Ferengi foot fetishists have a little longer to wait for Quentin Tarantino’s rumoured Star Trek movie (working title: Once Upon a Time in Ferenginar) because first there’s this one about 1960s Hollywood. And it’s quite long.
The film follows a Western star (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double (Brad Pitt), whose paths cross with Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) and the Manson Family. The story isn’t exactly Manson-centric, more Manson-adjacent, but this does seem to be the only part Tarantino is interested in. Everything else feels like decoration, nicely acted and directed but without pace or purpose.
It’s essentially a nearly-3-hour ultraviolent version of the Coen brothers’ Hail, Caesar!, an enjoyable, cameo-packed, plot-free pastiche of old Hollywood, only instead of Scarlett Johansson it’s Charles Manson. This ’60s setting is potentially the perfect opportunity for Tarantino to bring back the trademark pop culture-filled dialogue missing from his ahistorical movies, but apparently he’s all out of ideas, opting instead for another lazy meta-revenge climax.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood isn’t bad so much as unremarkable, other than quite a remarkable use of Vanilla Fudge’s You Keep Me Hangin’ On, a sentiment applicable to Tarantino himself. It’s the same hope every time he releases a new film: maybe this one will have an ending other than a pointless bloodbath, or some wit, or a plot. The Hateful Eight did. Why don’t you babe?