With a title that suggests the opening of a child’s storybook, Quentin Tarantino revisits the Hollywood of 1969 and that summer night 50 years ago when members of the Manson family set out for Benedict Canyon with murder in their hearts.
The grisly slayings on Cielo Drive — including that of a very pregnant Sharon Tate — cast a long shadow over the romance of the ‘60s counterculture. Tarantino has said that Charles Manson’s ability to manipulate and control his followers still seems “unfathomable” to this day.
In “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood,” the writer-director takes the occasion to revel in the details of the era, complete with commercials, TV shows, songs, radio news and famous locations and restaurants around Los Angeles. But Tarantino also offers up a study of actors — their anxieties, insecurities and the pride they take in their performances.
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the fictional actor Rick Dalton, and Brad Pitt as his stunt double, along with Margot Robbie as the very real Sharon Tate, the film is more emotional and personal than other Tarantino movies.
In fact, Tarantino — who grew up in Los Angeles — has called “Once Upon a Time” his “Roma.”
Mark Olsen (@IndieFocus) talks with Times film critics @KennethTuran and @JustinCChang, as well as film reporter @jenyamato and special guest Julia Turner (@JuliaTurner), Deputy Managing Editor of Entertainment and Arts.
Deep spoilers involving the end of the film start at 15:08. Come back and listen to our writers’ analysis once you’ve seen “Once Upon a Time.”