A few words about…™ Once Upon a Time in Hollywood — in 4k UHD Blu-ray

As a 4k Blu-ray, Columbia's release is gorgeous, with rich deep blacks, great color, and no age related artifacts. And it's true 4k. 4 Stars

For those who may be unaware of Quentin Tarantino as a filmmaker, be advised that you’ll not be witnessing something that will be receiving the proprietary Dove label. And while there is a place for Hallmark films, it’s not one of those, either.

You should also be aware, going in, that any film with a title that begins with the words “Once Upon a Time…” may not be seeing a film based solely upon accurate historical events.

One of the things that I love about QT’s work, is that he tends to bend time, space and facts, and create from them something acutely wonderful and entertaining.

And so it is with his 9th film, not counting his non-directorial attachments, and extras, such as the 2005 CSI two-parter, which should be required viewing. You can find it here:

https://www.amazon.com/CSI-Investigation-Danger-Two-disc-Blu-ray/dp/B006CR2P7Q/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=CSI+grave+danger&qid=1576077106&sr=8-1

Have I mentioned that I love this film?

Everything about it.

The casting, cinematography, screenplay, production design, set decoration — everything.

It’s the closest one will get to Hollywood in 1969, without being there.

I’ll not go into plot, or storyline in any way, as I don’t want to spoil anything for the three people who may have somehow missed it theatrically.

As a 4k Blu-ray, Columbia’s release is gorgeous, with rich deep blacks, great color, and no age related artifacts. And it’s true 4k.

But there’s a small conundrum here.

Screening via projection, imho, the HDR affected the blacks and gray scale too much, while on an OLED, it appeared much closer to the theatrical experience in 4k. I seem to recall the theatrical being presented in Dolby Atmos, but I could be wrong. The disc is DTS-HD MA 7.1.

The new 4k is priced right, at $28 street, and has some wonderful extras.

For those too young to view an R rated film, please ask for parental permission before doing so. You might just end up wanting to be a filmmaker.

Image – 5

Audio – 5 (DTS-HD MA 7.1)

Pass / Fail – Pass

Very Highly Recommended

RAH

Published by

Robert Harris

editor,member

36 Comments

  1. Great review as always, I don’t watch CSI but QT directing and writing a 2 part episode might be worth checking out.

    As far as the film goes, I was immersed and loved every minute of it. I wasn’t around in ‘69, but I sure felt like I was there while watching this film, especially when riding in the Cadillac with the tunes on. Especially when “Hush” by Deep Purple was cranked up.

  2. I loved is film. And what a bitter sweet ending that was! I have a 4K Blu-ray player which I purchased in anticipation of my eventually buying a 4K tv. This player is connected to my 1080p tv. I’ve ordered the 4k edition of this film which also includes the blu ray. Will I get better results playing the 4K Blu-ray ? Or should I stick with the regular. Thanks.

  3. skylark68

    As far as the film goes, I was immersed and loved every minute of it. I wasn’t around in ‘69, but I sure felt like I was there while watching this film, especially when riding in the Cadillac with the tunes on. Especially when “Hush” by Deep Purple was cranked up.

    It even made a Neil Diamond song cool!

  4. alstein

    I loved is film. And what a bitter sweet ending that was! I have a 4K Blu-ray player which I purchased in anticipation of my eventually buying a 4K tv. This player is connected to my 1080p tv. I’ve ordered the 4k edition of this film which also includes the blu ray. Will I get better results playing the 4K Blu-ray ? Or should I stick with the regular. Thanks.

    Might be worth testing, and reporting your findings. If I were to guess, I’d go with the standard issue Blu, as the 4k might have a tendency toward dark.

  5. Robert Harris


    Have I mentioned that I love this film?

    Everything about it.

    Same here. I saw it five times in the theater.
    The HDR does seem a bit dark compared to what I saw on the big screen, but overall it still looks pretty great.

  6. Yeah, I'm one of "the three people…" and was debating on making this a release day/week purchase, which is unusual for me, especially for the 4K pricing, but think I'll go ahead and even run to the local BB to get it…

    Mostly just wanted confirmation of the 4K disc quality before pulling the trigger…

    Thanks, RAH! And thanks also for the CSI rec — will definitely check it out…

    _Man_

  7. Saw this theatrically and loved it. Tarantino, not unlike Scorsese, offers a cinematic treat that's both entertaining and gives you a bit of a cinema history lesson.

    Seems like a perfect storm for UHD between it being a Sony release, mostly shot anamorphic on 35mm, and lensed by Robert Richardson.

