Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood (2019) Review

Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood (2019)

Directed & Written by Quentin Tarantino

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Emile Hirsch, Margaret Qualley, Timothy Olyphant, Austin Butler, Dakota Fanning, Bruce Dern, Al Pacino

Narrated by Kurt Russell

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film is set in 1969 Los Angeles, where an aging television actor and his stunt double and longtime friend navigate the changing Hollywood film industry.

My Opinion:

I never got around to reviewing this as I saw it a few weeks ago while on vacation in America. It’s a very good film. Yes, it’s probably one of Tarantino’s best films overall. I can’t say I loved it, though. In fact, I was a tiny bit bored and very much felt its 2 hour and 41 minute running time. But I’ll be honest: I was a little bit on edge the entire time, which probably didn’t help my enjoyment.

It was great being back in America for the first time in over a decade. I was in a super comfy reclining seat, which seems to be more of a “standard” thing than in the U.K., and I was thoroughly enjoying the superior (and, holy shit, one free refillable!) American popcorn. However, the main things running through my mind for almost three hours were “I wonder how many people in here have guns on them” and “There will be more guns in this showing than in other movies since we’re watching a violent Tarantino film” and “I’m the closest one to the door so very likely to be the first one shot if someone comes in and starts shooting“. Is this what daily life is like for everyone living in America now?

Don’t worry – I am NOT about to get into any sort of political discussion. That’s not me. I just want to joke around & chat with people on my blog about my nerdy love of movies. It just made me long for a more simple time as I do have some great memories of growing up in America and will always see it as my home. Which brings me back to the actual topic: I did appreciate Tarantino’s obvious love for the era of Hollywood depicted in this film. The nostalgia he feels for it really does show through and I could relate to that feeling as I sat there, in the country I spent the first half of my life in, feeling nostalgic about how things used to be and knowing they’ll never be that way again. Also, who wouldn’t like to rewrite some of their own personal history, right? I’d like to write some happier endings to a few things from my past.

I think this may be one of my reviews where I decide by the end of the review that I liked the movie more than I realized… This is why I keep this blog going even though I don’t think anyone reads it anymore: I’m sometimes able to sort my thoughts out on something as I write about it. Yes, I think Tarantino did a good job evoking the mood of that late sixties going into early seventies movie star & movie making world. As a lover of film, I always enjoy movies about filmmaking & that lifestyle. And what I was afraid would be the “central event” of the film but thankfully wasn’t (I won’t use the person’s or the “family’s” name), I guess maybe to Tarantino that event symbolized the loss of innocence and a more simple time in not only the types of movies being made but also in what it was like to live in America. So I’m starting to understand his “rewriting of history” in some films. It’s fun to think that, if we could erase certain events from history, maybe the world would be a different & better place. That’s the whole point of movies for me personally. I like the escapism and Tarantino clearly does too. His escapism just involves waaaaaaaaaay more violence than mine would!!

Okay, I’m now deciding that I liked this movie more than I realized. Although I was clearly a bit distracted while watching it, my experience was probably quite unique since I was in the position to be feeling the same sense of personal nostalgia that Tarantino was trying to convey in this film about a time he clearly misses as well. My main issue with the film is that the overall story is weak. The dialogue also isn’t as strong as in Tarantino’s other films in order to make up for the lack of story and the movie seriously drags in places, especially at the beginning (I kind of forgot that Al Pacino was even in this – I had a very hard time getting into the movie at first but I was busy scanning the audience for guns).

However, I think my old Brad Pitt crush has been renewed. Pitt is brilliant in this and the true star of the film. Don’t get me wrong – Leonardo DiCaprio & Margot Robbie were also fantastic. DiCaprio gives his usual best and has to do more serious “acting” than Pitt but we’ve seen Leo do this sort of role so often now. Leo is one of the finest actors of our time, yes, but Pitt has the true charisma in this film. He embodies the old school “Hollywood star” vibe from the era that Tarantino is portraying, which is fun as he’s just the stunt double to Leo’s fading movie star character.

