was--not by a long shot. 

Couldn't agree this was his most cinematic piece. Many others sit above it for me. 

Still, interesting to see the differences in the way it's experienced. Cheers. :)

I agree that the film was muddled in places. To use the Hitch comparison again, it’s like he put both Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant in the same movie. 

As for the cinematography, there were some incredible moments, including a jump cut that’s as good as anything Kubrick ever put on the screen. It was so subtle I almost missed it. He cut from Brad Pitt walking away from the camera to Margot Robbie doing the same in a totally different location, with Robbie exactly continuing the step and path of Pitt whilst holding the same 2/3 place in the composition of the shot. When I realised what he had done, that alone made we want to see the film again.

The ending, whilst original in its rewriting of history, was, for me, a sop to the fans of his earlier films, and sat awkwardly with the style of the rest of the movie. It was certainly entertaining in a borderline-slapstick way.

As I say, I feel that he is reaching out to find something new, but at the moment he’s not quite found it. I’m excited by the potential though, after all, as Robert Browning so elegantly put it, “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a Heaven for?”

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have refused to see anything by this pompous windbag since deathcar or whatever it was called. unless he is truly utterly delusional and dumber than a potplant, he knew exactly what a turgid piece of vile trash that nonsense was and yet out it came under the great filmmaker's name, causing unsuspecting dills to part with their money. fool me once... 

i will never give this tosser the time of day. and certainly never waste more time watching his bloated drivel. even his early stuff, when one takes off the rose coloured glasses, is incredibly derivative. he is the wizard of oz as a filmmaker and the curtain fell down many years ago. there was nothing behind it. all sizzle and no sausage. 

sbs world movies or whatever they call themselves (on aussie tv) had a tarantino collection recently. around a dozen films selected by this dimwit to showcase christ knows what. i forget the list but it was full of utterly forgettable and forgotten C level crap with no name actors. films which would never see the light of day again, for good reason (might have tossed one or two okay films in to pad it). clearly this was to show us how visionary he was in being able to identify amazing gems that the rest of the world had overlooked. in fact, it was a dismal collection of waffle with no redeeming features, compiled by a bloke who does not have a clue. 

it is seriously hard to think of anyone in any other sphere whatsoever who is as overrated as this bloke. 

he has got away with nonsense for years, just as did the emperor with his no clothes. and he is slowly, too slowly, being exposed. he gets five stars from those reviewers too scared to say what they really think because they assume that they must have missed something. guys, there was nothing to miss. he is as bereft of talent as the emperor was of cladding. 

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7 minutes ago, Ken Gargett said:

have refused to see anything by this pompous windbag since deathcar or whatever it was called. unless he is truly utterly delusional and dumber than a potplant, he knew exactly what a turgid piece of vile trash that nonsense was and yet out it came under the great filmmaker's name, causing unsuspecting dills to part with their money. fool me once... 

i will never give this tosser the time of day. and certainly never waste more time watching his bloated drivel. even his early stuff, when one takes off the rose coloured glasses, is incredibly derivative. he is the wizard of oz as a filmmaker and the curtain fell down many years ago. there was nothing behind it. all sizzle and no sausage. 

sbs world movies or whatever they call themselves (on aussie tv) had a tarantino collection recently. around a dozen films selected by this dimwit to showcase christ knows what. i forget the list but it was full of utterly forgettable and forgotten C level crap with no name actors. films which would never see the light of day again, for good reason (might have tossed one or two okay films in to pad it). clearly this was to show us how visionary he was in being able to identify amazing gems that the rest of the world had overlooked. in fact, it was a dismal collection of waffle with no redeeming features, compiled by a bloke who does not have a clue. 

it is seriously hard to think of anyone in any other sphere whatsoever who is as overrated as this bloke. 

he has got away with nonsense for years, just as did the emperor with his no clothes. and he is slowly, too slowly, being exposed. he gets five stars from those reviewers too scared to say what they really think because they assume that they must have missed something. guys, there was nothing to miss. he is as bereft of talent as the emperor was of cladding. 

