Quentin Tarantino is one of the most polarizing artists of the past two centuries. He's created some of the most memorable films in recent history (Inglorious Basterds) and he achieved superstardom status on the world's biggest stage with his premiere masterpiece (Pulp Fiction).
Tarantino's newest, and brightest creation, Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood, is nothing like either of those films. Yes, it features some of Hollywood's most famous movie stars. Yes, it has those Tarantino flourishes that make his films stand above the rest. And yes, there is a brutally gruesome, and violent scene that will remain in the memories of every Tarantino stan for years to come.
Aside from those similarities, this film is nothing like the rest of Tarantino's critically acclaimed filmography. Once Upon a Time stands by itself, and it is the genius director's "love letter" to his lifelong hometown: Los Angeles, California.
Did Tarantino’s 9th film live up to the highest of hypes?
Jack: My expectations were sky-high entering the movie. It had like a 9.5 on iMDB with a few thousand ratings, so the hype felt legit. And after I saw that it received a six minute long standing ovation at Cannes, I was fully expecting it to blow me away. I need to see it again, but I didn't leave the theater in utter disbelief at the perfection I had just seen. I was satisfied; l really liked it. I just think my expectations were set too high.
Hunter : Lets get this straight, the movie was amazing, but my hopes for it were way too high. So my answer would be kinda. I was expecting so much more.
Ralph: Like my two fellow comrades above me (literally, DEFINITELY not figuratively, twerps), I too went into this movie with expectations that were drastically unfair. I legitimately anticipated this film to be the greatest thing that would ever be in front of my eyes for the entirety of my life. I'm not going to say I was wrong, because I could watch Brad Pitt drive an old school whip like that for eternity, but I'm not going to say I was correct either.
Evan N : For a film directed by Quentin Tarantino starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie, the hype was bound to be too big to live up to. Although overall the film did fall a little short, moments like Bruce Lee getting bent by Cliff or Rick making a Manson family member burn like a Salem witch were beyond anything I could’ve hoped for.
Where does it (if it does) rank amongst your top five Tarantino films?
Jack: Maybe right around five. I have to watch a few breakdowns and see it again to really form a final opinion.
Hunter: It's not in my top five.
Ralph: Okay, here we fucking go. Since this movie's trailer released I've been eagerly anticipating the renewal of my NEW AND IMPROVED Tarantino Top Five. Here we go:
1. Pulp Fiction
- It was the first time I'd ever seen a Tarantino film, and it honestly transformed my entire perception of culture, and what/who is good versus what/who is bad. There hasn't been another film before or since that has impacted me the way this film has (aside from maybe one Wes Anderson film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, because I'm a cinephile like that).
2. Inglorious Basterds
- The only thing that would probably make this film better would be if it featured Leo, and unfortunately it doesn't. But that's the beauty of Inglorious; any other movie that's ever existed would be better if DiCaprio was in it, but with this one in particular, Leo may not even fit in it because the cast is already so stacked to the brim with talent.
3. Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood
- ...Fucking hippies.
4. Django Unchained
- Jamie Foxx rides a horse. Leo plays a plantation owner. And QT uses a Rick Ross song. Each of those are anomalies in themselves, and I am thankful for each one more than I am the last.
5. Reservoir Dogs
- Why is this in my top five, you ask? Mr. Brown's analyzation of what Madonna's "Like a Virgin" really means, and Mr. Pink's explanation of why he doesn't believe in tips. ALL IN THE FIRST SCENE.
Doesn’t make the cut. Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Django, Inglourious Basterds and Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2 are just too good.
Which actor or actress won the movie?
Jack: I think Brad Pitt killed it. Much like his character, Cliff Booth, Pitt takes a bit of a backseat to DiCaprio's Rick Dalton, but doesn't shy away from it. He embraces the second-fiddle role, and has some of the standout scenes of the film, including his trip to the Manson Family ranch, the most suspenseful scene, and is prominently featured in the final scene giving Manson followers an absolute beatdown. It'd be cool to see him nab a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Once Upon a Time...
Hunter: For most of the movie, it would have to be Leo, his acting is incredible. At the end though, I have to give it to Brad Pitt, that last scene is phenomenal.
Ralph: I can't choose between Leo and Brad, so I'm not going to. This is my takeaway from the movie; Leonardo DiCaprio is the greatest actor of all-time, and Brad Pitt is the greatest movie star of all-time.
Think about how many characters Leo had to play within this film alone, and how many volumes he had to reach within each of those emotions. Now, think about how fucking cool Brad Pitt looked the entire movie. I mean, he literally had a beautiful teenager begging to get in his pants while he's approaching nearly 50 years old. Who the fuck else can do that?
Evan N: Leo and Brad are splitting the crown. They both did an amazing job of playing fundamentally fucked up characters who happen to work perfectly together.
Also, S/o Margaret Qualley as Pussycat. It would be hard not to join the Manson family if she was recruiting.
Which fictional character won the movie?
Jack: Al Pacino and Timothy Olyphant gave great performances but I feel like none of the fictional characters stuck around long enough to make a lasting impact, at least for me. Again, I need to watch it again. I wish Tarantino would've given Charles Manson more screen time and Quentin'd him up a bit, almost making him a fictionalized version of a man who seems to have come right out of a horror story.
