Editor’s note: This movie is good and the plot is fully explained in this article, so please go see it before you read. Thank you.
The movie “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” the latest offering from director Quentin Tarantino, is a nearly three-hour-long bit about the Manson Family murders with a side of Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio to keep people invested.
You see, this movie follows DiCaprio as Rick Dalton, a star of westerns on the tail end of his career, and Pitt as Cliff Booth, Dalton’s stunt double and best friend, as they bop around 1969 Los Angeles doing various activities. Their lives are spliced together with the lives of Sharon Tate, who just moved next door to Dalton, and a bunch of hippy folk who, as it turns out, are part of Charles Manson’s cult.
It all seems to be leading up to a climax where Tate, along with four other people, are killed by three of Manson’s followers. Except instead, they go to Dalton’s house, where they’re faced with a drunk and tripping Booth — who had previously met the group at their commune when he picked up a hitchhiker. Booth giggles at the armed intruders for a bit, then sics his dog on the man with a gun before brutally beating the two knife-wielding women.
One woman, blood streaming down her face, runs screaming outside and falls into the pool, where Dalton is sitting on a pool floatie sipping a pitcher of margaritas. Understandably taken by surprise, Dalton runs for his tool shed, pulls out a flamethrower and torches the screaming woman until she stops yelling and sinks beneath the surface of the water.
His neighbors, hearing the commotion, invite him in to hear what happened, and the film ends with Dalton and Tate striking up what looks to be a lovely new friendship.
It’s a good bit — maybe not enough to warrant three hours, but still pretty funny. Weird though.
Quentin Tarantino, one of the most successful directors of all time, wrote and directed this movie, got a fantastic performance out of Brad Pitt and a serviceable one out of Leonardo DiCaprio, just to make a joke about some murders from 50 years ago? Just to say, “Haha, you thought you were gonna see this charming pregnant woman get murdered but instead some hippies got beat up?”
It’s really quite similar to “Yesterday,” the movie where everyone forgets who the Beatles are except one British man who pretends to come up with the songs on his own, befriends Ed Sheeran and gets really famous. Both just rewrite history for no reason, their plots making about as much sense as some of the kids movies pumped out in the 1990s by coked-out film executives.
But “Yesterday” is bad, and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is good. Why? Because Tarantino knew his film was a joke, and “Yesterday” tried to be good and failed. Ed Sheeran did not help.
Tarantino took a thing that really happened, a thing that millions and millions of people know about, and used his audience’s knowledge against them, replacing truth with an attack dog and a flamethrower. “Yesterday” is just a fluffed-up way to get people to listen to Beatles songs, another piece of monetized nostalgia with only a hint of an attempt at a plot.
Flamethrowers are cool, and attempting to manipulate people is not.
Rating: “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” gets 6 cult members out of 7 because it is kind of too long. “Yesterday” gets 3 commemorative Beatles collections out of 10 because the soundtrack really is pleasant.