  8. By coincidence, I watched it on iTunes in 4K last night (via projection). I’m glad I had avoided all spoilers, because I was in for an entertaining ride and the destination was not at all what I anticipated! Loved it. Yes the HDR is on the darker side for this title. I don’t understand why some HDR titles look normal while others veer toward dark. I guess every HDR renderer has their own ideas about how it should be used.

  9. ManW_TheUncool

    Yeah, I'm one of "the three people…" and was debating on making this a release day/week purchase, which is unusual for me, especially for the 4K pricing, but think I'll go ahead and even run to the local BB to get it…

    Mostly just wanted confirmation of the 4K disc quality before pulling the trigger…

    Thanks, RAH! And thanks also for the CSI rec — will definitely check it out…

    _Man_

    Okay, I am the second of "the three people". So, who wants to admit to being the third one? 😉

    I love QT's work, but we just don't go to the movie theater anymore. I was going to await a price drop on this one and rent it from Amazon (have some digital credits), but instead took advantage of a $10 off code at Fandango Now to buy the 4K/HDR streaming version for $9.99. I hope to watch it tomorrow or Friday.

  10. I went with the Collector's Edition (4K, Blu-Ray, Digital Copy, Mad Magazine parody, Italian movie poster, vinyl 45) and I haven't watched it yet, but I laughed out loud when I opened it up and saw what was included, in its own section of the packaging, to go with the 45. Everyone I showed it to laughed out loud too. Delightful!

  11. I watched the 4K Blu-ray yesterday via Panasonic UB9000 player and Sony XBR940E (LCD). I never felt the image was too dark.

    Fabulous film! 5 out of 5 stars. For me, it's QT's best film so far. It displaced my previous favorite, 'Inglorious Basterds', which now sits at #2.

    Mark

  12. Robert Harris

    9th film

    10th film:
    1. Reservoir Dogs
    2. Pulp Fiction
    3. Jackie Brown
    4. Kill Bill Vol 1
    5. Kill Bill Vol 2
    6. Death Proof
    7. Inglorious Basterds
    8. Django Unchained
    9. The Hateful Eight
    10. Once Upon A Time

    Don’t fall for his silly numbering reality denying matrix. Kill Bill was released as two films, is only available for purchase as two films, came out in separate calendar years and carries separate copyrights. There is no objective measure by which it can be considered one film. That it began life as one screenplay doesn’t change the fact that that one screenplay was made into two movies.

  13. Josh Steinberg

    10th film:
    1. Reservoir Dogs
    2. Pulp Fiction
    3. Jackie Brown
    4. Kill Bill Vol 1
    5. Kill Bill Vol 2
    6. Death Proof
    7. Inglorious Basterds
    8. Django Unchained
    9. The Hateful Eight
    10. Once Upon A Time

    Don’t fall for his silly numbering reality denying matrix. Kill Bill was released as two films, is only available for purchase as two films, came out in separate calendar years and carries separate copyrights. There is no objective measure by which it can be considered one film. That it began life as one screenplay doesn’t change the fact that that one screenplay was made into two movies.

    Don't die on that hill, Josh 🙂

  14. Scott Merryfield

    Okay, I am the second of "the three people". So, who wants to admit to being the third one? 😉

    That would be me.

    Not that I didn't want to see it. My wife (she would be the 4th) and I just get so little time to see any movie that our 10-year-old can't see too.

  15. I saw it in 70mm at the Dome – nothing looks very good there, unfortunately. I enjoyed it, thought it went on too long, and was occasionally taken out of the 1969 by mistakes in the art direction, which I understand were probably Tarantino just reliving what HE liked in the 1970s and they do go by fast, but I know Hollywood to well to not be annoyed by having the Pussycat Theater there in 1969, and Peaches there in 1969, and a few other things of that nature. His movie to do with what he likes and of course most justify it by saying it's called Once Upon a Time, but…

    I have the disc here and will watch it. I've had a DGA screener for two weeks but am glad I waited until the Blu came.

  16. I saw it at the downtown LA Alamo Drafthouse in 35mm, where they’re (from their website) “obsessed with making sure that each film looks and sounds the best it possibly can”. With loud cue beeps at every reel change, print dirt everywhere, and two vertical scratches running the entire length of one reel. Film is dead. Long live HDR digital projection!

  17. I would be the sixth person who hasn't seen it. Sorry, my wife and I hardly ever go to the movies. But, I have seen all of Tarantino's films on Blu-ray and will be getting this one soon.

    When I first saw the trailer with the scene of Krakatoa East of Java playing at the Cinerama Dome, I wondered where did they get that picture from? Later I found out they staged it for the movie.

