Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
This is kind of a tale of two films (and the length of two films at that). There is a story of an actor (and his stunt double friend/partner) aging out of his prime. It is a story we've seen in various contexts (Singin' In The Rain, Sunset Boulevard) and there is something to the specificity of Rick Dalton's struggles. The scenes with Rick (DiCaprio) and Trudi (Julia Butters) are quite good. And while I felt some annoyance at the length of the show within the show segments at times, I do think they build the sentiment of Rick's struggles (some based on changing society, some based on his own personal failings). And Brad Pitt does historically do well in charismatic supporting roles...though being invited to like Cliff so much sits uncomfortably next to the implication Cliff murdered his wife. It would be a story naive to race and gender issues, but ultimately mostly harmless.
But then there is the second film regarding Charles Manson and Sharon Tate that the first is woven into. The revenge/revisionist tales of Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchained have the benefit of taking on broad ills. In taking on this very specific story, this handling feels significantly more exploitative. Also, the way this flattens Manson's group into a generic hippie cult instead of white supremacy would be like IB ignoring that the Nazis committed genocide against the Jews and ignoring that southern plantations enslaved Africans. Obviously those films don't ignore that central aspect. Yet this one does. The appending of this story made the film feel unfocused and long, it opened itself up to more problematic aspects, and most notably in the last 30 minutes, it reduced what might have been a decent, palatable film with good moments into a smoldering pile of ashes, one of the worst and most off-putting films of the year...with Tarantino outdoing The Hateful Eight.
As an aside, over a few films this year I've become rather smitten with Margaret Qualley, but even that affection was not enough not to get disgusted by the weirdly shot feet scene. Like, I'm sure her feet are perfectly normal, but something about the composition just made them look hideous.