ROGER THOMAS FILM REVIEW: ‘Once Upon a Time in … Hollywood’ not great

Published 8:55 am Thursday, August 1, 2019

“Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood” focuses on two men who work together.

The first is Rick Dalton played by Leonardo DiCaprio. Anyone watching movies in the last 25 years knows who DiCaprio is and most likely he or she has seen multiple movies starring the actor.

Roger Thomas

A few of his films include “Titanic,” “Inception,” “The Departed” and “The Revenant,” the film that earned him an Oscar for “Best Actor” in 2015.

The other lead in “Once Upon” is Cliff Booth. Booth is the almost exclusive stunt man for Rick Dalton. The two are friends and they work together. Booth is played by Brad Pitt.

Some of Pitt’s films earning Oscar “Best Picture” nominations were “Moneyball,” “Twelve Years a Slave,” “The Big Short,” “The Tree of Life” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”

“Twelve Years” did become an Oscar winner for Best Picture.

There is a lot of talent on the screen when these two men are acting together. I, for one, hope they will do many more films.

There is also a lot of talent working behind the camera. Director Quentin Tarantino has directed several films, including “The Hateful Eight,” “Kill Bill Vol.1 and Vol. 2,” “Jackie Brown” and “Pulp Fiction,” just to name a few.

Tarantino continues to create and there is certainly an audience for his films.

I have to admit that I love some of his work more than others.

I would like to also offer one other aspect of the film before we go forward.

As the story is just beginning, the film cites the film takes place in 1969. I was 6 in 1969. That offered one connection for me early in the film.

I am 56 now, so allow me to say no matter what I ultimately think of this film, I will always think of it as an anniversary at the cinema.

So what do I think of the film?

There are several strengths, but the one I like best is the friendship between Rick and Cliff. There are multiple stories in the film, but none seem as important as the friendship of the actor and the stuntman. The two have spent a long time together.

The film caused me to ponder on how many good friends I have.

Friendship is a blessing. Though Rick has a higher status than Cliff, their friendship is strong.

Among the many side stories of the film, the one that centers on the young girl, played by Julia Butters, is one of the best.

Butters often steals the best lines in the television show “American Housewife.” She is certainly one of the best laughs in “Once Upon a Time in … Hollywood.”

She was so good there should be a sequel starring Julie.

And then there is the weakness of the film. There are good moments and there are others that seem useless and offer nothing to the story. The film could have been cut by at least 30 minutes.

It is a group of stories and incidents.

Were all of them grand?

I did not think they were.

Were there any I thought were brilliant?

There were some almost absolute moments that were near perfection.

But in the end, the thoughts I wanted to applaud were often shadowed by the parts that I found less than interesting.

But at least the ending was thrilling, even if it was harsh and a little violent.

It also seemed to be about the story of the Manson family. For those who forgot or do not know the story, Charles Manson was a cult figure who talked others into doing horrid things. All that happened in the late ‘60s.

I am not sure if the end of the film is supposed to be about that event, or if was it offering fictional characters who were paralleled with the original cult members.

In the end, the film was interesting in some moments, fun and amusing at others and ultimately disappointing at times.

But all films cannot please all the people all the time.

Roger W. Thomas of Albemarle reviews films for The Stanly News & Press.