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

Five Horror Movie Mini-Reviews (They Sucked Too Much For Their Own Posts)

These movies not worthy of full-length reviews are: Repo! The Genetic Opera, Let’s Scare Jessica To Death, The Quiet Ones, The Crazies, & The Victim.

I always do this – I plan to do horror movie reviews all of October then get bored halfway through. Unfortunately, I’ve watched a lot of bad movies in preparation this year and don’t have enough to say about them to do full reviews. So, I’m doing the worst five all together (leaving me with nothing to review the final week of October, unless I get time to watch some more. Oops!). This is because I only do movies I can watch on TV or Netflix so maybe next year I’ll actually spend out on some decent older films instead of reviewing whatever crap happens to be available to me at no extra cost.

Here we go! I’ll do these from “best” to worst (to be fair, the first one isn’t actually bad – it’s better than both Mama & The Sacrament, which I did review in full)…

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The Crazies (2010)

Directed by Breck Eisner

Based on The Crazies by George A. Romero

Starring: Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, Joe Anderson, Danielle Panabaker

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The Crazies takes place in the fictional town of Ogden Marsh, Pierce County, Iowa, “friendliest place on Earth,” whose town water supply is accidentally infected with the “Trixie” virus. After an incubation period of 48 hours, this virus gradually transforms the mental state of the infected into that of cold, calculating, depraved, bloodthirsty killers, who then prey on family and neighbors alike.

My Opinion:

Sorry lovers of The Crazies – I just don’t have much to say about this one although I did think it was pretty decent for a modern horror movie & can see why it has its fans. I love Romero’s zombie films so did try to watch the original of this one years ago. I don’t remember much now but it started out very slow and, for whatever reason, I never finished it. It was no Dead film! I’ll give it another try if it pops up on the Horror Channel or something as I do like the concept of a virus making people go crazy. So… it’s not a lot different from the zombie thing anyway. This remake is really just 28 Days Later but not as good.

As you can see by that picture, this one is pretty bloody. It was a bit too violent for my taste (I hated one bit with a pitchfork but found that scene pretty tense so I guess it did its job in that regard). I thought the movie almost got the balance right, though, in focusing on a small set of characters in small-town-Midwest-America and making us like them in between scenes of pitchfork nastiness. I’m always kind of fond of movies set in small-town-Midwest-America as I can still relate to that having grown up in a town so similar to this movie’s Ogden Marsh. I’m not sure why I didn’t like The Crazies more than I did as it had the perfect set-up (for me) and, at first, seemed like the type of movie I was really going to enjoy. Had they focused on the character development a little more and the violence a little less, I’d have rated this more highly. Plus, there’s a big explosion at one point that looked so dodgy that I couldn’t help but laugh even though I don’t normally notice that kind of thing.

I think I was just too distracted while watching this because, like with most movies I watch at home these days, I’m sure I was getting a blog post ready while it was on as I don’t have time to do just one or the other. That’s why I’ll be cutting way back on my number of posts once October is over – I want to enjoy movies again when I actually make the time to watch them. Sorry for the little tangent but I’m just trying to explain why I maybe didn’t fully appreciate The Crazies. If I ever watch the original, I may revisit the remake again as well and see if my opinion changes. I wanted to like it more. I’ve certainly seen worse! (Like, the four movies below….).

My Rating: 6/10

Let’s Scare Jessica To Death (1971)

Directed by John Hancock (I wonder what his signature looks like?)

Starring: Zohra Lampert, Barton Heyman, Kevin O’Connor, Gretchen Corbett, Alan Manson, Mariclare Costello

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A recently institutionalized woman has bizarre experiences after moving into a supposedly haunted country farmhouse and fears she may be losing her sanity once again.

My Opinion:

Let’s bore Jessica to death by making her watch this movie. Apparently this is a cult classic? Well, that’s said about lots of old horror movies so I don’t know if that’s true or not. Don’t get me wrong – there are elements of this movie that I did like and I’d always choose to watch some old moody & atmospheric 70’s horror movie like this, bad clothing and hairstyles and all, over the crap that gets made nowadays. But this one really is just too damn boring, even for an older person like me who has a fair bit of patience and can appreciate a slow build-up. I thought nothing was ever going to happen in this thing. Luckily, the last twenty minutes or so are pretty good. Well, compared to the rest of the film anyway. Or maybe I was just happy that something finally happened?!

