Thursday, July 25, 2019

'Once Upon a Time' a filmmaker named Tarantino strikes paydirt again

If "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" isn't on the top shelf of 2019 films so far, then it only sits a rung below.

This ninth feature from writer/director Quentin Tarantino certainly becomes a must-see for any child of the '60s, a decade that smothered the senses and which the writer/director resurrects with a cultural onslaught of fashion, TV Guide covers, memorable music, and mostly lesser-known film titles sprinkled throughout his 165-minute extravaganza.

Though his picture is not always perfect, many scenes are hoot worthy. Others may rivet you to your seat, even the few that could use substantial trimming. An early one features a typically smarmy producer (Al Pacino) trying to talk "Hollywood" star Leonard DiCaprio, as our alcoholic actor/hero, into keeping his career afloat by giving spaghetti westerns a try.

At first, the conversation seems never ending. Then, you might find yourself thinking, "Hey, this is Pacino in top baroque form," with DiCaprio, already an acting heavyweight himself, actually  sweating, as warranted by script, just listening to him.

It's often classic stuff, as is a later episode when Brad Pitt, portraying Cliff Booth, hunky stunt double/buddy to DiCaprio's Rick Dalton, bursts into the Manson "Family" compound -- after an invitation from a jail-bait hippie (wonderfully spirited by young Margaret Qualley, who just happens to be the daughter of Andie MacDowell) -- and winds up conversing with a great and grumpy Bruce Dern.

Now, because we don't believe in giving away too much of a good thing that paying audiences deserve to discover for themselves, the name of Dern's character won't be mentioned here. Let's just say that anyone with knowledge of the scary Manson clan's historical/criminal standing in Tinseltown will recognize it.

They'll also know about Sharon Tate (a sweetly subdued Margot Robbie), Jay Sebring (Emile Hirsch), Squeaky Fromme (Dakota Fanning), Tex Watson (Austin Butler) and the scene-stealing assortment of famous movie types Tarantino sneaks into his mad mix of fact and fiction. Steve McQueen (Damian Lewis) and Bruce Lee (Mike Moh) lead that latter pack, but wide-eyed viewers will embrace even more in the all-star cast and a film that probably demands at least a couple of lengthy viewings.

Rated "R": language throughout, some strong graphic violence, drug use, and sexual references; 2:45; $ $ $ $ and 1/2 out of $5

1 comment:

mallaiah said...

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