Posted on June 11, 2020
I have been watching and rewatching Once Upon A Time In Hollywood in an effort to get it. I’ve seen the movie ten times now and I must admit it still hasn’t clicked with me. It seems to be a bunch of different movies, none of which are about anything important, all smashed together for a comic run at the end.
SPOILERS for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood follow.
I moved around a lot as a kid, what with the FBI constantly nipping at our heels, and being the new kid on a continuous loop teaches you to blend in fast. The quickest way to seem like you’ve been around longer than you have is to know the inside jokes.
For instance, “Not that corner, Dave” is just four words unless it refers to Dave’s tendency to vomit in the nearest corner when he drinks too much. Knowing Dave’s nickname is “Corner Boy” also helps.
So I’ve got this obsession with understand stuff built right into my hardware and when I perceive something completely differently from most other people, I get nervous.
When I walked out of OUATIH completely flabbergasted by what I had seen, I had a terrible case of deja vu from my college years when I would go to foreign films and come out thinking Fellini was not so much a genius as self indulgent.
I feel the need to state some bona fides right here: I clicked with The Man Who Fell To Earth, A Clockwork Orange, and Repo Man on first viewing. I’m not a complete slug.
OUATIH could have been a sweet elegiac tribute to actors like Richard Boone who descended the television staircase from hero, to guest star, to bad guy.
Or it could have been a movie about the American actors who fled the rigid, crumbling Hollywood studio system in search of reinvention in Europe and how only a few met with any real success.
Or it could have been a horror movie about Spaun Ranch.
Or it could have been a fun little ditty about Sharon Tate.
Or it could have been a comedy that turned the tables on the Manson Family.
I didn’t get enough of any of those stories at the same time I got way too much of all of them.
Hell, I’d watch a three hour movie starring Brad Pitt as Cliff Booth any day. Or one about a Richard Boone type’s descent into obscurity played by Leo.
But this movie had the attention span of a goldfish.
And a narrator! As much as I love Kurt Russell there was no need for a narrator.
So the final verdict is it’s full of good parts that don’t add up to a great movie.