John Barbour reviews Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

John Barbour reviews Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.



John Barbour comes out of movie critic retirement for one more movie review.

hi I'm John barber in 1979 I'd spent five years as a film critic for can be seen in Los Angeles in ten years of Los Angeles magazine and at the time I happen to accidentally get the first of four specials on NBC so I announced that I no longer had the time to be doing movie reviews and almost immediately within five minutes I got a phone call from playwright Neil Simon Neil had done the liner notes to my second album called I met a man I didn't like and he had said it was the least successful writing he had ever done but he said to me John hey you cannot quit cuz who's gonna tell the Emperor's like myself that make movies that we no longer wear clothes and I told him Neil listen after over 10 years I've run out of imaginative ways to say it's a piece of crap over that time of course I had seen dozens of films that I really liked and a couple that I absolutely saved from oblivion and one of those that I loved was Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction an absolutely outstanding well crafted film with a great storyline great characters and even greater dialogue to speak but none of that is present in the movie that I saw last night Once Upon a Time in Hollywood it is filled with totally unnecessary irrelevant scenes that lead nowhere and the scene with Al Pacino and my favorite restaurant Musa phrase should be cut down to about one tenth if you happen to live in Hollywood in February of 1969 when this film takes place you might be interested in some of the references to the actors and to the movie so that we're in or the television shows they were in or the places they went I lived there at the time and I worked there at the time and none of it interested me whatsoever the lead character in this is Leonard DiCaprio he plays a totally unsympathetic very ordinary actor trying to survive the only interesting thing about him is that he lives next to Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski the house in which more than a half a dozen people would later be slaughtered his sidekick though was brilliantly played by Brad Pitt Brad Pitt is perfectly content to be his stuntman his friend and somebody who is nowhere in Hollywood there is one and only one brilliant riveting scene in this film that comes to life with Brad Pitt Brad picks up one of Charlie Manson's underage teenage girls in Westwood and decides the driver to the spawn ranch which is the hangout for the Manson Family here he meets other girls just like her but more importantly he meets Tex Watson who is the guy who will actually slaughter Sharon Tate stabbing her 44 times if the entire film has been as riveting as compelling as this scene it could have been a very disturbing masterpiece instead it's a more disturbing absolute piece of crap because what keeps you compelled to watching the screen is wondering how Tarantino is going to handle the slaughter in that house and guess what he doesn't once upon a time is a phrase that opened meaningless or sometimes meaningful fairy tales and that is obviously why Tarantino called this film once upon a time in Hollywood because he was trying to turn this slaughter into a fairy tale now I don't want to tell you how the movie ends but I got the very distinct impression if Tarantino had the opportunity he would also be telling us that the guys who were waiting in Dealey Plaza with loaded guns to blow the head off of President John Kennedy had themselves their own heads blown off prior to the time that the limo drives by carrying a smiling Jackie and Johnny who live happily ever after I have seen thousands of films from the time I was six years of age as a kid in Toronto I am a film lover and I've loved nearly 99% of all the spins that I have seen this is the only movie I have seen in my life where I absolutely despise and loathe the ending what it does it tries to deprive us of the horrors and the inhumanity and the depravity with which humans can treat other humans and the reason it made me so angry is because after years and years and years I am so tired of the lies imparted to us by our government about almost everything especially the political assassinations and the fake Wars I'm also tired of the years and years of the news media uninformed us and miss informing us about important truths and now we have a filmmaker who once upon a time could make a couple of brilliant movies but now makes this film that I find totally reprehensible save your money and save your disappointment good luck and the bright days are here my son

44 thoughts on “John Barbour reviews Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

  1. I had been waiting for this movie for the last year because I wanted to see what Tarantino was going to do with this really important year in everyone's opinion, 1969. I totally agree with your synopsis, the scene at the Spahn ranch was easily the highlight of the movie. I think in some way he was trying to be hopeful with how he changed the ending.. What if.? I also see your point of view on manipulation of history, though if you look at it from another perspective (we all know what happened in that house was pure evil and shaped many changes in the country at that time) it is interesting to think of how the USA would look today if the fairy tale were real. You have to admit, he created a very nicely believable Hollywood 1969.

  2. Agreed on all points. My uncle happened to enjoy the film and he chalks my younger age (37) up as to why I didn't care for it. And that is pure nonsense. All this film seems to offer is, "LOOK! It's 1969!" Who cares? Have people never seen a period piece before?

    The one scene with Tarantino's signature suspense ends up being completely pointless, just like, well really the entire film. The ending is a surprise only because it is completely fabricated. Well that's not very imaginative. Easily his worst film.

  3. Great to see this. Love your wiews. Also love hearing about the jfk assassination and Jim Garisson. Best wishes from norway

  4. Sorry, John, but you have redefined the term Crotchety Old Man. You end by telling people to save their money and avoid disappointment, as if you somehow know they'll all be disappointed, and that they'll all abhor the ending, just as you did. I've watched a few dozen reviews of OUATIH here, and while some were con, the great majority are pro. Also, as I write this, Rottentomatoes, IMDB, Metacritic etc. are all vastly positive, as well as are the public reviews on those sites. Fortunately, they weren't dissuaded by seeing your review first. The fact that you've been watching movies since you were a kid (we all have) doesn't put you into a position to decide for others whether or not to see a given movie, because you have determined for them it's not worth it. That's when you've stepped over the line.

