Thoughts on “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

Just between you and me, I’m the last person you want writing a review. My head is easily turned by attractive faces, and this film has plenty of those. But, with the exception of Margot Robbie’s portrayal of Sharon Tate, most of the pretty people are viewed through a layer of grit.

Undoubtedly, though, Brad Pitt, as rough and tumble stunt double, Cliff Booth, is still so handsome that he makes me stutter when asking Studly Doright for some, “p-p-popc-c-corn.” And Leonardo DiCaprio manages to retain his boyish good looks underneath the seedy B actor character, Rick Dalton.

So, as you can see, these three make it impossible for me to provide an unbiased review of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. I can provide you with some vaguely coherent thoughts, though.

  • Brad Pitt’s performance is perfection. As pretty as he is, heaven knows he could’ve “phoned in” a few performances in his career, but he always seems to bring his A+ game. Okay, maybe his prettiness got to me, but if you’ve seen the movie, let me know what you think.
  • Typical Quentin Tarantino film–could’ve been thirty minutes shorter with no problem. Having said that, he’s a storyteller, and I appreciate that.
  • Parts of the film are graphically violent. Again, Typical Tarantino.
  • I knew Dakota Fanning was in the film, but could never figure out who she was. After I googled the cast this morning and discovered which role she played, I was blown away. She was chillingly low key.
  • I didn’t want to see this film, but have to admit to liking it anyway. Studly Doright is now crowing, “I told you so!”
  • Having read everything I could get my hands on about the Manson family and the Tate-LaBianca murders as a teenager, I was curious to see how the reality of the actual events would play out in this work of fiction.
  • In reference to my last comment–Liberties were taken. I approve. Yes, I’m sure Mr. Tarantino was waiting with bated breath for my thumbs up on the film.
  • The soundtrack is groovy. I dig the Mamas and the Papas….
  • Luke Perry was in this film. I cried a bit when I realized it had to have been his final role before he suffered a stroke earlier this year.
  • Lots of stars playing bit parts. That always makes me smile.
  • I wouldn’t mind seeing this movie again, especially since I had to take a bathroom break during one scene that turned out to have some impact on the ending.
  • The actress, Rachel Redleaf, who played Mama Cass Elliott never uttered a line, but sure channeled the essence of perhaps the greatest rock voice of my youth.

I have more thoughts, but they’re becoming less coherent as I go. One suggestion, though. Don’t see Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and then go to bed without letting it drift away a bit. My dreams were full of weird 60’s type imagery, and no, I don’t do acid.

Peace, people.

The Meg

Sometimes one needs a bit of mindless fun, at least I do on occasion. The summer movie, The Meg seemed perfect for that, and since Studly Doright had no interest in seeing it, I went by myself on a Wednesday afternoon while he was in Orlando for meetings.

Sure, there were other, more cerebral movies I could’ve spent the afternoon watching, but I was in the mood for a no-brainer. I certainly chose well.

First off, there will be no Oscars awarded for The Meg, unless perhaps it earns a nod for “Best Film Featuring a Gigantic, Vengeful Shark in the Tradition of Jaws.” The shark, or rather, Megalodon, is fearsome, and for such a large creature he sure could sneak up on people. I jumped and giggled every time it happened.

Jason Statham played second fiddle to the Meg, as Jonas, a diver with deep sea experience and a troubled past. Of course. Isn’t a troubled past de rigueur for a hero in a disaster-type film?

Rainn Wilson portrayed the stereotypical billionaire with a heart of lead who funded the deep sea expedition that unleashed the Meg on an unsuspecting world.

The remainder of the cast performed admirably, joking in the face of danger, recovering at a remarkable pace in the face of the deaths of their co-workers and loved ones: “Too bad about your dad. Hey, you wanna go grab dinner? I’m starving.”

I left the film totally unchanged. I’d gained no new insights into the human condition. Made no new vows to be a better person. But, I now know that one motivated, plucky dog can out swim a giant, prehistoric fish, thus bringing about a fairy tale ending. All is well.

Peace, people.

Was it an Upgrade?

Earlier this week a friend on Facebook posted that he believed the new sci-fi film, Upgrade, was better than Solo. “Interesting,” I thought, and decided to do some research.