As for Margot Robbie, she’s thoroughly charming as Sharon Tate and, like Pitt, also very much has that old school “Hollywood star” vibe. It’s a fairly small role, however, which I think was the right move for this film despite people moaning about the “female role” being too small. What happened to Tate and the others was horrible and tragic and, thank god, is not the focus of this film. That story is a backdrop and not glorified or dwelled upon, which is why I think her scenes were kept more simple and less likely to be disrespectful in any way. Unlike the Bruce Lee scene, unfortunately – I can see why his portrayal upset his family and fans although I can also understand that this is an “alternate history” thing and I don’t think Tarantino meant to cause offense with that bit. Enough with women’s bare feet, though, Tarantino!! We get it. You like feet! Most people don’t. We don’t want to see feet. Please stop with the feet.

Okay, I’ve rambled on enough considering that I didn’t even know how I felt about this movie at first. I loved its mood and its setting and absolutely loved Brad Pitt. I enjoyed DiCaprio & Robbie. I hated the “family” (but I suppose that’s the point – I just could’ve done with less time being spent on them). I disliked the bare feet. The story dragged. It was too long. There were fun cameos (as usual). I really liked the ending, which I’d accidentally had spoiled beforehand and wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it. I liked that this was less violent overall than Tarantino’s other films. To be honest, this is Tarantino’s most “feelgood” film and I liked that I was able to walk away from a Tarantino movie feeling a bit more uplifted and less stressed than I usually do after leaving his films. It’s funny that the only stress I felt this time was the real life environment around me but I’m happy to have experienced this movie in my home country, which gave me a more unique perspective. Hell, I don’t know… I think this movie is a bit all over the place and I’ve never felt quite so confused as to if I truly enjoyed a Tarantino film or not. Maybe it IS a damn masterpiece like so many are saying. There’s a messy sort of brilliance going on and I wouldn’t disagree with those who loved it even though I can’t say I feel the same way. However, I think it’s one that will age well and, over time, is likely to be more highly regarded than a lot of Tarantino’s other films.

My Rating: 7.5/10


**I’ve added Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood to my ranked list of films directed by Quentin Tarantino HERE. I really didn’t know where to put it and still might change my mind. I’m contemplating moving it up one space as it’s admittedly a much better film than Jackie Brown but, man, I love that damn soundtrack so much…

Also, I’m really busy at the moment and don’t know when I’ll get a chance to do my monthly movie roundup post. So, for now, here’s the ranked & rated list of all the movies I watched in August (six while on airplanes!). I’ll try to do at least mini reviews of these at some point but most were very disappointing anyway. I’ve starred the airplane movies (sad, I know – but it’s so I remember when I read this ten years from now). 🙂

Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood – 7.5/10
*Green Book – 7.5/10
Sorry To Bother You – 7/10
The Hate U Give – 7/10
*Bad Times At The El Royale – 6.5/10
Crawl – 6.5/10
*Instant Family – 6.5/10
*Can You Ever Forgive Me? – 6.5/10
*Mortal Engines – 5.5/10
*Eighth Grade – 5/10

I, Tonya (2017) Review

I, Tonya (2017)

Directed by Craig Gillespie

Starring: Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney, Julianne Nicholson, Bobby Cannavale, Mckenna Grace

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Competitive ice skater Tonya Harding rises amongst the ranks at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, but her future in the activity is thrown into doubt when her ex-husband intervenes.

My Opinion:

I thoroughly enjoyed this film. I’m still contemplating putting it as my number one movie of those released in the UK this year. I do think Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri & The Shape Of Water are better “films” but, to be honest, I probably “liked” I, Tonya more. It’s a shame it wasn’t up for Best Picture as it’s certainly much better than Get Out and probably even Lady Bird. I know I liked it more than Darkest Hour, although that was very good. I’ve not seen the other Best Picture nominees, FYI. Oh well – at least the Academy recognized Margot Robbie & Allison Janney. They were absolutely fantastic! I was rooting for Robbie to win as well as Janney.