So, Jessica is nuts and her husband moves her to a secluded farmhouse to recover after she’s been released from the hospital. But all this weird stuff starts happening and, through Jessica’s rather annoying thoughts (which we can hear out loud during the whole movie), we don’t know whether she’s once again going mad, if her husband and all the creepy locals are playing games and trying to drive her insane, or if there really is some ghostly shit going on. Jessica becomes obsessed with an old photograph in the farmhouse showing the family who once lived there & is told by the local antiques dealer that the young woman in the photo drowned and that she now haunts the area as a vampire.

So what’s really going on?!?! I have no idea because I lost interest! Which is too bad since this movie was almost cool at the end – it had a real Rosemary’s Baby feel for a few minutes there with some eerie old small town locals (in that picture up there). Well, I suppose that’s an insult to the far superior Rosemary’s Baby. If you really REALLY love low-budget 70’s horror that’s more about mood & atmosphere than actual gore & violence, you might like this okay. It’s the type of thing I normally like but this one just didn’t work for me. It probably didn’t help that Jessica was annoying as hell.

My Rating: 5/10

The Quiet Ones (2014)

Directed by John Pogue

Starring: Jared Harris, Sam Claflin, Olivia Cooke, Erin Richards

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The Quiet Ones is a 2014 British supernatural horror starring Jared Harris as a college professor attempting to prove poltergeists are manifestations of the human psyche and not supernatural beings. The film is loosely based on the Philip experiment, a 1972 parapsychology experiment conducted in Toronto.

My Opinion:

Good lord – this was as boring as Let’s Scare Jessica To Death! But this one doesn’t have the advantage of actually being made in the Seventies like that one (although it’s set in 1970-something), so therefore it’s not groovy in any way. Fake Seventies grooviness just doesn’t work in the same way – American Hustle is proof of that! This is just a boring movie made in 2014 in which the characters wear ugly clothes & listen to Slade’s Cum On Feel The Noize over & over. (Although I’m not gonna lie – I totally like that song because I’m old & thoroughly uncool).

So there’s paranormal stuff and experiments on a crazy girl with a doll and Slade and the chick I couldn’t stand in Gotham (Barbara) which I stopped watching along with most every TV series I’ve attempted to watch in the last five years and, hey, the crazy girl with the doll is the girl in Me And Earl And The Dying Girl which I kind of wanted to go see but couldn’t talk the hubby into and my god they play that Slade song a lot in this (just in case you forgot it was 1970-something!!!) and the Me And Earl’s Dying Girl spits a lot of black shit out and most everyone gets killed and I really was paying no attention by the end and was questioning why I watch shit like this just to have something to “review” in October.

My Rating: 4/10

Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008)

Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman

Based on The Necromerchant’s Debt by Terrance Zdunich & Darren Smith

Starring: Alexa Vega, Paul Sorvino, Anthony Stewart Head, Sarah Brightman, Paris Hilton, Bill Moseley, Ogre, Terrance Zdunich

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A worldwide epidemic encourages a biotech company to launch an organ-financing program similar in nature to a standard car loan. The repossession clause is a killer, however.

My Opinion:

What the fuck? No, seriously – what the fuck?!? No, really – can someone explain this thing to me?? I’d never even heard of this one until someone mentioned it somewhere on my blog recently (I don’t know who or where but I think they said something favorable about this movie. Here’s hoping whoever it was doesn’t read my review. If whoever you are is reading this, I apologize). 😉 Because I hated this stupid piece of shit!!!!!!!


That’s Sarah Fucking Brightman of, like, famous musicals fame & shit. In this fucking movie! WTF?

So this was some actual opera several years before the movie, I guess. I didn’t do much research into it as I disliked the movie so much but, as far as I can tell, this has a following in the same way that The Rocky Horror Picture Show does?? I saw plenty of cosplay photos when looking up images for this post. Okay, fine – I can understand that. This movie is clearly about “image” and I can see why girls would want to dress up as Brightman’s Blind Mag or Shilo, the movie’s young heroine:

According to Wikipedia, this movie is a “splatterpunk, rock opera, musical comedy, horror film“. Splatterpunk?? I’d not heard that phrase before but it sounds like the perfect way to describe this one. Splatter indeed! Of these five movies, this one is the goriest & most blood-splattered by far. As you can see from the poster, it’s from the producers of Saw. Barf! I hate the Saw films (well, the first was okay). I didn’t know this before sticking the movie on when I saw it was on the Horror Channel. Just like I didn’t know that Paris Hilton had a big role in this. Paris fucking Hilton! She plays a spoiled rich bitch addicted to plastic surgery. At least her face falls off: 

