Once Upon A Time In Hollywood lauded as a 'masterpiece' in first rave reviews

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood lauded as a 'masterpiece' in first rave reviews


It is the ninth film from legendary director Quentin Tarantino, which chronicles a faded TV actor and his stunt double in the run-up to the Manson Family murders. 

And Once Upon A Time In Hollywood has been met with rave first reviews following its Los Angeles premiere on Monday night and world debut at the Cannes Film Festival in May. 

The Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie led flick has already received an impressive 92% on review curator Rotten Tomatoes ahead of its US cinema release on Friday 26 July and UK debut on Thursday 15 August. 

Impressive: Once Upon A Time In Hollywood has been met with rave first reviews following its Los Angeles premiere on Monday night and world debut at the Cannes Film Festival in May (Margot Robbie pictured in a film still)

Impressive: Once Upon A Time In Hollywood has been met with rave first reviews following its Los Angeles premiere on Monday night and world debut at the Cannes Film Festival in May (Margot Robbie pictured in a film still) 

Already, critics have branded the movie a ‘dazzling elegiac fairytale’, ‘masterpiece’ and ‘retro tour de force’ with ‘wicked in-jokes’.

During its world debut at the Cannes Film Festival in May, it was even heralded as Tarantino’s best film since 1994’s Pulp Fiction, which won the Palme d’Or, with DiCaprio and Pitt winning a seven-minute standing ovation. 

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, which is Tarantino’s first movie not being released by Harvey Weinstein, sees DiCaprio and Pitt bring the golden age of Hollywood back to life. 

Playing Rick Dalton and his stunt double Cliff Booth, the actors revisit a simpler time in tinsel town as they transport us back to Los Angeles in 1969.  

Rave reviews: Already, critics have branded the movie a 'dazzling elegiac fairytale', 'masterpiece' and 'retro tour de force' with 'wicked in-jokes' (Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt pictured in a film still)

Rave reviews: Already, critics have branded the movie a ‘dazzling elegiac fairytale’, ‘masterpiece’ and ‘retro tour de force’ with ‘wicked in-jokes’ (Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt pictured in a film still) 

Impressive: The Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie led flick has already received an impressive 92% on review curator Rotten Tomatoes ahead of its cinema release

Impressive: The Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie led flick has already received an impressive 92% on review curator Rotten Tomatoes ahead of its cinema release

Margot Robbie takes on the role of Sharon Tate – the pregnant actress murdered by the Manson family in 1969. 

Praising the ‘wildly enjoyable black comedy’, Daily Mail’s Brian Viner heaped high praise on the 159 minute film after its debut at Cannes in May. 

‘For me, his masterpiece will always be 1994’s Pulp Fiction, but this isn’t far behind, with Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt both on thumpingly fine form,’ he said.  

‘The film takes us on a journey towards that terrible night, but on the way Tarantino is in incorrigibly playful mood and has enormous fun depicting certain fixtures of 60s Hollywood.

Premiere: During its world debut at the Cannes Film Festival in May, it was even heralded as Tarantino's best film since 1994's Pulp Fiction(Tarantino and the leading stars pictured at the LA premiere on Monday night)

Premiere: During its world debut at the Cannes Film Festival in May, it was even heralded as Tarantino’s best film since 1994’s Pulp Fiction(Tarantino and the leading stars pictured at the LA premiere on Monday night) 

Golden age: Playing Rick Dalton and his stunt double Cliff Booth, the actors revisit a simpler time in tinsel town as they transport us back to Los Angeles in 1969

Golden age: Playing Rick Dalton and his stunt double Cliff Booth, the actors revisit a simpler time in tinsel town as they transport us back to Los Angeles in 1969

‘There is also, this being a Tarantino film, a full repertoire of tricks – voiceovers, split-screens, slow-mo, flashbacks. But they all add to the fun. 

‘Tarantino recreates the era exquisitely and in a way has made the film a love-letter to his own square-eyed childhood.’ 

