Tag Archives: Quentin Tarantino

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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Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) & Vol. 2 (2004) Movie Retro Review by Stephen McLaughlin

KILL BILL 1 AND 2

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Writers: Quentin Tarantino, Quentin Tarantino (character The Bride) (as Q)
Stars: Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Daryl Hannah, Lucy Liu, Vivica A. Fox, Michael Madsen

I had a good think about how I wanted to construct a movie review for both volumes of Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill. Usually I would do them separately but I’ve always viewed the story in its entirety. I missed going to see these movies on their initial release and in many ways I am glad I first saw both volumes at the same time, meaning back to back. I never understood why a lot of people favoured volume one over volume two as watching these together the pacing remains consistent and the story remains interesting up to its climatic finale. The only element of change I could see was the first volume was more a martial art style movie that “Golden Harvest” would have been proud of. The second volume is more dialogue filled and also has a western feel to it but nevertheless a really good movie.

I also enjoy the way Tarantino will pluck an actor who was once really famous from near obscurity and reinvented them in his world of Red Apple Cigarettes and Big Cahuna Burgers. He did it with John Travolta in Pulp Fiction (1994) again with Kurt Russell in Death Proof (2007) and this time in 2003 with David Carradine as the lead villain and orchestrator “Bill”

As always Tarantino never uses the continuity template of revealing the story on a day to day basis. All his films will flit back and forth and so begins a reviewers nightmare of making sense of a “Tarantino Timeline” We begin in a Chapel with “The Bride” (Uma Thurman) lying bloodied and battered wearing a wedding dress on a floor clinging to life itself with “Bill” speaking to her and you can hear but not see him. As well as his voice you can also hear him loading his gun up with the Bride horrified on what is about to happen and just as she speaks the words “Bill, it’s your Baby” the gun goes off and blood splatters from her head. It’s at this point we realise she was carrying her unborn child.

The opening scene although shocking is the benchmark on what is about to go down over the next 3 hours and as always Quentin Tarantino is the master of hooking you from the Kick Off with his style of film making. “The Bride” as she is called at this stage is miraculously in a coma (for 4 years) and awakes in a hospital ward confused and distraught at realising her child was removed from her at some stage over the 4 year course. Regaining her memory and physical self is very quick but interlaced with the present scenes and flashbacks as it isn’t necessary to see “The Bride” performing physiotherapy and from a filmmakers point of view is executed in the right manner.

It is not long until we see what Uma Thurman’s character is capable of and the opening fight scene is terrific and has a style at this point that I had never seen before by Tarantino. The pace is fast and the action is violent and without uttering a word you can sense the rage and injustice from “The Bride” and at this point we have our first flashback in grainy black and white taking us back to that fateful day in the chapel and cleary Vernita Green (Vivica A Fox) was involved in “The Massacre at Two Pines” strangely Tarantino opted to show the audience “The Bride’s” hit list with Vernita number two on the list with the name O-Ren Ishii already scored out??

Tarantino manages to mix these fighting sequences with terrific dialogue and if I were to nitpick on this scene it would be that the choreography at times is obvious. This isn’t dissing the scene in anyway, in fact it’s one of my favourite scenes throughout both volumes but like the Star Wars Prequel lightsaber battles at times they look rehearsed to the point of being unnatural.

Volume 1 also never reveals the face of Bill at any point and we only hear David Carradine in voice or see him from the back of his head. Thinking back to 2003 I don’t think the casting of Bill was a big secret so in many ways I wasn’t sure why the first volume was shot like that. Also the identity of “The Bride” is also a secret adding a mystery to both characters.

The final third of the movie pays homage to Bruce Lee’s “Game of Death’s” yellow jumpsuit and the famous fighting scene in “Fist of Fury” with The Bride setting her sights on O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu) and Sofie Fatale (Julie Dreyfus). These events happened before her encounter with Vernita Green at the beginning of the movie and I felt showing the audience that “The Bride” had already disposed of O-Ren should have killed the climatic battle scene. Strangely it doesn’t, in fact watching the build up to their face off is more anticipated and battling through O-Ren’s henchmen and her skilful bodyguard Gogo Yubari (Chiaki Kuriyama) are a must see. A lot of the sequences are filmed in black and white for reasons I can only assume are because of how graphic a lot of the sequences are shot.

