Want To See The Trailer For Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood…?

once-upon-a-time-in-hollywood-leonardo-dicaprio-dancing-1553087465

…sure you do! And since I hate to disappoint, here it is! Let’s come back and rap some after…

Well, doesn’t that look like a whole bunch of fun!?

Tarantino and co. have been doing a remarkable job of keeping plot specifics on this one under wraps, but here’s what we do know (via the official synopsis):

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a story that takes place in Los Angeles in 1969, at the height of hippy Hollywood. The two lead characters are Rick Dalton (DiCaprio), former star of a western TV series, and his long-time stunt double Cliff Booth (Pitt). Both are struggling to make it in a Hollywood they don’t recognise anymore. But Rick has a very famous next-door neighbour… Sharon Tate.

Mixed into this will be a lot of famous faces of the period, including Steve McQueen, Bruce Lee and yep, Charles Manson.

The film stars… well, actually, it’s easier to ask who isn’t in it. But, sorry everyone, this won’t be Pauly Shore’s big chance at a comeback.

Look, it’s Tarantino’s 9th film. What else do you need to know!?

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood opens 26 July 2019 in the USA.

Advertisements

Robbie Reveals Tarantino’s Tate

robbie tate

Margot Robbie took to her Instagram account today to give us the first look at her in character as actress Sharon Tate in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time in Hollywood.

ROBBIE 1

The cast features Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio – along with a virtual who’s who of acting talent (see previous posts here and here) – and sees Robbie taking the role of the American actress and model, and the wife of director Roman Polanski,  who was murdered at age 26 by the Manson Family on August 9, 1969.

The film dodged one controversial bullet recently by announcing it will no longer open on the 50th anniversary of Tate’s death, but instead be released by Sony on July 26, 2019.

As always, I’ll bring you more news on Once Upon A Time In Hollywood as it hits. Because if you’re anything like me, next July can’t come soon enough (and not just because it’s vacation time).

Tarantino Clears Out Hollywood with Pacino!

al-pacino-jack-jill

Another day, another casting announcement for what’s beginning to sound like Quentin Tarantino’s single-handed effort to clear out Hollywood of unemployed actors!

Just yesterday we found that Luke Perry, Emile Hirsch, Damian Lewis, Dakota Fanning, Keith Jefferson, Clifton Collins Jr. and Nicholas Hammond (yes, erstwhile von Trapp child from The Sound of Music and TV’s Spider-Man) would join the already announced powerhouse cast of Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Burt Reynolds, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen and Timothy Olyphant.

Now, hold on to your hats and yell “HOOAH!” as Al Pacino joins Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. According to Variety, Pacino will play Marvin Shwarz, agent to DiCaprio’s TV actor Rick Dalton, who lives uncomfortably close to the Manson Family, right around the time they go on their infamous murder spree!

…Hollywood has quickly become one of the most anticipated films of 2019, with it’s intriguing subject and astonishing cast (and of course, its writer/director).

Stay tuned for more news as we get it!

Source: Variety

Tarantino Casts Everybody In …Hollywood

bradleotarantino-u78706871854zbk-680x383_large

News just in via Birth.Movies.Death reveals that the cast for Quentin Tarantino’s latest, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood just keeps getting more and more delicious!

Joining the already-announced trio of Leonard DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie are Tim Roth, Michael Madsen and Kurt Russell (with or without moustache has yet to be announced, Kurtache watchers). Even more exciting is the announcement that this stellar line-up will be joined by Hollywood legend, Burt Reynolds!

The new Tarantino film is set (in Hollywood, as per the title) in the summer of 1969, and the few story details released so far tell us the story will revolve around the former star of a western TV series and his longtime stunt double (DiCaprio and Pitt, respectively). DiCaprio’s neighbour in the film is Robbie, portraying actress Sharon Tate (then wife of film director, Roman Polanski), who was, of course, brutally murdered by cult leader Charles Manson’s followers. The ranch at which the cult resided was run by George Spahn, now to be played by Reynolds.

Frankly, this project just keeps sounding more and more exciting. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood will be released on August 9, 2019, the 50th anniversary of the Tate-LaBianca murders. Expect no small amount of controversy nearer the release.

Suicide Squad – the two hour trailer.

suicide_squad_background2_0

So let’s just get this out of the way: Suicide Squad is a complete and utter mess, it’s one of the most incoherently put together mainstream Hollywood movies I’ve ever seen, to the point where it feels like a two hour long trailer.

