ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD – Review by Diana Saenger

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After reading an early announcement of the upcoming film Once upon a Time…in Hollywood, I was anxious to see it, especially since it was loaded with a great cast including Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Al Pacino, Margot Robbie, Luke Perry, Dakota Fanning, Kurt Russell, and more. But, I was quite surprised that many of the scenes that might seem funny to writer and director Quentin Tarantino, were so bad that some viewers left the theater early and did not return.

I don’t know what Tarantino had in mind when he created a group of young teen characters who have the intention to shoot actors Rick (Leo Di Caprio) and Cliff (Brad Pitt) at the hotel where they’re staying while waiting for jobs. After a long and violent scene, Cliff shoots at the teenagers. To me, that was the time to walk-out of the theater.

I didn’t leave, but I was infuriated. I guess Tarantino was too wrapped up in creating trauma to notice our country is full of news about youths killing or being killed across America. Why would we want to see this in a movie? There is also a scene of a young teen offering oral sex to Cliff while he’s driving. Really!

However with its amazing cast, the film is fun and exciting in the beginning — like when Rick Dalton
and his stunt double Cliff Booth are acting in Bounty Law and are laughing together as they ride around Hollywood in 1969 as if they are chasing the Golden years in show business. These two actor comrades are close enough to classify Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood a bromance, which might be a possibility.

Several scenes set on studio lots have suggest that the different films that are in the works, and Cliff and Rick visit the sets only to regret it’s not them filming. Cliff is unhappy because he is no longer working as a stunt double because he was labeled a trouble maker by his stunt coordinator (Kurt Russell), so it’s been hard to get new acting jobs. Likewise, Rick is dissatisfied because he wanted a bigger film career and left the Law show but has not gotten the bigger jobs. At one point, Rick has an option that gives him renewed confidence, and he accepts an offer from an aggressive agent (Al Pacino) to star in some movies in Italy.

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Diana Saenger

Diana Saenger, entertainment editor of the East County Gazette, also reviews film and theater for San Diego Suburban newspapers, her Saenger Syndicate sites www.reviewexpress.com and www.classicmovieguide.com and others. A 2008 "Woman of the Year" for CA's 77th District, roving film historian and author of 3 books, she has interviewed more than 400 A-list celebrities and filmmakers.