Revisiting Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019)

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I make a point of never rewatching movies that I’ve already reviewed for this blog. I ain’t got time for that–too many other movies I still need to see! But as a part of my master’s thesis project, I’m doing a paper on the power of storytelling (and cinematic storytelling specifically) and one movie that came to mind as a good one to study was Quentin Tarantino’s latest that came out earlier this year, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood. After a second, more intentional watch I somehow came away both with a greater appreciation for the film as well as a greater disgust for it (the infamous climax in particular) and found myself in the unique situation of no longer feeling satisfied with one of my earlier reviews (from only a few months ago at that!). Perhaps once my paper comes together I’ll elaborate more on some of the positive and critical insights I think I gained, but in the meantime, feel free to check out my revised review below (or click here to see my original post updated to include both the old and new reviews):
On first blush it’s nicely crafted but its one compelling arc (Rick’s disillusionment/friendship with Cliff) is squashed by a bevy of boring referential scenes disconnected from the shocking but empty climax. Upon closer inspection, many delightful details emerge to reveal a fascinating web of narratives meta-commenting on storytelling and identity–yet they also make plain the film’s ugly misogyny, misguided revisionism, and gross glorification of cowboy violence, especially in the climax.
7/10 (Good)

 

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019)

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A faded television actor and his stunt double strive to achieve fame and success in the film industry during the final years of Hollywood’s Golden Age in 1969 Los Angeles. (IMDb)
Keep it about Rick’s friendship with Cliff and him battling insecurity while trying to recharge his career and this would’ve been great; the leading men are excellent and the movie set scenes are engaging. Unfortunately this compelling arc is smothered by endless drawn-out scenes that do nothing but unload historical references (the pointless narration near the end is painful) and show off impressive production design. And so even the wild climax felt empty because nothing built up to it.
6.5/10 (Alright)
SECOND WATCH (12/02/19):
On first blush it’s nicely crafted but its one compelling arc (Rick’s disillusionment/friendship with Cliff) is squashed by a bevy of boring referential scenes disconnected from the shocking but empty climax. Upon closer inspection, many delightful details emerge to reveal a fascinating web of narratives meta-commenting on storytelling and identity–yet they also make plain the film’s ugly misogyny, misguided revisionism, and gross glorification of cowboy violence, especially in the climax.
7/10 (Good)