  5. Are you kidding me dude?! This was a GREAT movie…..i have a ton of respect for you, John. You’re wrong here. Wrong.

  6. Tarantino’s attempt at revisiting history by feeding it through a 70’s revenge exploitation sieve is pure juvenilia masquerading as arthouse kitsch. He has no idea how to tell a story that embraces real human emotion and his patented dialogue now sounds trite and longwinded like being stuck on a long bus ride seated next to someone who is convinced of their own unique intellect and must disclose all of their pet theories on the most banal and commonplace peppered with pop culture references so you don’t mistake them for an academic. In short, he’s simply tiresome and aggravatingly unable to grow as an artist.

  7. You speak the truth John! I'm so glad to have someone like you Tell the TRUTH ABOUT HOLLYWOOD AND THE NEWS AND MAINSTREAM MEDIA! I quit movies and TV 8 years ago. Thank you sir for speaking truth and bringing light to this!

  8. John, I appreciate your outrage. I was nauseated when I heard that Tarantino was going to try to build a fictional story around the horrific murder of Sharon Tate. For those of us who lived through the dreadful revelation of what occurred, the aftermath of the emergence of Charles Manson and his band of bloody thirsty weirdos, and the circus trial that became the blueprint for so many show trials to come (Simpson), the revulsion was complete. I felt like I needed a spiritual steambath to clean the stink of the story out of my system in 1969, and the memory of it sears my heart.

    I wasn't going to go within 10 miles of this movie and I am glad you verified my suspicions that Tarantino would take a meat axe to an event that was a blight on our society and a shameful grief neither the victims, their families or any of us needed to endure. Tarantino has devolved into a tasteless purveyor of rancid stories and heartless acting. Is there any wonder audiences are staying away in droves from Hollywood?

  9. You got it right – hate to sound 'told ya so' but Tarantino is a misfit, a weirdo, a person with no sympa; his 'sucksesses' earlier were magnificent copies and seamless quilts from master film makers. How he got the casts? Probably because there was no redeeming value (except craft) and that is a ruling notion in our time. Thanks John. YOU are the best. One question out of context: Chris Fulton? Wazzup with him? Does he have the rest of the story?

  10. I have stopped seeing new Hollyweird movies for quite some time. I would prefer to burn my money than give it to those bastards. However, I would have liked to know exactly why you hated this movie. Now you have me curious. That is how I might end up watching a total piece of crap!!!!!

  11. I disagree John… Quinton stole the idea from Bob Newhart – the ending is a tribute to him.
    He simply sits up in bed with Uma Thurman reflects on his career…
    and says it was all a dream. Genius.
    I think its a great way to end his career

  12. You don't actually think a realistic manson film would be allowed in today's snowflake culture, do you? Especially when most of manson's "family" were rebellious "free-spirited" women? Why, that would be so anti-feminist that it just couldn't be real. 😉

  13. Keep doing film reviews! We used to like going to the movies but no more because of the crap coming out of Hollywood.

  14. Disagree. The violence at the end of the film was stomach churning as are all depictions of violence in a QT film. And that involved smashing someone’s face and flaming someone to death in a pool of water which makes the truly horrific crimes we did not see even more meaningful. The point is, the violence in films is bullshit compared to real violence and that fact stayed on my mind even stronger because QT did NOT show the horror of killing a pregnant woman with a knife. But, what do I know?

  15. How wonderful it would be if we could get truth before spending hard earned money and even harder earned spare time from someone that knows "Hollywood" inside-out. The names and faces may have changed, but what goes on behind closed doors remains the same. I would love to hear John's truth. I would love to know who owns Hollywood. I would love to know who REALLY owns Hollywood

  16. Thank you for saving me the time AND money, John. I took the money I would have thrown away on this movie and did something much more worthwhile…..I bought a book entitled "Your Mother's Not a Virgin". Smart choice !!

  17. I think the only real flaw in the film, is it doesn't work as well if you're not familiar with the Manson murders. Like, most everyone knows the name "Charles Manson," but not everyone knows the actual story behind the name.

  18. Honestly, until today when someone who saw the movie told me it has something to do with the Tate-LaBianca murders, I had no idea about the Manson angle. This person liked the movie, but I have a feeling my reaction will be more in line with John Barbour's review. If I'm hearing him right, it sounds as if Tarantino may have rewritten history in "Once Upon a Time…" the same way he does so cartoonishly at the end of "Inglorious Basterds", which I hated. As a huge "Pulp Fiction" fan, this is disappointing.

  19. Well  said  John! You know how the film director got his name? From Quinn Martin TV producer true! The HOLLYWOOD BASTARD! Takes a huge tragedy and guts it like  fish  at a print cost $100million pay attention to box office so far weak $  JOHN BARBOUR you also might be interested in little known PARKLAND CORONER REPORT 1965 (ON ALL which includes JFK, LEE OSWALD AND Jack Ruby just after he died in prison neato huh?) Maybe time for Oliver and Sean Stone movie?

  20. he's just another coward now paying homage to a time that only exists in his addled mind. Decaprio, etc are just mind controlled whores from birth. Bastards, Pulp Fiction, and Durango although a truly RACIST movie were, good. Kill Bill a catoon. Hateful an awful trip of abuse. Pulp excellent because it took you on a journey along an ever expanding universe and had a great sense of humor. T is now just another sellout.

  21. As I watched a few of the trailers for this film, I was at first, because of the two leads, was interested. But I could not understand why the tenor of the film seemed to be lighthearted when there was a reference to the Manson murders. I thought, were these two protagonists connected to the crime? At the time, I was living in California. I remember it well. I thought to myself, that this movie was an abhorrent portrayal of how our society has sunk to such a low that a filmmaker can think that he could make a movie so revolting in order to make a buck? Thank you, John, for confirming my suspicions!! You are a master of criticism both positive and negative.

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