After the bloodshed of the fighting scenes, a dismemberment Sofie Fatale is interrogated by Bill and the first volume ends with Bill asking Sofie “One more thing Sofie. Is she aware her daughter is alive?” The first time I saw this I admit my jaw dropped. I naturally assumed “The Bride’s” Daughter never survived the “The Massacre at Two Pines” and I’m sure I’m not alone in that cliffhanging dialogue. Kill Bill Vol. 1 isn’t far away from being a masterpiece and leaves you hungry for more. Back when Tarantino and Thurman were shooting “Pulp Fiction” they had discussed making a film in the Martial Arts genre with Uma Thurman as the lead. Did the inspiration come from Mia Wallace’s failed pilot “Fox Force Five?” Who knows. All I knew was I needed to see Volume 2.

The opening Scene in Volume 2 takes us back to the Chapel at Wedding Rehearsal. We see a very mellowed out “Bride” to be and this reminds of the time before the tragedy at the Chapel and allows the audience to understand that her character is in a different place at this point in her life. Her days as a deadly assassin are behind her. Discovering she is pregnant she is ready to move on with her life and join the human race. There is only one problem with that….Bill.

In the middle of rehearsal “The Bride” hears a flute being played outside (Homage to Kung Fu? perhaps) and finally Bill is revealed. As I previously mentioned the feel to this Volume is different to the first part. The pace is slower and the settings are mostly set in the desert but the tone of the film remains. This is where I feel a lot of people couldn’t adjust to the changes and perhaps the execution at the films climax, which I’ll get to later.

“The Massacre at Two Pines” plays out with a tense build up between “The Bride” and Bill and Carradine is very tense in this scene and controlling. You can sense his contained rage at what is happening and the shot pulls back from the Chapel as the Vernita Green, O-Ren Ishii, Elle Driver, Budd and Sofie Fatale enter the building and we hear screams, gun fire and then silence.

One thing I was happier about was giving both Michael Madsen and Daryl Hannah a larger role in this Volume and it was pretty obvious it was going to happen anyway judging by “The Hit List” both had smaller parts in the first film and we only got an introduction to both of them. In fact it’s Hannah’s character Elle Driver the one eyed mad woman who finally unveils to the audience The Bride’s name is “Beatrix Kiddo.” Bud (Madsen) is portrayed as a bum but you sense in a former life he was a first rate assassin and we learn he is also Bill’s younger Brother.

Beatrix Kiddo’s first attempt at striking Bud down is quickly blasted by a gun full of rock salt and with Kiddo floored he injects her with some kind of paralysis drug to keep her at bay. The next sequence of events even to this day is uncomfortable viewing for me and if you suffer from claustrophobia you will know which scene I’m referring to. Yes that’s right, Bud intends to bury Beatrix Kiddo alive. The scene itself is simple but effective. In fact it’s not what you see but hearing the dirt being shovelled onto her coffin and her panting that freaks me out. I think it’s a great scene but I find it a hard scene to watch and I thought “how the hell is she going to get out if this?”

Kiddo when at her calmest reflects back to her first meeting with her old master Pai Mei played by Chia-Hui Liu. This is where the pacing of the movie slows down and I feel this may be one of the reasons a lot of people favour the first movie as it moves at a veracious speed. The meeting between Student and Master isn’t that deep and I felt Pai Mei for all his cruelty towards Beatrix came across more as a master with a twisted sense of humour. Don’t get me wrong he is strict and teaches her valuable lessons but it kind of reminded me of The Karate Kid (1984) a little when it should have had a darker tone. Nevertheless we see Beatrix growing as a student and it is partly her origins storyline at this point in the movie and we discover her inner strength to strike very hard and firm in close proximity. This skill allows her to be able to break through wooden timber from small spaces. Beatrix back in her coffin begins her escape from the confined space and reaches the earths surface gasping for breath…. and so was I at this point. Tarantino I felt put this scene in as I feel he enjoys his audience to squirm every now and then.

Beatrix Kiddo’s second attempt to strike at Bud would have to be a little more tactical. Unfortunately Kiddo never gets that chance as Bud in burying her previously took her Sword and negotiated a deal with Elle Driver to sell the sword to her for $1 Million. Driver sets Bud up and places a deadly snake in the loot poisoning him and he dies a slow death. Before Elle can step out of Bud’s trailer Beatrix Kiddo enters the scene and we finally have a fight scene between both former close assassins in a very confined space in the trailer. Even with one eye, Elle is a force to be reckoned with and I love the way Daryl Hannah portrays the character as a hard hitting psychopath with more venom in her than the snake that killed Bud. Fair play to Kiddo, she went for Drivers “Achilles Heal” or in this case her one good eye and in typical Tarantino style pull her eye out of its socket and stamps on it *Ewwww*

