Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (2019)

Now I freely admit that these reviews are purely subjective, based entirely on my opinion and tastes. As such there are times where my reviews don’t line up with popular opinion. To the point where “Well I Liked It” is an award I give at the end of every year to films which I like but everyone else seems to hate. Previous films I’ve nominated for that have included Gringo, Murder On The Orient Express, Table 19, and The BFG. Conversely, there are times where it goes in the opposite direction, where a film is loved by everybody except me. The best examples of these tend to be horror films; The Shallows, The Gallows, The Marshmallows (I may have made that last one up). Films which I just didn’t get. I mention all of this to provide context for this review. I really disliked this film, for multiple reasons.

Don’t get me wrong, from a technical standpoint it was great, the performances were sublime and it nailed the look and feel of the time. It truly feels like it belongs in the time it’s set in. There aren’t many anachronistic nods and winks, you know, where someone makes a comment that we know has comedic implications, like “Westerns will always be the most popular movie genre”, or “Rosemary’s Baby? That will never work as a film”. As such you’re not really pulled out of the film that often by the dialogue. The film itself, however, is incredibly tedious. Almost 3 hours long with 20 minutes of story. I spent so much of the film bored. 90% of the film was not needed. Actually, entire sub-plots and characters aren’t needed.

That doesn’t compare to two things which push it into dislike territory for me. One was the deification of Roman Polanski. I get he was important in the reality, but this film isn’t about reality, and if he wasn’t mentioned you wouldn’t notice his missing. I know back then people did deify him, but to a modern audience, it’s weird to hear it. It would be like watching a film about a pop-punk band in early 2000’s and they constantly mention how much they love lostprophets.

More jarring than that is something very specific to Tarantino; feet. In case you hadn’t heard, he kind of has a foot fetish. A fact he makes ABUNDANTLY clear during this film. There are multiple scenes where female characters put their bare feet up to the camera. Here’s an example:

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How is that anything but jarring? It adds nothing to the film, it just takes you out of it completely. It’s incredibly distracting and kind of weird. The only thing it adds is more material to the director’s wank bank.

Normally with films like this, I’d say it should have been cut down, with this I think it should have been made longer and made into a TV series instead. It would have allowed it to compartmentalise some of the separate plots into their own distinct sections, with the overarching themes running in the background. It also would have allowed some of the performances to have more meaning. As I said, the performances are REALLY good. Dakota Fanning is suitably creepy, DiCaprio and Pitt are on top of their game. Two performances deserve a special mention though; Mikey Madison and Julia Butters. Two people I’m not that familiar with, but I’ll be keeping an eye on as they are mindblowing in this. Julia Butters, in particular, gives the film most of its emotional weight when she’s on-screen.

It may seem like I hated this film; I didn’t. The closing scenes were too good for me to hate it. They were scenes of chaos with some amazing performances. It’s not good enough to make me like it though. Many people love this film, and I get why they would. It’s just not for me, at all. And that’s okay, I don’t have to like everything, and I sincerely doubt Tarantino will give a shit that one person didn’t like it.

4 reasons The Hateful 8 is worth seeing and 4 it’s not

4 reasons The Hateful 8 is worth seeing
and 4 it’s not

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Out the gate; this isn’t Tarantino’s best film, nor is it his worst (like some people have been calling it), but like most things there are two sides to it. So here are those two sides, four reasons you should give up your hard earned cash to go see this lil’ epic, and four reasons to wait and see it by other means.

 

The Good

  • Tim Roth & Walton Goggins: The film is of course an ensemble piece with a stellar cast who are (mostly) outstanding; from Kurt Russel’s and Samuel L Jackson’s badass bounty hunters (Jackson is particularly on form), to Jennifer Jason Leigh’s now Oscar nominated turn as the creepily vulgar and frequently hilarious fugitive, Daisy Domergue. 973753f0-7b77-0133-4d9b-0e3f8b958f63

