“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” Filled with Stars and Dark Quirkiness

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Truth be told, the lure of seeing Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio in a movie together was the big draw for wanting to see Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood. The movie begins showing a black and white clip from the television show “Bounty Law” with aging actor Rick Dalton, played by DiCaprio, and Cliff Booth, played by Pitt, as his stuntman. Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, this movie is the quirky story of trying to navigate and be successful in the fading golden age of Hollywood in 1969. In true Tarantino style, there are multiple story lines and voices that chime in to tell the truth, as well as an alternative history to the Manson murders, which happened during that time 50 years ago.

Dalton and Booth have an easy-going friendship as they cruise around Hollywood in a cream Coupe de Ville Cadillac. They spend a lot of time together at Dalton’s home in the Hollywood hills where Margot Robbie comes into the story as a carefree Sharon Tate, their new next-door neighbor. In this era, when movie tickets cost 75 cents, Tate slips into the local theater to see herself in the Dean Martin film “Wrecking Crew” and she relishes the audience’s reaction to her character wearing glasses that are anything but glamorous.

It is funny to watch Pitt go home to his trailer behind the Van Nuys Drive In theater, and also disturbing to watch his encounter at the Spahn Movie Ranch where he drops off a hitchhiker named Pussycat, played convincingly by Margaret Qualley, and meets Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, played by Dakota Fanning.

The movie carries the retro feel throughout showcasing Pan Am airline, vintage luggage, rotary phones, people smoking, TV Guide, and retro products like Aquanet and tape players. To be honest, the two hours and forty-five minutes of this movie felt even longer, and it has some strange and violent scenes, especially near the end.

This is only the second time that Pitt and DiCaprio have worked together. Their other joint film was Martin Scorsese’s 2015 The Audition. It is funny to note that they also both started on the ABC family sitcom “Growing Pains,” although they appeared separately in the late ’80s and early ’90s. There is no doubt that these two legendary stars light up the screen and create a convincing bromance. They have taken different paths to success with Pitt abstaining from social media while DiCaprio has more than 19 million followers.

Al Pacino makes an appearance showing his age in the film as Marvin Schwarzs, a director who convinces Booth to pursue an acting career starring in Italian Westerns. The movie definitely has a star-studded cast with a cameo appearance by Luke Perry, in one of his last movie roles, but was not well liked by my fellow movie goers whose comments included, “It was not what I was expecting” and “It was one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen.” I would recommend this movie not for the story line, but if you simply want to bask in DiCaprio and Pitt’s charm.

Movie times: click here

Genre: Drama, Comedy

Written and Directed By: Quentin Tarantino

Actors:  Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie, Emile Hirsch, Margaret Qualley, Timothy Olyphant, Austin Butler, Dakota Fanning, Bruce Dern, Al Pacino, Luke Perry

Running Time: 161 minutes

Rating:  R (for language, violence, sexual references, and drug content)


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Jennifer fell in love with Coronado as a teenager while visiting a college friend. She vowed that someday she would make it her home, and that dream has recently become a reality. Fast forward through completing college with a BA in Journalism, Public Relations and Communications, she then went on to work with a variety of clients. She also taught Journalism and coordinated fundraising for her children’s school, and was a staff writer for San Diego Family Magazine and contributed to other parenting publications. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: manager@coronadotimes.com