Song of the Day #4,086: ‘California Dreamin” – Jose Feliciano

Continuing my countdown of the films of Quentin Tarantino:

#3 – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

This is Tarantino’s newest film, and therefore the hardest to rank. I want to avoid ranking it too high due to recency bias, but on the flip side it suffers from not having sunk in as deeply over time as some of these other titles. A few years from now, after a few more viewings, I’ll probably know how I really feel.

One thing is for sure: Hollywood is one of Tarantino’s very best films, and it’s unlike anything else he’s done. More mature, more laid back, more wistful and melancholy. And it features wonderful performances by its three leads (Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie) that go deeper than the typical Tarantino snappiness.

I spent a lot of time in another post discussing the film’s ending, about which I have conflicting emotions, but a second viewing confirmed that — appropriate or not — it works like gangbusters.

That’s what my second viewing reinforced more than anything — this movie just straight-up works. It works as comedy, as nostalgia, as thriller, as bittersweet fairy tale. It’s a movie about aging, regret and second chances, but also a charming hangout movie. It’s nearly three hours long but feels like half that.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood lingers in the nicest way, inviting you back to revisit its pleasures. I’m sure I’ll do just that for years to come.

All the leaves are brown
And the sky is gray
I went for a walk
On a winter’s day
I’d be safe and warm
If I was in L.A

Oh, California Dreamin’
On such a winter’s day, hey

I went into a church
I stopped along the way
Well, I got down on my, on my, on my bended knees
And I began to pray
You know the preacher did succumb
He knows I’m going to stay
Yes he knows cause I told him so

Oh, California dreamin’
On such a winter’s day, yeah

Well baby, all the leaves, the leaves, the leaves are brown
And the sky is gray
Oh, I went for a walk
On a winter’s day
I, I, I’d be safe and warm
If I was, mira, if I was in L.A

Mmm, yeah, California dreamin’
On such a winter’s day, yeah
On such a winter’s day, yeah
On such a winter’s day, eh-hey
Dream on, California dreamin’, dream on
Oye mira yo quiero gozar en California
Porque yo me siento tambien
Y por eso yo te quiero porque tu me tratas tambien en California
Mira, no sienta mal a nena no me tratas asi
Y yo me quiero morir muchachita
Por favor, por favor, nada mas
Oye no me digas que no porque yo
Oye mulatta mira, baby, eh California dreamin’
It doesn’t matter how you say it
All I want to say is I love, I love
California, baby yeah
I really love, I really love, I really need a little bit of lovin yeah

California dreamin’ oh yeah, Calfornia dreamin’
California dreamin’…

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,086: ‘California Dreamin” – Jose Feliciano

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I agree that this is among Tarantino’s best films, though I’m not sure I agree that it feels like half of its nearly three hour run time.

    Meanwhile, though I’m not surprised by your high ranking of “Once Upon a Time…,” I am anticipatorally surprised that “Jackie Brown” will be in your top 2, ahead of “Pulp Fiction” and “Reservoir Dogs.” Looking forward to reading how that happened.

  2. Amy says:

    So here’s the thing. Of every film you’ve thus far discussed and the two that are remaining, this is the only one I have no ambivalence about carving out a few hours to watch it again right now. That is probably in large part because its fairy tale elements make it easier than the grim truths Tarantino explores in other films, but the fact that I still cry during this film for what could have been suggests that he has not sacrificed the emotional resonance that comes with exploring the darker side of humanity.

    As for the music… on the way back from seeing the film a second time, this time with Daniel, we both had to have this version of “California Dreamin’” which we had stayed through the end credits to identify. His choice to use this version epitomizes what I love about Tarantino, and, come to think of it, what he does so extraordinarily well with this film. He takes something with which much of his audience will be familiar – be it an historical event, a genre, a movie convention, a song – and then puts just enough spin on it to make it somehow startlingly original. It was as if I’d never truly heard/heard this song before listening to Feliciano’s interpretation of it. Similarly I’d never really thought about Sharon Tate’s LIFE until watching her dance around her room while packing or have a friendly and carefree conversation with a hitchhiker. The performance is Once Upon a Time are indelible, but it’s Tarantino’s vision of how to weave these characters’ lives into the same fabric that is simply brilliant.

    I am intrigued by this experiment you’ve done, as it’s allowing me to vicariously revisit Tarantino’s canon without actually having to live through some of these films again. Jackie Brown is the one I definitely do plan to rewatch, as I recall liking it very much but, other than still recalling how struck I was by Pam Grier’s powerful presence on the big screen, I can’t bring back any of the film’s details. It clearly warrants a rewatch.

    Leading into these two weeks, I would have had a top 5 (since I’ve not seen two of his films) that included the usual suspects: Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained, Kill Bill (though I’d likely lump them together as he has done) and today’s film, the undisputed champ, though, as you indicate, time passing is required to be certain it will remain there.

    We’ll discuss Inglorious soon enough, so I’ll await that post to talk about why it’s not currently in my top 5. Been very much enjoying these musings on movies, in addition to music. 👍🏼😁

  3. Peg says:

    I agree with everything said about this film. I love it and probably would give it first place!

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