But it’s Tarantino veteran Tim Roth and Justified’s anti-hero Walton Goggins (seriously if you haven’t seen Justified DO!) who steal the show, the scenery and nearly the whole damn picture. Mr Roth is on rip-roaring scene chewing form as the extremely Twee British Hangman Oswaldo Mobray, who’s every smug verbal extremity and every sly glance and gesture leaves you in stitches, whether he’s debating the-hateful-eight-debuts-first-teaser-trailerthe ethics of justice with the brash Kurt Russel, or stopping everyone from shooting each other. Walton Goggins on the other hand is just having a blast as the fun loving, dorky, hill-billy-esque former confederate, who is so country and western he says things like, “I’ll be double dog dammed”, and you can’t help but smile at his every slapstick manoeuvre. He and Roth are like the two sides to the same chocolate and cheese coin. Goggin’s character also has the best (and I think only) arc in the film.

  • The cinematography/ the setting: Shot in glorious 70mm (which I didn’t see it in), there is just something awesome about a Western in the snow, and the landscape is captured beautifully to the point where the opening few shots could be confused with The Revenant. And then after the loooooong opening act (we’ll get to that in the next section), when we get to the much advertised cabin setting, it managed to keep that prestige in what really should of been a claustrophobic mess.
    hateful-81But the cabin is large and surprisingly complex, with each corner, from the bar to the fireplace, becoming their own country and safe ground for the characters. What I’m saying I guess is for a film predominantly set in one room, it still feels large and epic.hateful-eight-5

 

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  • The music: Of course with a score from the Godfather of Western composers Ennio Morricone, how could this not be one of the reasons? But beyond the classic western theme that’s winning all the awards, far less appreciation is being said for the other uses of music and score; with awesome music from The Exorcist 2 and unused tracks from The Thing being part of the soundtrack, and it fits perfectly. As well as a violin quintet that perfectly shapes the mystery vibe the film strives for in its second act. One thing Tarantino hasn’t lost is his impeccable ear for soundtrack.

 

  • The Ending: I won’t ruin it for the few people who haven’t seen it, but I will still reservoir_dogs_queer6talk about it. It’s bloody, it’s fun, its ambiguous, yet somehow also satisfying enough, as those you want to see get it do (for the most part) and those you want to see make good also do (for the most part), without resorting to anything overly happy….Though the more I think about it the more it seems like a re-tread of Reservoir Dogs. Still for a film that gets so messy in every way, it has strong closing minutes.

 

 

The bad (and the ugly…sorry)

  • The twist: So again I won’t ruin it for those who haven’t seen it and for some reason
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    Without context this doesn’t give away too much

    may be debating whether to from this list, but I’ll say this: you can ignore it all you want and enjoy a lot of other aspects about it, but the twist breaks the film and makes the three hours you spend watching kind of pointless. As by the twists logic the film could have been finished within Kurt Russel storming into the cabin, and the more you marinade over it, the less it, and so many other situations, make sense. If you can put that aside (which I can do to a point) the film still works, but you shouldn’t have to ignore the plot to enjoy a film.

 

  • The length: This is Tarantino at his most Tarantino and self-indulgent. I understand the idea. He wants to make it a classic epic Western, but that isn’t an excuse for 40 minutes of set-up before ‘the plot’ sets in, nor another half hour of flashbacks just to explain the overwrought twist, orjust the endless monologues and detours, with only about half lending anything to the situation or are really entertaining.
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    couldn’t think of a image to go with time

    Now I know what some of you are thinking, we need all that time to introduce all the characters and flesh them out…and that leads directly into the next point…

 

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  • Joe Gage and a third of the cast: A third the cast are just kind of dull, underdeveloped and uninteresting. I wouldn’t be shocked if Tarantino had the title first, but then gave up halfway trying to fill it with 8 interesting characters. Bruce Dern’s old racist confederate general is probably the most interesting uninteresting character, but he’s really just there to flesh-out Goggin’s and Jackson’s characters. Michael Madsen is….there; he showed up, he spoke. And dernDemián Bichir’s character’s biggest trait is that he’s Mexican…oh and he played piano in that one scene. For a film this long and boasting an apparently hateful 8 (even though theres like ten of them really), its inexcusable that almost half the cast are uninteresting mexicajnunderdeveloped characters, there just to pad out the length like tissue in a bra.

