Please Watch Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
This film is pretty fucking excellent. It all feels so genuine and watching it is just so refreshing. I have watched all but three of Tarantino's films (Jackie Brown, Death-Proof and The Hateful Eight), but I truly believe this is near the very top of his directorial roster. There is no real plot to this film. Like the title suggests, this is simply a snapshot of this period of cinema history and it just so happens that some crazy shit happens to happen. But this film is different to Tarantino's in general. There is not much violence. As in, the violence is reserved to the end when it goes batshit (but in a great way). There are long shots of driving and whatnot but it serves to make this world more grounded in reality, which is always appreciated. This is, I think, the middle ground of not feeling like a Tarantino film and really feeling like a Tarantino film.
Leonardo DiCaprio is fucking amazing in this. I know The Wolf of Wall Street is one of, if not the, best performances he's ever given, but he is exceptional here. Everything he does is so goddamn perfect that I would be very surprised if he didn't win the Oscar, let alone be nominated. He portrays a man who wants to be a better actor and is shown to be able to be a better actor, but is held back sometimes by his choices and behaviour. He can be exceptional when he tries, but his alcoholism and stupidity impede him.
Brad Pitt is stupendous as usual. The last scene shows him in his prime and it was great to watch him bounce off of DiCaprio; a duo which will definitely be as iconic as Travolta and Jackson in Pulp Fiction.
Margaret Qualley is likewise fucking incredible. She had such great chemistry with Brad Pitt and when Cliff Booth discovers her secret, her pent up anger is so visible simply through her performance. Damian Lewis is a God, he can do no wrong. He is there for one scene and he just shines.
Margot Robbie was also brilliant, which brings me to the criticisms of this film. Anyone who brought up these criticisms, let me calmly explain to you why I am right and you are wrong.
1) Margot Robbie's amount of lines:
At the film's premiere at Cannes, a female reporter questioned Tarantino on why he gave Robbie such little dialogue despite her being such an acclaimed and fantastic actress. Tarantino replies: "Well I just reject your hypotheses". Yep, that was the correct answer. Acting is not how many lines you can read or even really how well you can read your lines. True acting is how well you can show your character's emotions, backstory, motivation, etc. simply through your performance.
If you are truly a great actor, you wouldn't need lines. That's why Benicio del Toro has barely any lines in Sicario. That's why Ryan Gosling has barely any lines in Drive. And that's why Margot Robbie has barely any lines in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Margot Robbie is the third highest billing actor in this film, she's in it a lot and even though she admittedly doesn't speak often, I always knew what was going on with her, what he character was thinking, who she was. I bought her as Sharon Tate, and that was because of her acting and the fact that Tarantino knows how to direct her and write her in a way that perfectly suits her.
2) Mike Moh as Bruce Lee:
Right, this one didn't piss me off as much as the last criticism, but it was still vexing. Bruce Lee, like Tarantino has publicly stated, was an asshole. That doesn't mean he wasn't a great guy, but he was definitely cocky. Let's ignore the fact that there are still multiple scenes of Lee training people in this film where he is really nice to them in the process, the main criticism is people believe Tarantino thinks Brad Pitt can beat up Bruce Lee. First of all, it is Brad Pitt's character that could beat up Bruce Lee. Bruce Lee would beat the shit out of Brad Pitt. But Cliff Booth would probably beat the shit out of Bruce Lee. Also, when you watch the film, you'll realise why these criticisms are inconsequential. (SPOILER ALERT: Booth simply thought up the whole scenario to prove Dalton's point that him working there would be a bad idea :SPOILER ALERT)
That's all the major controversy I heard. Now back to the good stuff.
The girl, Julia Butters (seen above), who played the little girl Trudi Fraser was fucking exceptional. She was so good, even considering all child actors are horseshit.
The last scene is one of the greatest put to screen, especially considering violence is Tarantino's strongpoint and that really shone here. I won't spoil it but the whole thing subverts the watchers' expectations in a way that Tarantino only can (very reminiscent of a similar tactic utilised in Inglorious Basterds). The score was great, the comedy was great, the cinematography was great, the story was great, everything was great. There's no real plot to this film. It's just a year (essentially) in the life of Hollywood superstars and, for a film that centres around the Manson murders, it ends with a happy ending.