Hunter: Cliff ; although Rick Dalton was such a good character, if Cliff isn't apart of the movie I don't think the film would be nearly as good, his role seems kind of in the back and minor but somehow brings so much to the movie.
Ralph: The actress who shall not be named, apparently she's supposed to be a young Meryl Streep (which I think is just perfect and genius). She's also the girl who's sitting on Rick Dalton's lap, and then tells him, "That was the greatest acting I've ever seen in my entire life." But the real winner has to be Margot's Sharon Tate, because of the ending.
Evan N: I’m not sure if I could pick one winner. Every character in the film was a mix of good and bad. The flashy Rick Dalton was also a depressed alcoholic, the badass Cliff Booth may or may not have killed his wife, and even the seemingly perfect Sharon Tate was mixed up in an awkward love triangle.
These characters feel like a reflection of the decade they live in, which on the outside seemed to be perfect and all about love and peace but ended with the grizzly Manson murders. Sharon, Cliff and Rick, just like the 60’s, are full of both wins and losses.
So I guess the only pure champion is Cliff’s dog for being the ultimate trip sitter and using the Manson family as chew toys while his master was high as a kite.
What’s your tweet length review of Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood?
Jack: Not the masterpiece I was anticipating, but nevertheless a captivating, funnier-than-expected display of 1960s Hollywood.
Hunter: One of the coolest movies I have ever seen, but at the same time it's not going to blow you out of the water.
Ralph: Tarantino's Hollywood. Literally. Also, what the fuck happened to Dakota Fanning?
Evan: Once Upon a Time...Tarantino does 69' like you've never seen it before
Is it possible that Margot Robbie was the SECOND most attractive woman in this film?
Hunter: Why was this question even asked Ralph? She will be first in any movie she does.
Jack: Bad question, man.
Ralph: Umm... did y'all see Pussycat? Like, did you even watch the scenes that she was in? I get that she has a wild amount of pit hair, but isn't that more visually attractive than being pregnant?
Evan N: I’ve been in love with Margaret Qualley (Pussycat) since the HBO show the Leftovers but common….this is Margot Robbie we're talking about.
Would you consider yourself more of a Rick Dalton or a Cliff Booth?
Jack: Depends on the day. Sometimes I want to be in the spotlight and recharge my ego, otherwise I'm perfectly OK sitting behind-the-scenes watching all the work get done and filling in when needed.
Hunter: Rick Dalton, need that huge ego.
Ralph: I'd like to think that I'm Cliff Booth, but reality reminds me that I'm Rick. Only narcissists are Rick Dalton, so yeah. I'm Rick Dalton, don't you forget that. *Cliff Booth voice*
Evan N: I feel like a Cliff most days, but sometimes we all gotta kick back and be Midnight Margarita Rick.
Do you think Cliff actually murdered his wife?
Jack: Maybe. The last scene certainly displayed his killer instinct...
Hunter : Yes, but I think if that story wasn't apart of the movie then Cliff's character would have been 10x less interesting.
Ralph: I mean, shit, if he didn't then I would've for him. How dare her for talking to MY Cliff Booth like that?! I'm starting to feel responsible for Cliff's self perception.
Evan: I mean, it didn't look like he brought her to middle of the ocean for a romantic vacation.
Where do you rank this film 1-10? (1 being a Tyler Perry movie and 10 being your favorite Tarantino film)
Jack: I have it at around an 8.3. I liked it a lot and will definitely rewatch it, but I don't put it amongst my favorite films ever.
Ralph: Smh. Y'all must've seen a different movie, or are just comparing this to the rest of his films. And that ain't fair my G's. 9.3 for me.
Evan N: 8. But don't disrespect Madea like that.
Was that last scene too much? Or just the perfect amount?
Hunter : I spent the whole movie waiting for a scene like this and when it finally happened I was thrilled, so needless to say this was not too much.
Jack: Considering I was expecting the Manson Family members to murder everyone in Sharon Tate's house, I loved the revisionist history route Tarantino took. My biggest gripe with the film was that Charles Manson was only in it for like twenty seconds, and even though the Family was featured pretty prominently in it, I wanted more. I was wondering how they'd get tied into Rick Dalton, and Tarantino having the Family hit Rick's house first was the best way of bringing them together. It was really the only scene with heavy violence in it, but Tarantino brought his twisted take on it that has always been a staple in his work. The invasion was comedic and suspenseful; our theater was getting into it. The way Cliff and Rick absolutely destroy the intruders with a vast array of weapons is satisfying, yet fulfilling, as it gives the fairy tale a much happier ending than its source material.
Ralph: If it wasn't too much for Cliff Booth, who had just smoked an acid dipped cigarette (somebody let Brad Pitt trip sack in peace, please), then it wasn't too much for me. I was letting all of the noises out of my body as naturally as they appeared. There wasn't a single part of me that wasn't fully into this ending. I loved it. I thought it was maybe my favorite ending in Tarantino history, and it just slightly overthrew Inglorious's ending when Leo whipped out that mother fucking flamethrower and burnt that annoying bitch to a crisp.
Evan: This was my favorite scene of the movie. It was a perfect mix of comedy and that classic over the top Tarantino violence I had been waiting for the past 140 minutes. Every moment, from Cliff high as dick laughing at the Manson family to Rick using a flamethrower to burn one of them alive was Tarantino in top form.