Once Upon A Time In Hollywood


Viewed – 14 August 2019. Cinema

Quentin Tarantino is for the most part probably my favourite director and has had very few missteps in a career that’s spanned over twenty years and so far 9 movies (if you count Kill Bill 1&2 as one movie). So it was with some degree of excitement I sat down to see his latest. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Rick Dalton, a washed up Western actor reaching the end of his career and along with best friend and stunt-double Cliff (Brad Pitt), they attempt to continue working in an ever changing industry. Meanwhile, a religious cult threaten to shatter the glitz and glamour and bring the Hollywood dream and sixties with it, to an abrupt and bloody end.

With knowledge of the real life murders and that of Charles Manson’s cult I thought this was perfect material to get the Tarantino treatment. Imagine my surprise then to discover that that aspect barely fills up even a quarter of this long, drawn out movie’s 160 minute run time. Which would be excusable if what we get otherwise pulled me in at all. Here, Tarantino is at his most self-indulgent and selfishly nostalgic, revelling in a Hollywood I’m guessing many of us won’t even recognise, name dropping tv actors I’d never heard of and even doing a deserving to those I had (Bruce Lee is pretty much relegated to gag-fodder). Margot Robbie turns in an appealing, sexy but otherwise redundant performance as Sharon Tate, wife of director Roman Polanski and the most famous victim of the Manson Family murders. Even the dialogue lacks the usual flow and zip of a Tarantino script, that whilst natural sounding, in a movie that basically has little to no actual plot, it really needed to shine. Also, if your idea of entertainment is to watch Margot Robbie for longer than necessary watching herself in a movie theatre, or countless women show off their bare feet, Brad Pitt drive (and drive) around Los Angeles or feed his dog, and DiCaprio cough a lot … then more power to you. The ending will also divide audiences for sure yet I suppose I get what Tarantino was going for … even if it kind of pissed me off.

So, Tarantino’s apparent ‘love letter’ to late sixties Hollywood somehow does the unfathomable and makes the behind-the-scenes lifestyle of the movies actually look boring, Pitt & DiCaprio are fine, but even they look like they’re only here to do a friend a favour and collect a pay cheque. It’s real redeeming feature then is often impressive camera work, because shock – even the soundtrack gets a bit annoying. Definitely the director’s weakest effort since Death Proof – and at least that was more fun. Disappointing.

Verdict: 2 /5

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Allied


Viewed – 04 April 2017  online rental

The movie that’s probably more famous for ‘allegedly’ causing the break up of Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie’s marriage than it is for the story or movie itself.  This WWII set drama follows a U.S. soldier who after being thrown together with a French agent during a top secret mission, falls in love with said agent and subsequently marries her on return to London.  However a year into their marriage with a baby in tow, the soldier’s superiors inform him they’ve intercepted information that suggests his wife might be a Nazi spy.

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Directed by Robert Zemeckis (Forest Gump, Back to the Future) this was a fascinating and engrossing story let down a tad by (surprisingly) not all-that convincing chemistry between the principal leads and somewhat limited production values where several scenes look like they are on a set or in front of green-screen (the desert sequence especially).  Pitt, one of my favourites seems to have been phoning it in of late, with his less than stellar turn in the otherwise enjoyable ‘Fury’ and that follows on here.  I don’t know what is going on, perhaps it’s his at the time choppy personal life bleeding into production, but for the most part he looks bored.  Thankfully Marion Cotillard is much more convincing and considering the suspicion surrounding her character, pulls it off brilliantly both as a believable loving, sexy wife and perhaps something else.  The mystery does however get wrapped up very easily and what appeared on the surface to be a solid concept seems to run out of depth as it nears it’s conclusion.

For the most part though, as a fairly well observed drama, with several tense situations and a some surprising violence … this still managed to entertain.  It just could have been even better if Pitt had really gone for it.

Verdict:  3 /5

Fury


Viewed – 10 March 2015  Blu-ray

In the final days of World War II a grizzled Tank squad (headed by Brad Pitt) journey through Germany on a routine mission to hit the Nazis where it hurts … until disaster strikes.

