“Once Upon a Time In Hollywood” film review. NO SPOILERS

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I’m a HUGE Quentin Tarantino fan.  He should be on the Mt Rushmore of directors: Spielberg, Nolan, Scorsese, and Tarantino.  Yes, Tarantino gets flack for biting from the spaghetti westerns.  But his films have MUCH better rewatch ability than a bunch of said westerns.  Try watching the well-renowned, “A Fistful of Dollars,” now.  That shit will put you to sleep faster than Philosophy 101 or a new list of approved gender approved pronouns.  Tarantino is one of the 10ish people that automatically gets my $15, he’s earned it through and through.  Pulp Fiction is my 2nd favorite film all time; I saw that 3 times in the theater.  That film defined a generation and was/is nothing short of brilliant. Let’s quickly go through the directorial list for shits and giggles:

Reservoir Dogs-Insanely unique, probably the reason that got me into the independent films.

Pulp Fiction-It’s a fucking CRIME that this lost to OVERRATED Forest Gump.  Shawshank Redemption, I could’ve dealt with but not that University of Alabama dropout who had sex with an AIDS monkey.  Every time this is on, John Travolta needs to send Tarantino a dozen roses and a hooker.  This also brought Samuel L Jackson square into the main event of film lexicon forever and ever.

Jackie Brown-Not a fan.  At all.  And boy, did I try.  Despite SLJ and DeNiro, this just didn’t resonate for me.

Kill Bill 1 and 2- Fun, cheeky, nostalgic, and different.  A believable heroine before Hollywood DEMANDED every female heroine film be insanely revered or you be deemed as a sexist/misogynist.

Death Proof- Enjoyable nod to 70’s cheesy action cinema and brought Kurt Russell back into the foray.  You’ll never hear me complain seeing good ol’ Jack Burton in any film and boy, I enjoy his VO narrations.

Inglorious Basterds- The American coming out party for Kristoph Waltz.  Although I didn’t dig this much as other Tarantino installments; I felt this dragged despite Pitt doing a great job as a Nazi hunter.

Django Unchained- Loved it.  Jamie Foxx was amazing and who didn’t love Waltz returning as a German bounty hunter, hell bent on eradicating southern racist garbage.  And DiCaprio playing a sadistic slave owner, fantastically cast and played.

Hateful Eight- People didn’t dig this but I have no idea why.  More Russell, more SLJ, and another favorite Tarantino vet, Tim Roth.  And it all beautifully comes together.

My ranking:

  1. Pulp Fiction
  2. Reservoir Dogs
  3. Django Unchained
  4. Hateful 8
  5. Kill Bill 1 and 2
  6. Death Proof
  7. Inglorious Basterds
  8. Jackie Brown

And now that leaves us with…

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

First things first.  This is NOT the story of the Manson murders.  If this a spoiler for you, sorry.  But I sure was under that impression and quickly learned that wasn’t the case.  This is a nod to Hollywood in it’s golden age of 1969.  And boy, it’s quite the journey.  Rick Dalton (Leo DiCaprio from Growing Pains) and Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt, the stoner from True Romance) are buddies.  Rick is an actor about to make the downhill march toward obscurity and Cliff is his stunt double who also chauffeurs Rick around.  Both DiCaprio and Pitt have such a great chemistry together; especially when Booth knows exactly how to get Dalton from carrying right into an alcohol-induced nosedive.  What makes Pitt’s character so satiable is his mysterious background (rumored to have killed his wife and serve in the war).  And when he gets into an on-set tussle with Bruce Lee and calling him, Kato, throughout their argument puts smiles on all audience members.

Margot Robbie (from topless glory in Wolf of Wall Street and man, find me a more attractive woman than her.  Go ahead, I’ll wait) plays Sharon Tate.  We see her and new husband, Roman Polanski (post Rosemary’s Baby, pre anal raping underage girls) live above Rick’s house.  Sharon just goes about her usual routines: Hollywood parties, getting pregnant, even seeing herself on screen by going to a theater.  I daresay that she’s under-utilized as again, the main focus is on DiCaprio and Pitt.  But we do see Manson and his crew on more than one occasion.  In fact, Booth runs into one of his crew several times trying to hitchhike rides throughout LA.  Which eventually leads Pitt to the pit of the Manson’s vipers; including a hell of a scene with Bruce Dern, another Tarantino favorite.  Speaking of the Tarantino favorites, you see all of the usual suspects: Michael Madsen, Kurt Russell, Zoe Bell.  Unfortunately, no SLJ or Steve Buscemi.  But let’s give credit where credit is due.  Lena Dunham is in this and A) isn’t annoying and more importantly, B) keeps her clothes on.

But I’ll go on a limb and say watching Dalton’s decent into possible Hollywood oblivion or purgatory is where the real joy is.  Wait till you see him break down when he forgets his lines due to getting rip roaring drunk the previous night.  Or when he has a heartfelt moment with his young co-star, Trudi (Julia Butters) where they share stories of the novels they’re currently reading.  There has been a ton of complaints saying that this is a whole lot of nothing regarding the eventual confrontation with the Manson crew and little payoff.  I disagree.  As I said, once you realize about 1/3 or 1/2 of the way through the film that this isn’t a regurgitation of the Manson murders, you’ll appreciate that Tarantino didn’t go down that road.  You can’t believe he’s bluffing by NOT giving the crowd what they want and I truly enjoyed the chance he took.  The ending is certainly unique and enjoyable with a hell of a callback.  Is this your typical, dialogue heavy Tarantino jaunt?  It is not.  Is it your typical Tarantino violent-riddled gorefest?  Not until the end.  Are you going to enjoy this?  I think so and especially if you’re not a Tarantino fan (kill yourself), it may be the film that may hook you back in because of the choices he did and didn’t take.  And I’ll go on a limb and say Pitt gets a nomination for best supporting actor.

