Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood

2019, R, 161 min. Directed by Quentin Tarantino. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Rafal Zawierucha, Damon Herriman, Al Pacino, Dakota Fanning, Margaret Qualley, Timothy Olyphant, Kurt Russell, Emile Hirsch, Mike Moh, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, Scoot McNairy, Zoë Bell, Austin Butler.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Aug. 2, 2019

The highest praise I can give to “The Ninth Film From Quentin Tarantino” is that it’s the first movie in years that I’ve immediately decided I wanted – nay, needed – to watch again, as soon as possible. Hypnotically immersive to the nth degree, it’s a lovingly realized slice of alternate history that perfectly evokes in spectacularly granular detail a seemingly timeless moment in yesteryear Tinseltown. Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood is a fractured fairy tale too good to be true, because the truth hurts; and Tarantino, forever lovesick with and impassioned by this particular Los Angelean era, has better things in store than a mere reimagining of events surrounding the gated compound at 10050 Cielo Drive and the Spahn Movie Ranch. Firmly rooted in the Tarantinoverse, Once Upon a Time is an elegiac mash note to Hollywood 1969, at times sublimely, almost surrealistically moving while simultaneously managing to be the director’s funniest and least violent film to date.

As is usual for a QT film, there are multiple parallel storylines at play, intersecting and ricocheting off each other like a billiards table awash in eight-balls. First and foremost are best buddies Rick Dalton (DiCaprio) and Cliff Booth (Pitt). Dalton’s an aging and alcoholic B-movie cowboy looking down the barrel of an unfulfilling future filming Sergio Corbucci-helmed spaghetti Westerns in Almería, Spain, to pay the bills. Booth is his tough-as-nails stunt double, driver, and all-around compadre-cum-enabler. The pair saunter through L.A. in full-on leisure mode, encountering various famous names, among them newly arrived next-door neighbors Sharon Tate (Robbie) and her sparsely glimpsed husband Roman Polanski (Zawierucha), Green Hornet star Bruce Lee (Moh), and those creepy hippies hanging out at the Spahn Ranch, chief among them the libidinous Pussycat (Qualley) and Tex (Butler). Cinematographer Robert Richardson bathes everything in a honeyed, hyper-real glow that nonetheless allows room for the seepage of creepy-crawling darkness into the story’s explosive and horrifically comical finale.

Pitt and DiCaprio are perfectly cast. They come off as a lower-rent version of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid-era Redford and Newman, all laconically snappy patented QT dialogue, Red Apple cigarettes, and booze-fueled late-night bullshit sessions. Yet it’s Robbie’s Tate that makes the blood-red sun shine throughout. Midway through Tarantino’s lengthy (fittingly so) fairy tale, there’s a stunning little sequence of Tate wandering into a theatre to watch herself onscreen alongside Dean Martin as Matt Helm in 1968’s The Wrecking Crew. Slipping off her pristine white go-go boots and putting her bare feet up on the seat in front of her, she positively glows in the dark as she anonymously basks in the reactions of her fellow moviegoers. It’s a beautifully staged and acted sequence in a movie that’s overflowing with adoration for not only the comedically gifted Tate – what could have been, what should have been – but also for the very notion of late-1960s Hollywood and indeed cinema itself.

Some critics have griped about Once Upon a Time’s near-three-hour running time but I disagree. Tarantino’s deliberately unhurried pacing defines the exact (and, sadly, nearly extinct) pleasures of 35mm filmmaking, the relaxed yet portentously suspenseful feeling of the beginning of the end of something golden and the emergence of something else rising to usurp the sunshine and sparkle of the already rickety Hollywood signage. Innocence lost? Not so. It’s more like fear and loving in Los Angeles, all wrapped up in Quentin Tarantino’s extraordinary and unmistakable auteurist style. Now that’s entertainment.

