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Movie Review: Tarantino’s ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ Provokes 20th Century American Pop Culture

Tarantino proves he still has his twisted charm and art.

Duane Paul Murphy

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Since his debuted first feature film Reservoir Dogs in 1992, Quentin Tarantino has become a modern Hollywood legend for many avid cinephiles and ordinary moviegoers in the U.S. and around the world. With satirical, foulmouthed, and violent action-packed dramedy hits already becoming classics such as “Pulp Fiction”, “Kill Bill”, “Inglorious Bastards”, “Django Unchained”, and “The Hateful Eight”, the Oscar-winning director recently took aim at mid-20th century American popular culture in the heartland of mass entertainment.

Set in Los Angeles in 1969, a historical year filled, counter-culture euphoria, with global unrest and moonshot possibilities, the historical fiction dramedy “Once Upon a Time Hollywood” follows the life and times of television actor Rick Dalton, played by Leonardo Dicaprio, and his stunt double Cliff Booth, played by Brad Pitt, who is facing a near existential crisis as they try to transition towards film acting. Along the way, they get entangled with several youthful characters would later be known as The Mason Family, a murderous cult led by the infamous Charles Manson. Also, other casts of characters are also followed including Dalton’s neighbor, actress Sharon Tate, played by Margot Robbie, who was killed by The Manson Family while pregnant with child.

Throughout the film, beyond nostalgic pleasing aesthetics and backgrounds, Dalton and Booth represent the rise, fall, and resurrection of what it means to be in the media and entertainment business as well as one’s self in an individual limited mortal lifetime. Furthermore, the film’s near entirety provokes 20th-century American popular culture through its usage of the Manson cult and the real-life terror they have inflicted on an era of counter-culture and revolution in sunny side California. With definite award season worthiness, Tarantino proves he still has his twisted charm and art.

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Duane Paul Murphy is a D.C. college graduate and freelance journalist born and raised in Southern California. He obtained a bachelor of art’s in politics and a minor in media studies, Duane Paul is interested in covering domestic as well as international political affairs that impact the lives of everyday people, whether they are young students, professionals, or faculty in higher education.

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