“Once Upon a Time in … Hollywood” (Columbia)

Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio star in "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood." The Catholic News Service classification is O -- morally offensive. (CNS/Sony)

By Catholic News Service

Writer-director Quentin Tarantino uses two fictional characters — a screen star (Leonardo DiCaprio) who’s experiencing a career crisis and his stunt man and best pal (Brad Pitt) — to explore the milieu of real-life 1969 Tinseltown. Menace underlies the pitch-perfect evocation of the era as both one of infamous cult leader Charles Manson’s (Damon Herriman) followers (Margaret Qualley) and the group’s most famous future victim, actress Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie), cross paths with the duo.

Though diffuse and somewhat self-indulgent, the film ultimately achieves a powerful cumulative effect aesthetically. Yet, in line with other of the auteur’s offerings, it wallows, briefly but excessively, in brutal violence visited on easy-to-hate victims, appealing to viewers’ worst instincts.

Skewed values, a sequence of horrific, torturous mayhem, some other violence, drug use, frequent profanity, a few milder oaths, pervasive rough and crude language, explicit sexual references. The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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