Blinded By The Light (2019) Review By Philip Henry

 

Blinded By The Light Review

Director: Gurinder Chadha
Writers: Paul Mayeda Berges, Sarfraz Manzoor & Gurinder Chadha, inspired by the words & music of Bruce Springsteen.
Stars: Viveik Kalra, Kulvinder Ghir, Nell Williams, Hayley Atwell

We’ve been spoiled for choice this year by British movies about rock icons, but this is a very different animal to Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman. This isn’t a biopic of Bruce Springsteen but The Boss’s music does provide the inspiration for our lead character to change his life and dream bigger.

It’s 1987 and teenager Javed seems to have his whole life mapped out by his father. His dad tells him which career paths are acceptable and tells him he will find his son a wife when the time is right. The members of the family who work give their wages to the father without a second thought. Javed wants to carve his own path in life, but in Pakistani tradition, the father is the head of the house and his word is law.

But then a chance meeting at school with another student introduces Javed to the music of Bruce Springsteen, and to say he embraces it wholeheartedly would be an understatement. Springsteen’s music and lyrics show Javed the poetry of everyday lives, of quiet heroes, and working class dignity. Pretty soon, those dreams Javed had of being a writer seem a lot closer and more attainable.

It’s a very sweet coming of age story that I really empathised with. When I discovered music in my teenage years it was a revelation, and I always thought I got more out of it then most people. Music wasn’t just something that played in the background, it had something to say to me, personally, and that’s the same feeling that grips our young hero. This music teaches him to think, to dream, and to challenge his father’s preconceptions of who and what he should be.

The film evokes the 80s with real joy. Anyone who grew up in that era will smile when they see sweets, foods and drinks (who remembers Top Deck!) associated with the decade. These little touches add so much to the overall look and feel of the story. There’s also a great soundtrack – it’s not all Springsteen – and the fashions and cars add the finishing touches. This film gave me a peek inside a culture I admit I know very little about. It’s not all big hair and walkmans playing cassettes, the racism that was rife in Thatcher’s Britain is addressed and shines a light on how Pakistani families were treated during the height of the National Front’s hate campaign. I wish I could say it shows how far we’ve come but recent events show it’s not nearly far enough.

The film doesn’t have a huge third act finale, but since this screenplay is based on a true story I suppose what happens is what happened. It’s quite a talky, yet still emotional, ending that provides closure to the coming of age arc, and the final shot did bring a lump to my throat.

Viveik Kalra is fantastic, proving a likeable and engaging lead. He has the acting chops to make you share his wonder as the lyrics of New Jersey’s finest fill his head, heart and soul, as well as bringing a lump to your throat when things go awry. His love interest is Nell Williams, who played the young Cersei Lannister in season five of Game of Thrones. She plays a teen activist embarrassed by her Tory parents (and rightly so), and throws herself into the spirit of the thing with another strong performance. There’s some familiar faces in the supporting cast too, like Captain America’s Peggy Carter – Hayley Atwell, and TV favourites Rob Brydon and Sally Phillips.

I think most people consider Bend It Like Beckham to be Gurinder Chadha’s best film. Since I don’t have any interest in football it never really scored with me… not like this one did. This is a film I suspect I will watch many more times, and if you’ve ever heard a song and thought it was being sung just for you, you should watch it too.

Despite some dark themes and moments, the overall feeling this film left me with was a joyful one. It will make you laugh, smile, and maybe even break into a spontaneous dance (in the dark?) wearing your orange headphones. I’m only a moderate fan of Springsteen but even I came home and stuck on the Born in the USA album because this film’s enthusiasm is infectious.