I think what annoyed me so much is that this movie sounded kind of cool and I was excited when I saw that I’d be able to watch it. And it started out okay and had the potential to be a bit of fun. Plus the repo man himself looked pretty rad:

This movie is a Goth Sado-Masochist’s wet dream. If that’s your sort of thing, rush out and watch this movie immediately. No, really – you’ll love it! I’m not being a smart ass – I totally understand why this movie has a fan base. That’s why I’ve included all the pictures as it’ll give you an idea of what this movie is like. But, goddamn, the movie is a fucking mess. It’s just really bad. It looks good, yes! The visuals and the costumes and the set and the comic book imagery scattered throughout the film are all pretty impressive but they don’t make up for the godawful acting or the fact that half the actors can’t sing for shit (not that it really matters with such unmemorable, mediocre songs). Plus, the constant singing with the constant, obnoxious, “heavy metal” guitar noise drove me mad. MAD! I wanted to repo the cast’s fucking vocal chords!

Hey, though, Anthony Head is in this monstrosity. Remember when he had that “coffee romance” over a series of several Taster’s Choice commercials? I loved those! I always thought they should do more commercials that told a story like those. And I found out a few years ago that the woman in those commercials is Alice Eve’s mother. “Alice Eve hot” is one of my top search terms so, awesome, I just managed to mention her again in a wonderfully obscure & roundabout way!

Anyway, those Taster’s Choice commercials were a million times better than Repo! The Genetic Opera. I think the main problem is that this movie tries too damn hard and ends up feeling completely forced, desperate, and pathetic. Basically, this movie is a 40-year-old stripper. Get off the damn pole and look for a new career! Speaking of strippers, let’s move onto the worst movie I’ve watched in the three-year history of my blog…

My Rating: 3/10

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The Victim (2011)

Directed, written by & starring Michael Biehn

Starring: Michael Biehn, Jennifer Blanc, Ryan Honey, Denny Kirkwood, Danielle Harris

Plot Synopsis: (via me)
The slutty brunette stripper (who we find out in flashbacks is actually a sweet slutty brunette stripper), gets killed. Michael Biehn fucks the blonde stripper. I don’t know what happens after that as I only saw the first half of this movie & that was more than enough for me.

My Opinion:

I’ve mentioned my love for Michael Biehn’s Kyle Reese several times on this blog. So, one day, Filmnerdblog’s Laura tweeted me about a movie on The Horror Channel that was directed by, written by, and starring my beloved Kyle Reese. Er. Um. Ugh. (Do you think there’s any chance that Michael Biehn might read this?? I better keep it short as I actually still find him pretty hot).

Two skanky strippers pick up these two guys (cops if I remember correctly – I can’t be bothered to verify). They go into the woods and the fucking commences. The cute one (Danielle Harris – she’ll be very well known to horror fans. What are you doing in this, Danielle?!?) lets one of the disgusting dudes screw her Game-Of-Thrones-Style (from behind like a dog) while she looks bored & says things like “Why don’t you just come already?”. Charming. So he snaps her neck. Do strippers know how to pick ’em or what? The blonde stripper gets away & ends up at Michael Biehn’s house in the middle of the woods. He’s a hot old recluse. They screw & she says something along the lines of “you may be 54 but you don’t fuck like you’re 54″ (or whatever age he was in this). Really? Oh, Michael Biehn… You were so damn sexy as Kyle Reese but I really question your writing skills.

Anyway, one of the two guys (the actual killer or the other guy – I don’t remember) ends up at Biehn’s house & Biehn ties him up and starts to torture him a bit. At this point I turned it off as I couldn’t be bothered with it anymore. I did, however, plan to finish it another night (while writing a blog post as it played in the background). But when I went to play the recording, it had disappeared off the box! I was devastated! And by “devastated”, I mean “relieved”. I’ve forced myself to finish every single movie I’ve started since I began this blog. It’s, like, my duty as one of a million shitty blog writers! I’ll now never know how this sad stripper tale ends or be able to see more cheesy flashbacks of the two strippers having a girly chat to prove that they’re actually “nice, sweet strippers” who don’t deserve to have their necks broken. Okay, I could read about the ending online but I’m happy to let the rest of the film forever remain a mystery.

My Rating: 1.5/10