The only knock on this film, not enough N words like I’m used to with his films.  I’M JUST KIDDING.  I enjoyed it and give it a 7 out of 10.  Where does it rank in the Tarantino pantheon?  I’m not sure yet; I need to see it again but I know it’s going above Jackie Brown, Death Proof, and Inglorious Basterds for sure.

 

 

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Film review: Mission Impossible Fallout

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It’s time to face facts.  Tom Cruise is the greatest actor of our time.  He’s done it all except win multiple Oscars.  And films are the one medium that doesn’t need hardware to measure success.  Tom Cruise bats .800 in my book, he’s almost as successful as Emily Ratajkowski giving me a boner.  Cruise’s filmography is as impressive as the lack of cleanliness in a Taco Bell bathroom: Mission Impossible series, Collateral, Risky Business, Rain Man, Edge of Tomorrow, Minority Report, Eyes Wide Shut (Nicole Kidman is just magical) and American Made to name a few.  Daniel Day Lewis is amazing but he doesn’t have the rewatchability nor financial successes that Cruise has.  Same goes for DiCaprio but I’ll accept Tom Hanks as a viable contestant.  Early critic reviews had described this latest installment of Mission Impossible as the “Skyfall” or “Dark Knight” of the franchise.  Is it?  Let’s find out.

Tom Cruise returns as Ethan Hunt, a much more entertaining version of Jason Bourne.  Hunt and his perfect multicultural team of Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg drop the ball in the film’s opening sequence by letting plutonium get away from them while the Syndicate (callback from MI: Rogue Nation) is trying to create bombs to nuke the world and start from scratch.  I think we should just start calling this plot line, “The Thanos Snap.”

Hunt runs into Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), MI-6 agent who he battled with in Rogue Nation, as she’s trying to stop Hunt from transferring Lane (also from RN) to the terrorists with the plutonium.  Action ensues, a lot of action.  You know how every MI film has at least one insane action sequence?  The climbing of the hotel in Dubai.  Climbing up an airplane during take off.  This film has at least 5 of those, “get the fuck out of here” moments.  Why does this film work so well?  Those insane aforementioned action sequences as well as a fantastic plot.  Different twists as well as this the first film in the franchise that calls back to previous films.  Hunt’s wife, Michelle Monaghan, from MI-3 returns in a pretty cool story arc.

The ONLY “knock” is this clocks in at 2.5 hours.  Does it drag?  Not one bit.  But some people are sticklers on time.  But the action and plot skyrocket this film as the best of the franchise.  So yes, this is indeed the Dark Knight and Skyfall of this series.  MI: FO is a goddamn tour de force and I shall probably see this again in the theaters.

I give it a 9.5, this film is damn near flawless.

NFL Conference Championship weekend picks against the spread (ATS)

Fantastic rebound last week!  3-1 as the Pats, ATL over, and KC under hit.  Lost the GB-Dal under bet but I’ll take a 3/4 weekend any time.

This is usually a depressing weekend as this is the last day with multiple games on the slate.  2 weeks and then the Superbowl, which is more of an event than a game so enjoy today!

Aaron Rodgers has been out of this world, singlehandedly carrying his team throughout the season and the playoffs.  That throw to Jared Cook to set up the FG, wow.  They enter the Georgia Dome, which is hosting its last game ever.  Matt Ryan and the high flying Falcons (pun intended) have lit up the scoreboard like Leo DiCaprio at a Hooters audition.  Julio Jones is a bit dinged up.  Aaron Rodgers and some of the Packers had the flu this week.  That’s why the line jumped up today.  Looks like Jordy Nelson and Davonte Adams are a go.  Everyone loves the over and that’s at 61, 61!  Second highest o/u in the history of playoffs.  I think the Pack grinds the clock down with dinking and dunking, keeping the ball out of the Falcons hands as long as possible.  I also think you should never bet against Aaron Rodgers, even if he develops leprosy.  Matt Ryan gags it up in the big spot and the Pack are the team that’s on that magic carpet ride that usually goes on to win the Superbowl.  Aaron Rodgers and I’m getting 5 points (now 6!)?  

I’m taking the Pack and the points.  I may go with the under if it gets to 62…

2 of the worst things possible happened this past week for the Steelers.  The Pats had a lazy (yet covered the -16) win over the Texans. You know Bellichek kicked their asses in practice this week.  You think Tom Brady went home happy with 2 picks in that game?  He probably sent Giselle to Washington to march so he could get more time in practice.  And then Antonio Brown stupidly airs the locker room talk from Tomlin?  That’s been on the Patriot’s bulletin board all week.  Both of these factors have awakened the sleeping giant.  Bellichek ALWAYS takes away the best player(s) so the Pats will be keyed on Bell and Brown.  Let’s also consider how Ben and the boys fare poorly in Foxboro, 1-3.  Ben has as many TDs as INTs in NE, not good.  

I’m taking the Pats -6: Brady and the boys win by double digits