Hollywood Fairytale Goes Dark!

Quentin Tarantino’s filmography includes eleven movies that he has written and directed. His plan is to only make one more two more and then move on to other pursuits leaving his directorial filmography complete. Those movies are Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill Volume One, Kill Bill Volume Two, Grind House Death Proof, Inglorious Bastards, Django Unchained, The Hateful Eight, and now Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Tarantino likes to make films that look at a genre of film and highlight great film makers. He plays homage to the greats while creating something original, which is just one of the reasons why he is so respected as a film maker. Yet to do this successfully you must still have characters people care about, or want to watch and a well developed story. Another score for Tarantino in Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Etc. His work is critically acclaimed and he deserved the awards he has won. I grew up loving, quoting and re-watching Reservoir dogs, Jackie Brown and Pulp Fiction. Inglorious Bastards, Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight are two of my favorite westerns. True Romance and Four Rooms, though not complete directing credits are writing credits and I love those movies too, so I have been looking forward to this fantasy twist of the Manson story of Hollywood for a while. How would Tarantino play it? What part would the Tate murders play in the story? What was his interest in the sixties?

Tarantino it turns out was interest in the friction between the two cultures that existed during the end of the sixties. The rising hippy culture and existing culture Hollywood. As always he was very aware of the zeitgeist of the times he was portraying and he was exploring the tension it created at the time and its affect on the put together, uptight culture that preceded it. Rick Dalton, played so beautifully by Leonardo DiCaprio is just one such aging actor of the sixties who is not on the hippie train. He is watching his world crumble and change as his flame is either extinguished or can go to ittaly and make spaghetti westerns to try and salvage his dying carrer (sound like anyone you know). While the film makes references to Steve McQueen going so far as to show you the Great Escape, Clint Eastwood kept poping up in my mind with Rawhide and then all of his westerns. Will Rick be able to adapt to the new world he is living in or will the “Fucking Hippies” get him? He is emotionally vulnerable, often stuttering, dim witted, and breaks down into tears several times.

Brad pit plays his long time friend, Cliff Booth, a man’s man and though slightly in touch with the changing times more aware of his surrounding as well. I am less aware of stunt men from the time, but there is a story to his character that reminded me of the actor Robert Wagner. He is of the times though often saying horrifically crass things like “Don’t cry in front of the Mexicans” when Dalton breaks down outside of a restaurant. But he is definitely more grounded.

The story is essentially a buddy flick about these two characters decide what they will do next with there lives and I wanted to know what would happen next. I cared! Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski are side characters. Margot Robbie does an excellent job, but she is unessential for most of the movie. And of course, as with all Tarantino movies, history is unimportant because this is a fairy tale and the ending is what he wants it to be. As with Inglorious Bastards where he killed Hitler, do not expect the evening on August 8, 1969 to go the way you expect.

As to the end of the film. The only other thing I will reveal, because I do not believe in revealing spoilers. I will warn you it is horrifically brutal. I am somewhat desensitized to violence. I watch a lot of violent stuff because of what I do and I have done some internships for school so many times film violence does not bother me. This did. At first I was laughing along with everyone else and then I cheered. And then I just sat there appalled. It is graphic and a little much. It’s not even that there is a lot of gore, it’s more the absolute brutality of it, and perhaps slightly the reaction of my audience mixed in. I’m not sure, but it disturbed me.

As to the rest of the movie, there are a few pacing issues. A bout half way through the movie I was ready for it to get moing a little faster. Pitt and DiCaprio are fantastic together, I will go see them in any other collaboration. The use of music was brilliant. Not just as foreshadowing cues like Mrs Robinson’s when Pitt Meets Pussycat, played by Margaret Qualley, but also “Out of Touch” as the airport arrival song but also the use of commercials on the radio and the fact that we got song snippets as they characters were driving instead of full songs, showing they were actually traveling!

Another brilliant scene worth seeing and one of my favorites is the Cliff, Lee fight scene. From the dialogue to the fight scene the entire thing was hilarious. DiCaprio’s break out scene was his meltdown in the trailer and his comeback lines with Luke Perry. He actually does such a good job the whole movie its hard to pick just one scene because as I write this I want to point out more but I don’t want to start giving away anything.

I would love to say I loved this movie, but it’s more I loved the performances in it. I was bored at times, their was once again FEET (WHY, JUST WHY, three times no less?), and a pit bull is used to attack and maul someone. As if the dogs don’t have enough PR problems. This is not a Tarantino great film. Its OK and does not have to be seen on the big screen at all. If you can’t wait to go see it I won’t discourage you, but really at an average of $9.00 a ticket, I should never have a desire to check my phone in the middle of a movie. I liked his last two more, but this is definitely above Kill Bill which I did not like.