For any non-Americans who aren’t around the same sort of age as me (not much younger than Harding now), you may not realize what a huge story the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan thing was at the time. It was insane! Perfect tabloid fodder. I’m not a big “news” person and I’m not at all into tabloids but I lapped that damn story up. And it was weird how it all turned into a “Poor Tonya” thing in the media (after Kerrigan’s personality came across as thoroughly unlikable). As Robbie’s Harding said in this movie, Kerrigan won a silver medal and looked like she’d just stepped in poo (or something like that). Okay, I admit to being Team Tonya instead of Team Nancy. But, hey, that’s the most I’ve ever watched of the Olympics! In the end, though, I was definitely Team Oksana Baiul. She was far more graceful on the ice and seemed really sweet. She deserved that gold medal and I was happy she won. (Seriously – these are three of the only athletes I can even name….).


Back to the movie! I have no idea how factual it is. Did Harding really not know about the planned attack? Maybe not. Probably not. But Robbie was brilliant as Harding! Especially at the end, when she learns her consequences for the attack. If this movie was made to make us sympathetic to Harding, I’d say it worked. Was her mom really that much of a bitch?! Holy hell! Janney was hateful (but funny) as fuck. I suppose it annoys some people, just like when this incident happened, that a lot of people seem to be on Harding’s side in this whole thing. I do think it’s sad that her career was ruined because of it and that this incident will be with her forever. Instead of being known for skating, she’s known for the attack and the whole media circus. It will follow her until the day she dies (same for Kerrigan). Oh, and I think Sebastian Stan deserves a mention as Harding’s abusive hubby Jeff Gillooly. He’s overshadowed by Janney & Robbie but he was so good I kept forgetting it was him – he was almost unrecognizable. He possibly became his character even more than his co-stars. Subtle is good too. Oh! And that cute little girl from Gifted (Mckenna Grace) briefly plays Harding at a young age. She’s also very good. An actress to keep an eye on.


Obviously, I enjoyed this film a lot but I’ve always been very interested in this story. I don’t think you need to know anything about the true story to enjoy this, though. It’s a very well-written film and the dark humor was done perfectly. The mockumentary style suits this crazy tabloid incident and the main performances are all Oscar-worthy. Honestly, I’m confused as to why this didn’t get a Best Picture nomination? Three Billboards also has the same sort of blend of dark humor, serious drama, and great acting that I, Tonya does. Oh well – I highly recommend this movie to anyone, especially film-loving bloggers who haven’t seen it yet.

My Rating: 8/10

About Time (2013) Review

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About Time (2013)

Directed by Richard Curtis

Starring:
Domhnall Gleeson
Rachel McAdams
Bill Nighy
Tom Hollander
Margot Robbie
Lydia Wilson

Running time: 123 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
When Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) turns 21 his dad (Bill Nighy) shares a family secret with him: the men in their family are able to time travel & change things in their past. Tim decides to use this to get a girlfriend.

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I’m not the biggest fan of Richard Curtis films. While I enjoy watching them, there’s always a character or two that annoy me and then when I think about the movies more later on, I always end up liking them even less. Didn’t like Notting Hill that much – Julia Roberts was annoying. The lesser characters in that film were the best. Four Weddings And A Funeral wasn’t as good as the hype and, again, the female lead was annoying. Then there was Love Actually, which I saw in the cinema and kind of enjoyed but, on reflection, man there are some hateful characters in that one! At least with that film, there were SO MANY characters that you could focus more on the stories & people you liked. I guess. Oh, and I’m not the biggest fan of Hugh Grant, either. And although Curtis just co-wrote the screenplay, not the book, can I just say that Bridget Jones gets on my nerves? It wasn’t at all shocking that she had trouble getting a boyfriend! Obnoxious cow.

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Wow – I sound really bitchy. Lol! I guess the point I’m trying to make is this: About Time is, overall, better than all the above films. It has its flaws and its couple of slightly “quirky” characters like in all Curtis films. But it feels less contrived than previous films and gets its point across really well without having to shove its message down our throats. It’s not trying too hard to please every single moviegoer with lots of different stories and characters like in Love Actually – it keeps things very simple which I think makes it a much better film. We get to really know and care about the main characters in this film. And they’re likeable and realistic in this one! (Aside from the sister being made the quirky one but she’s not TOO annoyingly quirky). Oh! And the American female lead is also, for once, totally likeable as well! Yay!