I’ve seen Solo twice now, so I bought a ticket for Upgrade, along with a gigantic pretzel and a large strawberry lemonade, and settled in for the movie. Counting me, there were six other folks at the 12:30 showing. I was the lone female representative in the place. I see a lot of sci-fi films on my own, so I’m used to carrying the flag for my gender.

After approximately 9 trillion trailers for upcoming films the feature attraction began. Right off the bat the movie caught my attention when the opening credits were spoken instead of projected onto the screen. Cool, eh?

The initial scenes are pleasant. The almost handsome protagonist, played by Logan Marshall-Green, is a throwback to an earlier era relative to the film’s setting. His character’s wife, portrayed by Melanie Vallejo, works for a firm specializing in cyborg-type prosthetics for wounded veterans. He’s old school, she’s new-fangled.

For once, the future doesn’t look like an apocalyptic nightmare. Cars are self-driving, homes are voice-controlled, and everyone seems well adjusted. I felt pleasantly surprised and eager for lots of upbeat future fun.

And then all hell breaks loose. There’s a bunch of slicing and dicing of human bodies with a boatload of blood to boot. I was NOT amused. I felt hoodwinked.

Now I know how Studly Doright felt when many years ago we tricked him into seeing Alien by telling him it was a lot like Star Wars. Hoodwinked, that’s how he felt. There’s no way in hell that Upgrade is a better film than Solo.

If I’d known in advance that the Australian director, Leigh Whannell, best known for his work on the first three Saw movies, also directed Upgrade I might have been better prepared for the gratuitous gore. As it was, I just felt ill, and as I’ve said before, hoodwinked.

Don’t see this:

See this:

Trust me.

Peace, people.

If Only I Could Spell “Annihilation” I’d Review It

Studly Doright was busy working on Tuesday morning, so after I ran a couple of errands I took myself to see the film, Annihilation. I knew Studly wouldn’t want to see this movie. You see my big strong man doesn’t dig entertainment that makes viewers squeal in horror or recoil in disgust. That’s my bag.

I haven’t yet read the book, but I’m eager to download it now. The author, Jeff Vandermeer, lives in Tallahassee, and I hear he frequents Wells Brothers, one of my favorite burger joints. What I wouldn’t give to pick his brain!

Y’all know I don’t really do movie reviews, but I loved everything about this film: The strong female cast led by Natalie Portman, the jaw dropping suspense, the special effects, and pitch perfect soundtrack. And the ending! Holy cow. But spelling “Annihilation” is a bitch. Spell check kept laughing at me as I struggled to write this, offering no viable suggestions.

Go see this film anyway, one doesn’t need to be able to spell Annihilation in order to enjoy it. Then send me a message. I need to discuss it with someone. Hurry.

Peace, people.

Jury Duty and “Lady Bird”

On Tuesday morning I had to report to the Gadsden County Court Annex for jury duty. Looking around at the 60 or so folks assembled in the courtroom I figured I had a fairly good chance of avoiding being chosen to serve. They only needed six jurors and an alternate, after all, so what were the chances I’d be chosen?

Long story short, I was one of the first 18 people called forward, and then after the lawyers’ questions or voir dire (literally “to speak the truth”) I was one of the lucky ones selected to serve on a trial this week. That’s all I can say, other than, “crap.”

We didn’t have to report until Thursday, and since I had a free afternoon on Tuesday, and Studly Doright was out of town, I decided to go see the film, Lady Bird. I’m so glad I did.

Lady Bird struck so many chords. I saw myself in the mom, played brilliantly by Laurie Metcalf, and in the quirky daughter, played by Saoirse Ronan. I giggled and cried and laughed out loud. There were moments so heartbreakingly familiar that I cringed. I wanted to wrap both mother and daughter in my arms and hug the hurt away.

I want my daughter to see this film. And someday, I want my granddaughters to see Lady Bird. It’s about as honest a portrayal of mother/daughter relationships as I’ve ever seen, and that’s the truth. Wonderful.

Call your mom. Hug your daughter. Give yourself a pat on the back. We’re all doing the best that we can.

Peace, people.

Addendum: The trial was fairly cut and dried on Thursday, and I was home by noon. Civic duty done.

Loco for Coco

With Studly Doright out of town on Wednesday evening I treated myself to a movie that I was fairly certain he’d never go see in a theatre. It was a spur of the moment decision to go, and I was still trying to choose which film I wanted to see when I approached the ticket kiosk.

