Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood Review

Django Unchained, Inglorious Bastards, Kill Bill and Pulp Fiction are among my favourite films of all time. They are all written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, and that made me very excited to sit down and watch Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. A Tarantino film set in the late 60s Hollywood with Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie? Sign me up. 

The film is an alternate reality version of the Sharon Tate/Manson Family tragedy, and it focuses on DiCaprio’s Rick Dalton, an actor whose career is slowly dying, and his stuntman body double Cliff Booth. Brad Pitt as Booth is a stark reminder that all men are not created equal. This man is in his 50s and looks absolutely stunning. There seems to be a flock of 50-something humans around now who look absolutely stunning, including J-Lo at the Superbowl last night. So glad that Kansas City won after Arsenal let me down earlier in the day.

Back to the film, DiCaprio and Pitt play off each other well, and I genuinely bought their friendship even if Cliff seems to be making most of the effort. He is employed by DiCaprio as a Driver/Handyman and you see his own life is pretty simple, and he has a dog, which makes him 100% more lovable. Pitt plays the role brilliantly and is magnetic on screen, stealing the show from the other talents in the film. I have to say he deserves all the praise and accolades he is being nominated for and awarded.

DiCaprio has moments of genius, but never quite matches Pitt’s performance, almost feeling a little like a caricature of a 60s actor at times. I think that’s sort of the idea, but it didn’t quite sit right with me for some reason even though I did enjoy his performance. He has arguably the biggest laugh in the film’s final act, and he also delivers a big emotional moment earlier in the film when his character is acting. He acts as an actor acting as a cowboy, but there is a moment in that scene where you actually feel like there is something else there and you find yourself feeling sorry for him in an odd way.

Margot Robbie plays the role of Sharon Tate, and in this film while she is great as always, she is completely unnecessary. I am taking nothing away from her performance, she’s great and stunning to look at and everything else, but I could not understand why this film needed Sharon Tate and the Manson murders in it. It could have just been a bunch of mad people trying to get at Rick and Cliff, without Sharon Tate’s involvement in the film at all.

The other issue with her role, and the role of women in general in this film, is that the camera spends most of the time on her legs and feet. I think Margot Robbie is possibly the most attractive woman on earth, but I found myself in shock at the levels of gratuitously long shots on her legs and feet. Margaret Qualley plays another girl, one of the Manson family, and once again there are egregious shots of her legs and feet.

It’s a common feature in Tarantino’s films to have a shot of feet, he likes feet, it’s his thing, whatever. But to me it signified this film’s biggest issue. Everything about this film is self-indulgent. Tarantino is one of my favourite directors, but to me this just felt too much. The first two hours are a slow, frankly dull series of events with a few highlights, but at 2 hours and 42 minutes, someone should have been editing this down to a comfortable 2 hours and 15. Off the top of my head there is no reason for Margot Robbie’s character, and there is a ridiculous scene with Bruce Lee, both of which can be cut.

That Bruce Lee scene is a 5-minute-long set up for a joke. It’s funny, its entertaining, but it’s completely unrelated to the story, it does nothing for it and I don’t understand why it’s there. Which is kind of where I land on this film, and that is something that really hurts to write. There is just too much of this movie that I found myself questioning why I was watching? Where was it going?

For the first three quarters of its run time, this film sits in the departure lounge. Eventually we jump into a jet and fly off, but it comes a little bit too late. The last 40 minutes are the kind of mad, frenetic incredible entertainment I watch a Tarantino film for, but when the price is 2 hours of standing still, it just was not worth the wait.

This film is a technical masterpiece, the production design, the sets, the acting, even the direction is fantastic. There is just no story being told here, nothing to pull on your emotions or give you anything to think about, it will make you laugh at times, and there are some really good characters in there, but this is a rare disappointment for me from Tarantino.

Good: The acting, the direction, the production design, the technical elements are great, and the main characters are fun, except for Margot.

Bad: Lack of an engaging story means it is 2 hours of characters talking about their past success, and then something entertaining happens.