Showtimes

Alamo Drafthouse at the Ritz

320 E. Sixth, 512/861-7020, www.drafthouse.com/austin/theater/ritz

Showtimes at this venue are subject to frequent change. Please confirm daily by phone or website.

Wed., Aug. 21

6:35

Fri., Aug. 23

9:30

Sat., Aug. 24

12:00, 6:00

Sun., Aug. 25

2:45, 9:00

Mon., Aug. 26

6:45

Tue., Aug. 27

5:00

Wed., Aug. 21

11:50am, 2:15, 6:00, 9:45

Fri., Aug. 23

10:30am, 2:15, 6:00, 9:45

Sat., Aug. 24

10:30am, 2:15, 6:00, 9:45

Sun., Aug. 25

10:30am, 2:15, 6:00, 9:45

Mon., Aug. 26

11:10am, 2:15, 6:00, 9:45

Tue., Aug. 27

2:15, 6:00, 9:45
AFA 11:10am

Fri., Aug. 23

11:35am, 2:40, 6:30, 9:25

Sat., Aug. 24

11:10am, 2:10, 6:00, 9:45

Sun., Aug. 25

11:55am, 3:50, 6:05, 9:50

Mon., Aug. 26

12:20, 4:00, 6:30, 9:20

Tue., Aug. 27

4:00, 6:30, 9:20
AFA 12:30

Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane

5701 W. Slaughter, 512/861-7060, drafthouse.com/austin/theater/slaughter-lane

Showtimes at this venue are subject to frequent change. Please confirm daily times by phone or website.

Wed., Aug. 21

11:40am, 3:25, 5:35, 9:20

Fri., Aug. 23

11:30am, 3:05, 6:05, 9:35

Sat., Aug. 24

10:15am, 2:05, 5:50, 9:15

Sun., Aug. 25

10:15am, 2:05, 5:50, 9:10

Mon., Aug. 26

12:05, 2:35, 6:30, 8:55

Tue., Aug. 27

2:35, 6:30, 8:55
AFA 12:05

Wed., Aug. 21

11:15am, 3:00, 10:30

Fri., Aug. 23

10:40am, 2:25, 6:10, 10:00

Sat., Aug. 24

12:10, 3:55, 7:00, 10:20

Sun., Aug. 25

10:30am, 2:15, 6:00, 9:50

Mon., Aug. 26

11:30am, 3:15, 7:00, 10:50

Tue., Aug. 27

2:20, 6:05, 9:45
AFA 10:35am

Alamo Drafthouse Village

2700 W. Anderson #701, 512/861-7030, www.drafthouse.com/austin/theater/village

Tuesday matinee Baby Day shows (first show of the day) are intended for parents and their children younger than 6. Showtimes at this venue are subject to frequent change. Please confirm daily times by phone or website.

Wed., Aug. 21

11:00am, 12:15, 2:40, 3:55, 6:30, 9:05

Fri., Aug. 23

11:20am, 2:05, 6:05, 7:00, 9:10

Sat., Aug. 24

11:45am, 2:45, 6:05, 7:00, 9:10

Sun., Aug. 25

11:45am, 2:50, 6:05, 9:15

Mon., Aug. 26

12:20, 2:30, 6:10, 9:10

Tue., Aug. 27

2:30, 6:10, 9:10
AFA 12:05

Arbor Cinema @ Great Hills

9828 Great Hills Trail, 512/231-9742

Discounts daily before 6pm.

Wed., Aug. 21

CC/DVS 12:10, 3:00, 6:20, 8:50

Thu., Aug. 22

CC/DVS 12:10, 3:00, 6:20, 8:50

Fri., Aug. 23

CC/DVS 12:10, 2:40, 6:10, 8:35

Sat., Aug. 24

CC/DVS 12:10, 2:40, 6:10, 8:35

Sun., Aug. 25

CC/DVS 12:10, 2:40, 6:10, 8:35

Mon., Aug. 26

CC/DVS 12:10, 2:40, 6:10, 8:35

Tue., Aug. 27

CC/DVS 12:10, 2:40, 6:10

Barton Creek Square (AMC)

2901 South Capital of Texas Hwy, 512/306-1991, www.amctheatres.com

Matinee discounts available before 4pm daily. Bring Your Baby matinees the first Tuesday of every month.

