Saturday, July 27, 2019

once upon a blog... in hollywood

So, I have now seen "Once Upon a Time... In Hollywood", Quentin Tarantino's 9th movie. His movies are somewhat events nowadays for many movie fans, of which I am no different. I've seen everything he's done at the theater, save for Reservoir Dogs (came out as an indie film, and I'm not even sure my podunk theaters in Enterprise, AL, even had this film) and Jackie Brown (More on this later). Everything else I've bought a ticket for, and for the last few, have treated his movies like must-see events.

The obvious question is, did I like the movie?  And the answer is... I have no clue. I really don't know. I might wake up tomorrow or sometime in October and decide this movie is brilliant, or decide this movie is just plain awful, but I don't know what I think just yet.

No matter what you think about the film, you have to give it to these
guys -- they are pretty fantastic in this.
Sometimes a movie does that to me and it's a negative... I think about it too much and I talk myself into not liking it.

Other times, like "The Proposal", it sticks with me for a few days and I end up loving it... yes, that Proposal, with Sandy B and Ryan Reynolds.  It currently sits at #151 on my Top 500 films ever.

And that's not a typo. I love that movie.

Really quick -- the movie focuses on Rick Dalton (Dicaprio), an aging Hollywood actor who was mighty popular in the 50s, but now in 1969 (when the movie is set), finds his parts dwindling and his relevance even smaller.  His best, and possibly only, friend is Cliff Booth (Pitt), who is his stunt double, driver, fixer upper and jack of all trades, though he carries his own baggage. Margot Robbie is Sharon Tate... for you older folk, yes, that Sharon Tate... who is living the Hollywood life as the star of the silver screen. Several stories intertwine until the all weave together, as you would expect from Tarantino.

Since I literally got home 40 minutes ago from the showing itself, I'll just not overthink it and do a little word vomit, giving you some random thoughts that I thought I was thinking while both watching the movie and after the film...

  • Okay. It's been an hour. Should something happen by now?
  • Leonardo DiCaprio is unbelievable here. Revenant, Schmevenant, this might be the best I've ever seen him on screen.  Truth be told, Michael Fassbender's performance in "Steve Jobs" should have won the Best Actor Oscar over Leo's win in 2015. but Leo should have won Best Actor for "The Departed" in 2006 (and Mark Wahlberg should have gotten Best Supporting too, but still)
  • Focus, d$, focus. It's too late for tangents.
  • Brad Pitt might be the most underappreciated actor working today. He is brilliant in this film and he somehow does it by doing almost the same schtick he did in "Inglorious Basterds", only he's talking 1969 Hollywood lingo, and not 1943 Killin Naht-zee lingo. You could argue that this is his film, not Leo's, and there's no doubt he is the lynchpin of this movie.
  • Margot Robbie isn't real. She cannot be. No one can look that perfect and not be CGI. 
  • Also of note, I found out later that Tarantino met with Sharon Tate's sister Debra and got her blessing for putting the Sharon Tate character in the movie. Robbie even wears some of Sharon's original jewelry.
  • I was promised Chuck Manson in the trailers. So I have questions.
  • Is it possible that a MacGuffin can come in the form of an entire plotline? 
  • This movie is gorgeous visually. The outfits, the cars, the scenery, the MUSIC.  It is almost too gritty to be beautiful, but that may add to it's outstanding look
  • I can totally see how a Tarantino fan would love this movie. I can also see how a Tarantino fan would hate this movie.
  • Though there are a few somewhat gristly death scenes, the violence is actually kept to a minimum.  It's not nearly as gory as some QT movies, and nothing approaches the Bear Jew taking a bat to a Nazi skull in Basterds
  • But there is lots and lots of language.  Less violence than many QT films, no sex, no nudity, but the F-bombs flow freely.
  • There is a hilarious mid-credit scene, so stick around for that... you can leave once that's done, but the credits are stylized and nearly over when the scene ends anyway
  • As the movie progressed, I can tell you that this film is definitely a slow burn for the first 90 minutes or so. Looking back, I can tell you when Dakota Fanning looks through that screen door, take your last pee break if needed because the film is about to take off. 
  • There are several "one scene and done" faces you will find familiar... Scoot McNairy, Martin "Karate Kid's Krease" Kove, Maya"Scoops Ahoy Robyn" Hawke, Michael Madsen, Zoe Bell (the Aussie chick from Death Proof), and Luke Perry, in his final film appearance.
Don't be fooled by her incredible good looks -- she's got
some real talent. Her "I, Tonya" performance is
wonderful and nearly flawless.
I'm honestly leaning towards "Yes, I liked it", but nowhere near "I loved this movie so much". I was eagerly anticipating it as the opening date approached, even thinking to myself "What if it's as good as Endgame? That's my favorite film of the year, but what if this is as good?"  I just knew that this would rival the top of the QT rankings for me, as it just seemed like my kind of film.

Honestly, I have no idea where to rank it amongst the 9 movies Tarantino has made... I know my list tops at "Pulp Fiction", followed by "Reservoir Dogs" and "Inglorious Basterds"

The next section, in 4th would be "Jackie Brown", which I saw for teh first time this year, and loved.  I loved the linear storytelling, and it was a different style for QT, likely because its the only previously published work he's ever adapted from -- its an Elmore Leonard novel, and I'm a fan of Elmore movie adaptations, notably "Get Shorty".

In 5th, "Kill Bill Vol 1".  After 5, we enter the territory where "Once Upon a Time" might fall. I'd probably put "Death Proof" in 6th, "The H8teful Eight" in 7th, "Kill Bill Vol 2" in 8th, and "Django Unchained" in 9th... but you can't read into that bottom of the list thing, because all of these are great films. I'm just not sure I'd sit and watch Hateful Eight, Kill Bill Vol 2, and Django again.

If you do the math, that means there are 10 films -- "Death Proof" only sort of counts as it's half of a double feature called "Grindhouse", which QT did with Robert Rodriguez.  They each directed one film, with Rodriguez' film called "Planet Terror" and honestly, its the better of the two.

So there you go. Did you see "Once Upon a Time... In Hollywood"?  If so, did you like it, and if you are a Tarantino fan, where does it fall in the listings for you?