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Considering the plethora of WWII movies that have been made, I still managed to find this an interesting take on the age old band-of-brothers concept with the inclusion of the tank battles and the trapped behind enemy lines plotting.  It wears it’s clichés with pride, with the usual characters like the rookie, the grizzled war vet and the psycho, but mostly failed to inject them with a personality that even Pitt couldn’t deliver in a fairly one-note turn.  Even the casting of Shia LaBeouf seemed fairly pointless.

However, I liked how the movie became about more than just Pitt doing his thing and the layered performance of a wet-behind-the-ears Norman (Logan Lerman) saved this from being another also-ran.  The movie has some good action and gets fairly gory as the bodies pile up, with the final act being as intense as it gets.  With classics like Saving Private Ryan to think about when watching this, it lacks the depth or the performances and struggles with pacing (that scene in the house … yawn), but overall, it was still pretty decent.

Verdict:  3.5 /5

Ten of the best


Top Ten lists are sort of something I enjoy doing, especially at the end of each year.  But Top Ten Favourite Movies of all time?  Harder.  I used to have a list a while back of which some of the movies below used to appear on.  Yet I gave up putting them in a particular order as they are so different some of them, comparing is impossible.  So find below Ten movies I think have had the greatest effect on me, either growing up, inspiring me (writing, movie tastes) or just hitting me on an emotional level.

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Fight Club

Made me a big fan of the movies of David Fincher and has arguably Edward Norton’s finest turn.  Style, effects work in a movie that didn’t need it, a great soundtrack, that twist and endlessly quotable.

Gran Torino

Emotional, heart-wrenching, funny, touching with one of Eastwood’s best performances.  The cast of newcomers surrounding him are also first-rate.

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21 Grams

Complex and twist-filled with three stunning performances (especially Naomi Watts) and a script that is quite literally genius.  Tough going but well worth the journey.

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Pulp Fiction

Possibly still my all time favourite movie.  The dialogue is amazing, funny, very cool and  believable.  The sound track is stuff of legend and performances across the board are superb.

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Leon

Natalie Portman’s debut.  Ice-cool, Gary Oldman’s looniest but greatest villain, Jean Reno as a lovable assassin and Luc Besson on stunning form.

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Annie Hall

All of Woody Allen’s best ideas, cleverest dialogue and touching observations rolled into one perfect movie.  Diane Keaton is excellent and Allen has never been funnier.

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Terminator 2: Judgement Day

James Cameron fully realising Terminator … stunning effects work, amazing action sequences, Arnie at his best, Linda Hamilton as the most bad-ass female role model since Ellen Ripley.  The ultimate sci-fi blockbuster.

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Blue Velvet

Weird but one of David Lynch’s most coherent works, with a great cast (Hopper is just plain nuts) and haunting music and a dream-like atmosphere.  Sexy and disturbing just how Lynch should be.

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Goodfellas

The finest gangster movie ever made, fast, packed with ideas, dialogue, people getting wacked, great dialogue and great performances throughout.  Martin Scorsese at his very best.

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The Shining

Stunningly filmed, creepy as hell, scary, with an amazing Jack Nicholson and a true directing auteur in the shape of the late Stanley Kubrick.  The best horror movie ever made?  Quite possibly.

The-Shining

Alphabet Movie Meme


I saw this idea initially over at The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger, although the idea originates from this blog:The Drama Llama and well I thought it was pretty cool.  Below you will see my choices and I heartily recommend you have a go yourselves!

Anticipating Movie Of 2014

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Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes

I was very impressed with how ROTPOTA turned out… really well done origin tale of the whole ‘apes mythology and made me anticipate what comes next immensely.  That anticipation has died down in the few years since, but now it’s finally due out this year … I can’t wait.

Book Adaption I’d Like To See

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Before I Go To Sleep

I didn’t realise it was coming out, and as I am not an avid reader, of the very few books I have read, last year I got around to Before I Go To Sleep … a wonderfully thrilling and gripping story about a woman with 24hr amnesia, and the mystery of those in her life, who can be trusted and who is telling the truth etc.  The movie has Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth in it, very much NOT how I saw it, but will be interesting to see how S J Watson’s text translates to the big screen.