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FYI BOYS: Margot Robbie is in this

I really wanted to see this one as I read several very positive reviews (especially from male bloggers!) here on WordPress. The main one I remember was from Tom at Digital Shortbread (his review is HERE). I was curious as to why so many guys liked what appeared to be a romantic comedy, especially as I’m not the type of girly girl who normally likes those types of movies (sometimes – it depends on my mood!). I can tell you now, staying spoiler free, that it IS romantic but it’s not a comedy. It’s also not JUST about romance, like it at first seems it’s going to be. There’s a big focus on the relationship between the main character (Domhnall Gleeson) and his father (Bill Nighy). I loved this! His relationship with Rachel McAdams was great & totally believable (they seem like real people in a real relationship – no sickly sweet stuff) but the father/son relationship is what ended up really making the film for me.

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So don’t run away from this one, guys – there’s something here for both male and female viewers. The film starts out a little slow and it did take me a while to get into it but, once it finished, I thought it was pretty damn good overall and I loved the direction it decided to take at the end. As for the time travel?? Ignore that – this movie is NOT about that. I think it probably breaks every possible rule about time travel and some of it made no sense. It was simply used as the device to get across the (very simple yet very good) message of the film. Not too bad, Richard Curtis!

My Rating: 7/10

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The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013) Review

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The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013)

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Based on The Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort

Starring:
Leonardo DiCaprio
Jonah Hill
Margot Robbie
Matthew McConaughey
Kyle Chandler
Rob Reiner
Jon Bernthal
Jon Favreau
Jean Dujardin
Joanna Lumley
Cristin Milioti
Christine Ebersole
Shea Whigham
Katarina Čas
P. J. Byrne
Kenneth Choi
Brian Sacca
Henry Zebrowski
Ethan Suplee
Barry Rothbart
Jake Hoffman
Spike Jonze

Running time: 179 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The Wolf of Wall Street is a 2013 American black comedy film directed by Martin Scorsese, based on Jordan Belfort’s memoir of the same name. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Belfort, a New York stockbroker who runs a firm that engages in securities fraud and corruption on Wall Street in the 1990s.

(But DiCaprio’s character is a lot more fun to watch than Gordon Gekko and the acting is A BIT better than Daryl Hannah’s…)

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My Opinion:

I know I just did a list of my top ten Martin Scorsese films HERE but, the truth is, I’m not a huge fan. Is The Wolf Of Wall Street REALLY better than things like Goodfellas & Taxi Driver? Okay – probably not. But I can honestly say that I enjoyed this film the most out of all the Scorsese films I’ve seen & it’s my own personal favorite of his. Scorsese & DiCaprio make a great team and this three hour film felt about ten minutes long when compared to The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug (I thought that damn thing would never end!).

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I’m not sure where to start. I’m really not sure what to say about this at all. I’m not even completely sure why I enjoyed it so much! It’s raunchy as hell. It’s all “fuck” this and “fucking motherfucker cocksucker” that and HOOKERS DRUGS HOOKERS DRUGS! It’s full of a bunch of disgusting, unlikeable, rich douchebags. What a bunch of horrible pricks. But, goddamn, this was funny as hell and just plain fun to watch! I’m still chuckling over Leo & Jonah Hill on quaaludes & fighting over the telephone.

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DiCaprio & even Hill (who I never liked before this movie) are absolutely incredible. LOVED them. Everyone in this was excellent – not one person seemed wrong for their part. I also especially loved Rob Reiner as DiCaprio’s dad (freaking HILARIOUS) and Matthew McConaughey in a small role played to absolute perfection. Brilliant. Every single person in this. And I’ve decided I have a thing for Jean Dujardin now (I’m growing up & liking the older, classy men now. Yum).

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Screw it. You know what? I really don’t know what else to say. My reviews are always too long anyway. This was out ages ago in America, right? Everyone has reviewed this by now & discussed it to death. I liked it. No… I loved it. I loved a Scorsese film where I didn’t have to worry about someone’s head being stuck in a vice (I’ve avoided Casino for years because of that). I’m not sure if there’s some kind of message to this film other than “rich people are assholes”. Who cares? It managed to keep my interest for THREE HOURS and made me laugh and made me happy, dammit. It’s full of some of the best acting I’ve seen in a long time. Great soundtrack, too! I really hope it wins some Oscars over the inferior American Hustle.

My Rating: 9/10

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