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The Kitchen (2019) Movie Review By The Moviie Couple

 

The Kitchen Review

Director: Andrea Berloff
Writers: Ollie Masters (comic book series), Ming Doyle (comic book series)
Stars: Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, Elisabeth Moss 

Moviie Couple here!   We went out and watched The Kitchen this Friday!  Remember we are just a married couple that loves movies!  We’re here to tell you if we liked it.  Film experts we are not! Just a quick reminder of our rating system.   Mrs. Moviie Couple and I, rate films on whether they are worth the cash spent on a night out.  we use a 1-6 Dollar Bill system.  1-2 Bills equal a waste of both our time and money!  3-4 Bills equal Meh to Pretty Good, money well spent!  5-6 Bills equal Wow!  Well worth the price of dinner, movie and sitter!  Please take our money again!

The Kitchen adapts a 2015 DC/Vertigo comic book series written by Ollie Masters and Illustrated by Ming Doyle to the silver screen.  The film, like the comic before it, tells a tale of three mob wives in the 1970’s as they rise in power over Hell’s Kitchen Manhattan while their husbands are off serving time in prison.  Utilising some brains and old school chutzpah, the trio quickly fill a void left by an inept mafioso made-man left in charge.  The trio of enterprising 70’s ladies are played by Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish and Elisabeth Moss.  Directed by first time director, Andrea Belloff, we follow the growth of these three friends in a world not ready or willing to embrace female empowerment.  Growth, alliances, twists and of course violence ensue!  Can the women break the mob glass ceiling?  Are they prepared to take on a world they only knew from the periphery?  Are they prepared to pay the price a life in this world costs?  Well we don’t spoil here at Moviie Couple so why don’t we just let you know if it’s worth watching in order to find these answers for yourself or is it better to wait and watch on the couch?  So grab a pack of smokes, crank up your eight cylinder gas guzzler and hit play on your eight track while you turn up The Chain by Fleetwood Mac (Man is that song used in every 70 era picture or what?)it’s time to find out if The Kitchen is an offer we can’t refuse!

Mr. Moviie Couple:  The title of this movie, The Kitchen, refers to Hell’s Kitchen New York and probably serves as a double meaning, as most men in this film, and probably many of that era, still felt a woman’s place was in the kitchen and not much more, but it made me think of Mrs. Moviie Couple and myself.  You see, you can have the same perfect ingredients and have us both follow the same recipe, but inevitably, Mrs Moviie Couple will produce a masterpiece of a meal.  On the other hand, I would produce a nightmare of a meal, I simply can’t cook.  This film had a perfect set of ingredients, a fantastic trio of actors in McCarthy, Haddish and Moss all doing good work, but the end result was less than appetising.  To this end, I have to blame the cooks, or in this case Director Andrea Belloff, who not only directed but also wrote the adaptation for the screen.

This film wants to be a Goodmamas or a The Godmother but it never comes close.  The plot happens at a super fast pace  When the women put their plan in motion, everything happens with an ease and quickness that seems far fetched at best and unbelievable at worst.  Any attempt at challenge or suspense rising against our heroines is never really sustained.   When danger or consequences do come to light, they are addressed and handled just as quickly as they appeared.  There was no time for any dread or fear to build up at any point. These faults lie solely at the feet of the directing and screenwriting, which unfortunately belongs to the same person.  The one attempt at a twist comes out of nowhere and I’m willing to bet was developed with the right amount of time in the comic book version rather than the last minute explanation we get late in the third act here.  Sorry, again no spoilers!

So in conclusion I certainly admired the performances we get here. McCarthy shines as a mother running out of choices to help her family, but never running away.  Haddish also gives a subdued (for her) performance and shows a quiet intensity that she usually doesn’t require in her comedic offerings.  Both these women, known mostly for their popular comedian personas really step it up here in The Kitchen.  Moss shines the brightest as a mousey victim of domestic violence, that not only grows and fights back, but emerges from her cocoon of abuse as a butterfly to be feared by any and all.  It also must be said that Domhnall Gleeson, known mostly as General Hux, in the new Star Wars movies, gives us a surprising and outstanding show as the ladies enforcer and confidant Gabriel.  He is fantastic in a supporting role.

