By all accounts, at least from the scant few reviews that have trickled in, Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood looks to be yet another big hit for the writer/director and very likely a Best Picture contender. Especially now that the Oscars have been pushed back by almost a month, Cannes is a formidable jumping off point, and not too early as is often the case.
Tarantino’s warning to not spoil the film’s finale appears to have been respected, although that will trickle out soon enough if it hasn’t already. Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian goes for five stars:
It’s shocking, gripping, dazzlingly shot in the celluloid-primary colours of sky blue and sunset gold: colours with the warmth that Mama Cass sang about. The Los Angeles of 1969 is recovered with all Tarantino’s habitual intensity and delirious, hysterical connoisseurship of pop culture detail. But there’s something new here: not just erotic cinephilia, but TV-philia, an intense awareness of the small screen background to everyone’s lives. Opinions are going to divide about this film’s startling and spectacularly provocative ending, which Tarantino is concerned to keep secret and which I have no intention of revealing here. But certainly any ostensible error of taste is nothing like, say, those in the much admired Inglourious Basterds. And maybe worrying about taste is to miss the point of this bizarre Jacobean horror fantasy.
Quite simply, 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.
And it’s another five stars from the Telegraph’s Robbie Collin:
Ask a film historian when the dream of Hollywood died and they might point to the night of 8th August 1969, when four members of the Manson Family cult broke into a luxury villa in western Los Angeles and savagely murdered five of its occupants, including Sharon Tate, the 26-year-old actress and girlfriend of Roman Polanski, and the couple’s unborn child.
And The Wrap’s Steve Pond:
Tarantino has begged the press not to include any spoilers in reviews, and he had a Cannes official do the same on stage before the press screening began. (The announcement drew a few boos.) But it’s no spoiler (and probably no surprise, either) to say that “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” is big, brash, ridiculous, too long, and in the end, invigorating. It’s a grand playground for the director to further fetishize old pop culture, to break things and hurt people, and to bring a wide-eyed glee and a robust sense of perversity to the whole craft of moviemaking.