You sensed over both movies and so many complex fighting sequences that it made you wonder if the meeting with Bill would or could top anything that had been done before on a physical level. This is where I feel for a lot of people the climatic finale felt a little let down. Personally I was very satisfied with the ending. I enjoyed the dialogue between Beatrix Kiddo and Bill, I felt the intensity between them and the hatred and respect simultaneously. The meeting between Mother and Daughter although played down was sweet. It must be a difficult task to blend a scene with so many emotions. The hatred and anger from Kiddo towards Bill. Bill’s disappointment in Kiddo’s retirement and another thing that a lot of people probably overlooked… Bill’s fear towards Kiddo. Although it appears he is in control, why else would he have a gun at his side if he didn’t know what she was capable of?

In the end it’s Kiddo who has the ace in the pack and quickly uses the The Five-Point-Palm Exploding-Heart-Technique on Bill who although knows his days are numbered looks impressed with Kiddo learning this trick from her master Pai Mei. Yes that’s the climatic event and final fighting technique used in the film that lasts no more than 4 seconds. Disappointed? Hell no. Expected? Hell no. Satisfying? Hell yes. I couldn’t think of a better way to end her journey. Reconciled with her Daughter and finally having the chance for a normal life. Perfect.

The Cinematography throughout both volumes is testament to Director of Photography Robert Richardson who manages to set two different tones for both volumes and the late great Sally Menke’s editing cannot be ignored either. Menke’s editing and timing on all of her collaborations with Tarantino doesn’t get overlooked and I was genuinely saddened to hear when she passed away. Quentin Tarantino is at his finest in these two movies in my opinion. Again his characters are memorable and his soundtrack is never out of place whether it’s the sound of revenge in the form of “Quincy Jones’ Ironside excerpt” or the climatic revelation of “The Brides” daughter is alive in the form of “The Lonely Shepherd” by Zamfir. It all adds to a beautiful mood setter and is a vital ingredient in Tarantino’s filmmaking. Kill Bill Volume 1 and 2 in my opinion are cinematic history. Highly Recommended.

The Hateful Eight (2015) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin

THE HATEFUL EIGHT.png

 

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Writer: Quentin Tarantino
Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh

A stagecoach travels through the wintry landscape. John Ruth (Russell) is a Bounty Hunter and his ‘Bounty” Daisy Domergue (Jason Leigh) are heading to the town of Red Rock, where Ruth will bring Daisy to justice (Death by Hanging). They meet Major Marquis Warren (Jackson) who is also a Bounty Hunter and on their travels they bump into Chris Mannix, who claims to be Red Rock’s new sheriff played by Walton Goggins (Django Unchained, The Bourne Identity)

Lost in a snow blizzard, the group seeks refuge at a stop off named “Minnie’s Haberdashery.” When they arrive they are greeted by unfamiliar faces named Bob (Demian Bichir), who claims to be looking after things while Minnie is gone; Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), christened the hangman of Red Rock, Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), a cow puncher and Confederate General Sandy Smithers (Bruce Dern)……but enough of that. The Hateful Eight is exactly what it is. A bunch of nasty individuals (8 to be precise) isolated in a cabin and you are left wondering when they will begin to turn on each other.

Now one of the elements I have always enjoyed in Tarantino’s catalogue is the long scenes (normally shot with one camera and in one take with excellent dialogue with some classic and memorable line) The bottom line is the dialogue isn’t that great in comparison to his previous films. It does help a lot that we do get a great cast (Samuel L Jackson, Kurt Russell and Jennifer Jason Leigh) because without them I feel the movie would fall apart rather quickly.

Another element I noticed (Well Tarantino actually makes sure you know by including in the opening credits that the film was shot on 70mm widescreen and to be fair the landscape shots look great but there isn’t enough of these shots to justify the use of this film as most of the “action” takes place in a consumed cabin.

The music in any of Quentin Tarantino’s films has always been excellent and memorable. But don’t get your hopes up as there is little music (although the Daisy Domergue on the guitar is actually quite fitting and a nice little number sung by Jennifer Jason Leigh )The Score on the other hand did win Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score Ennio Morricone) and I can see why (or should that be I can hear why?)

I wouldn’t advise anyone not to give it a go if you haven’t watched “Quentin Tarantino’s 8th Film” I just don’t think it holds up to his “other 7” I can see inspiration from The Thing and even Quentin’s Resevoir Dogs in The Hateful Eight but I don’t feel I would revisit this movie in the near future.