The plot is simple: Superman is dead (at least until the last ten minutes of next year’s first Justice League movie) and U.S. government official Amanda Waller comes up with a plan to put together a team of super powered bad guys in order to combat other super powered bad guys. One of the team, The Enchantress, a witch with a bad complexion but great dance moves (of which, more later) goes rogue, throws a lot of big, glowing CGI around and threatens to take over the world. Fighting ensues.

The real life plot of Suicide Squad goes (allegedly) like this: Warner Bros/DC hire screenwriter/director David Ayer (Training Day/Fury) to make what they touted as one of their “filmmaker driven” projects. During production of Suicide Squad, Zack Snyder’s Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice is released to okay-ish box office but – and here lies what I suspect is the nub of this film’s (many) problems – a quite horrendous critical backlash.

Snyder’s film was labelled too dark, too grim, just too damn serious! According to industry scuttlebutt reshoots are ordered for Suicide Squad but, say the producers, these were always scheduled and weren’t done as a result of the drubbing meted out to BvS. Then things get stickier with the rumours that the film was given over to the guys who had cut Suicide Squad’s well received trailer with the remit to lighten it up, put in more jokes, make it more like… well, a Marvel film. Further, it seems that two cuts of the film existed – Ayer’s darker version and the trailer guys’ lighter version – and the decision was made to merge them.

What amount of this is true? Does it matter anyway? The short answer of course, is that none of the above would be of any interest if Suicide Squad had turned out well. But, dear reader, Suicide Squad has not turned out well.

The film seems to have been edited with a pair of blunt scissors by someone wearing thick rubber gloves and a blindfold. Cara Delevingne’s badder bad guy The Enchantress stands around doing interpretive dance moves to create… I still don’t know, a magic something or other… for almost an hour of the movie. Really, her character stands in one spot and (literally and figuratively) doesn’t go anywhere. Characters are introduced multiple times – the squad are introduced solidly three times in three concurrent scenes – each character is even given text-filled info screens and then we’re still treated to more introductory sequences!

After being introduced three times to Will Smith’s sharpshooter, Deadshot, we’re then given a scene, where Smith is handed a whole bunch of guns to fire at targets, that exists only to show us that… um, Deadshot is a sharpshooter. Just in case you didn’t get that before. Or before. Or before that.

In case all of this isn’t enough to hammer your poor eyes and brain into submission as to who you’re watching, each character gets a needle drop so painfully obvious it’s a wonder they don’t flash the lyrics onscreen just to really underline things. Incidentally, there should be an immediate ban on any filmmaker using The Rolling Stones’ Sympathy for the Devil to underscore how bad a character is, punishable by exile to making wedding videos for the rest of their life.

Whole sequences are muddily constructed (wait… the Enchantress did what to her human alter ego in order to escape her earthly shell!? Who shot down that helicopter!?). One scene has Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn wave goodbye to the rest of her team as she heads up into a building in a glass elevator, get into a fight with some monsters between floors and then enjoy a supposed comedy beat as the elevator doors open high up in the building to reveal the team she’d left behind on the ground floor pointing guns at her. But there’s no explanation for how they got there before her – it’s not even laughed off as a joke, it’s just left hanging in a kind of awkward “Huh? What?” moment. This is a first day at film school level mistake, it’s unforgivable in a multi-million dollar movie.

Whatever went on in the background of the making of this film we may never know, but you should be under no misapprehension that this film has somehow completely lost its way in post-production. The astonishing thing is that no one at DC or Warner Bros was able to see what a mess had been created and that the film was allowed to go into release in this sorry state.

suicide-squad

What makes all this so frustrating is that somewhere in this mess is a good film. It’s really enjoyable that so much weird shit is just thrown headlong into the film without anyone batting an eyelid… superhumans, witches, swords possessed by souls, mutated crocodile men! This is fun stuff and the film’s willingness to embrace it all almost gives it a strong worldview.

Also, whatever the producers paid Will Smith and Margot Robbie, it wasn’t enough. These two scorch their way across the screen with good, old fashioned star power and share great chemistry. Both actors were obviously having a blast with their parts and it shows. Really, I could have watched two hours of just these two and they almost (…almost) make the film worth the price of admission.

Viola Davis and Jai Courtney (as Amanda Waller and villain Captain Boomerang, respectively) do their best with the little they’re given, and Jay Hernandez (as fire summoner, El Diablo) impresses by bringing heart to an underwritten role. Joel Kinnerman (as Rick Flagg), unfortunately, feels miscast and Karen Fukuhara (as swordswoman, Katana) is a blank slate who drifts in and out of the film leaving no impression whatsoever.