Wed., Aug. 21

CC/DVS 12:00, 3:30, 7:00

Fri., Aug. 23

CC/DVS 12:05, 3:35, 7:00, 9:30

Sat., Aug. 24

CC/DVS 12:05, 3:35, 7:00, 9:30

Sun., Aug. 25

CC/DVS 12:05, 3:35, 7:00

Mon., Aug. 26

CC/DVS 12:05, 3:35, 7:00

Tue., Aug. 27

CC/DVS 12:05, 3:35, 7:00

Cinemark 20 and XD

N. I-35 & FM 1825, 512/989-8535

Cost for 3-D and XD shows is regular ticket price plus a premium.

Fri., Aug. 23

digital 2:55, 6:30, 10:05

Sat., Aug. 24

digital 11:20am, 2:55, 6:30, 10:05

Sun., Aug. 25

digital 11:20am, 2:55, 6:30, 10:05

Mon., Aug. 26

digital 2:55, 6:30, 10:05

Tue., Aug. 27

digital 2:55, 6:30, 10:05

Wed., Aug. 21

digital 11:10am, 2:45, 6:20, 10:00

Thu., Aug. 22

digital 11:10am, 2:45, 6:20, 10:00

Fri., Aug. 23

digital 10:45am, 2:45, 6:20, 10:00

Sat., Aug. 24

digital 10:45am, 2:45, 6:20, 10:00

Sun., Aug. 25

digital 10:45am, 2:45, 6:20, 10:00

Cinemark Round Rock

4401 N. I-35, Round Rock, 800/326-3264

Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium. Call theatre for complete March 26-28 showtimes.

