Here's why not everyone will like this movie: it's not like all of Tarantino's other movies, and it's not like any modern movies either. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a melancholy, slow burning, comedic love letter to an age of Hollywood that we find ourselves disconnect from nowadays.
The point of this movie isn't to be just like Pulp Fiction and tell stories that have no meaning. In fact, I would argue that Tarantino wants each and every story to have a meaning. Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a faded action star struggling to hold onto his career and fame. Every scene he was in was enjoyable, as he internally argues with himself to be better than he is. He can't find work except for as a typecast villain, and turns down an offer to go overseas initially because he thinks it's too far a step down from his past career. Dalton's story was not as fun to me as his stunt double, Cliff Booth's (Brad Pitt), but I will get to that in a minute. Dalton's story, some will say, was boring, overdrawn, and pointless. I say it was the most important and interesting storyline in the movie. Rick is an alcoholic, and deals with a lot of anger towards himself, particularly in his trailer (you'll see what I mean), and the long scenes showing him act out his part as the villain in the western are extremely entertaining as DiCaprio does some brilliant work letting us see Dalton as an actor without losing touch with him by slipping into acting of his own. He finally decides to go overseas, but most of that time is spent in a montage. When he returns, he dons a new Italian wife and an entirely new fashion straight from Europe. He doesn't do much towards the end, except for burn a manson follower alive in his pool, and then he finally becomes friends with his neighbors. I'll also get to that when I talk about Sharon Tate. Rick is representative of Hollywood at the time of 1969, and unless you are familiar with film history, that will be lost on you. In 1969 movies like Easy Rider, Bonnie and Clyde, and The Graduate were changing the face of Cinema by eroding censorship codes and finally getting the studios to hand the reigns to directors, thus entering the age of auterism. Actors like Rick were becoming absolete in film for a number of reasons, but mainly that they hadn't had to search for work whilst under the studio system, they just signed a contract and found work immediately. Roman Polanski, his neighbor, was one of the directors that was now given a lot of free reign in this age, . Dalton's character expressed the frustration many probably felt at the time, and Tarantino built a character that was beautifully acted by DiCaprio.
Cliff Booth on the other hand, was the most Tarantino character in the movie. I think he'll be the fan favorite, because he requires no historical context or empathy to understand. He's a stunt double who lives much worse than his star, Dalton, and is a no-no sense badass with a muddled past. His scenes were incredibly fun, as Pitt brought a certain energy to each scene that glued you to the screen waiting for his next move. Particularly at the end, when Tex had him at gunpoint and he was tripping on acid. Obviously he had the situation under control, but we as the audience have no idea until he sicks the dog on them. Booth was a character you expect to see in a Tarantino movie. None of his storyline was used for what people will say is "pointless", mainly because he is the most involved with the Manson clan.
Interestingly, the Manson clan is hardly shown in the movie. Charles himself only shows up twice, and only says a few words. I actually like this choice, because it left a lingering thought that perhaps Manson was a danger at all times, and didn't play to the audience the way we thought it would. It wasn't a story about the Manson murders. Manson just happened to be going on at the time Dalton and Booth were having their struggles, and it intersected.
Which brings me to my last point, and that is of Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie). Her role, while a tad less utilized than I expected, was Central because the real life Tate was murdered by the Manson clan. If you go in as an audience member with that knowledge, you go the whole movie waiting for something to happen to her, and it never does. Tate herself was a happy, blooming actress who spent time with friends and danced (a lot). This carefree manner was underlying a want to be famous, as she tells people who she is and is clearly disappointed when they don't recognize her. Tate plays a role in this story of showing the era of actors now replacing Rick Dalton, and also showing special to Hollywood, the silver screen's allure. As this is essentially a long love letter to Hollywood, Tarantino pens what drew him to the screen through Tate.
With all of its references, obscure or in your face, there is a delicious amount to absorb, especially for cinefiles. Tarantino has the viewer to sit back, eat up the screen, and imagine we are right there with the characters in a wonderfully painted portrait of a Hollywood long gone. This movie will be misunderstood because of the expectations for the Manson murders, and because audiences nowadays expect action on every corner, which Tarantino's name can be attached to in some capacity. Without any crazy special effects to speak, simply a fantastic script and acting, I think many audience members will get bored or not understand why it's entertaining to others. I personally think it's one of Tarantino's best, if not his absolute best, and will stand the test of time for movie lovers everywhere. Agree or disagree, we all have to admit that Brad Pitt's dog was awesome.