Despite some really great acting jobs, the movie is a bit of a let down.  Too short, too fast, it never gives itself enough time to simmer and soak in all the 1970’s atmosphere or to let us actually feel the fear that these women were facing each and every day.  Like a meal rushed rather than properly prepared, the Kitchen needed more time and care.  You can eat it and taste the possibilities, but you probably should have ordered take out.  I give the Kitchen 2.5 Bills.  Just barely above a waste of my time and money.  Without the stellar performances it would have been even less.

Mrs. Moviie Couple:  Hi, everybody!!  The trailer really had me excited for this one!  The Godfather meets Charlie’s Angels!  I was all set!  Right up my alley, so did it live up to the hype?

The acting from the three main ladies was TOP NOTCH!  Melissa was excellent in exuding humble, sweet, loving Mom and Wife, but also capable of taking control whenever necessary!  Tiffany was fantastic as a no nonsense, tough cookie that was a consummate team player, but ready at a drop of a dime to handle things her own way!  Elisabeth played a girl with the kindest, sweetest disposition who due to her abusive past ultimately finds her “inner voice” and with that freedom finally becomes a force to be reckoned with!

Even though I enjoyed the idea of the women taking charge, I found the story to have many flaws.  It was very choppy and cut from scene to scene without warning or need.  It all seemed to get resolved instantly and with only minimal pain or suffering. Most of the characters that don’t make it, seemed to have it coming one way or another.  Very unrealistic.

Its a shame the story couldn’t live up to the strength of the three lead actors.  This seemed more like an old TV show from the 1970’s where everything works out in the end and all in under one hour!
For all those reasons, I will be giving the Kitchen 3 Bills.  The actresses and women movie-goers everywhere deserved a better film.  I definitely felt like it was a little better than wasting my money and much closer to Meh.  Sad because I was looking forward to this one so much!

On the way home, we talked about how disappointed we both were.  We both enjoyed the trailer so much and were expecting more than we got from the final product.  Mrs. Moviie Couple even told me we should have went to see Dora, WOW!    My 2.5 Bills and the Mrs. 3 Bills, gives us a solid 2.5 Bills for The Kitchen, not at all what we were expecting.  A confirmed waste of both time and money.

So until next time, remember trailers can be deceiving!  Not every film that looks good comes through on the promise!  Be sure to check out our Twitter or Facebook for a clue to our next movie review.  Mr. & Mrs. Moviie Couple out!

Avengers: Endgame (2019) Blu Ray Movie Review By D.M. Anderson

Avengers: Endgame Review

Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Writers: Christopher Markus (screenplay by), Stephen McFeely (screenplay by)
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chadwick Boseman, Tom Holland, Karen Gillan, Zoe Saldana, Evangeline Lilly, Bradley Cooper, Josh Brolin, Chris Pratt, Tilda Swindon, Dave Bautista, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Elizabeth Olsen, Tessa Thompson, Benedict Wong

The major downside to catching Avengers: Endgame in theatres was the risk of subjecting my bladder to irreparable damage. In my younger days, simply holding-it for three hours was no big challenge. Back in college, I even once participated in a drinking challenge where we’d see who could go the longest without relieving ourselves. I didn’t win, but did manage to make it almost four hours.

Those were different times and Endgame is a different type of epic. We’ve all sat through three-hour films before, but thanks to the Infinity War’s open-ended resolution and plethora of unanswered questions – not-to-mention a year’s worth of fan theories and speculation – taking a bathroom break would risk missing a key scene, plot twist or revelation. I’ll give the Russo Brothers credit for one thing: Every scene in Endgame feels vital at the time, making it a tough movie to walk away from, even for a moment.

At the showing my family and I attended, not a single theatregoer got up to leave once the film started. Afterwards, the continuous sound of flushing toilets echoed throughout the lobby for five straight minutes. I, for one, made the mistake of buying a soda before the movie, which I began the regret around the 90 minute mark. By the third act, my screaming bladder made it a challenge to fully immerse myself the film’s numerous emotional payoffs.

