Once Upon a Time In Hollywood
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Intriguing 'til the end. Never knew what would happen next.
This movie has so many problems in it. The acting is terrible, Omar's is quite good, but the rest or just okay or awful. Movie can be a non liner, but you can't divide and mess the order the much. You can divide it to 10, 20 different parts, but when a scenes doesn't connect to its follows, almost always, you can't identify with the characters or enjoy the movie. Most of the time you try to understand what's going on and when is this exactly in the movie. Way too pretentious for me. The music in here is seldom effective, most of the time is just misplaced noise (I noticed a track from A Woman Gave Birth To Tomato, btw). The combination that the movie is trying to do of an horror film, sometimes a teenage film, a crime film just doesn't work for me. Also, the dialogues felt unnatural too often. Very disappointing.
An affair that one could describe as either mind-boggling or enigmatically intriguing: it could very well be both. I do, however, fail to grasp the worth of its ending.
Uncertain if this film will really see much distribution, it was a treat to catch Omar's first public film at the Festival Internacional de Cine en Guadalajara. Even more of a surprise was that the music and now director also was present to introduce the movie and do a little Q&A after the screening.
My expectations were a little low...that this would be a horrible mess of a amateur film-making, no story, etc. Not so...well at least in my opinion. I can see where others might also rip apart "The Sentimental Engine Slayer" as being incoherent and nonsensical, a big jumble of editing, hate towards the final scene...and while I won't claim this is a masterpiece, it's really impressive for a freshman filmmaker, especially for someone from outside the industry, shot on a low budget. Granted, Omar was just the director, writer, exec producer...he obviously surrounded himself with some talent on the production floor. Final product is an independent film well worth a look.
There are obvious influences from David Lynch (a Q went out about Omar's love for Alejandro Jodorowsky and how that impacted this film.. though I really didn't see anything even near the surrealism and overt symbolism in TSES as AJ generally throws in his works like El Topo [The Mole] and The Holy Mountain) and actually liked this movie better than Lynch's last piece, Inland Empire. Essentially a lot of the film was "remixed" on the editing floor to give a puzzle effect...as if the story was too straight forward! (Omar admitted this narrative style was done out of boredom, that it helped make things more interesting for him to jumble the timeline) The acting was decent...very believable most of the time, a very organic approach, had plenty of humorous moments, and the surrealistic onces as well...some using feedback and distortion to drown out dialog to convey moments of "daydreaming" and "delirium" by the protagonist. The music, as was to be expected, does a great job at creating an atmosphere mirroring the scenes. I wasn't really blown away by the soundtrack, but it was good...though I really dug the heavier moment of the music with a tv screen montage reminiscent of Lasse Hoile's work.
And what was very apparent with us the audience chatting with Omar about this production, is that this was a very personal film....shot in familiar locations for him, with himself and some of his family members starring in the film. He said the film was entirely symbolic, meanings that are very personal for him...so it will be difficult to really "get" the film as he envisioned it. TSES is a very dense work, to understand the surrealism used here, to figure out the "puzzle" of a story, understand the poetry spoken in Spanish (loved that it's very much a bilingual movie...characters are always switching between Spanish and English...it was about 50/50...maybe a bit more Spanish)...
In the end: decently good indie film that I'll need to see again!