And thus, Tarantino’s fantastical fairy tale is summed up in words I just couldn’t find. Indeed, beyond the freedom of space and time to develop or meander that Quentin bestows on his version of late 60s Hollywood, there is that nugget of narrative structure that flows throughout, being the subverted story of nostalgic maybes and wonderful who knows. I prefer to consider that this is partly Tate’s story too, but it isn’t split as evenly with the two bros. Her tale is upended from tragic to magic, showing a bubbly young leading lady in the making, in love with the world and the movies.

We’re left to guess about Rick and the serendipity of finally chatting with his neighbor — it could just end up being a friendly conversation after all. But the wishful thinking is absolutely built-in. He and best bud Cliff were meant for each other and for tinsel town, as was Tate and her kindly humble self. It’s almost vulgar how the movie washes away the dirt from the glitz, but in a way, it’s also understandable, even speaking to the way emotional memory works.

All in all, I loved Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and look forward to another watch. And your line about “creation myth” and “generational warfare”? Perfection, sir.

Independent film critic. Progressive po’ boy, moviegoing romantic. SEFCA member, 🍅 - approved. Newsletter at

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