So despite being a fitting, larger-than-life capper to Marvel’s 22-film story arc, Endgame ultimately plays better at home, at least for those of us not endowed with iron bladders. In addition to reacquainting myself with the story thus-far by revisiting Infinity War beforehand, seeing Endgame a second time – able to hit pause when nature called – was far more enjoyable.

While I still loathe the practice of stretching a single story across multiple movies, Endgame justifies its existence – and length – due to the sheer number of characters, story threads and loose ends to tie in a manner that meets expectations of legions of MCU fans. A taunting task, to be sure, which Endgame manages to pull off. The film remembers its past while acknowledging the future, and is well-aware of the finality its title suggests (for the story arc and some major characters). In that respect, Endgame pushes all the right emotional buttons.

But unlike the original Star Wars trilogy’s most iconic moments, Endgame meets expectations without really ever exceeding them. As viewers, we already have a laundry list of plot points awaiting explanation, questions to be answered and characters’ odds of living or dying. All those boxes are checked-off – often magnificently, sometimes poignantly – but there aren’t any revelations as jaw-dropping as learning who Luke’s father is. And even at three hours, there are simply too many characters for everyone to get adequate screen time (some don’t even appear until the climax). Fans of certain characters will inevitably be disappointed by what amounts to a cameo.

However, those are minor quips. Endgame is ultimately a slam-bang crescendo to this massive franchise, the likes of which we won’t likely see again for a long time. While sweeping and epic in scope, it’s still filled with the smaller, character-driven moments that have always made the MCU engaging (something DC is just now figuring out). I’ve personally never met anyone disappointed by the outcome. I’m sure they’re out there, but maybe their bladders were simply too full to enjoy it the first time.

Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw (2019) Movie Review By The Moviie Couple

Hobbs and Shaw Review

Director: David Leitch
Writers: Chris Morgan (story by), Chris Morgan (screenplay by)
Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba

Moviie Couple here!   We went to see Hobbs and Shaw this weekend!  Remember we are just a married couple that loves movies!  We’re here to tell you if we liked it.  Film experts we are not!  Just a quick reminder of our rating system.   Mrs. Moviie Couple and I, rate films on whether they are worth the cash spent on a night out.  we use a 1-6 Dollar Bill system.  1-2 Bills equal a waste of both our time and money!  3-4 Bills equal Meh to Pretty Good, money well spent!  5-6 Bills equal Wow!  Well worth the price of dinner, movie and sitter!  Please take our money again!

Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw is a spinoff from the most surprising mega franchise in Hollywood not to feature people in spandex or capes!  Directed by David Leitch of Deadpool 2 fame and featuring Dwayne Johnson and Jason Staham reprising their roles as Lawman Luke Hobbs and Rogue MI6 agent Deckard Shaw from the Fast and the Furious films, this movie brings the two characters in conflict with super soldier Brixton Lore.  Lore works for the evil organization known only as Eteon.  Eteon is after a killer virus known as Snowflake, that just so happens to be in the possession of Shaw’s sister, MI6 agent Hattie Shaw played by Vanessa Kirby.  Hattie is on the run…..Wait does any of this really matter?  Who cares?  We are all here to watch Johnson and Statham trade smack talk, out “tough guy” each other, kick loads of ass while driving very fast cars and probably save the world a few times before the closing credits!  A plot is secondary to what the audience really wants to see.  Everyone wants to see the mountain of muscles with the eyebrow and the 100 watt smile that is The Rock, team up with the martial arts madness, gravely voice and shark scaring smirk of Jason Statham as they face off against the man who really should be James Bond!  So is it any good?  Does it deliver what it promises?  Let’s grab some guns, put the pedal to the metal and cue the explosions!  It’s time to find out!

