Film: Once upon a time in Hollywood
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Al Pacino, Emile Hirsch, Damien Lewis, Dakota Fanning, Bruce Dern, Timothy Olyphant, Luke Perry, James Marsden & Kurt Russell
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Rating: * * * *
The golden age of Hollywood ended with the collapse of the studio system. Or so one had assumed. Now in this episodic but intense dramadey, the latest offering from the brilliant Quentin Tarantino’s oeuvre, it is suggested that Hollywood collapsed in the swinging sixties, the late sixties, with the infamous Manson “Family’s” horrific murders of the bold and beautiful.
The media went to town on who was brutally slain and how. So, I’m not being a spoilsport at all when I recall the Manson casualties included Roman Polanski’s pregnant wife Sharon Tate. Fact collides with fiction and reel connects with the real in Tarantino’s retelling; the Manson family though remains peripheral to the long drawn out albeit compelling narrative which showcases a vintage Tarantino style bloodbath.
There’s a wonderful ensemble star cast, large, so large, the characters don’t have as much screen time as you, the viewer, would have liked, even as Tarantino tries to focus on two (fictional) neighbours of Polanski/Tate – Rick Dalton (Leonardo di Caprio) – an ageing alcoholic actor and his stunt man cum war veteran best buddy Booth (Brad Pitt) who encounters hitchhiker Pussycat (Margaret Qualley) who turns out to be a Manson (Damon Herriman) groupie.
As I said, everyone but everyone knows the ghastly real life ending which Tarantino subverts and alters in this gorgeously recreated, epic ode to Hollywood. This, says the auteur, is how it should have been, in the imagined universe of his mind.