Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), left, and Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) in "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood." (Columbia Pictures/TNS)
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”: Quentin Tarantino steadily built his cinematic genre into one of the most unique and memorable movie subsets in film history. The “Kill Bill” franchise, “Pulp Fiction” and “Inglorious Basterds” were all box office smashes, and a hit with both the general public and critics. Tarantino’s latest offering, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” is no exception.
Set in 1969 Hollywood, there are three separate story lines that converge in the final scene. Tarantino has assembled several A-list talents for the film. Leonardo DiCaprio, nominated for Best Actor at the 92nd Academy Awards for his role in the film, is at the top of his game. He plays Rick Dalton, a 1950s western heartthrob whose career is beginning to die down and he is forced to adapt or die. Brad Pitt, winner of Best Actor in a Supporting Role, is a natural in his potrayal of Cliff Booth, a stunt double for Dalton. The DiCaprio/Pitt friendship is storyline one.
Storyline two is the emergence of young starlet Sharon Tate who is played by Margot Robbie. Tate soared to notoriety in “The Valley of the Dolls” and was seemingly destined for a successful acting career. Tate is 8 months pregnant in the movie and is on hiatus as she prepares for her delivery. She and director Roman Polanski are Dalton’s neighbors, but the two households have never met.
The Manson family commune, which would come to life in a dilapidated movie backlot, makes up storyline three. The dysfunctional hippie clan, under the spell of leader Charles Manson, would become a blot on the collective American psyche, both for what they would do to Tate and her guests and the way Manson and his followers would later openly laugh in court about their brutality. One of their members, Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, in 1975 would attempt to assassinate U.S. President Gerald Ford. She would be convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
Tarantino is more than just a shock director raining buckets of blood on the screen. He is now one of Hollywood’s best. And speaking of Hollywood’s best, wait until you see DiCaprio’s scene inside the saloon.