Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

There are two things I would like to make clear: 1) I do not like Quentin Tarantino movies. 2) I like this one. And no one is more surprised than I! In fact, I have already pre-ordered the DVD.

Written and directed by Mr. T. himself, this delicious time capsule delivers the goods. It's fun, it's scary, it's entertaining. I'm not sure if the younger generation will have quite the same reaction to all things familiar in 1969: airlines (remember Pan Am?), luggage (no wheels), cars, fads (everybody smokes), movies, television (the movie opens with an episode of "LA Law," featuring Rick Dalton), clothes (GoGo boots!), food (I came home and made myself a box of Kraft's Macaroni and Cheese!), and above all, that tingly feeling I got as I recognized a few names and began to worry.

Here is part of Tarantino's terrific cast:
  • Leonardo DiCaprio ("The Wolf of Wall Street") Rick Dalton is a television star. We see parts of his successful series before it was cancelled (he wanted to be in movies). He also does guest spots: watch him sing "Green Door." Oh, and he hates hippies!
  • Brad Pitt ("Moneybag") Cliff Booth is Rick's stunt double. He is also his driver, handyman, gofer, sounding board and one of Rick's few friends (he "carries his load"). When Cliff takes off his shirt, we see the assortment of scars a stuntman accumulates. Yeah, Brad is eating again...
  • Margot Robbie ("I, Tonya") Sharon Tate lives with Rick's neighbor, Roman Polanski. She is luminously lovely...and pregnant. Watch her when she sees her name on a movie marquee.
  • Al Pacino ("Hangman") Marvin Schwarzs describes the career arc of a soon-to-be has-been television actor as he pitches the advantages of starring in a spaghetti western.
  • Luke Perry ("Riverdale") Wayne Maunder plays the father of a kidnapped girl.
  • Timothy Olyphant ("Deadwood") James Stacy is the star of a movie that features Rick Dalton.
  • Damian Lewis ("Billions") Steve McQueen describes the marriage-go-round of 1969 Hollywood as he surveys the crowd at the Playboy Mansion. (We recognize many of them, e.g., Mama Cass.)
  • Kurt Russell ("Guardians of the Galaxy") Randy agrees to hire Cliff over his wife's objections.
  • Margaret Qualley ("Fosse/Verdon") Pussycat sells acid-laced cigarettes at a bus stop but hitches a ride with Cliff to the Spahn ranch, where she lives. Of course she calls policemen "Pigs."
  • Dakota Fanning ("Ocean's Eight") Squeaky Fromme (yes, THAT Squeaky Fromme) lives at the Spahn ranch.
I hate to leave anyone out, but it looks like everyone wanted to be in this R-rated venture, so the list goes on and on: Emile Hirsch (Jay Sebring is a friend of Sharon's), Mike Moh (Bruce Lee's fight with Cliff is outrageous), Rumor Willis (Joanna Pettet is a well-known face from the '60s). Movie clips, television clips, and made-up clips make the two hours and forty-one minutes fly by. After the first thirty or forty F-bombs, you won't notice them any more. No nudity, no sweaty bodies, no vehicular mayhem and no blowie uppie stuff (just a couple of bits with a flamethrower).

Just remember, this is Tarantino; he re-writes history when he feels like it: remember when they shot Hitler in "Inglorious Basterds?" When he is funny, he is really funny. When he is violent, he is really violent. This is his penultimate film, his last one is rumored to be a Star Trek outing.
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Here is a sample:
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