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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
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ON AIR
Live from the studio

Michael Medved

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‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ ingeniously blends fact and fiction

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is about the entire world of Hollywood and the motion picture industry. The entire film takes place in 1969 and it’s coordinated so the film will be released in time for — believe it or not — the fiftieth anniversary of the Tate murders.

I give this film three stars out of four.

Only Quentin Tarantino can get away with that. Can you imagine him pitching the studio? “My ninth movie is going to be a comedy about the Manson murders.”

The amazing thing is the film works, though I’ve got to say I’m not a big Quentin Tarantino fan. I think all of his movies are interesting but I think they’re also wildly overrated. Pulp Fiction was wildly overrated, which many people consider his greatest film.

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I wouldn’t use the term masterpiece for this one — as some critics have used — but it’s one of the best Tarantino has ever done. You barely notice a lengthy two hours and 41 minutes you because it is so rich, with the attention to detail, multiplicity of characters, and truly outstanding performances.

You’ve got two real pros at the top of their game and it’s hard to say which one is better. Leonardo DiCaprio is the one who’s being promoted for Best Actor Oscar though actually you might even say that Brad Pitt outdoes him. They play very famous, fictional characters from the late ’60s.

The entire sort of false history of actor Rick Dalton and his stunt man is ingeniously spliced in with other very accurate stuff about the Manson family. Sharon Tate is played absolutely wonderfully by Margot Robbie who will likely garner another Oscar nomination (and was so wonderful in the Tonya Harding movie). She’s one of the very few actresses who’s really perfectly glamorous enough to be Sharon Tate.

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It’s one of those films where at the screening — and this rarely happens — there was applause afterwards. The film is so ingenious and it’s the kind of film that I think people are going to want to see more than once because there are all kinds of clever, witty references and historically informed references thrown at you.

We are told this is the ninth film by Tarantino, and that it’s his second to last. He says he’s calling it quits. I don’t believe it.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is not for everybody, but the one thing I would say to people is that you will be surprised when you get up after two hours and 41 minutes, it really was that long, because the film keeps your attention and is riveting in every scene.

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