Tarantino’s penul­ti­mate of­fer­ing an ode to golden age

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - ENTERTAINM­ENT -

ONCE UPON A TIME...IN HOL­LY­WOOD (18)

FOR years, two-time Os­car win­ner Quentin Tarantino has been pub­licly declar­ing his in­ten­tion to re­tire af­ter 10 films in the direc­tor’s chair.

That day of reck­on­ing moves ever closer with the re­lease of his sup­pos­edly penul­ti­mate pic­ture, a valen­tine to the golden age of Hol­ly­wood, which un­spools the ex­ploits of a fic­tional ac­tor and his stunt dou­ble against the real-life back­drop of the Man­son fam­ily mur­ders in the sum­mer of 1969.

Fact and blood-soaked fan­tasy are rum­bus­tious play­mates in Tarantino’s script, which mo­men­tar­ily or­bits bona fide stars in­clud­ing Bruce Lee (Mike Moh) and Steve McQueen (Damian Lewis), and saves its most dar­ing flour­ish for a sick­en­ingly bru­tal fi­nale that in­cludes a close-up of a face be­ing smashed re­peat­edly into a stone man­tel­piece.

Since his eye-catch­ing de­but with Reser­voir Dogs – a trim 97 min­utes – brevity has sel­dom been the writer-direc­tor’s strong point and Once Upon A Time. In Hol­ly­wood falls foul of self-in­dul­gent ex­cesses that should per­haps have been ad­dressed in the edit­ing room.

Tarantino con­jures mo­ments of nerve-shred­ding ten­sion that demon­strate his master of the craft, peak­ing with two pro­longed se­quences with Man­son’s acolytes that tighten the large knot of ten­sion in our stom­achs.

Rick Dal­ton (Leonardo DiCaprio), one-time star of TV west­ern Bounty Law, be­comes con­vinced that his ca­reer is over af­ter an un­com­fort­able meet­ing with straight-talk­ing agent Marvin Sch­warz (Pa­cino).

The hand­some lead­ing man drowns his sor­rows with best friend and stunt dou­ble Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), who also acts as his chauf­feur.

Cliff at­tempts to buoy Rick’s spirits as he pre­pares for a guest spot as the ‘bad guy’ on new TV se­ries Lancer, star­ring James Stacy (Ti­mothy Olyphant).

Mean­while, direc­tor Ro­man Polan­ski (Rafal Zaw­ierucha) and preg­nant ac­tress Sharon Tate (Mar­got Rob­bie) move into the neigh­bour­ing prop­erty to Rick, where they en­ter­tain a suc­ces­sion of friends in­clud­ing hairstylis­t Jay Se­bring (Emile Hirsch).

On the night of August 9, Charles Man­son (Damon Her­ri­man) dis­patches four knife-wield­ing dis­ci­ples – Tex (Austin But­ler), Sadie (Mikey Madi­son), Flower Child (Maya Hawke) and Katie (Madisen Beaty) – to kill ev­ery­one in­side the rented prop­erty at 10050 Cielo Drive.

Nar­rated by Kurt Rus­sell’s stunt co­or­di­na­tor, Once Upon A Time...In Hol­ly­wood takes poetic li­cence with his­tor­i­cal fact to pen a gush­ing love let­ter to the art of film­mak­ing.

Pe­riod de­tail is im­pres­sive, epit­o­mised by a groovy sound­track of late 1960s toe taps in­clud­ing Vanilla Fudge’s cover of the Supremes’ You Keep Me Han­gin’ On.

Pac­ing oc­ca­sion­ally drags but DiCaprio and Pitt en­liven lulls with ter­rific per­for­mances as fad­ing prod­ucts of a Cal­i­for­nian dream fac­tory, who are star­ing down their in­evitable de­cline with a com­bus­tive mix of weari­ness and frus­tra­tion.

Like the au­teur be­hind the lens, the end credits on their cre­ative en­deav­ours are al­most ready to roll.

RAT­ING: 8/10

Brad Pitt as Cliff Booth and Leonardo DiCaprio as Rick Dal­ton in Once Upon A Time...In Hol­ly­wood.

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