Lisa Cholodenko

TAKE TWO – “Once upon a time in Hollywood”

I think cinema, I love cinema, I see a great number of films during the year and always have. If asked to list great director names, I would reply, Fellini, Bergman, Fassbinder, Kurosawa and Kubrick. Though a hundred names would barely begin to cover it. But… and oh, yes, Tarentino. Despite not much enjoying his movies—too much violence, albeit often humorous, rivers of blood, and a permanent agitation—I believe I’ve seen all his films since “Reservoir Dogs.”

I remember images from each, or a mood or a particular scene, but none specifically except “Inglorious Basterds.” Then comes “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” which had the last Cannes Festival crazed with anticipation, rumors and predictions. It definitely has all the Tarentino ingredients: agitation, check, gore, check, the hard-to-follow sequences, check, jumpy narrative, check, but something else shines through, which I hadn’t seen so far in Tarentino with such clarity, nor realized: a tremendous love of cinema.

The actors are brilliant: Rick Dalton, Di Caprio’s has-been second-rate actor heartbroken with longing for the days, Cliff Booth, his stunt double/driver/assistant played by Brad Pitt in good-humored all-American sunshine, his own longings muted, all other characters excellent and often looking much like the original (don’t miss the Steve McQueen character, uncanny) the precise reconstitution of the late sixties in film, in Vietnam war-era hippiedom, in singalong pop songs, in décor, cityscape, Hollywood throbbing to all this energy, Hugh Heffner et al excesses. Viewers of a certain age will remember, younger ones discover. Pitch perfect, maestro, pitch perfect.

READ ALSO: our Cannes Festival-bound review of “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

The problem with reviewing Tarantino’s ninth (which he has touted as his last or one before last film) is that unveiling the main twist which occurs in the last half hour would be the spoiler to top all spoilers. All that can be revealed is that Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) are Rick Dalton’s next-door neighbors and that stoned and sick Manson family members are circling and preparing their big coup.

The magic of cinema allows the rest.

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