The Times’ Ed Potton also praised Once Upon A Time In Hollywood as an ‘epic of lurid violence and colourful dialogue’ with ‘wicked in-jokes’, even calling it Tarantino’s ‘most shamelessly entertaining movie since Pulp Fiction’.

He added: ‘This is a retro tour de force inhabiting a fully realised world of popular culture — TV, movies, pop music and yes, pulp fiction.’

Praise: One critic said: 'For me, his masterpiece will always be 1994's Pulp Fiction, but this isn't far behind, with Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt both on thumpingly fine form' (with Al Pacino as Marvin Schwarzs)

Praise: One critic said: ‘For me, his masterpiece will always be 1994’s Pulp Fiction, but this isn’t far behind, with Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt both on thumpingly fine form’ (with Al Pacino as Marvin Schwarzs)

TIME magazine’s Stephanie Zacharek called it a ‘dazzling elegiac fairytale’, calling it Tarantino’s ‘most affectionate movie since Jackie Brown (1997)’ and ranking it as one of his finest’s.

She added: ‘This is a tender, rapturous film, both joyous and melancholy, a reverie for a lost past and a door that opens to myriad imagined possibilities.’

The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw praised the Tarantino film for honouring the golden age of Hollywood and balancing the enjoyment of the story with the ‘horror and cruelty’ of the vile murders. 

Bradshaw labelled the film a ‘pulp-fictionally redemptive take on the Manson nightmare in late-60s California’. 

Tragic: Margot Robbie takes on the role of Sharon Tate - the pregnant actress murdered by the Manson family in 1969 (pictured in a film still)

Tragic: Margot Robbie takes on the role of Sharon Tate – the pregnant actress murdered by the Manson family in 1969 (pictured in a film still)  

‘I just defy anyone with red blood in their veins not to respond to the crazy bravura of Tarantino’s film-making, not to be bounced around the auditorium at the moment-by-moment enjoyment that this movie delivers – and conversely, of course, to shudder at the horror and cruelty and its hallucinatory aftermath,’ he said.

Other critics praised the 56-year-old for writing a ‘love letter’ towards a bygone era in Hollywood.

New York Times critic Manohla Dargis heaped praise on Tarantino for delivering the unexpected, saying: ‘Tarantino’s love for over-the-top gore, for painting the screen red, seemed a bad fit with the ghastly 1969 murders of several people, including the actress Sharon Tate, then married to Roman Polanski. 

‘What was entirely unexpected was that ‘Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood,’… would be such a moving film, at once a love letter — and a dream — of the Hollywood that was.’

In character: Brad Pitt plays a stunt double in Quentin Tarantino's new movie and is on thumpingly fine form (pictured in film still)

In character: Brad Pitt plays a stunt double in Quentin Tarantino’s new movie and is on thumpingly fine form (pictured in film still)

DiCaprio and Pitt’s performances as buddies Rick and Cliff were also praised for bringing the movie a lot of ‘its light, infectiously pop pleasure.’ 

Collider critic Gregory Ellwood also branded the film the ‘ultimate love letter’ from Tarantino. 

Honouring the film for injecting Tarantino’s trademark humour and bringing the ‘right blend of mockery and pathos’ to the main characters, Vulture critic Bilge Ebiri said: ‘He and his actors lend the two characters’ respective moments — one rising, the other falling — just the right blend of mockery and pathos. These people are ridiculous, and we love them.    

‘It’s the most fun the director seems to have had in years, but it’s also, oddly, his most compassionate picture in more than a decade.

Plot: Leonardo DiCaprio stars as a self-pitying TV actor in Tarantino's new movie, which takes viewers back to Hollywood's Golden Era (pictured in film still)

Plot: Leonardo DiCaprio stars as a self-pitying TV actor in Tarantino’s new movie, which takes viewers back to Hollywood’s Golden Era (pictured in film still) 

The film did hit some roadblocks with certain critics, including the Hollywood Reporter’s David Rooney, who said Tarantino had sly fun riffing on his own work in his ‘penchant for gleeful revisionist history’. 

‘A sizeable audience will doubtless share that enjoyment, even if the two ambling hours of detours, recaps and diversions that precede the standard climactic explosion of graphic violence are virtually plotless,’ he wrote.

‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is uneven, unwieldy in its structure and not without its flat patches. But it’s also a disarming and characteristically subversive love letter to its inspiration, in which Tarantino rebuilds the Dream Factory as it existed during the time of his childhood, while rewriting the traumatic episode often identified as the end of that era.’  

Variety’s Owen Gleiberman criticised the director for reducing the story ‘to pulp’ and moving away from his signature ‘show don’t tell’ style. 

Honour: Critics branded the epic, 'wildly enjoyable', 'astonishing' a 'moving love letter' and Tarantino's best film since 1994's Pulp Fiction (Uma Thurman pictured in the 1994 classic)

Honour: Critics branded the epic, ‘wildly enjoyable’, ‘astonishing’ a ‘moving love letter’ and Tarantino’s best film since 1994’s Pulp Fiction (Uma Thurman pictured in the 1994 classic) 

‘And the way the movie resolves all this feels, frankly, too easy. By the end, Tarantino has done something that’s quintessentially Tarantino, but that no longer feels even vaguely revolutionary. He has reduced the story he’s telling to pulp,’ he said.

While Vanity Fair’s Richard Lawson said there were stretches of the film where he thought things weren’t going anywhere, he noted that he was consistently drawn back in by DiCaprio and Pitt’s performances. 

‘This curious fairy tale may not be the truth, and it may prattle on too long. But when its stars align, and they let loose with their unmistakable shine, Hollywood movies do seem truly special again,’ he wrote.  

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood was also branded ‘strikingly bland’ by Bloomberg critic Giovanni Marchini Camia, who added the humour and dialogue left a lot to be desired.           

Wow: The stakes have been high for Sony Pictures, which gave Tarantino a $95 million budget to make (pictured at the LA premiere on Monday)

Wow: The stakes have been high for Sony Pictures, which gave Tarantino a $95 million budget to make (pictured at the LA premiere on Monday) 

‘Although there’s some enjoyment to be had in watching DiCaprio dress up in silly costumes and pretend he’s a second-rate actor, the meta-humor is nowhere near as funny as Tarantino thinks it is,’ he said.  

‘The shoot scenes drag on for far too long, and even his usually popping dialogue falls oddly flat this time around.’      

The stakes have been high for Sony Pictures, which gave Tarantino a $95 million budget to make. In May during Cannes, Sony Pictures chief Tom Rothman sat front row as Tarantino and his cast spoke to reporters.

Tarantino was made a free agent in Hollywood after the downfall of his regular producer, Harvey Weinstein. The director has previously acknowledged knowing about some of the accusations against Weinstein for years, saying: ‘I knew enough to do more than I did.’  

Stars: Tarantino was made a free agent in Hollywood after the downfall of his regular producer, Harvey Weinstein (Tarantino pictured with Pitt and DiCaprio at the LA premiere on Monday)

Stars: Tarantino was made a free agent in Hollywood after the downfall of his regular producer, Harvey Weinstein (Tarantino pictured with Pitt and DiCaprio at the LA premiere on Monday) 

During a press conference at Cannes, Tarantino responded curtly to a New York Times reporter when asked why an actress as talented as Robbie had relatively few lines in the film. 

Robbie’s Tate is largely a side narrative in the movie, which focuses on her fictional neighbours (DiCaprio and Pitt). 

‘I just reject your hypotheses,’ Tarantino said. Robbie gave a fuller defence, calling her Tate ‘a ray of light.’ She said Tarantino referred to her character as ‘the heartbeat of the story.’

‘The moments that I got gave the opportunity to honour Sharon,’ she said. ‘I did feel like I got a lot of time to explore the character even without dialogue, specifically.’ 

'Golden age': The movie is a character comedy/drama set in 1969 in Los Angeles, with multiple story lines paying tribute to what is widely known as Hollywood's 'golden age.

‘Golden age’: The movie is a character comedy/drama set in 1969 in Los Angeles, with multiple story lines paying tribute to what is widely known as Hollywood’s ‘golden age. 

Other stars in the film include Al Pacino, Emile Hirsch, Damian Lewis, Bruce Dern, Dakota Fanning, Austin Butler, Lena Dunham and Margaret Qualley. In the film, the actors seem to be linked to each other in one way or another. 

Washed up Western star Dalton lives next door to Sharon Tate, one of Hollywood’s greatest stars at the time. Martin Schwarz, played by Al Pacino, who is also Dalton’s agent, while Joanna Pettet, played by Rumer Willis, stars as a friend of Sharon Tate. 

Mike Moh plays Bruce Lee in a fight scene with Rick Dalton. Brad and Leonardo play a double act, and they joked about ‘carrying the load’ for each other in an interview that opens the first trailer. 

The movie is a character comedy/drama set in 1969 in Los Angeles, with multiple story lines paying tribute to what is widely known as Hollywood’s ‘golden age.’ 

The film will be released in the US on Friday July 26 and the UK on Thursday August 15. 

Details: The film will be released in the US on Friday July 26 and the UK on Thursday August 15 (the cast pictured at the world premiere during Cannes Film Festival in May)

Details: The film will be released in the US on Friday July 26 and the UK on Thursday August 15 (the cast pictured at the world premiere during Cannes Film Festival in May) 

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood: WHAT DO THE CRITICS SAY?

Patrick Marmion for the Daily Mail 

‘For me, his masterpiece will always be 1994’s Pulp Fiction, but this isn’t far behind, with Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt both on thumpingly fine form.  

Rating:

Ed Potton for The Times

‘This is a retro tour de force inhabiting a fully realised world of popular culture — TV, movies, pop music and yes, pulp fiction. It’s full of movies within movies, notably a fictional western in which DiCaprio gives the best actor-playing-an-actor performance since Naomi Watts in Mulholland Drive.’

Rating:

Stephanie Zacharek for TIME magazine

‘This is a tender, rapturous film, both joyous and melancholy, a reverie for a lost past and a door that opens to myriad imagined possibilities.’

Peter Bradshaw for The Guardian 

‘I just defy anyone with red blood in their veins not to respond to the crazy bravura of Tarantino’s film-making, not to be bounced around the auditorium at the moment-by-moment enjoyment that this movie delivers.’ 

Rating:

Manohla Dargis for New York Times

‘What was entirely unexpected was that ‘Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood,’… would be such a moving film, at once a love letter — and a dream — of the Hollywood that was.’

Gregory Ellwood for Collider 

‘Tarantino loves Hollywood which is why this film is the ultimate love letter from him.’

Rating: A-

Owen Gleiberman for Variety 

‘By the end, Tarantino has done something that’s quintessentially Tarantino, but that no longer feels even vaguely revolutionary. He has reduced the story he’s telling to pulp.’ 

Giovanni Marchini Camia for Bloomberg 

‘The shoot scenes drag on for far too long, and even his usually popping dialogue falls oddly flat this time around.’  

David Rooney for Hollywood Reporter

‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is uneven, unwieldy in its structure and not without its flat patches. But it’s also a disarming and characteristically subversive love letter to its inspiration, in which Tarantino rebuilds the Dream Factory as it existed during the time of his childhood, while rewriting the traumatic episode often identified as the end of that era.’

Bilge Ebiri for Vulture 

‘He and his actors lend the two characters’ respective moments — one rising, the other falling — just the right blend of mockery and pathos. These people are ridiculous, and we love them. It’s the most fun the director seems to have had in years, but it’s also, oddly, his most compassionate picture in more than a decade.’ 

Richard Lawson for Vanity Fair 

‘This curious fairy tale may not be the truth, and it may prattle on too long. But when its stars align, and they let loose with their unmistakable shine, Hollywood movies do seem truly special again.’  

 

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