Mr. Moviie Couple:  This movie will never be compared to Schindler’s List or Out of Africa, but it isn’t trying to be.  It is more than aware of what type of film it is and is proud in letting that flag fly!  Sure we get a bit (and I mean a sliver of a bit) of drama.  We learn of Luke Hobbs family issues, we learn about the Shaw siblings and their life growing up.  This is a Fast and Furious movie after all, so the theme of family is almost obligatory by now, but that’s not the point here for real.

This film won’t redefine the action genre in the way John Wick did years ago, but again it’s not trying to be anything other than what it is, a buddy action comedy for this generation.  In that aspect it succeeds.  Johnson is, well…..Johnson.  He has his persona down pat by now.  He knows what his audience wants from him and he makes sure they are never disappointed. Statham does the same, he gives his fans exactly what they want from him.  The standout is Ms. Kirby.  She shined in Mission Impossible: Fallout, but that role was just a sampler.  Here she shows she can stand toe to toe with two of the biggest male action stars of our day.  She is a star and proves it here running and even outpacing the big dogs.  Elba has the thankless role here.  As he describes himself in his introduction when asked who he is: “Bad Guy” pretty much says it all and there is little else to it.  As a presence that can face off with the twin poster boys for cinema machismo, Elba is a great choice, but still he deserves more to do.  Elba is an actor on a level Johnson and Statham would need a step ladder to even see, let alone achieve, but he never gets to show it here.

All that being said, the movie delivers on the expected action and gives us a modern throwback to the buddy cop films of the eighties.  One scene even has Hattie sitting at a computer with a poster of the classic 48 Hours on the wall.  The scene is very apropos as Hobbs and Shaw comes very close to a mix of those forgotten films as if you crossed Lethal Weapon with the effects and action of a modern Avengers film!   To that point Kevin Hart provides a role very reminiscent of Joe Pesci in the Lethal Weapon series.  Hart, along with Ryan Reynolds and Helen Mirren show up and add a bit of gravitas to the production.

I appreciated Hobbs and Shaw for hitting the mark they were aiming for.  The jokes got a little ham fisted and many of the put downs between the leads were either written by or overheard in a high school boys locker room, but the action delivers in a big way.  The plot gets lost a bit, if you think too hard about it you’ll be taking the fun out of it.  Of course we are left with a cliffhanger of sorts as the mysterious leader of Eteon promises to see Hobbs and Shaw again (I think I have an idea which actor will be playing the mastermind, but I’ll keep my guess to myself as that particular actor has been burning the “CANDLE” at both ends lately and I may be wrong).  I only hope if the duo does come back, we get a bit more of the family drama mixed in with the copious fight scenes.

So as a modern tribute or update to the great action comedies of the eighties I enjoyed Hobbs and Shaw.  Who knew you could dust off the old Lethal Weapon, 48 Hours,  Beverly Hills Cop blueprints add in a little Vanessa Kirby as the new Renee Russo and it could work again!   Hobbs and Shaw gets 4 Bills not for breaking any new ground, but for mining some old ground with a modern flair.  Pretty Good, maybe you’ll like it, but don’t expect to come away challenged, just put your seat belt on and enjoy the ride!

Mrs. Moviie Couple:  *Sigh* I try and say something positive about every movie.  I understand all the hard work that each person puts into each and every production, but this is going to be tough for me.

-There is a reason I have NEVER seen a Fast and the Furious movie.  I have watched my hubbie and sons both go to the theatre and watch many of the films in this series at home, but not once have I seen one in its entirety.  Maybe a scene or two with The Rock as I was passing through the living room, just to be fair, but that is all.  Well now that I have seen this part of the series, I am glad to say my past decisions have been vindicated! Uggh!  I am not an action film girl!  It’s just not for me!  I thought I was over Superhero movies, but I’ll take another Avengers or Shazam over another Fast and Furious anyday!

The actors as far as action actors go were phenomenal!  Especially Vanessa Kirby!  She more than held her own with these two intimidating male specimens!

