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Film Review: ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’

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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ is the ninth and latest film from acclaimed, well-known director, Quentin Tarantino released in 2019 which explores a revisionist take based partly on the infamous Manson murders in 1960’s Hollywood, which is when the film is set. The film focuses on fictional actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double friend Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). Rick Dalton is the film’s central protagonist, who is known for starring in Westerns and follows the actor and his stunt double as they navigate the changing nature of the film business during this tumultuous time in Hollywood. 

The film also features a sub-plot featuring actor Sharon Tate (Played by Margot Robbie) before the Manson murders took place. The film also features Mike Moh as notorious martial arts actor, Bruce Lee and Damon Herriman as infamous criminal, Charles Manson, who orchestrated the infamous Manson Murders, which culminates in a particularly bloody sequence towards the end of the film….

During the film, director and writer Quentin Tarantino’s revered filmmaking talents as an expert of his craft are demonstrated throughout with his convincing portrayal of 1960’s Hollywood, which is shown in the clever writing and dialogue, and in typical Tarantino fashion keeps the audience engaged throughout with well-written, witty and natural comedic dialogue from the characters, with particular highlights including “Tarantino’s trademark sudden bursts of violence help to keep the viewer ‘on the edge of their seat’. Tarantino also shows a clear passion and love for filmmaking of both the era and of filmmaking in general, with one particular conversation scene of Rick and a young girl talking about acting being a highlight.

Tarantino’s convincing portrayal of 1960’s Hollywood in the dialogue  is only added to by cinematographer Robert Richardson’s excellent use of mise-en scene in every frame, with plenty of authentic details throughout, such as vehicles of the era authentically replicated and other architectural details replicated such as movie theatres of time (including a drive-in theatre). 

The performances throughout from the actors are enjoyable to watch and add to the wittiness of the already well written dialogue, with Leonardo diCaprio and Brad Pitt’s performances as Rick and Cliff respectively being particular highlights, which shows a natural friendly chemistry between the two friends, which remarkably does not feel forced in any way, which further shows the clear talents of the actors.
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