Savage, Ken. I can agree on some of the later pieces but not on the early work. Dogs, Pulp Fiction (in particular), and Kill Bills are, to me, nothing short of masterpieces. Which is why some of the other work is so desperately disappointing. But artists don't get it right every time. How many bands have dud or below par albums? Lots. (Maybe not Bruce.) ;)

Anyhow, agree that Death Proof was definitely the low point. Or this latest one. 

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11 minutes ago, MoeFOH said:

Savage, Ken. I can agree on some of the later pieces but not on the early work. Dogs, Pulp Fiction (in particular), and Kill Bills are, to me, nothing short of masterpieces. Which is why some of the other work is so desperately disappointing. But artists don't get it right every time. How many bands have dud or below par albums? Lots. (Maybe not Bruce.) ;)

Anyhow, agree that Death Proof was definitely the low point. Or this latest one. 

dogs not bad but it really looks a bit dated now??

pulp his high point for me (and i did like dogs when i first saw it) but since then he has been the one hit wonder who has tried to churn out anything to recapture that magic but in the end, it is back to that one flick. pulp is his 'my sharona' or 'radar love'. 

kill bills fair at best - let's be honest, i could put uma thurmon in leather and have her read the telephone book and that would be worth an oscar. otherwise, these days, there a three dozen tv series filmed every year doing more interesting stuff and doing it better. 

since then, all these amazing reviews for bog average dire slodge.

it always reminds me of a review by some star film critic years ago about one of the early spagetti westerns - pretty certain it was one by sergio leone. the critic raved about the genius of the scene with the mongrel dog sulking around in the background behind the main action. brilliant cinematography and inspirational filmmaking and the perfect mood setting and on and on. a thousand words and so on. when interviewed, the director was asked about the scene that was being described as one of the great scenes. he just laughed and pointed out that no one had seen the dog when filming and when they saw it on film, they did not have the budget to reshoot. otherwise they would have shot it again sans canine. i really do think a lot of people look at what this bloke does and think it must be inspired or genius or something so brilliant that they cannot understand it. he at least, if i may give him one compliment, has been clever enough to ride that. in truth, these days, and for many years, he'd struggle to make a worthwhile toothpaste commercial. 

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Not sure how I stumbled across this thread, but here it is.  And while I'm here... I'm going to go ahead and make the bold proclamation that Death Proof--despite Kurt Russel's assertion that it was his worst film (no citation; don't ask me where I heard that)--is, in fact, a brilliant film, and one of my favorites (if only in its meandering pointlessness and over-the-top, gratuitous caprice).  It follows that Once Upon a time in Hollywood also did not disappoint, at least from an entertainment standpoint (although it failed to elicit from me the standing ovation that I was unable to hold back as the credits rolled at the end of Death Proof--and I was not alone).  I think both of these movies require an almost idiotic sense of humor and an aimlessly whimsical state of mind to truly enjoy, and if you go in expecting high-art you will inevitably be disappointed.  These films are for the nostalgic connoisseurs of the low-brow--the simultaneous fans of old B slasher films and Rumble in the Bronx.  I will not attempt to defend them using any other rubric, but I will attest that there is an almost-but-not-quite-guilty sense of delight to be derived if your head and heart are in the right place. 

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just watched this the other night and had very low expectations...came away enjoying the movie overall...as far as Tarantino goes...his best days are clearly behind him but I have found his more recent films to be at the very least watchable if short from brilliant.  

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I haven't gone back to revisit yet. Not sure when I will, as I was so utterly disappointed in this film. 

The biggest issue I have is that even if I sat through it again and somehow felt there was a little more to it, I'd still have to navigate that farcical ending again. At this point, I'm standing by my original assessment that it was two incomplete narratives welded together to try and make one coherent piece. And it failed perfectly. Pained to say that, as a massive QT fan. 

