Baldwin: Once upon a time in Hollywood

Published 9:42 am Friday, July 26, 2019

Greetings, flower power children of Winchester.

I enjoy film. Good ones, bad ones and those in between.

As much as I enjoy viewing film and being engrossed in all its elements, I rarely get excited for new releases throughout the year.

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Why is that? I watch movies in a different manner than most. I don’t watch a flick and simply dismiss it. I research back story, production notes stemming from the project’s cradle to grave process and the key players involved.

I learn as much as I can about each film I view and its entire pre- and post-production facts as I can.

The more I learn and watch, I have come to realize most mainstream releases are a cinematic bore that are just running through the motions of releasing tired content recycled time and time again.

I find excitement on tracking down an older film I have not seen yet or when I stumble upon an unknown hidden gem which is usually a lower budget independent release. 

Every once awhile, I still get excited for a big Hollywood release. This week is my lucky week as the new, long-awaited (five years) and ninth movie of Quentin “Pulp Fiction” Tarantino, “Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood” is released.

“Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” is a comedy drama set in 1969 Los Angeles which follows fading TV star Rick Dalton, Leonardo “Django Unchained” DiCaprio and his long-time chum and stunt double, Cliff, Brad “Inglourious Basterds” Pitt as they make their way through a changing industry as the New Hollywood approaches burying the Golden Age of the Tinseltown, the changing of values in America during the summer of 1969.

The journey of our characters is one of self-actualization, self-worth and ambition in the City of Dreams. All the while the infamous murders of actress Sharon Tate and celebrity friends committed by Charles Manson and his “family” act as a backdrop to the narrative and are an exclamation point to the fact at the end of the 1960s, the times were indeed a changing.

“Hollywood” is another love story created in the Tarantino universe where he adds his take on the history of the time, pop culture and dreamlike nostalgia of the 1960s film industry with much devotion, detail and humor that you would expect from Hollywood’s film buff and director. “Hollywood” has been lauded by most critics and fans who viewed early screenings and was appreciated with a seven-minute standing ovation at the prestigious Cannes Movie Festival in France. 

The film is set in a multi-layered universe ala “Pulp Fiction” (1994), with an ensemble cast including talent such as Margot “Suicide Squad” Robbie, Timothy “Santa Clarita Diet” Olyphant, Al “Serpico” Pacino, Kurt “Death Proof” Russell, Luke “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” Perry, Dakota “Man on Fire” Fanning, Michael Madsen and Bruce “The Hateful Eight” Dern. 

It is safe to say no matter how you feel about Tarantino or his films, he is dedicated to his vision and his films are enjoyable to the normal everyday viewer and film geeks alike. That is because of his references and homages to older pop culture peppered throughout the memorable dialogue and fantastic situations our characters find themselves in.

Like QT’s earlier titles, it is forecasted to be a huge summer blockbuster and should be in theaters until the holiday film frenzy is bestowed upon us.

Have a film-tastic day! 

Rick Baldwin is a writer, filmmaker and film/music historian. He is president of the Winchester-Clark County Film Society. Find more from Rick on Facebook. He is on Twitter @rickbaldwin79  and can be reached by email at