Once Upon a Time In Hollywood (US Release Date 7/26/2019)
Writer, Director Quentin Tarantino
Cast Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie, Luke Perry, Timothy Olyphant, Austin Butler, Maya Hawke, Margret Qualley, Dakota Fanning
Trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EleMaP8EPAA

The Art of Making a Great Movie!

In the art of self defense we meet Casey who is scared and afraid all the time, but he is not a bad guy. He is a meek, timid nice guy you wouldn’t look at twice who is surrounded by asshole’s. His coworkers are wannabe alpha males constantly talking tough, especially about the boss, and putting down anyone they perceiveas weak. Casey one of only three decent people with lines in the movie the problem for Casey is that he is rejected by them and everyone else, thus is extremely lonely. He wants to make a change but just doesn’t know how and all the people around him are extreme jerks.

After an incident he finds his way to a dojo and wants to learn karate which usually has a positive influence in people’s lives. I myself have taken ninjutsu and I found it to be a great experience. Yes some people were too into it, like Casey at first, but the people in this dojo seen to be a little extra violent. To qoute a character “high levels of testosterone.” There’s just something off about the Sensei’s teaching’s as time goes on. He starts teaching Casey how to be a real man and things go off the rails.

Jesse Eisenberg’s performance as Casey is so compelling, you can feel his frustration, fear and growing confidence. Alessandro Nivola is so great as Sensei. Together they play so well against each other. Watching the scenes with Eisenberg and Nivola together were amazing. The color of Casey’s wardrobe was very well done too. He begins the movie wearing beiges and looking very plain and unassuming. As the movie moves on his wardrobe changes with his skill level, matching his belt. Whenever he is emasculated he is back in beige. Such a smart visual cue.

The Art of Self Defense is a lovely, dark, twisted comedy that will appeals to those who like original screenplays. I adored this money and found the ending to be truly hilarious the last fight scene was fabulous. I was so sad that I had to wait this long to see this movie as my theater took forever to show it. But it was worth watching. If you can’t see it in a theater, see it as soon as it comes out c on your streaming service. It is definitely worth supporting independent movies like this!

The Art of Self Defense (US Release Date 3/10/19)

Director Reiley Stearns

Writer Reiley Stearns

Cast Jesse Eisenberg, Alessandro Nivola, Imogen Poots, Steve Tereda

Trailer https://youtu.be/7Bms6Hba-3A

Stuber: A Buddy Cop Movie without a White Guy!

Ok guys, so let me tell you a little bit about my weekends. I usually see two to three movies, usually all in one day, for this blog. If I didn’t work I would see them Thursday or Friday the first showing I could, but unfortunately I am often stuck going Saturday. I don’t mind, this is a labor of love, an obsession really. But it is lovely when I get to actually enjoy the movie I see!

Stuber will never give down in history as a ground breaking, amazing movie. The script huge holes. Detective Vic, Dave Bautista’s character is a detective who could be considered legally blind without his glasses who is doggedly pursuing a drug dealer, Iko Uwais. He can’t drive because he got laser surgery to correct his eye sight so he ropes in an uber driver to help him catch a drug dealer? How does this make any sense. Even a loner on the force would have a friend he could call instead of endangering a civilian right. But who cares, because honestly this movie is hilarious and me and ALL of my fellow patrons were to busy laughing to care how crazy stupid the plot was.

Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani have amazing chemistry together. Bautista is a great straight man for Nanjiani’s brand of wit. On top of that they both nailed the physical humor. By the time the got to the fight in the sporting goods store I was loudly laughing and I have not done that in a theater in YEARS. Solid humor with just a sprinkling of sincerity. The joke at the end landed. Definitely worth seeing if for no other reason than to encourage the production companies to make more movies that work like this.

Less big budget tech more good old fashion humor and fun. Unlike the other movie I watched this weekend I did not feel the time I spent on the seat and enjoyed every minute of it.

Stuber (US Release Date 7/11/2019)

Director Michael Dowse

Writer Tripper Clancy

Cast Dave Bautista, Kumail Nanjiani, Natalie Morales, Iko Uwais, Mira Sorvino

Trailer https://youtu.be/i5l6a5RiR1E

Crawl: Florida Man’s Jaws

This will be a nice short review because let’s face it this was a nice short movie. There is very little to this movie so there is not to much to say. It centers on the story of a father and daughter trapped in a house inexplicably filled with alligators. The house was empty, but the neighborhood wasn’t so the premise is flimsy, but hey, suspension of disbelief people. So let’s go along for the ride and have fun right. Eh, maybe.

There are some good jump scares, some touching scenes, a few tense moments. None of the deaths are particularly gruesome. Bucking the recent movie trend, SPOILER, the dog might actually make it. Over all I felt like this movie just did not push it. At the end I kind of wanted the alligators to win. This was just a blah movie that I will forget about by the time I drive home.