In sum, it's still too soon... just too soon. ;)

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20 minutes ago, MoeFOH said:

The biggest issue I have is that even if I sat through it again and somehow felt there was a little more to it, I'd still have to navigate that farcical ending again

I can't help but feel that the ending was a nod to the farcical nature of visual storytelling (and storytelling in general) and was in some way intended to shake us from the preconceptions that carry over from our understanding of the historical narrative (if only too late).  The fact that the tactic wasn't employed until the end of the film forces the viewer to rewind and rethink the entire story from that same farcical perspective.  The fact that it feels like a glitch or causes frustration is, in my mind, evidence of how inextricable these deeply ingrained historical narratives (which are admittedly unique to each individual viewer based on their understanding or interpretation) are from our experience of the works of fiction that use them as their basis ?‍♂️

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6 minutes ago, The Squiggler said:

I can't help but feel that the ending was a nod to the farcical nature of visual storytelling (and storytelling in general) and was in some way intended to shake us from our preconceptions regarding the historical narrative (if only too late).  The fact that the tactic wasn't employed until the end of the film forces the viewer to rewind and rethink the entire story from that same farcical perspective.  The fact that it feels like a glitch or causes frustration is, in my mind, evidence of how inextricable these deeply ingrained historical narratives (which are admittedly unique to each individual viewer based on their understanding or interpretation) are from our experience of the works of fiction that use them as their basis ?‍♂️

I disagree. I can only speak for myself, but I don't believe there's that much thought going into it. I'm of the opinion that QT just doesn't feel safe without that bolted-on and largely gratuitous ultra-violent scene. To me, it's been an unnecessary signature of too many of his films: Basterds, Django, Hateful 8. Sure, we expect violence in a QT film, but his best work has done it as a fluid incorporation to the narrative: Pulp, Dogs, KB, JB. 

The ending aside, everything preceding it, for me, was sadly lacklustre. Perhaps I'll change my assessment with another viewing. Perhaps... 

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31 minutes ago, MoeFOH said:

I disagree. I can only speak for myself, but I don't believe there's that much thought going into it. I'm of the opinion that QT just doesn't feel safe without that bolted-on and largely gratuitous ultra-violent scene. To me, it's been an unnecessary signature of too many of his films: Basterds, Django, Hateful 8. Sure, we expect violence in a QT film, but his best work has done it as a fluid incorporation to the narrative: Pulp, Dogs, KB, JB. 

The ending aside, everything preceding it, for me, was sadly lacklustre. Perhaps I'll change my assessment with another viewing. Perhaps... 

I find it hard to believe that any screenwriter could make the decision to completely alter history by slapping a completely fabricated ending on an otherwise (marginally) biographical storyline without at least considering the impact doing so will have on the viewer, but as to how much thought he put into it beyond that, who knows?  I like to believe it was a calculated choice, but I have no concrete basis for assuming so. 

One of my favorite things about Tarantino has always been his uncanny ability to simultaneously be thoughtful and ridiculous--subtle and tactlessly over the top.  I love the way he can walk 45 minutes of meandering, inane dialogue into 10 minutes of gratuitous violence and make it seem somehow literary.  And while you can only get so much mileage out of a stunts like that, I think it's the type of thing that has led me to appreciate some of his films that to other people are simply bottom rung.  As far as this one goes, I'd say it probably either resonates with you or doesn't.  Watching it a second time might allow you to pick up on some nuances you didn't pick up on the first time around--I'm sure there are some layers--but I doubt it will be a revelation.  Generally if I dislike a film, a second viewing doesn't change my mind... on the other hand, I have occasionally come to appreciate a film that I hated after watching it with someone I love/respect who is really excited/passionate about it--might be worth a shot if you encounter such a person ?

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3 hours ago, The Squiggler said:

Not sure how I stumbled across this thread, but here it is.  And while I'm here... I'm going to go ahead and make the bold proclamation that Death Proof--despite Kurt Russel's assertion that it was his worst film (no citation; don't ask me where I heard that)--is, in fact, a brilliant film, and one of my favorites (if only in its meandering pointlessness and over-the-top, gratuitous caprice).  It follows that Once Upon a time in Hollywood also did not disappoint, at least from an entertainment standpoint (although it failed to elicit from me the standing ovation that I was unable to hold back as the credits rolled at the end of Death Proof--and I was not alone).  I think both of these movies require an almost idiotic sense of humor and an aimlessly whimsical state of mind to truly enjoy, and if you go in expecting high-art you will inevitably be disappointed.  These films are for the nostalgic connoisseurs of the low-brow--the simultaneous fans of old B slasher films and Rumble in the Bronx.  I will not attempt to defend them using any other rubric, but I will attest that there is an almost-but-not-quite-guilty sense of delight to be derived if your head and heart are in the right place. 

