Once Upon a Time In Hollywood
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A surprisingly engaging indie thriller that takes a bittersweet and nostalgic look back at the mid-1980s. The story revolves around a group of four friends who become involved in a DIY stakeout of a the neighborhood cop whom one of them wholeheartedly believes is a serial killer who has been killing an undetermined number of teenage boys over an undetermined amount of summers in their sleepy Oregon suburb.
What unravels is quite potent in terms of its genre and although it does steal a fair amount of inspiration from Rear Window it collects more jumps and goosebumps than the better known and more expensively made Disturbia from ten years prior.
With a cast of literal unknowns it delivers on its promise of spine-tingling suspense and boasts believable and likeable characters. With a dark wallop of an ending it is sure to gain momentum in the upcoming years as one of the more gutsy and ultimately accessible thrillers of the past decade.
After a slew of less than satisfactory King adaptations in the past 10 years it is nice to see something so worthwhile. Andy Muschietti and company bring King's unfathomably lengthy 1986 novel to the screen with a uniformly superb young cast and a subtly terrifying performance from Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise. It may deviate from the novel in several big ways but it does so in a fashion that melds with its story. The fact that it remains true to the spirit of King's novel is a feat in itself. Bringing largely unknown performers to the screen is a risky move for any film and Muschietti proves that it can be done in a way that evolves into something graceful.
The tale is that of a group of seven pre-teens who find that their picturesque Peyton Place-like town is under siege by a demonic entity that feeds on their peers. The old adage of united we stand, divided we fall comes into play as they work together to put an end to the reign of terror plaguing their hometown. Wonderful cinematography, an effective score, and a good sprinkling of jump scares help buoy it to becoming an almost perfect film. Undeniably one of the best King adaptations of all time.
Quentin Tarantino's visionary neo-noir treat is sure to appeal to a broad array of film fans. With an explosive cast including John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, Uma Thurman, and Harvey Keitel it helped pave the way for underground films making it big. Tarantino weaves a differentiated timeline that proves that paying attention can be quite rewarding when it comes to the film experience. Full of vibrant characters and a thoughtful, funny, dare I say pulpy, screenplay that puts the dialogue on par with the plot. A must see film for anyone who truly revels in the art of movie making.
Michael Bay's big budget buddy cop action thriller steals more than its fair share from Lethal Weapon, but hey it is still a rollicking good time. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence play two unorthodox cops who find that $100,000,000 worth of heroin has been stolen from their evidence storage. They must hunt down the culprits and get put in all sorts of danger along the way. While the plot is pretty brainless the buddy cop chemistry between Smith and Lawrence is strong and the explosions and nicely timed comedic relief are quite welcome.
A nice ending can't save this one from the trappings of slasher predictability. Jennifer Love-Hewitt and Freddie Prinze Jr. reprise their roles from the first as the survivors. They are joined by Brandy (Norwood), Mekhi Phifer, and Matthew Settle. The story occurs one year after the last finished; Hewitt is in college and Prinze has stayed in his hometown apparently haunted by the events of the preceding summer. Hewitt, Brandy, Phifer, and Settle get a chance to go to Jamaica for free and take it. Danger ensues and at the same pace and reasoning as the first. A more lively and frightening script could have made it a redeemable sequel but this is not the case.