Celebrity I’d Most Like To Meet

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Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

I tried and failed to read his autobiography last year (will I pick it up again?) but have always been an admirer, not just down to his movies, but also his political career.

 

Dream Director / Actor Pairing

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David Fincher & Ellen Page

One of the best directors around right now with one of the best young actresses right now.  ‘Nuff said.

Essential Classic Film

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Taxi Driver – one of the most thought-provoking and daring movies of the 70s with  a superb Robert DeNiro and a stunningly convincing Jodie Foster.  Love it.

Favourite Film Franchise

I actually don’t think I have a favourite right now…titles like Lord Of The Rings, Star Wars etc come to mind, but firstly is ‘Rings a franchise?  Oh and Star Wars has disappointed me too many times to be a favourite.

Genre I Watch The Most

Thriller – I was going to go for drama, but I think I find myself watching crime movies, action, something with a bit of danger, violence or mature themes in it a lot… gritty you might say, so yes thriller kind of covers all those.

Hidden Gem

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Hmm, by this I’m guessing something fairly obscure that not many have heard about?  I’ll go for Let The Right One In … yes marginally famous but believe me, most who don’t have an awareness of world cinema (and have only seen the dire remake) will not know about this one.  And they really should do … now!

Important Moment In My Film Life

First time I watched Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction.  I remember bringing it home from the rental store, on VHS and thinking I had something very special in my possession.  It remains my favourite movie of all time, endlessly watchable and has inspired my style of fiction writing and my love of great dialogue and the crime / gangster genre a whole.

Just Right Movie For A Rainy Day

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The Back To The Future Trilogy

I’ll go for these as they are easy watching, very easy to enjoy from the start, not overly deep, serious or complex and when not in the mood for anything else, superb fun. 

Kiddie Movie I Still Shamelessly Enjoy

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The Lion King

… a great story, beautiful hand-drawn animation and memorable songs!!

Location I’d Most Like To Visit

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The Shire … I mean, who wouldn’t?  Beautiful, and such lovely houses!

Marathon I First Attended

I haven’t ever done a movie marathon … to my recollection.  I don’t think I have the attention span.

Netflix Movie I Actually Watched

V/H/S – which I enjoyed a lot.  Strangely the last Netflix movie I saw too, if you don’t count documentaries.  I do intend to rectify this though as there are a few movies I plan on watching.

One Movie I Saw In Theatres More Than Once

I actually don’t think this has ever happened.

Preferred Place To Watch A New Movie

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Difficult one … I love the cinema, but technology being what it is now, I’d say the home get’s my vote.

 

 

Quote That Inspires Me

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This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time’ and pretty much most of Fight Club as well.

 

 

Remakes (Friend or Foe)

Neither

I don’t have a problem with remakes in theory, as long as they bring something new to an old idea, not just re-tread the same ground, often resulting in a poor imitation.  Which is often the case.

Snack I Enjoy Most

Anything chocolate based.

Twist That Boggled My Mind

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Hmm how to say this without a spoiler…so I wont… but pretty much the best goes to Twelve Monkeys.

Unapologetic Fanperson For

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Martin Scorsese … but who would apologise for that?  He’s amazing.

 

 

 

 

Very Excited For Award Show Season?

Mostly ‘meh’ … good movies rarely even get a nomination, let alone win, with some exceptions.  I’ll check out the winners and be happy if something I think is good walks away with something… but otherwise I’m not overly bothered.

Wish I’d Never Watched

Seed Of Chucky

How to kill a perfectly entertaining franchise … or at least I thought it had…until I heard of Curse Of Chucky.

XXX-Movie I Watched At A Really Young Age

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A Nightmare On Elm Street … scared the crap out of me, and I loved it!

Your Latest Movie Related Obsession

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Studio Ghibli

I love this style of animation, endless imagination, wonderful art and personality.  I haven’t yet seen a Ghibli movie I haven’t liked … and several I have loved.

ZZZ-catchers

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Anything with Harry Potter in the title … just does nothing for me and I am proud to say I have never watched even one of them.