6/10 – Technically great, Actually Boring.

 

 

My Most Anticipated Movies 2019

I don’t know if everyone feels this, but one of the things I love the most about movies is the anticipation. Wondering about what surprises might happen, which characters I’m going to love or hate, and just whether or not any movie is going to be good or bad for me. Of course I am excited for the likes of Avengers Endgame and Star Wars Episode IX, but so is everyone else. With that in mind, here are a few of the films I am most excited to see in 2019 that aren’t huge blockbusters. 

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – 9th August (UK)

Boasting arguably the most talented cast in history with Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt Margot Robbie, Al Pacino and Kurt Russell, it is none of those names that really make me want to see this film. The name that does that, is Quentin Tarantino. I love every movie that I have seen of his (there are a few I haven’t watched) and a late 60s hollywood setting matched with all of Tarantino’s style and sensibilities sounds like a match made in heaven.

His particular brand of dialogue and the creative characters he puts into his films in the hands of such an incredibly talented cast just add to the anticipation for me. I know barely anything about this film beyond what I have put in this post and it is still easily one of my most anticipated films of the year. Releasing at the height of the blockbuster season, I really hope this gem isn’t buried by the superhero films out around then.

Joker – 4th October (US, UK Unconfirmed)

If you know me well, you will already know why this film is so high on my list. The Joker is my favourite fictional character across all mediums, so a movie based on him with a talent like Joaquin Phoenix in the role is tantalising. Early set photos show Phoenix looking suitably creepy as the maniacal villain, looking like a mix of the classic Caesar Romero look blended with Heath Ledger’s iconic turn in the role.

The Hangover director Todd Phillips is in charge of things, and that is my main concern with the film. None of his films really wow me, but none of them are terrible, he’s a very middle of the road director for a project i really want to see succeed. If he can take a few pointers from Martin Scorsese, who is on as a Producer for this film, i really think this could be something special.

The Lion King – 19th July (UK) 

Now this is a very interesting film to me. The animated classic from the 90s is my favourite Disney film, I watched it 100s of times as a kid, and it was a film I hoped would not be made before I saw the Jungle Book remake. However, in a post Jungle Book world, and with the astounding cast of voices on board under the same director (Jon Favreau), I am now all in to see this film. The special effects are brilliant, that goes without saying, but what will make or break The Lion King for me is the characters being as lovable and memorable as they was in 1994.

I never had this attachment to the Jungle Book, so this is new ground for me. I am going into a film hoping it is exactly the same as one I have seen before, but with a new lick of paint and some shiny new accessories. Whatever the end product is like, I am sure me and my generation will be pushing small kids out the way on opening day to sing along to Hakuna Matata in a theatre together come July. If it’s a success, we will be back in for the next showing.

Rocketman – 21 June (UK) 

In 2018, Bohemian Rhapsody gave Queen fans (i.e. Everyone) a chance to relive the past with Freddie Mercury leading Queen through their songs, whilst giving a glimpse behind the curtain at the life the legendary frontman led. In 2019, Rocketman aims to deliver the same experience, but with Elton John. His career spans several decades and his music traverses multiple Genres just like Queen, and he too has a story not everyone knows about. I am in that section of people, so I’m fascinated to learn about the man behind the music.

Dexter Fletcher is directing, whose work I have never seen, but I heard good things about Eddie the Eagle, hopefully this gives him the step up he needs to reach the next level as a director. Kingsman lead man Taron Egerton takes on the role of Elton John, and I really hope he nails this and maybe even generates himself some award buzz.

There are lots more of course, with Disney alone boasting Toy Story 4, Dumbo, Aladdin, Captain Marvel, Spiderman Far from Home and Frozen 2 on top of Star Wars and Avengers, it promises to be a huge year in cinema. Google 2019 films to see a lot of the films coming our way in the next 12 months, and there are certainly some we haven’t even heard of yet. The blog will be more active than ever this year so thank you for reading and please share if you think anyone you know will want to waste their time reading this! Til next time 🙂