Once Upon a Time In Hollywood
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Nicolas Cage plays a widower, raising his son as much on his own as he is able, despite his sister Grace's meddling. We know she's the sister because she all but states that at her first appearance on screen. And we hear about their father, who is a pastor, apparently. Thanks to the screenwriters, Ryne Douglas Pearson, Juliet Snowden, and Stiles White we ascertain through rather clumsy dialog all we need to know about the Koestler family. Really, that's all you get from some of these characters. John Koestler, played by Cage, is a depressed physics professor at MIT, and that's all we get to know about that! There's not a lot of depth in any character, perhaps with the exception of Rose Byrne's, but nothing you couldn't glean from some good eavesdropping at a nearby table. Moppets are adorable, but aloof at times. That said, I love a good mystery. But was it much of a mystery since the trailer showed just about everything that happens anyway? Knowing isn't the best sci-fi drama, but it's not the worst, either. I give it a slightly better than "meh" rating because I like Nicolas Cage. I always have. The film was moderately suspenseful, but director Alex Proyas has made better films (The Crow, I Robot). I need to stop now because I'm remembering more things to criticize. See it. You'll be alright.
I enjoyed every second of this film, appreciating the satire and thoroughly enjoying the comedy of all the players. Clooney and Brolin were brilliant, as well as Ralph Fiennes "would that it twuuuuh"! I pity anyone who could not enjoy this movie. Suum cuique, I suppose.
I never miss out on seeing something from Tarantino, particularly anything written and directed by him (oops, I missed "Death Proof" somehow). The epic film work in "Django" was so impressive that I felt Tarantino had truly matured in his craft. "Once Upon a Time in...Hollywood" is artfully presented, with beautiful scenes of a city that no longer exists, or never existed, in certain instances. Cars and costumes from 1969 are plentiful and ostensibly accurate. Movie marquees proudly announce the offerings of the day - a number of scenes even reconstructed with astounding effect.
I feel like Tarantino was really taking his time, the film runs 159 minutes, and it was noticeable. I can appreciate the art of film making, and Tarantino is Michelangelo. His films are hilarious and shocking, often at the same moment. We are presented with the requisite over-the-top violence, a la Tarantino. No big surprise there. The audience shrieked in horror and laughter, and then again with shock and disgust. The operative word is "gross". But that's par for the course.
I recommend this film, a qualified recommendation. Not everyone appreciates T. He's a film-maker's film-maker. But you need to be an expert to appreciate what one person has done to and for the film industry.
I expected a lot from this film based on the high praise of the original work, the star power, and the promise of 21st century special effects. I was ultimately disappointed with this effort from Ava DuVernay (Selma). Admittedly, the story is one that's challenging to translate to the big screen, and even with the special effects and the contributions of Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling, and Reese Witherspoon, plus Chris Pine, it just wasn't enough to make this movie more watch-able. I felt no connection to the characters; they were somehow unemotional even with all that acting. I'm not sure what the point of all this was.