"Reel Reviews: ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ a disappointment from Tarantino" by: Jessica Shepard

   ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a 2019 comedy-drama film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino.
   The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, and Margot Robbie, co-starring Emile Hirsch, Margaret Qualley, Rafal Zawierucha, Timothy Olyphant, Austin Butler, Dakota Fanning, Bruce Dern, and Al Pacino.
   The film is set in 1969 Los Angeles where a fictional aging television actor and his stunt double and longtime friend navigate the changing Hollywood film industry.
   It also features a large ensemble cast who star in “multiple storylines in a modern fairy tale tribute to the final moments of Hollywood’s golden age.”
   Or, at least, that’s what it totes itself as being.
   Personally, I’m usually an avid fan of Tarantino’s movies but this one woefully falls short for me.
   It’s nearly three hours of convoluted storytelling that focuses on 1969 Hollywood that lives in a bubble all its own while hinting at The Manson Family cult murders.
   In 1969 in Los Angeles, aging actor Rick Dalton (DiCaprio), former star of a 1950s Western television series Bounty Law, laments to his best friend and stunt double Cliff Booth (Pitt) that his career is over.
   Booth, a war veteran who lives in a derelict trailer with his pit bull Brandy, drives Dalton around town and relies on him for work due to industry rumors that Booth killed his wife.
   Meanwhile, actress Sharon Tate (Robbie) and her husband Roman Polanski (Zawierucha) move into the house next door to Dalton.
   Dalton dreams of befriending the couple and using Polanski to restore his leading man status.
   During a day off, Booth picks up a young hitchhiker in Dalton’s car, dropping her off at Spahn Movie Ranch.
   She tries to persuade him to stay, but Booth is suspicious of the large number of hippies squatting on the property, worrying that owner George Spahn (Dern) is being taken advantage of.
   He insists on checking on Spahn despite the women’s objections; Spahn dismisses Booth’s fears and asks him to leave.
   Meanwhile, Dalton lands the role of a charismatic villain in a new series pilot called Lancer.
   He strikes up a conversation with his young co-star Trudi, a method actress, and realizes she is far more committed to the job than he is.
   During the scene, he struggles with his lines due to his alcoholism, and later has an emotional breakdown in his trailer.
   He then returns and gives a powerful performance that impresses both the director and Trudi, bolstering his confidence.
   That same evening, after watching Dalton’s performance as a guest star on an episode of The F.B.I., casting agent Marvin Schwarz offers Dalton the opportunity to shoot a Spaghetti Western in Rome.
   Dalton, reluctantly agrees and ends up bringing Booth with him for the six-month stint in Rome.
   Things only pick up when they get back from Rome and the last 30ish minutes of the film tries to force it to end on an interesting note – it doesn’t.
   Long story short, don’t waste your time with this one.
   Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is No. 2 at domestic offices with just over $41 million in revenue while being rated  R for language throughout, some strong graphic violence, drug use, and sexual references.

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