Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)

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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – Film Review

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Kurt Russell, Margaret Qualley, Timothy Olyphant, Austin Butler, Dakota Fanning, Al Pacino

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Synopsis: Set in 1960s Hollywood, amid fears that the industry is leaving him behind, actor Rick Dalton (DiCaprio) and his stunt double Clith Booth (Pitt), try to reignite Dalton’s career, all the while new actors like Sharon Tate (Robbie) are becoming the new faces of the industry…

Review: There are certain directors who, whenever they come out with a new film, it becomes subject of much anticipation and hype in the build up to the film’s release, and Quentin Tarantino’s films definitely fall under that bracket. As he so often does, Tarantino fuses his passion for the craft of film-making, and blends that with his passion for a bygone era of Hollywood, as for his ninth and seemingly penultimate film, takes the viewers on a journey to 1960s Tinseltown.

It’s 1969 and after starring in a hugely popular TV show, actor Rick Dalton’s career has hit the rocks. He has a moment where reality bites hard, and he realises that his days as a leading man are seemingly drawing to a close, as the industry is leaving him by the wayside with other actors on their way to becoming the star that Rick used to be. Determined to stay relevant, alongside his stunt double and great friend Cliff Booth, Rick strives to pick himself up and reinvent his career.

Tarantino scripts of the past have thrived on the dialogue to drive the film forward, and in many cases given that it is superbly written dialogue, it serves the story extremely well. Through the sharp dialogue, it makes the lives of the charismatic characters that Tarantino so often brings to the screen absolutely worth investing in. Leo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt are both on excellent form as Rick and Cliff. Though they might be as A list as you can get in present day Hollywood, both have excellent charisma and they form a solid friendship with one another. It’s not quite a Vincent Vega and Jules Winfield level of camaraderie, but it comes mighty close.

As well as the sharply written dialogue, a QT movie is known for being a touch on the violent side. However, in this instance the violence is dialled back significantly as Tarantino gives us a much more dialogue driven film. One that takes a nuanced, in-depth, fascinating look at the Golden Age of Hollywood, that has the careers of Rick and Cliff front and centre, with this era as the backdrop in all of its glory. Though these men are both fictionalised characters, there’s something about both their performances that makes them feel like they were cut from the same cloth as the stars that dominated the industry at this time. In a cast that is well stacked with considerable talent, the standouts besides DiCaprio and Pitt, are Margaret Qualley’s Manson family member, and a scene stealing performance from a young actor who gives Rick a damn good run for his money.

Though she was a perfect choice to play Sharon Tate, Margot Robbie, frustratingly, does not get nearly enough screen-time as her male lead co-stars. What’s more, in the scarce screen-time she is given, she has frustratingly few lines which feels like a scandalous waste of her talent. Nevertheless, Robbie works wonders with the little material she was given that honours the tragic actress. Given that a Tarantino Picture is usually in the realm of three hours, the first act of the film is a bit of a slow burn that, narratively speaking, is a tad uneven. It takes its time to find its footing and truly hit its stride. The excellent production design and costumes ensures that 1960s Hollywood is captured with a real sense of authenticity. Yet even with that, the near 2 hour 40 minute run time does feel somewhat excessive.

Meshing fact with fiction has produced some uproariously entertaining moments in previous Tarantino flicks, and OUATIH‘s best use of this blend of truth and fantasy, is in the film’s enthralling and nail-biting third act. You may know of the tragic fate that befell Sharon Tate on that fateful August night, but to see how those events would play out in Tarantino’s wacky, but brilliant mind is what you pay to see when you come to watch a flick by Quentin Tarantino. It may not be his strongest film that he has made in a glittering career, but like Tarantino reminiscing/pining for the Golden Age of Hollywood, present day Hollywood may find itself reminiscing if, after his tenth picture, Tarantino does decide to hang up the director’s chair for good.

A passionate love letter to the Hollywood of yesteryear, fused with the typical well written QT dialogue and a superb pair of leading performances from two of the most charismatic actors in the business.

Posted in Film Feature

Oscars 2014: Predictions

oscars

Hollywood’s biggest night is finally here once more. Tuxedos have been chosed, bow ties will be being tied. Dresses will have been chosen and make up will be put on. Hollywood royalty will be out in force and a select few will be clutching a golden statue once the ceremony is over.

It has certainly been an interesting year for films. We have seen con artists, abduction by Somali Pirates, one man’s fight against slavery which latest for more than 12 years, a terrifying adventure in space and one man setting up a club to help people suffering from illness. Lots of great performances from some great actors and some great directing. Some excellent music, but who is going to be the winners?  I will be making my predictions below.

Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón – Gravity

The Mexican has swept the board throughout this awards season and it’s easy to see why. His film was a visual masterpiece and one that was mesmerising to watch. Although I would like to see Steve McQueen win the award, I feel that Cuaron will take it home.

Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club as Ron Woodroof          

Although I am hoping that Chiwetel Ejiofor takes this award home for his work in 12 Years A Slave I predict that it will be Matthew McConaughey who will win. He has transformed his career in recent years and this film in which he plays an AIDS sufferer, he gives a mesmerising performance worthy of an Oscar

Best Actress: Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine as Jeanette “Jasmine” Francis

It will be a major surprise if Cate Blanchett is not the one holding the statute come the end of the night. She has swept the board right throughout this awards season and although I have not seen her performance, critics alike have almost unanimously given her high praise

Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club as Rayon

Again, I would hope to see Michael Fassbender for his sublime work in 12 Years A Slave, I think that Jared Leto will scoop the Oscar. His performance, playing a transgender woman, was something extraordinary. He looked convincing in the role and the 30 Seconds to Mars frontman should be the winner.  That being said I would love to see Barkhad Abdi take the prize as he gave a brilliant debut performance as a Somali pirate in Captain Phillips.

Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle as Rosalyn Rosenfeld

This race seems to be a two way battle between Jennifer Lawrence and Lupita Nyong’o for American Hustle and 12 Years A Slave. Both performances were fantastic and are Oscar worthy. Yet I have a sneaky suspicion that it will be Lawrence who claims her second Oscar from only her third nomination despite only being 23 years of age.

 Best Writing – Original Screenplay: Her – Spike Jonze

The concept of a man who has a relationship with a computer may seem bizarre, but Spike Jonze pulled it off with a wonderful story with another top notch performance by Joaquin Phoenix. I think Her will take the award

Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay: 12 Years a Slave – John Ridley

The story of Solomon Northup was one that was hard hitting but one that is very memorable and this film reminded the world of the true horrors of slavery and I think they will take this award home.

 Best Animated Feature Film: Frozen – Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee, and Peter Del Vecho

The latest  Disney film is a strong favourite to win this year’s animated feature award. It is looking set to cross the $1billion mark and it would be a surprise if it was not victorious come the end of the night.

I won’t lie when I say that I have not seen any of the films in the following categories so these guesses are wild stabs in the dark:

Best Foreign Language Film: The Hunt (Denmark) in Danish – Thomas Vinterberg

Best Documentary – Feature: The Act of Killing – Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge Sørensen

 Best Documentary – Short Subject: The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life – Malcolm Clarkeand Nicholas Reed

 Best Live Action Short Film: Helium – Anders Walter and Kim Magnusson

Best Animated Short Film: Feral – Daniel Sousa and Dan Golden

Best Original Score: Gravity – Steven Price

The score for Gravity was wonderful and added to each scene in a terrific way. It added to the enjoyment of the film and I think it will be the winner.

Best Original Song: Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom – U2

“Let it Go” by Frozen is a strong favourite but U2’s hit from the Mandela biopic was a wonderful piece of music that I am predicting to win the award.

Best Sound Editing: Gravity – Glenn Freemantle

There is no sound in space, and this film captured the terror and anticipation of the film’s events brilliantly through sound. As the debris was wreaking havoc there was no noise, it was all silent.

Best Sound Mixing: Gravity – Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead, and Chris Munro

Best Cinematography: Gravity – Emmanuel Lubezki

The shots that were on show in this film were first class. It made the audience feel like they were actually in outer space and I think it will take this Oscar

Best Production Design: Gravity – Andy Nicholson (Production Design); Rosie Goodwinand Joanne Woollard (Set Decoration)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Dallas Buyers Club – Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews

The effort that must have been required to turn Jared Leto into a stickly feminine transgender must have been tremendous and I think it will win.

Best Costume Design: American Hustle – Michael Wilkinson

Best Film Editing: Gravity – Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger

Best Visual Effects: Gravity – Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk, and Neil Corbould

The visual effects on show here was simply out of this world (pun absolutley intended) and I think it’s no contest that Gravity will win this award

AND LAST NOT LEAST:

The Award for Best Picture

In what has been another great year for films, these are the lucky nine films that are up for the biggest award:

American Hustle – Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Megan Ellison, and Jonathan Gordon

Captain Phillips – Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, and Michael De Luca

Dallas Buyers Club – Robbie Brenner and Rachel Winter

Gravity – Alfonso Cuarón and David Heyman

Her – Megan Ellison, Spike Jonze, and Vincent Landay

Nebraska – Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa

Philomena – Gabrielle Tana, Steve Coogan, and Tracey Seaward

12 Years a Slave – Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner,Steve McQueen, and Anthony Katagas

I think the winner will be: 12 Years A Slave 

Steve McQueen’s film was a harrowing and brilliant tale of one man’s fight aganst the injustice of his imprisonment and sale into slavery. It was brilliantly told, well acted and all rund was perfectly executed. It is incredible to think that prior to this film, few had the knowledge of what Solomon Northup went through and thanks to this film, we all have this knowledge and this man’s struggle should never ever be forgotten.