Crawl (US Release Date 7/11/2019)

Director Alexander Aja

Writer Michael and Shawn Rasmussen

Cast Kaya Suadelsnio, Barry Peper, Ami Metcalf, Colin Mcfarlane, Anson Boon

Trailer https://youtu.be/H6MLJG0RdDE

Spiderman Far From Home: Third Times a Charm

What I love about the Marvel universe is that they have always know how to keep things light. While DC is dark, brooding and ultra violent. Marvel remembers to serve up its end of the world level violence with light hearted jokes and an ability to laugh at itself too. Spiderman Far From Home is no exception. Pre-credits we are introduced to Nick Fury, Agent Smulders, and Mysterio.

After the credits we are treated to a memorial of those who have fallen: Iron Man, Capain America. The Black Widow and Tony Stark. Done so well I thought they were seriously dedicating this movie to the characters they killed. But wait for it, it, there’s a reason. And it is good and funny!

This movie of course, continues one year after the end of Avengers Endgame. The return of the dead has been called the Blip creating it’s own unique set of story lines for the world to deal with. Peter Parker after going through so much in the last adventure just wants a vacation. Unfortunately, Mysterio needs his help defeating elemental monsters that are appearing in our world and trying to destroy it. There is of course a struggle of conscience, a plot twist, and the ultimate question of who will be the next Iron Man.

First off I love Zendaya’s MJ. She is Sassy and dark with out being stereotypical goth. She’s just smart and quirky. Their romance is done well without being overbearing.

Tom Holland does a fantastic job playing a Spiderman who isn’t afraid to be a hero, but is afraid to be the world’s hero. It is easy to make Spiderman a whiny bitch. That’s a common problem in many of the other iterations before this. These current movies do a great job, by one keeping him in highschool, two making him funny but not whinny, and three making him earnest but not obnoxious. It’s a hard balance between awkward teen and annoying wiseass no one really likes. We care about Peter and want him to make the right call. Even when he doesn’t, however; you get it and just want yo see him fix it. Cause you know he will.

When Mysterio finally uses his powers it is great. You found yourself thinking how can you possibly fight this. The final battle was worth watching! And the answer they come up with as to who will take Starks place is well done.

I think this movie is worth the theater trip. Fair warning, pee before it starts so you can stay for the two scenes in the credits.

Spiderman Far From Home (US release date 7/4/2019)

Director Jon Watts

Writer Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers

Cast Tom Holland, Marisa Tomei, Samuel L Jackson, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jon Favreau, Jacob Batalon, Zendaya

Trailer https://youtu.be/Nt9L1jCKGnE

Yesterday: Nearly a Perfect Hit!

In my home growing up, the Beatles was part of my musical education. My parents, being hippies, introduced me to the Beatles, the Steve Miller Band, and John Taylor. Not only did I have Sgt Pepper Lonelyhearts Club Band on record, but when it was rereleased in theaters we went to see the movie too. Every year I watched the Yellow Submarine on TV. They were two of my favorite musicals growing up, aside from Grease of course. So yeah, I was excited for this movie.

So what did I think? For starters, Himesh Patel is a standout. Not only does he do a fantastic job acting in the movie, his facial expressions are perfect, but his singing is great. He gets the emotional tone of each song spot on. While yesterday was poignant, Help Me was a cry of frustration and desperation. Then at the same time you get moments where you see he knows nothing about the songs except the words and melody. Why? He didn’t write them.

The twist in the movie are genuinely unexpected but fit the story line beautifully.

Ed Sheeran does a great job portraying himself. Unsurprisingly Kate McKinnon is awesome. I adored his parents played by Sanjeev Bashkar and Meera Syal.

The only part of the story I could have done without is the romance between Jack and Ellie. Are we really supposed to believe that this woman who has been his biggest fan and supporter since the 6th grade suddenly finds she cannot support him when he becomes famous? Of course this movie is written by a man because they cannot write a good role for a woman. I would have believed it if she had realised the songs weren’t his on her own, found his behavior suspicious, or just got fed up and said “I can’t keep waiting for you to love me so bye” and made a clean break. Instead their entire love story is that he must choose between success and her, even though until now she’s the one who has been pushing him to pursue his career. I liked the moral delimea about taking credit for the songs. But the love story needed major rewriting. I did not mind how it all ended up so over all I say finish reading and go get your tickets.

Yesterday (US release date 6/28/2019)

Director Danny Boyle

Writers Jack Barth. Richard Curtis

Cast Himesh Patel, Lily James, Mira Syal, Kate McKinnon, Ed Sheeran, Joe, Fry, Sanjeev Bhaskar

Trailer https://youtu.be/HY0GBmOxyYY