It came down to a tossup between three movies: the third Pitch Perfect movie, the one about Winston Churchill, and the Pixar film, Coco. In the end I chose Coco because it had an earlier starting time.

Coco was wonderful from start to finish. I’m no movie reviewer because I’m such a pushover, but I’d put this film up against anything I’ve seen in many years. The music is wonderful, the animation is outstanding, and the story so sweet that the grandmother sitting next to me sobbed as much as I did through the last five minutes.

On that note, I must warn you that the story is pretty intense and might be hard for some children to handle. Plus, there are dead people in it. Well, dead cartoon people, but it might be a bit scary for some young viewers.

Let me know if you’ve seen Coco. I’d like to discuss it with others.

But What About Ewoks?

While Studly Doright had to work today I took myself to see the newest offering in the Star Wars universe. I’m a big Star Wars fan and can quote much of the dialogue from episodes IV, V, and VI (the original trilogy) by heart. I’ve seen every Star Wars film more than once–even episodes I, II, and III (the second, rather misguided trilogy.)

I’ve been pleased so far with the newer films: Rogue One and The Force Awakens. Unlike the second trilogy these films felt true to the original saga. The gritty Rogue One was especially satisfying after the whole Jar Jar Binks years, and I am totally enamored of the main characters in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. Rey, Finn, and Poe are as good as Leia, Luke, and Han.

Now, having said all that, this latest film, while good, and full of great action sequences, special effects, and quick dialogue, felt a little too Disney-esque to me. Don’t get me wrong. I love Disney as much as I love pepperoni pizza. Maybe more, but I don’t want to be distracted by overly cute animals in my Star Wars films or in my pepperoni pizza. And don’t even equate the Ewoks from Episode VI with the cutesy animals in The Last Jedi. Ewoks were warriors!

I’m not saying The Last Jedi wasn’t worth seeing; it just wasn’t as fulfilling as I’d hoped. Maybe I’m jaded. Maybe I’ve grown up. (Studly Doright laughed when I read that out loud.) At any rate, I need to see it again. I’ve got dialogue to memorize. And who knows, maybe those cutesy animals will grow on me.

Peace, people.

Battle of the Sexes

Every now and then it’s good to remember that even though women are still fighting battles to control our own bodies we have come a very long way on the road to equality. The film Battle of the Sexes starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell as tennis stars, Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, provides viewers with some pointed reminders of just how far we’ve progressed, and who we should thank for that progress.

I remember watching the hype leading up to the big match between King and Riggs, as well as sitting glued to the tv to view their epic match from start to finish. I was 16 when Riggs and King faced off on the court. My family made a big deal of the match and my dad said from the beginning he thought Billie Jean would beat Bobby Riggs. Is it any wonder why Daddy was my hero?

The movie recreates the vibe of the 70’s perfectly: The hair, the clothing, the music, the misogyny. Carell and Stone are wonderful in their roles. I give this film 10 thumbs up. Yes. Ten. I’m not much of a movie reviewer, but I know what I like.

Peace, people!

Who’s That Girl?

Studly Doright and I watch a good many movies. New movies, old movies, funny movies, action movies, we like them all. Well, Studly doesn’t care for horror flicks, but everything else is fair game.

Studly is extremely gifted in the art of identifying actors in different roles. We will be watching a movie and he’ll lean over and whisper, “That’s Idris Elba,” and I’ll say, “No way.” He’ll insist and I’ll refute until I break down and google the answer. Sure enough, that’s Idris.

When I watch a movie I become so immersed in the story that the actor ceases to be an actor and morphs into the character he or she is portraying. But every now and then I’m the one who spots the actor, and when I do I celebrate with cries of jubilation. Last night was one of those nights.

We were watching an older movie on television and a fresh young actress seemed vaguely familiar. I turned to Studly and said, “That’s Mary Steenburgen!”

“No way!” He said.

“Is too!” I claimed. Quickly I googled the film and gave a triumphant shout. My victory was short lived though when he realized the male actor was Jack Nicholson and I argued with him. And of course, it was Jack.

I guess I’ll never be ahead for very long. Oh well, he doesn’t look nearly as good in a dress as I do.