-This just is not my kind of movie. But different strokes for different folks!  I must say the fans that like action driven films will really enjoy it.  There was a round of applause in the theatre once it ended that was so loud it snapped me out of the punching and explosion numbness that had consumed me nearly a half hour into the movie.  Johnson is a true star and still has a killer smile!  I can’t wait to see him in Jumanji 2!

I give this movie 1.5 Bills!  Just mind numbing action and not much else, even The Rock couldn’t save this picture for me.  Just stay home and wait to see it on demand with some pizza and a six pack! On the way home, I spoke about how Johnson and Statham’s roles have grown from their appearances in the previous Fast and Furious movies. I told Mrs. Moviie Couple how Staham had started as a villain in one of them and now he’s just one of the good guys.  She just turned up the radio and asked me why I was still talking about “That film”.

Yikes!  I told her my theory on who I believe the mysterious mastermind was and she just gave me “The Look”, there wasn’t much movie conversation after that!  My 4 Bills and the Mrs. 1.5 Bills, adds up to a rounded down average of 2.5 Bills for Hobbs and Shaw.  Just barely a Meh average.  Agree to disagree I guess.  When it comes to movies like this  Mr. Moviie Couple is from Mars and Mrs. Moviie Couple is from Venus or something like that.

So until next time, remember Summer Blockbusters are wrapping up, but the movie season never ends! Be sure to check out our Twitter or Facebook for a clue to our next movie review.  Mr. & Mrs. Moviie Couple out!

The Command (2018) Blu-Bay Movie Review By D.M. Anderson

 

The Command Review

Kursk (original title)

Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Writers: Robert Rodat, Robert Moore (based on Robert Moore’s book “A Time to Die”)
Starring Matthias Schoenaerts, Lea Seydoux, Colin Firth, Peter Simonischek, August Diehl, Max von Sydow, Martin Brambach, Michael Nyqvist.

Depending on your familiarity with the actual event, which was briefly all over the news in 2000, The Command could be seen as two different movies: An incendiary chronicle of recent history or a claustrophobic disaster thriller. Either way, this is an excellent film.

The Kursk (the film’s title outside the U.S.) is a nuclear submarine in Russia’s ageing naval fleet, which is a dilapidated shadow of its former self since the Cold War ended. During a training exercise, an unstable warhead explodes, sending the ship to the ocean floor. While most of the crew is killed instantly, a few dozen are still alive in one remaining compartment. The Russian navy attempts a rescue operation, but their equipment is old and unreliable. They also refuse to confirm to the sailors’ families whether or not anyone on-board is still alive.

As the incident becomes global news, other countries offer assistance, including the British navy. However, misguided pride and residual Cold War paranoia has the Russian government reluctant to accept any help, to the dismay of the families. Meanwhile, with the waters rising, the sailors below are quickly running out of air…and time.

Having just a vague memory of the actual disaster – and unaware of the eventual outcome – I have no clue to it’s historical accuracy and the scenes on-board the Kursk itself are obviously speculated. However, the story as-depicted in The Command looks and feels authentic, punctuated by tension-filled sequences, solid performances, impressive production design and convincing special effects.

But like similar true stories where the outcome is a forgone conclusion – such as The Perfect Storm and Apollo 13 – it’s the characters that drive the film. Though there’s an ensemble cast, the concurrent story threads are presented primarily through a trio of characters. Low-level officer Mikhail Averin (Matthias Schoenaerts) tries to keep what’s left of the Kursk’s crew alive and hopeful. His pregnant wife, Tanya (Lea Seydoux), represents the frustration and helplessness of the entire village over the navy’s inaction. British commander David Russell (Colin Firth) is the outsider who, like the rest of the world, doesn’t understand Russia’s refusal to accept help in order to save its own people.

Max von Sydow eventually shows up as Admiral Petrenko, the film’s de-facto antagonist since he embodies Russia’s overall apathy. Petrenko is more of a symbol than a full character, but if you aren’t absolutely hating him by the end, you haven’t been paying attention. One thing is certain…the way the Russian government is depicted, it’s doubtful The Command popular among Putin’s circle of buddies.

