Well, this is becoming quite the challenge for me personally. I’ve now reached letter S having ploughed through 7 more movies. Revisiting La La Land for L was surprising in how much I enjoyed it and appreciated the story second time around, and would now rate it higher than my existing review. For M, Mission Impossible Fallout was an easy pick as I’d brought it on Blu-ray awhile back and not got around to watching it. Yes just as good if not better on second viewing.
Reaching N … I chose another Alfred Hitchcock classic, North By Northwest … an exciting man-in-the-wrong-place mystery thriller with Cary Grant that was a lot of fun. O was one my most disappointing movie of last year, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, and although I enjoyed it a little bit more, it overall didn’t work for me and I stand by my initial review.
I recently reviewed Parasite, my letter P and was overall impressed with it, despite a somewhat far-fetched ending. Q was the mostly reviled Bond outing Quantum of Solace, a movie I still think is ok but the story is weak and unengaging even though Daniel Craig is still good and some of the action is great. Then we came to R and I chose the Spanish found-footage horror [REC] a movie I really like even if subsequent viewings do dilute the experience for me.
Now will I get the remaining 8 movies watched by June 30th? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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