When you reach the end of the road with a movie that’s been more than a brother and a little less than a wife, you both know there is only one thing left to do: Get to streaming it over and over again on the nearest available app. That’s about to be Starz in regards to Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, the ninth and allegedly penultimate film of the iconoclastic auteur’s career.
Fresh off winning two of 10 Oscar nominations, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood will makes its non-VOD streaming debut via the STARZ app, available for smart TVs, phones, tablets, and computers, on Wednesday, March 25. This is a full two days before its premiere on the Starz network on Friday, March 27. Once on the app, subscribers can bask in the silhouette of Leonardo DiCaprio/Rick Dalton’s Jake Cahill in all its 4K, black-and-white glory.
An unabashed love letter to the Hollywood era in which Tarantino grew up (or at least how he’d like to remember it), Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood is both a happily fizzy three hours of relaxing in 1969 Tinseltown, as well as a ruminative and even melancholic paean to times gone by—just as they go by for Tarantino and DiCaprio at the end of another decade. It stars DiCaprio as Dalton, a fading TV star who was once popular in the ‘50s for playing Jake Cahill on NBC’s Bounty Law, and Brad Pitt as his stuntman Cliff Booth. The pair have a friendship that really does transcend its employee/employer dynamic, “brothers,” or really any definition of “buddies” since the gentry class faded first in Europe and then, eventually, Hollywood.
It is that setting sun Tarantino obsesses over by setting his film in a year largely recognized as the death throes of the Hollywood studio system. Rick and Cliff are nostalgic for the days of Westerns being the dominant form of entertainment on film and TV, with Rick being particularly anxious of New Hollywood as embodied by a precious child co-star or the neighbors one house over: Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) and new director Roman Polanski. Sharon was only on the cusp of stardom in the summer of ’69 when tragedy struck in the form of the Manson Family, whose shadow has long obscured Sharon’s legacy and, some have argued, the good vibrations of late ‘60s Hollywood which appeared to die with Tate.
If you haven’t seen the movie though, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood is not a film concerned with horror or nightmares, but more a revelry about a lost world that aims to give Sharon her due while casting her as the glowing idol of her age, and seeks to cast Old and New Hollywood’s co-existence with counterculture in terms Tarantino is quite comfortable with: cowboys vs. hippies, good guys vs. bad.
So if you (sadly) missed it in theaters, now is a perfect time to get lost in its lax time machine charms, and if you’ve seen it, trust me it holds up. Despite controversies and familiar debates that accompany all Tarantino movies, this is one that lingers not only after the lights go up, but can stick with you eight months later, marking this at least in my mind as one of Tarantino’s greatest achievements as a filmmaker. It’s also, uncharacteristically, his sweetest and most optimistic.