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Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is original storytelling of the best kind

2019-08-30 12:08

Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood sees Tarantino return with an original piece in a time of knock offs and sequels. Phumlani S Langa lapoed it up. 

Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt
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In a time of reruns, reboots and endless franchise films, the few who dare to cultivate a project with original direction have done half the job just by reaching production in as far as getting a good write-up from us. The genius that is Quentin Tarantino has done just that with his latest film Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood.

We’re teleported to a time when Hollywood glamour was at its peak and famous stars such as Sharon Tate were the talk and toast of the town. The two lead characters are played by long time darlings of the big screen, Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt.

Pitt plays Cliff Booth, a body double to the adored but slightly fading star, Rick Dalton. The two have what seems like genuine chemistry and of course decades of experience. Rick is typecast as a bad guy on a popular TV show, and this begins to impede his ability to get other roles. The man is quite the opposite to the masculine and overtly confident roles he takes on, and is on the verge of a breakdown for most of the film. Booth handles more than just his stunts, he’s pretty much a gofer for Dalton, doing odd chores for him around the house.


Dalton lives next door to the iconic couple Tate and director Roman Polanski, before the heavily pregnant Tate was murdered by a group led by Charles Manson. Tarantino shapes the tale as an alternate path for this true story. His ability to focus intensely on the simplest of things is on full display. At one point he captures a plane soaring through a blue sky, and it feels like you’re seeing this for the first time. There are several cameos, including Kurt Russell, Lena Dunham and Dakota Fanning. However, I do have a few issues with Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood.

I understand that Tarantino is telling stories that reflect a real era, and thus violence against women is something that is an unfortunate fact of life.

But his depiction of this comes towards the end of the film and the violence is grotesque, overt and gruelling.

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He waits, a slow build up, and then bam ... the most violent scene you will encounter in a hot minute. He also lets loose with his foot fetish. Beyond showing off the soles of her feet, I’m not sure what Margot Robbie was doing. Tarantino has Al Pacino in this and uses him for all of two scenes. That just doesn’t make sense to me.

Once Upon feels like a lay-up compared to some of his other slam dunk features, but it’s still hard as nails.

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November 10 2019