 

 

 

  • What it could have been: A lot of people have been comparing this to Clue or calling it a form of whodunit and it is…for a minute…when it feels like it.qz6uv0xwBut it gets so bogged down with detours, homage, pointless scenes, sucking it’s own dick, and having a bullshit twist it never really gets there. And it could have been great if it did! A Tarantino whodunit, that just sounds amazing. With the same set of
    Clue_Poster
    Very underrated comedy!

    characters (well maybe a few less), and the same set-up and location, all that needed to happen was someone dies, and then the film is them trying to work out who did it, as the tension and egos run high. Instead it kind of does that in the second middle, but then makes that whole section pointless with the reveal of who did it, how, and why. Rule number one of twists: if it isn’t more interesting than what you have already established then don’t do it.

 

Through writing these eight reasons, for all the things I like about it that make it worth a see, the more I’m discovering how big the problems are and how they weigh down what could of (should of) been a classic Tarantino, if Tarantino hadn’t gotten in the way.

Top 10 favorite anime part 2: 5-1

5- Kino’s journey: the Beautiful World

transition-screen2A largely episodic, slow paced and thought-provoking road series, we follow the titular Kino on a journey around a strange other world with her talking motorcycle (not as goofy as it sounds). As they come across many strange lands and characters with startlingly different cultures and beliefs, as Kino waxes tumblr_m0l9im9XYH1qmpg90o1_500philosophy about the many meanings behind human nature. Though not to say she isn’t a fun and interesting character in her own right, delivering a lot of deadpan humour, and the episode that deals with her back story is just as interesting as any other. Every episode is like a parable, seeing Kino in bizarre places and meeting bizarre people, that aren’t what they seem; like a country only run by robots, warring countries with a genocidal secret, or simply railroad workers who think

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It’s a flying talking tank…what?

they’re only doing their job. The way the stories pan out and how Kino reacts to them is never what you expect. But unlike a lot of other episodic journey based shows, Kino is not a hero going round liberating cities and saving the day, she is only ever an observer, there to see the world not change it.

Not a particularly action packed or thrilling series, Kino’s journey is beautifully vivid, kinoand has the vibe of a cold snowy night in, and is for when you’re in the mood for something more cerebral and thought-provoking. At only 13 episodes Kino’s journey is a must for those who watch anime for more than tits and Kamehame Waves.

 

4- Baccano

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If Quentin Tarantino made an anime, it would be something like this. A

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This is Firo…he’s a bad-ass

sprawling, insane mulch-character driven gangster epic that weaves three interlinked but out of order stories, of the same characters from different points of 1930’s New York. Bringing together smooth talking gangsters, thuggish mobsters, goofy yet lovable thieves, good-hearted mercenaries, a variety of psychotic serial killers, and sinister immortal cultists. It sounds a lot, and it is, but it’s a hella good time and a fun ride.

Dramatic, action packed, scary, thoughtful, really really funny,

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Come on…watch it!

and just damn good entertainment; its Pulp Fiction-esque turned up to 11 plotting is a feat of storytelling, but if you can get your head around it you’ll discover one of the most bizarre gems anime has to offer. And it’s only 16 episodes long!

 

It also has one the coolest openings this side of Cowboy Bebop!

 

3- Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

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Actual development!!

In many ways and overall better than the original series in my opinion, as Brotherhood follows the manga’s story much closer, so the overall plot is better paced and planned out and there is actual character development.
Set in a fantastical world where the science of alchemy exists, we follow the young Elric brother’s as they travel the land, having many misadventures, trying to discover a way to fix their mistakes, and for the older brother Edward to find redemption for the sins of his youth. Almost as funny as it is dramatic and action packed, the story spans years as we see these characters grow, change and come to terms with the kind of world they d485627469945e22a38aa6ff49e9e5c33688105b_hqlive in; diving heavy into themes of brotherhood, redemption, religion, politics, and the meaning of life itself.

 

Really I can’t say much more without ruining it, so just watch it for yourself. Go get lost in this world that can be sweet and charming one moment, then dark and twisted the next. The characters are classic, and the story is huge. It’s everything you want anime to be and more.

