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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Opening Date
15 Aug 2019
M18 Violence and Coarse Language
162 mins
English with Chinese subtitles
Comedy, Drama
Quentin Tarantino
Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie, Dakota Fanning, Al Pacino
A faded TV actor and his stunt double embark on an odyssey to make a name for themselves in the film industry during the Helter Skelter reign of terror in 1969 Los Angeles.
By Say Peng  13 Aug 2019
One of Tarantino's best films, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a fanboy's joyride through 60s Hollywood.
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Two of Hollywood’s most famous actors today, Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, respectively star as washed-up TV cowboy Rick Dalton and his body double Cliff Booth in Quentin Tarantino’s nostalgic love letter to the Hollywood of yore. It is 1969, Dalton, the former lead actor of a popular TV western, Bounty Law, is now playing villains opposite young rising stars. He’s trying to break into the movie business but is so far failing to do so, leading him to fear that his career is on the downhill. Booth, a war veteran, is quite the opposite of his ambitious friend. He’s contented with his current station in life.

There is also a parallel story of Sharon Tate, played by Margot Robbie. Wife of famous Polish director Roman Polanski, Tate is an actress on the brink of stardom. Her most recent role was in the movie The Wreck­ing Crew, currently showing in theatres. Tarantino has Tate visit a local cinema to watch the movie, giggling girlishly whenever the people around her react positively to the movie. More importantly, Tate and Polanski, who just moved to Hollywood, are living beside Dalton. This will be of major importance later in the film as 1969 is the year when Tate and her husbands are murdered by the cult followers of Charles Manson.

There is no major narrative arc in Once Upon a Time. The film comprises loosely structured episodes, taking us on a leisurely ride through the backlot of the studios where Dalton and Booth work and where Booth and Bruce Lee have an argument that leads to a fight, to the Polanski-Tate residence, to the Spahn Ranch where Manson’s followers are residing. Tarantino has effectively captured the spirit and texture of the times, from the music to the set design, and every moment in the film is charged with a kind of energy that only Tarantino can muster. The film is highly entertaining to watch that one is not conscious of the weighty two hour and forty-minute run-time, and yet the sum does not exceed its parts. The film lacks a coalescing glue that would have elevated the film from being good to something extraordinary.
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