For everyone else, The Command is an under-the-radar gem. Exciting, suspenseful, infuriating and ultimately poignant, it’s a tightly-made thriller that deserves to find an audience. Whether seen as a scathing historical denunciation or simply a riveting disaster flick, the film is highly recommended.

Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood (2019) Movie Review By The Moviie Couple

Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood Review

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Writer: Quentin Tarantino
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie

Moviie Couple here!   We went to see Once Upon A Time in Hollywood this Saturday!!  Remember we are just a married couple that loves movies!  We’re here to tell you if we liked it.  Film experts we are not!  Just a quick reminder of our rating system. Mrs. Moviie Couple and I, rate films on whether they are worth the cash spent on a night out.  we use a 1-6 Dollar Bill system.  1-2 Bills equal a waste of both our time and money!  3-4 Bills equal Meh to Pretty Good, money well spent!  5-6 Bills equal Wow!  Well worth the price of dinner, movie and sitter! Please take our money again!

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is being billed as the ninth film directed by Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino also serves as writer. It stars Leonard DiCaprio and Brad Pitt as Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth, a star of 50’s television and his longtime friend and stunt double.  The film follows their lives as they are set on a collision course with the deadly night of the Sharon Tate murders committed by the Charles Manson “family” on August 9, 1969.  Sharon Tate is played by Margot Robbie.  Much in the spirit of Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, this story is a Tarantino “alternate history” film.

So it’s not a true Crime or a Bio-Pic movie, history in these types of films will not play out as expected.  You get a cast of many famous co stars, such as Al Pacino, Kurt Russell, Dakota Fanning, and many more.  Most fans of Tarantino films know what to expect from his stable of films, fast cars, a great soundtrack, loads of sharp dialogue and brutal violence.  So does this deliver?  Is Quentin on the top of his game?  Has the Maestro missed a step?  Let’s crank up the jukebox, put the top down, floor the gas pedal and find out!

So here we go!

Mr. Moviie Couple:  I have seen all of Quentin Tarantino’s films, some I absolutely love and others I find to be a mixed bag.  With Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (from this point on referred to as OUTH) I didn’t know which one I was going to get. The cast seemed top drawer, I mean you can’t get better, am I right?  The trailers seemed intriguing but left me wondering just what the movie was about.  I am somewhat unhappy to tell you that after sitting through nearly three hours of this film, I’m still not sure if that question has been answered. QT brings all the familiar elements from his films here as well,  great performances, exceptional musical selections,  realistic dialogue and at least one action packed finale, but the film still seems to have no rhyme or reason to it.

Leonardo DiCaprio, gives a fantastic performance as aging cowboy star Rick Dalton.  His portrayal of an actor dealing with the point in his life where he sees the sun setting on his career, is nothing short of perfection.  In the scene shown in most trailers where a young child actor whispers to him that his scene work was the best acting she has ever witnessed in her whole life, sums up what we are all watching. Leo absolutely kills the role.

Brad Pitt is equally good albeit in a much more subdued role as the buddy stunt double, Cliff Booth. His character is a war hero with a dubious background.  He is everything in real life that Rick plays in make believe, but in real life those dangerous, heroic characteristics often times come from a dark place. Cliff’s backstory is only told in snippets throughout the film, with little to no confirmation or details, and the audience is left to fill in many of the blanks. Pitt’s Cliff is a man with many issues and Pitt portrays him with an exceptional ease and a smile that hides whatever is dwelling just under Cliff’s surface. It is a performance equal to DiCaprio’s while at the same time being completely different.