okay, now i accept that film lovers have widely varying views on tarantino and i accept that not everyone will agree with me on him and certain of his films. but god himself could not convince me that deathcrap is not just his worst film but the greatest load of excrement ever to disgrace a cinema and i will not believe a single positive suggestion about that load of twaddle. he took the public for a ride it was also compelling evidence of his unstoppable slide into utter mediocrity from a couple of early classics. the man is the ultimate one-trick pony. 

his pretentious pompous largely boring rubbish and especially deathcrap are simply the emperor's new clothes on film. time to stand up and scream fraud, has-been, a desperate wannabee long bereft of ideas and talent living on past glories. 

i would, with the greatest respect, argue that it does not require "an almost idiotic sense of humor and an aimlessly whimsical state of mind to truly enjoy" but rather an idiot and an aimless state of mind and even then no one could genuinely say they enjoyed it. after that, i have tried to avoid his films. with no disrespect, the man obviously has a knowledge and understanding of films and so for him to put out a film like deathcrap, it is impossible for me not to believe he didn't know he was dudding his audience. it was theft, plain and simple. i will not put another cent in his thieving hands. fool me once...

he is the golden earring of filmmakers and 'pulp fiction' and 'res dogs' were his 'radar love'. 

 

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16 minutes ago, Ken Gargett said:

god himself could not convince me that deathcrap is not just his worst film but the greatest load of excrement ever to disgrace a cinema and i will not believe a single positive suggestion about that load of twaddle.

^ if only for inspiring this sentence, I am grateful for death[crap] ?

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On 9/4/2019 at 10:27 AM, ayepatz said:

I agree that the film was muddled in places. To use the Hitch comparison again, it’s like he put both Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant in the same movie. 

As for the cinematography, there were some incredible moments, including a jump cut that’s as good as anything Kubrick ever put on the screen. It was so subtle I almost missed it. He cut from Brad Pitt walking away from the camera to Margot Robbie doing the same in a totally different location, with Robbie exactly continuing the step and path of Pitt whilst holding the same 2/3 place in the composition of the shot. When I realised what he had done, that alone made we want to see the film again.

The ending, whilst original in its rewriting of history, was, for me, a sop to the fans of his earlier films, and sat awkwardly with the style of the rest of the movie. It was certainly entertaining in a borderline-slapstick way.

As I say, I feel that he is reaching out to find something new, but at the moment he’s not quite found it. I’m excited by the potential though, after all, as Robert Browning so elegantly put it, “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a Heaven for?”

I'm with Iain and MoeFOH on this one.  I really enjoyed it, and I'm someone who's put off by Tarantino's gratuitous violence trick.  As comical as the ending bust up was, I think the film would have been more coherent without it . . . and probably twice as frustrating for viewers.  Besides the enjoyable characters and winding storyline, it kept your attention by constantly getting close to the Manson/Tate storyline without ever finally connecting, and I liked that.  Tarantino was teasing us with the possibility of a predictable resolution: how all the random storylines from the hitch hiking babe, to the Ranch, the neighbors, etc. all kept suggesting that we were going to end up once place, and then each thread, each resolution was denied by something else tense or comical; like the girl who chickens out and drives off with the car, or the outcome at the Ranch.  The final fight seemed almost tossed in just to give the audience something expected.

The old Tarantino would have brought all the threads together at Manson/Tate and made that a dark, violent and offensively comical resolution.  This was definitely not that.

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I just watched “Jackie Brown” on a flight recently. I hadn’t seen it since it was in the theaters and I’d remembered being disappointed then, but man, in hindsight it’s really good. One thing I had not noticed before was how much the violence was restrained for a QT movie.

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6 minutes ago, bpm32 said:

I just watched “Jackie Brown” on a flight recently. I hadn’t seen it since it was in the theaters and I’d remembered being disappointed then, but man, in hindsight it’s really good.

Agreed... this is one that played much better with a little age.  I think it came out so close to Pulp Fiction that it was easily ignored/discounted or simply seemed less by contrast.  In hindsight it's a fine movie. 

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Imagine if we could discuss politics,religion,climate change, firearms like we discuss film/art :cigar:

What a great world that would be! Playing the ball and not the man....agreeing to disagree..bliss :D

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