  18. I haven't seen it, & it's really the only film I wanted to see at the cinema this year, but I never got around to it (I've totally gotten out of the habit of going to the cinema). I have the Blu-ray, but as it's going to be a Christmas present to me, I'm handing it to a family member & won't view it 'till after the holidays (I find it's better to buy my own Christmas presents these days, no surprises, but I do get what I really want).

  19. I got the blu-ray for this so finally got to see it and enjoyed it thoroughly (autoimmune mobility issues are cutting off my theatrical visits). It's very episodic and a bit rambling before it settles down into a more straightforward narrative, but what Tarantino movie isn't?

    I loved the recreations of 1969 Hollywood Blvd. and Westwood, though I wouldn't see those locations in person for another 7 years. My best friend had a role in a film that played at the Bruin back in the day and we went to a matinee there, so that scene was so vividly memorable and relate-able. But here's Tarantino with the women feet fetish again; both of Robbie with her dirty feet up at the theater and Qualley with her feet pressed into the Caddy's windshield. We get it.

    I didn't at all mind the fictional ending; after all by it's title it declares you're in for a fairy tale. And this satisfies a visceral or cathartic need in the same way Inglorious Basterds did with Hitler. Altamonte should have had a happy ending, as well to end the decade on a more positive note than what we were left. Without giving anything away, I assumed Rick was going to end up in the next Roman Polanski film that would play during the credits. That's my coda.

  20. Hollywoodaholic

    But here's Tarantino with the women feet fetish again; both of Robbie with her dirty feet up at the theater and Qualley with her feet pressed into the Caddy's windshield. We get it.

    Those are just the most overt examples because he put feet in this movie in a comedic amount. There's Dakota Fanning's feet and all the feet of the Manson girls hanging out with her. There's shots of DICaprio and PItt's shoes. Obviously, QT loves feet but I think (hope) he was also semi having fun with just putting them all over in this one.

  21. First viewing on Blu-Ray a few days ago. Just don't make it out to the theaters much these days. Anyway…

    Yeah, I think that Tarantino is aware of his reputation concerning feet and was having a bit of fun both indulging his interest and perhaps a bit of self-parody.

    Great, rambling story that does a fine job of drenching itself in pop culture. I loved just about everything about the feature, with maybe one or two things to nit-pick. The leads all turned in strong performances. This is probably one of my top three Brad Pitt performances, although I do realize the film is still all 'shiny and new' to me, so we will see how it holds up over time. One thing about Tarantino's films, for me, is that they hold up remarkably well and my first inclination is to think the same will apply to this film. At least partly because of the time in which it is featured.

    In terms of the other actors, really solid work by DiCaprio. (I've read that Tarantino was influenced by William Shatner while conceiving of the character of Rick Dalton. I have no idea if that is true, but there might be a bit of Shatner in the characterization. ?) DiCaprio does a great job of recreating a television star from that period in terms of attitude, delivery of his lines, etc.

    Margot Robbie is someone who I haven't followed that closely, but I was really pleased with her characterization. A review of the film (can't recall which one) used the term 'sunny' to describe her scenes and presence in the film and I think that is very apt. Her character definitely brightened the film and stood in contrast to some of the darker elements of the feature. Nice work by her as well. I had to laugh at the transition from the exterior shot of the Pan Am jet to her on the plane – since she was one of the co-stars of the series Pan Am which played on ABC around 8 years ago. She was one of the stewardesses on that show, and it was the first time I saw her on any screen.

    One other actor of note, for me, was Julia Butters who played Trudi Fraser. She was featured prominently with Leonardo DiCaprio during the ad campaign for the film and I can see why that was the case. Maybe I'm judging her on a curve due to her age, but man – I thought she was just terrific. Particularly in her last scene with DiCaprio as the hostage being held by DiCaprio playing the 'heavy' on Lancer.

    I enjoyed almost all of the smaller cameo roles in the feature with the exception of one character. I like Damian Lewis quite a bit, but I did not buy him as Steve McQueen for one second. I think McQueen is such an iconic individual that Tarantino's decision to include him was a mistake. Probably my biggest nit-pick of the feature.

    Incredible soundtrack, with my only complaint being that some of the song segments were entirely too brief. (Yeah, I know that isn't the only way to experience these works. 🙂 )

    I think the film will reward multiple viewings due to the amount of pop culture to observe and the strength of the production design, acting, etc. Really enjoyed the use of the 'Playboy' typography to introduce the mansion. Just nice attention to detail. Also the use of the concession stand music at the Van Nuys drive in – music that we heard on Grindhouse and maybe elsewhere. Lots and lots of small details to observe that reward the attentive viewer.