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If you’ve seen the original series and think you don’t need to see this because of that, DO! Only around the first 15 episodes of the 64 cover what the original series did, and from then on it goes in a startlingly different direction. And that goes double for if you haven’t seen either.

2- Yu Yu Hakusho

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yu_yu_hakusho_-_032_-_knife_edge_death-matchThe series follows the adventures of a genuine jackass of a high school punk Yusuke, who after he is brought back from the dead becomes the after life’s Spirit Detective, tasked with protecting the world from demonic threats.
Though in many ways your typical battle Shonen fare (and doesn’t it sound it), what sets it apart from its kin is just how well it does it’s fare and builds around the tropes; as well as it’s generally darker tone. It’s a Shonen where people actually die, and the hero kills. But what makes it so great is its wide well developed cast of eclectic ch1931240-n30characters that constantly  blur the lines between good and evil (shades rarely touched upon by Shonen anime). Interesting worlds with different laws and cultures that are well explored, and though nearer the end its action gets a bit too DBZ-y, for the most part the fights are diverse and amazing, focusing more on martial-arts with super-powered twists, than just yelling till the other guy explodes. Though a bit slow and goofy at the beginning, when the main plot of the series begins developing from the second season it gets vastly more interesting. The villains become jusyuyu_full_192t as important and developed as the good guys, and the pace picks up perfectly, never falling into the DBZ trap of overly long fights and slow plot progression, instead keeping fights to two-ish episodes a piece at most and every episode actually pushes the plot forward.

It also has a fantastic dub that plays it fast and loose with language and indexhumor, and the manga writer himself as said he thinks the Dub captured the spirit of his story better than the original.

It’s a real gem from the 90’s anime flux, and one of the all-time greats. Watch it…if you have time for a 100+ episode series…

And it too has one of the bes…okay not best, but just odd opening themes, that doesn’t suit the show, but is perfect for it non the less.

 

1- BECK: Mongolian chop squad

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I’ve already done a full look at this series. So to see why it’s my number one go read that here.

Honorable mentions (or shows that should really be on the list)

Ping-Pong: the animation

tumblr_inline_n9jq40RZu31ridabgAn odd ball of a sport’s anime, that is much more about the characters and growing up than the sport, and does so brilliantly by telling this tale of reaching for the top from multiple players’ perspectives. But that doesn’t stop the sport being mesmerizing and intense as hell to watch. Relatively new so I’ve only watched it once, but give it time I could see this finding its way high on the list.

Trigun

OEqahC3The classic sci-fi western series, that starts as a goofy action comedy, and becomes a dark science fiction thriller, all with one of the most charismatically likable yet tragic leads ever put to anime. It is full of great characters that defy expectations, an expansive world like you’ve never seen before, and a rich and original mythology. Really it should be on the list, and I’m not sure why it isn’t!

Hellsing: Ultimate

tumblr_mh1llo4xP61rbrys3o1_500There’s anti-heroes, and then there’s Alucard the ‘hero’ of this dark, gothic action, horror show, who is basically just a villain, but just isn’t as evil as the other villains because well, even vampires aren’t Nazis. Gruesomely fun, with strong characters, action, and plot; just make sure you don’t confuse it with the other Hellsing series which pales in comparison, and is another case of the series that sticks closer to the manga being the better.

Death Note

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It’s fucking Death Note, does anyone need to say anything more about it!

 

 

Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy_Bebop_9Another show considered an absolute classic, I kind of had the opposite experience with this than with Evangelion, as I went in with far too much hype, expecting the show to change my beliefs in the world and all that…and it really didn’t. But after having watched the show a few times with my expectations lower, I can’t deny how damn good it is. Great characters, great subtle storytelling, and it just oozes style from every pour, when it’s not just being funny. Don’t think I’ll ever 2500430-8244495395_dc9e0f48b7_zlove it as much as most people, but it DOES have one of the best ending lines in all of anime. So what else can I say but….bang

 

 

 

 

Well I hope you enjoyed my list of my personal favorite anime shows. Agree, disagree, what are some of your favorite anime shows? Let us know in the comments below.