As Quentin Tarantino’s much lauded ninth film, Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, moves from the big screen to smaller ones inside our homes via its digital and DVD/BluRay release this week, it will be interesting to see how it fares now that some time has passed, minus the fanfare (and for Angelenos sans the irony of watching it amidst the landmark locales it so romantically depicts). We saw it at the Cinerama Dome before it opened and were treated to an intro by QT himself. It opened at the venerable Chinese Theatre, a tourist trap for its famous cemented footprints, but also a functioning theater that’s still a thrill to visit, even for us seen-it-all natives. It’s that mythologized.
It remains to be seen if Once Upon will be mythologized in the same way now that we can all simply pop the movie into our TVs, laptops and phones (which will be ironic in its own way since its nostalgic immersion in old Hollywood aesthetics and the ’60s suggests modern technologies/fashions/music aren’t nearly as cool). Eventually the film will be available on Netflix and then, like Pulp Fiction, the Kill Bill’s, etc., in heavy (edited) rotation on cable TV, cut with commercials to remind us that the seamy, sexy world Tarantino has invited us into isn’t real. Fiction still holds up, but some of the filmmaker’s other efforts, not so much.
Once Upon will likely be one of those era films that people will put on in the background at parties and get-togethers (like Boogie Nights or Almost Famous) but it may not fly with everyone. It was polarizing for many reasons. People loved the acting, the cityscapes, the style and attention to detail in depicting the era; but they didn’t love its length, all the dirty feet, its ill treatment of Bruce Lee, its schlocky take on the Manson family, and its sexist undertones (Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate is two-dimensional at best and then there’s that problematic Pitt storyline- his Cliff Booth may or may not have killed his wife and it’s played for laughs). The timeline inaccuracies were also pretty glaring (Hugh Hefner didn’t move into the Playboy Mansion or throw parties there until ’74; the movie takes place in ’69), but every movie these days seems to get called out for this, so it shouldn’t hurt the movie’s Oscar chances.
Love it or hate it, Tarantino’s latest evokes a passionate response when you watch it, and that is not likely to be lost on a smaller screen. We didn’t score an invite to the DVD release bash at Musso & Frank’s (seen here in photos) but we did attend an event at the Directors Guild the week prior, where Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Bruce Dern, Dakota Fanning and more from the cast discussed the film and their enthusiasm for it. In case you’re wondering, that little girl Rick Dalton meets on the set wasn’t really acting; in real life, she’s just as verbosely sophisticated when talking about her “craft.”
Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood is available on Digital, Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD DVD now.
All photos here courtesy Sony Home Entertainment.