    Hard for me to rank this amongst Tarantino's other works this early, but my first inclination is to put it in the top three or maybe four.

    Enjoyed seeing the principle of Chekov's Gun at work (sorta) in this feature. If you introduce a flame thrower in act one… 🙂

    I'll probably be watching this again this week with a buddy who hasn't seen the film yet.

    – Walter.

  22. TravisR

    Those are just the most overt examples because he put feet in this movie in a comedic amount. There's Dakota Fanning's feet and all the feet of the Manson girls hanging out with her. There's shots of DICaprio and PItt's shoes. Obviously, QT loves feet but I think (hope) he was also semi having fun with just putting them all over in this one.

    I have to agree on this one. It seemed like he was parodying himself and his foot shots with this.

  23. Tom McA

    I saw it at the downtown LA Alamo Drafthouse in 35mm, where they're (from their website) "obsessed with making sure that each film looks and sounds the best it possibly can". With loud cue beeps at every reel change, print dirt everywhere, and two vertical scratches running the entire length of one reel. Film is dead. Long live HDR digital projection!

    I agree. I knew films was dead when I saw "The Master" in 70mm at the Ziegfeld in NYC and there was dirt end to end, the image didn't look that great and the sound quality was mediocre.

    And today there's the case of 70mm releases made from 2K digital intermediates, which IMO, makes the 70mm superfluous and unnecessary.

    While "Once…" was supposedly released in Dolby Vision, it didn't play at a Dolby Vision theatre in NYC. I did see it at an AMC Prime theatre where the sound would have been Dolby Atmos, but I'm not sure if I noticed the audio difference. There were supposedly 5 70mm prints (Arclight Hollywood, Alamo New Mission, Music Box Chicago, Village East NYC and Cineplex Varsity Toronto) as well as 18 35mm prints.

  24. Walter Kittel

    Enjoyed seeing the principle of Chekov's Gun at work (sorta) in this feature. If you introduce a flame thrower in act one… 🙂
    – Walter.

    To me, the Chekov's Gun in this film was Cliff signalling his pit bull when he could leave the couch and chow down: THAT was so specific I knew it would play later, just didn't know he be 'chowing down' on a Manson member.

  25. Walter Kittel

    Hard for me to rank this amongst Tarantino's other works this early, but my first inclination is to put it in the top three or maybe four.

    I think it is Tarantino's best work. I love his other films as well but they don't even come close to this. I doubt his final film will be as satisfying either. Come to think of it, this probably should have been his final film.

  26. zoetmb

    I agree. I knew films was dead when I saw "The Master" in 70mm at the Ziegfeld in NYC and there was dirt end to end, the image didn't look that great and the sound quality was mediocre.

    And today there's the case of 70mm releases made from 2K digital intermediates, which IMO, makes the 70mm superfluous and unnecessary.

    While "Once…" was supposedly released in Dolby Vision, it didn't play at a Dolby Vision theatre in NYC. I did see it at an AMC Prime theatre where the sound would have been Dolby Atmos, but I'm not sure if I noticed the audio difference. There were supposedly 5 70mm prints (Arclight Hollywood, Alamo New Mission, Music Box Chicago, Village East NYC and Cineplex Varsity Toronto) as well as 18 35mm prints.

    I saw it in 70mm in Toronto and it looked good, but it does seem kind of pointless to release prints made from a DI. Even stranger is something like The Joker, which also played here in 70mm, but was shot digitally.

  27. My job (truck driver) took me right past my post office yesterday, so I partially blocked the road and parked the tractor trailer right next to the front door of the post office so I could get the UHD of this film (along with other goodies) from my P.O. box. This must have looked strange to the town folk (600 residents), but I just had to make sure Amazon delivered the film 😛

  28. Second viewing with a friend yesterday (who loved the film BTW). I can't say that I picked up much in the second viewing. There was some repetition of lines such as Pitt's "I try." at the beginning of the film and while in the ambulance that I noticed this time.

    Incredibly enjoyable during the second viewing. I think my friend was more impressed with DiCaprio's acting vs. Pitt. His point being that DiCaprio had to essentially tone down his acting abilities for the role of Rick Dalton. I didn't consider this much during my initial viewing, but I believe his observation is correct. (I have posted about 'deliberately toning down acting abilities' before and tend to think that it is one of the more difficult tasks an actor can undertake, particularly in terms of finding a 'spot' and staying there across the course of a feature.)

    – Walter.

Leave a Reply