In case you were wondering, Heath Ledger’s legacy remains completely undamaged by Jared Leto’s Joker, the character is horrible (and not in the way he should be) – blindingly obvious, grating, underwritten (again) and pretty redundant for much of the film. It’s such a gross misunderstanding of the character that I am now really hoping he doesn’t show up in Ben Affleck’s forthcoming Batman movie.

And despite all this I found myself enjoying parts of the film. But I’d no sooner find myself hitting a groove than some bizarre edit or incomprehensible plot point would just pull me out of the story all over again. It’s a shame. These actors are really working hard to give life to their characters and so much is undone by terrible committee meddling.

Warner Bros and DC really need to get their act together. This is a two for two strike out which shows a basic lack of faith in the core material and a lack of cohesive direction for their shared universe. Instead we’re left with an aimless mess that simply makes a lot of noise for two hours.

So, that was Suicide Squad the trailer. Now when do we get the movie…?

* With thanks to Ante Lundberg for the review title.

The Legend of Tarzan – Me Tarzan, You Entertained

the legend of tarzan

The Legend of Tarzan is the latest screen version of the character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs in 1912. With a cast headed up by Alexander Skarsgård, Margot Robbie and Christoph Waltz, and directed by David Yates (who will forever be in my good books for helming the classic BBC serial, State of Play, and more famously headed up the final four Harry Potter films), this take on Tarzan has a lot of production wattage.

It also feels like a genuine attempt to transfer Burroughs’ Tarzan to the screen, complete with (thankfully) a cultured, sophisticated lead character (as opposed to the more frequently featured noble savage) and much of the background material from the books, while updating things slightly for a modern sensibility (including some far too contemporary sounding dialogue, unfortunately).

The story sees Tarzan, Lord John Clayton III, having left Africa behind almost a decade previously, now living in Victorian England with his wife, Jane. The two become involved in a plot set in motion by Leon Rom, a treacherous envoy for King Leopold of Belgium, to lure the jungle lord back to the Congo. Rom plans to capture Tarzan and deliver him to an old enemy in exchange for diamonds which will pay for an army to take over the continent.

Skarsgård makes a fine John Clayton/Tarzan, gifting him with a quiet intelligence and a restrained fierceness, Robbie continues to impress, giving us a feisty, admirable Jane Porter Clayton, while Samuel L. Jackson tones down many of his usual Samuel L. Jackson-isms for a character that always stays just the right side of comic relief. Christoph Waltz, as Rom, is far too talented to be anything other than entertaining, but his character lacks some truly defining dialogue and moments to make him rise above the actor’s increasingly familiar toolbox of tricks.

Yates strives for a Tarzan film that falls between the mythic grandeur of 1984’s Greystoke, The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (phew) and the gung ho nature of the 1930s-40s MGM Johnny Weissmuller films, and mostly succeeds. Unfortunately, the script, while perfectly serviceable, feels two or three polish drafts away from anything truly memorable – dialogue works but never sparkles or shines.

The film is also highly inconsistent in some of its production values. Many edits are inelegant, with some clumsy transitions. Sometimes the CGI work is wonderful – such as a small but sweet moment where Tarzan bonds with some lions, and sometimes it’s almost wilfully bad – the wildebeests seen in the trailer or a shot near the climax of a rowboat approaching the camera, which has it practically floating through nothing.

Despite these caveats, The Legend of Tarzan moves at an admirably classical pace, it treads around issues of colonialism with broad but well defined strokes (even if, in real life the Belgians ruled the Congo for another 70 years), is well cast and handsomely mounted, and it mostly looks wonderful, with sweeping vistas of plains and deep, emerald forests. It deserves plaudits for not insulting the audience with yet another origin story (though Tarzan’s backstory is present in the form of flashbacks), and there’s good chemistry between the two leads. It gave me a genuine chill of delight to hear an updated version of the classic Weissmuller Tarzan yell (though it would have been nice to actually see him do it, rather than just hear it – a result of post-production tweaks, perhaps) and definitely left me wanting to spend more time with these versions of the characters for further adventures.

While somewhat frustrating, this is still an entertaining and enjoyable Tarzan film for a modern blockbuster audience, proving the one hundred and twelve year old character is still the one, true king of the swingers. Next time he just needs to swing a little higher.