Margot Robbie shines as Sharon Tate.  Her version of this 1960’s “It” girl seems to capture everything good about the tragic starlet. Unlike DiCaprio and Pitt, with who she barely shares any screen time with, Robbie had the challenge of playing the part of an actual person. Having seen films thatTate starred in, I can say I felt she captured the woman as well as anyone could.  At the same time, this was still a Robbie performance, but she seemed to capture the spark seen in Tate.  One scene in particular, of Tate watching her own movie when in a public theatre was excellent.  With no words, Robbie expresses the joy and nervous energy of someone hearing the public react to their craft in secret.  It was a fantastic and subtle scene.  Although her part didn’t have the same amount of lines as her male counterparts, Robbie was on par with them. She owned the screen any time she was on screen.

We have three outstanding performances, so what was missing for me?  Well let’s just say it was a long ride to get to one scene at the end that we all knew QT was heading to.  He took the scenic route.  At times this film reminded me of a QT Facebook adaptation if Facebook existed in 1969.  We see comments everyday demonstrating how mundane some Facebook entries can be. For example, “I took the dog for a walk today!”  “Going to the store for some shopping!”  “Choppin broccoli for dinner!”  Well at times, sometimes too many times, this movie seemed like we were watching an adaptation of what Cliff and Rick’s 1969 Facebook posts would have looked like if turned into a film by QT!  With the exception of a great scene where Cliff visits the “Manson Family” ranch unaware of the growing danger, but knowing something wasn’t right.  The hours of this film pass with little to know reason or suspense.  Other than the title, Once Upon a Time…., maybe being a clue and all QT wanted from this film was to take a Hollywood tragedy and give it a fairy tale ending we all wish had happened rather than the horrible reality the country all lived through, I can’t think of a theme or message this movie was trying to send me.

Man, just like the film itself, this review is dragging along!  It must be contagious!  So for the direction alone (QT really recaptures 1969 Hollywood down to every last little detail) and the actors all being on top of their games, OUTH is going to be getting 4 Bills from me!  Pretty Good, maybe you’ll like it, but be ready for nearly three hours of daily lives of a ‘69 actor and his buddy before the QT fireworks actually occur!  Sit back and enjoy three amazing actors doing what they do best until then!
Ms. Moviie Couple:  OK, Yes, it’s me again!  Hubby gets two weeks off from typing my review!

The acting from all three stars was out of this world!  Leo, Brad and Margot DO NOT disappoint! This movie is long, like WAY LONG!  And have I mentioned slow? For like the first one and a half hours it had me wondering what was going on, but be patient!  It’s worth the wait for the climax! The stories it was telling seemed very choppy to me. The plot didn’t flow smoothly for me. It went back and forth without any warning. I found it a bit hard to follow at times. You get a very in depth look into the lives of these specific main characters and what their day to day lives are like, but I felt it just wasn’t executed very well. Tarantino does eventually bring in the blood and guts!  Many of these were so graphic I found myself closing my eyes!  I prefer something be left to the imagination.

To be fair, this movie just isn’t my cup of tea,but I did enjoy the experience due to the cast members amazing performances!

I gave this movie 3 Bills!  The actors are phenomenal!  I would surely have rated it higher had it just been a bit more concise or just plain shorter.  But it’s hard to complain about spending three hours watching Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio, that’s for sure.

On the way home, We talked about just how great all of the lead actors were.  I kept commenting about the song choices, 60-70’s tunes are some of my favourites!  We both spoke about how well filmed the movie was, but we kept comparing our interpretations of what was the main point of the story, what was it ultimately attempting to convey? We don’t spoil here, so let’s just say we both had different ideas about how to answer that question. Thanks to my 4 Bills and the Mrs. 3 Bills, Once Upon a Time …In Hollywood tallies up an average of 3.5 Bills!  So closer to Pretty Good than Meh.  Not QTs best, but far from his worst!

So until next time, remember Hollywood isn’t all it’s made to appear, everyone’s career has a setting sun waiting for them, didn’t I read somewhere QT is writing a Star Trek script?  Be sure to check out our Twitter or Facebook for a clue to our next movie review.

Mr. & Mrs. Moviie Couple out!

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