I need to clarify something. I liked Once Upon A Time In…Hollywood. I really did. It’s a great movie that will probably be near the top of my favorite movies from 2019. I’m just getting this outta the way because I know some folk will see my 3 and a half stars and assume I got this mixed up with Dark Phoenix or something.
Let me repeat: Once Upon A Time In…Hollywood is a good movie.
But it’s easily the worst of Tarantino’s career.
Again this probably requires clarification. Because it’s 2019 and every fucker loses their shit when an anticipated movie like this doesn’t automatically get five stars.
Tarantino has never made a bad movie. His filmography is, and will probably always be one of the strongest of any director of any era ever.
Are we clear? Cool.
Once Upon A Time… now to be referred to as “Once” because I can’t be fucked to type the full title out over and over again. Get fucked SEO, no-one’s reading this anyway – is a joy to watch; it’s a movie crafted by someone who loves crafting movies, and when that happens you’re usually in for a good time.
In Once we have most of the hallmarks that, for better or worse, you would expect from a Tarantino: extended scenes of quippy dialogue. A soundtrack that every basic bitch and film school cunt will blast out for the next half-decade, thinking they’re the coolest cats on the block. Rich characters with questionable ethics that you just wish you could be. Scenes of obscene violence, usually against women. And feet. A fucking shit-ton of dirty, sweaty feet and wiggly toes. So hot.
So, what’s the problem, Punk? Well, Imma tell you, Jack: Once lacks the razor-sharp direction we’ve come to expect from everyone’s favorite creepball auteur. Once lacks urgency. Once meanders too often. This is clearly the intention as Tarantino’s love of sixties west coast life is pretty fucking apparent. Once is a love letter, a tender embrace from a man who yearns for a simpler, dirtier time.
Tarantino’s loving gaze detracts from other areas. Focusing more on placing us in his carefully assembled recreation, Tarantino’s script lacks the same bite. Again, it’s still better than 99% of the limp wank we’ll see in 2019, but we’ve come to expect killer quotes and instant classic moments. We don’t get that in Once. We have to wait until the penultimate scene for something even remotely meme-worthy.
Also Sam Jackson is nowhere to be found. I know. Unacceptable.
Lemmie shout for the folk at the back: Once was a good movie. It had me grinning from ear to ear for most of its 160-minute runtime (that felt like 10 minutes, tbh). Once features another solid cast – it’s delightful to see Al Pacino in something in 2019 that isn’t total bollocks. Once is memorable in its own way – I can’t wait to see a horde of tryhard cunts dress up like Cliff Booth for the next 10 Halloweens.
But it doesn’t come close to Tarantino’s best.