"The 9th Film from Quentin Tarantino." This is Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. This period comedy-drama film written and directed by Tarantino. The film visits 1969 Los Angeles, where everything is changing, as TV star Rick Dalton and his longtime stunt double Cliff Booth make their way around an industry they hardly recognize anymore. The ninth film from the writer-director features a large ensemble cast and multiple storylines in a tribute to the final moments of Hollywood’s golden age.
In early July 2017, it was announced that Tarantino had written a screenplay about the Manson Family murders, which would be his next film. Tarantino spent five years writing it as a novel before realising a film script would better suit the material. Tarantino stated that the story consists of multiple parallel stories and is the closest thing to his earlier film Pulp Fiction (1994). Tarantino considers the screenplay as "probably his most personal", as well as his "Magnum Opus" and his love letter to LA. In addition, Tarantino thinks of it as "his memory piece". He even compared it to Alfonso Cuaron's Roma (2018). Tarantino stated in an interview that the director whose work most resembles this film is that of French filmmaker Claude Lelouch. It was unknown at the time whether the The Weinstein Company would distribute the film as Tarantino sought to cast the film before sending out a package to studios. Tarantino had approached Brad Pitt, Jennifer Lawrence, Margot Robbie and Samuel L. Jackson to star in the film. In October, after the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse allegations, Tarantino severed his ties with producer Weinstein and sought a new distributor. This would mark the first time that a Tarantino film would not be distributed by the Weinsteins unlike all of his other films. Leonardo DiCaprio was revealed to be among a short list of actors Tarantino was considering for the film. A short time later, there were reports that the studios, including Warner Bros., Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Annapurna Pictures and Lionsgate, were still bidding for the film that Tom Cruise was also in talks for one of two lead male roles. In early November, Sony Pictures announced they would be distributing the film, having beaten all the other studios for the rights. To secure the rights to distribute the film, Sony Pictures had to agree to Tarantino's demands, which included "a $95 million production budget, final cut and 'extraordinary creative controls'", plus 25% of first-dollar gross. Another demand was that the rights to the movie revert to him after 10 to 20 years. This brings Tarantino full circle with Sony Pictures over two decades after TriStar put Pulp Fiction into turnaround, due to its supposed glamorisation of violence and drugs. In January 2018, DiCaprio signed to star in the film, taking a pay cut to collaborate with Tarantino again. It was also revealed that Al Pacino was being eyed for a role. In late February, the film was officially titled Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, with Pitt cast in the role Cruise was also up for. The title is an homage to both Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) and Once Upon a Time in America (1984). For Tarantino, the title of the film, in one regard, has "a fairy-tale aspect". On another level, the film is "a Hollywood of reality-but a Hollywood of the mind at the same time". In March, Robbie and Zoë Bell were confirmed to be in the film. In May, Burt Reynolds, Kurt Russell, Timothy Olyphant and Michael Madsen joined the cast. In June, Damian Lewis, Luke Perry, Emile Hirsch, Dakota Fanning, Clifton Collins Jr., Keith Jefferson, Nicholas Hammond, Pacino, and Scoot McNairy joined the cast. Around the same time, with a budget of $100 million, principal photography commenced and wrapped in early November. Filming took place in Los Angeles, California and was shot on Tarantino's preferred 35 mm film. In July, Spencer Garrett, James Remar, Brenda Vaccaro, and Mike Moh were cast. In August, Damon Herriman, Lena Dunham, Austin Butler, Danny Strong, Rumer Willis, Dreama Walker, and Margaret Qualley were cast. In September, Reynolds died before filming any of his scenes; Bruce Dern replaced him. Many famous Los Angeles area locations, archival footage from many films, as well as audio and digital alteration, were utilised for the authentic recreation of 1960s/70s Hollywood. This is the last film to feature Luke Perry, who died in March 2019. The first assembly cut of the film was four hours, 20 minutes. This film was originally scheduled to be released on August 9, 2019, the 50th anniversary of the murder of Sharon Tate, before Sony changed the release date to July 26, 2019.
The film features an ensemble cast that includes DiCaprio, Pitt, Robbie, Hirsch, Qualley, Olyphant, Butters, Butler, Fanning, Dern, Moh, Perry, Lewis, Vaccaro, Hammond, Herriman, Dunham, McNairy, Collins Jr., Walker, Willis, Russell, Bell, Madsen, Remar, Strong, Jefferson, Garrett, and Pacino. The cast gave wonderfully electric and Tarantino-esque performances that further populate Tarantino's amazing universe. DiCaprio's comedically manic and Pitt's stoically cool performances perfectly compliment each other and do make "the most exciting star dynamic duo since Robert Redford and Paul Newman", as Tarantino perfectly put it. Robbie brought an angelic presence that Tarantino described her as "an angelic ghost on earth... to some degree, she's not in the movie, she's in our hearts".
One of the best films of the year, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a delirious post-modern mix of neo-noir thrills, pitch-black humour, and pop-culture touchstones. It towers over the year's other movies as majestically and menacingly as a gang lord at a preschool. It dares Hollywood films to be this original. If good directors accept Tarantino's implicit challenge, the movie theater could again be a great place to live in. Tarantino gets lost in a fictional Los Angeles. It is great fun to watch, but the movie is just a bit too long. Nevertheless, it is a classic Tarantino genre-blending thrill ride, it is violent, unrestrained, and thoroughly entertaining.
Simon says Once Upon a Time in Hollywood receives: