Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood ★★★★★

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood can be seen, as most of the best Quentin Tarantino movies can, as a collection of short stories (along with Pulp Fiction, Inglourious Basterds and Kill Bill; Jackie Brown is a novel; Reservoir Dogs, The Hateful Eight and Death Proof are plays; I have no idea what Django Unchained is–I haven’t seen it since it was first released and I’m as baffled by it now as I was then, but I suspect it’s a movie). He’s best when he’s building out of small, discreet scenes, rather than trying to follow a single thread through various permutations. The approach allows his movies time to breathe, and lets his actors do their thing. Hollywood is, for its incredible first two-thirds, a series of sketches around two days in the life of three characters: former TV Western star Rick Dalton, played by Leonardo DiCaprio; Dalton’s longtime stunt double and best friend, played by Brad Pitt; and Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie, the young actress who has just moved in next door to Dalton on Cielo Drive with her husband, Roman Polanski. It’s February of 1969, and we know, but they do not, that the night of the Manson Family murders is only six months away.

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