Wed., Aug. 21

digital 3:15, 7:10, 9:35

Thu., Aug. 22

digital 3:15, 9:35

Fri., Aug. 23

digital 11:50am, 3:25, 7:00, 9:55

Sat., Aug. 24

digital 11:50am, 3:25, 7:00, 9:55

Sun., Aug. 25

digital 11:50am, 3:25, 7:00, 9:55

Mon., Aug. 26

digital 11:50am, 3:25, 7:00, 9:55

Tue., Aug. 27

digital 11:50am, 3:25, 7:00, 9:55

Cinemark Southpark Meadows

9900 S. I-35, 800/326-3264

Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Wed., Aug. 21

digital 11:05am, 9:00

Thu., Aug. 22

digital 11:05am, 2:50, 6:30, 10:00

Fri., Aug. 23

digital 11:10am, 2:40, 6:10, 9:40

Sat., Aug. 24

digital 11:10am, 2:40, 6:10, 9:40

Sun., Aug. 25

digital 11:10am, 2:40, 6:10, 9:40

Mon., Aug. 26

digital 11:10am, 2:40, 6:10, 9:40

Tue., Aug. 27

digital 11:10am, 2:40, 6:10, 9:40

City Lights Theatre

420 Wolf Ranch Parkway, Georgetown, 512/868-9922

Wed., Aug. 21

2:00, 6:10, 9:40

Flix Brewhouse

2200 S. I-35, Round Rock, 512/244-3549, www.flixbrewhouse.com/round-rock

Wed., Aug. 21

3:00, 6:45, 8:50

Thu., Aug. 22

11:45am, 3:00, 6:45, 8:40

Fri., Aug. 23

12:30, 2:10, 6:00, 10:00

Sat., Aug. 24

12:30, 2:00, 6:00, 10:00

Sun., Aug. 25

12:30, 2:10, 6:00, 10:00

Mon., Aug. 26

1:00, 4:00, 8:10

Tue., Aug. 27

1:00, 2:20, 9:30

Gateway Theatre

9700 Stonelake, 512/416-5700

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Wed., Aug. 21

CC/DVS 12:10, 4:00, 8:10
CC/DVS, IMAX 11:30am, 2:55, 6:20, 9:50

Thu., Aug. 22

CC/DVS 12:10, 4:00, 8:10
CC/DVS, IMAX 11:30am, 2:55

Fri., Aug. 23

CC/DVS 1:30, 6:00, 9:30
CC/DVS, IMAX 12:40, 4:15, 8:10

Sat., Aug. 24

CC/DVS 1:30, 6:00, 9:30
CC/DVS, IMAX 12:40, 4:15, 8:10

Sun., Aug. 25

CC/DVS 1:30, 6:00, 9:30
CC/DVS, IMAX 12:25, 8:10

Mon., Aug. 26

CC/DVS 1:30, 6:00, 9:30
CC/DVS, IMAX 12:40, 4:15, 8:10

Tue., Aug. 27

CC/DVS 1:30, 6:00, 9:30
CC/DVS, IMAX 12:40, 4:15, 8:10

iPic Theaters Austin

3225 Amy Donovan Plaza, 512/568-3400, www.ipic.com

Wed., Aug. 21

12:00, 2:50, 6:30, 9:00

Metropolitan

901 Little Texas, 512/447-0101

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Wed., Aug. 21

CC/DVS 2:35, 6:10, 9:45

Thu., Aug. 22

CC/DVS 2:35, 6:10, 9:45

Fri., Aug. 23

CC/DVS 2:45, 6:15, 9:50

Sat., Aug. 24

CC/DVS 2:45, 6:15, 9:50

Sun., Aug. 25

CC/DVS 2:45, 6:15, 9:50

Mon., Aug. 26

CC/DVS 2:45, 6:15, 9:50

Tue., Aug. 27

CC/DVS 2:45, 6:15, 9:50

Moviehouse & Eatery

8300 N. FM 620, Bldg. B, 512/501-3520, www.themoviehouse.com/trails/

Wed., Aug. 21

10:30am, 2:15, 6:00, 9:15

Thu., Aug. 22

10:30am, 2:15, 6:00, 9:15

Fri., Aug. 23

10:45am, 3:00, 6:00, 9:55

Sat., Aug. 24

10:45am, 3:00, 6:00, 9:55

Sun., Aug. 25

10:45am, 3:00, 6:00, 9:55

Mon., Aug. 26

10:45am, 3:15, 6:00, 9:55

Tue., Aug. 27

10:45am, 3:15, 6:00, 9:55

Moviehouse & Eatery - Lantana Place

7415 Southwest Parkway, Building 7, 512/572-0770, www.themoviehouse.com/lantana/

Wed., Aug. 21

12:00, 4:00, 8:00, 9:30

Thu., Aug. 22

12:00, 4:00, 8:00, 9:30

Fri., Aug. 23

12:00, 4:00, 8:00, 9:30

Sat., Aug. 24

12:00, 4:00, 8:00, 9:30

Sun., Aug. 25

12:00, 4:00, 8:00, 9:30

Mon., Aug. 26

12:00, 4:00, 8:00, 9:30

Tue., Aug. 27

12:00, 4:00, 8:00, 9:30

Sky Cinemas

13201 US-290, 512/457-0700, www.skycinemas.com

Wed., Aug. 21

11:45am, 1:35, 4:00, 7:45, 9:00

Fri., Aug. 23

11:40am, 1:30, 5:00, 7:50

Sat., Aug. 24

11:40am, 1:30, 5:00, 7:50

Sun., Aug. 25

11:40am, 1:30, 5:00, 7:50

Mon., Aug. 26

11:40am, 1:30, 5:00, 7:50

Tue., Aug. 27

11:40am, 1:30, 5:00, 7:50

Wed., Aug. 21

12:30, 4:30, 6:45, 9:45

Fri., Aug. 23

12:00, 4:15, 6:45, 10:00

Sat., Aug. 24

12:00, 4:15, 6:45, 10:00

Sun., Aug. 25

12:00, 3:45, 10:00

Mon., Aug. 26

12:00, 4:15, 6:45, 10:00

Tue., Aug. 27

12:00, 4:15, 6:45, 10:00

Starplex 12 San Marcos

1250 Wonder World Drive, San Marcos, 512/805-8000

Wed., Aug. 21

11:30am, 3:00, 6:30, 10:00

Thu., Aug. 22

11:30am, 3:00, 6:30, 10:00

Violet Crown Cinema

434 W. Second, 512/495-9600, www.violetcrowncinema.com

Four-hour parking validation in attached garage with ticket purchase. Reserved seating; bar and cafe on-site.

Wed., Aug. 21

2:00, 4:00, 6:45, 8:25

Thu., Aug. 22

2:00, 3:45, 8:35

Fri., Aug. 23

11:30am, 2:45, 4:30, 7:45, 9:00

Sat., Aug. 24

11:30am, 2:45, 4:30, 7:45, 9:00

Sun., Aug. 25

11:30am, 2:45, 4:30, 7:45, 9:00

Mon., Aug. 26

2:00, 4:00, 8:25

Tue., Aug. 27

2:00, 3:50, 9:45

Westgate 11

4477 S. Lamar, 512/899-2717

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Wed., Aug. 21

CC/DVS 11:45am, 3:10, 6:00, 9:00

Thu., Aug. 22

CC/DVS 11:45am, 3:10, 6:00, 9:00

Fri., Aug. 23

CC/DVS 11:30am, 2:55, 6:20, 9:15

Sat., Aug. 24

CC/DVS 11:30am, 2:55, 6:20, 9:15

Sun., Aug. 25

CC/DVS 11:30am, 2:55, 6:20, 9:05

Mon., Aug. 26

CC/DVS 11:30am, 2:55, 6:20, 8:45

Tue., Aug. 27

CC/DVS 11:30am, 2:55, 6:20, 8:45

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Quentin Tarantino
Once Upon a War Story
Once Upon a War Story
Quentin Tarantino rewrites the spaghetti western with a side of sour Krauts in 'Inglourious Basterds'

Marjorie Baumgarten, Aug. 21, 2009

More Quentin Tarantino
Tarantino Sits in 'The Director's Chair'
Tarantino Sits in 'The Director's Chair'
Robert Rodriguez puts the spotlight on his old friend for El Rey

Richard Whittaker, Aug. 13, 2014

Greg Nicotero, From Zombies to Snake Vampires
Greg Nicotero, From Zombies to Snake Vampires
FX guru on 'The Walking Dead' to 'From Dusk Till Dawn'

Richard Whittaker, April 28, 2014

More Quentin Tarantino Films
The Hateful Eight
Tarantino's latest opus screens in 70mm this week at two Austin venues

Marc Savlov, Dec. 25, 2015

Django Unchained
As entertaining and subversive as Django Unchained is, Tarantino's latest also suffers from a certain slackness.

Marjorie Baumgarten, Dec. 28, 2012

More by Marc Savlov
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Alvin Schwartz's beloved nightmares come to the screen

Aug. 16, 2019

To Know Joe Lansdale Is to Love Joe Lansdale
To Know Joe Lansdale Is to Love Joe Lansdale
All Hail the Popcorn King trails the writer of the purple rage

Aug. 16, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino, Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Rafal Zawierucha, Damon Herriman, Al Pacino, Dakota Fanning, Margaret Qualley, Timothy Olyphant, Kurt Russell, Emile Hirsch, Mike Moh, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, Scoot McNairy, Zoë Bell, Austin Butler

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Time to vote! Best of Austin 2019 balloting is underway   VOTE NOW