Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019) Movie Review

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Writer: Quentin Tarantino (Screenplay)

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Emile Hirsch, Margaret Qualley, Timothy Olyphant, Julia Butters, Dakota Fanning, Bruce Dern, Al Pacino

Plot: A faded television actor and his stunt double strive to achieve fame and success in the film industry during the final years of Hollywood’s Golden Age in 1969 Los Angeles.

Tagline – The 9th Film from Quentin Tarantino.

Runtime: 2 Hours 41 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Beautiful Look at Hollywood

Story: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood starts as we head to Hollywood in 1969, television actor Rik Dalton (DiCaprio) and his stunt double Cliff Booth (Pitt) as we follow Rick trying to put his career back on track, he is shown the reality of his situation through his agent Marvin Schwarz (Pacino). Rick must face his own future in the business when he learns that Sharon Tate (Robbie) and Roman Polanski have moved into the house next door to him.

As we follow the three around LA, Rick working on another television appearance, Sharon watching her own movie in a theatre and Cliff stumbling in to the Spahn ranch where he once worked that has been overtaken by the hippies control be Charles Manson. With Hollywood being the home for dreams, Rick, Cliff and Sharon will end up having a night that will change their lives forever.

Thoughts on Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Characters – Rick Dalton was once the star of a popular television show, now his show is cancelled, he has been left to work on guest spots usually playing the villain, the film roles have dried up and he must rely on Cliff to drive him around LA, he knows he is better than what he is getting and does believe that he will one day get a big role, he is a great look at how actors can see their careers turn into a rollercoaster in Hollywood. Cliff Booth is the stuntman for Rick, he helps drive him around town too, with he two being best friends. When he isn’t helping Rick, he cruises around town and isn’t far from breaking the law once again, he does seem grounded in this world and isn’t afraid to get into a fight, including challenging Bruce Lee. Sharon Tate is the beautiful actress that was on the rise to stardom, she parties with her husband and friend Jay and is the talk of the town. As for the rest of the characters, we meet actors of the era, on set members that help or hinder the roles for both Rick or Cliff and members of the Manson family.

PerformancesLeonardo DiCaprio proves once again that he can become any character he wants with a performance that shows that he could be an actor trying to be an actor and know just how to play this role. Brad Pitt steals the movie with the personification of cool in every single scene he is in, the laidback nature and the relationship he has with his dog, just makes you want to see more of him. Margot Robbie looks perfect for the role of Sharon Tate, she doesn’t put a foot wrong even if she doesn’t end up having a big of a role that we are made to believe.

StoryThe story here follows an actor suffering with a career identification that teams up with his stuntman to go in search for the next career move, all with the background of the growing actions of the Manson Family. This is a story that does feel misleading at times, firstly because it felt like it should be heavily about the Manson family murders, while instead that is just the background story, while we are much more focal on the idea that an actor is trying to rebuild his career. This does make everything feel more entertaining though, because we get to flashback to certain life decisions which might have left the characters in the position they find themselves in. if you are a fan of 60s Hollywood, you will get plenty out of this story which will be filled with references for the golden era of Hollywood.

ComedyThe comedy in this film flows through how Rick and Cliff get involved in everything, we will get laughs through certain things, without it being a laugh out loud comedy.

SettingsThe settings for the film truly do put us back into the 1960 Hollywood era, be it the sets, the streets, the vehicles or the houses, it truly feels like we are there.

Scene of the Movie – Cliff visits the ranch.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – What is Tarantino’s obsession with feet.

Final Thoughts This is an truly entertaining Tarantino movie, it pays tons of respect to the golden era of Hollywood and will keep you laughing along the way.

Overall: Entertaining Respect to Hollywood.


States (2019)

Director: Zach Gayne

Writer: Zach Gayne (Screenplay)

Starring: Jeremy O Harris, Alex Essoe, Jasmin Kaset, Makenzie Green, D.C. Paul, Rachel Cederberg, Robbie Bruens

Plot: A transient road film featuring an array of young drifters wandering throughout the U.S. with varying degrees of purpose, or lack-thereof , “States” is a multifaceted meditation on freedom – via Twain, Kerouac, Altman, Linklater… – and an outsider’s love letter to America and the searchers of its endless highways.

Tagline – It’s not where you’re going…

Runtime: 1 Hour 49 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Drifters Stories

Story: States starts as we meet four drifters first a man who wakes up stranded in Mexico, needing to get back across the border before getting home, secondly we have Rachel (Cederberg) who is hunting for aliens, trying to get herself to Roswell, thirdly Simon (Harris) who is trying to get across country being picked up by two ladies Jaz (Kaset) and Kenz (Green) who take a shine towards him and finally Grace (Essoe) an actress that has been studying for her latest role who takes an uber driver Frank (Bruens) across America. As we follow the different drifters we start to see how the people they meet are not always the ones they look like on the surface and the drifters wonder if they can make it to their locations or not.

Thoughts on States

Characters – We do meet a lot of characters along the way here, we have the drifters that are trying to discover themselves, while trying to get to a new location cross America, some of the drifters just want an honest journey, while others have their own plans, but some of the people they meet have other ideas about why they will pick up the strangers.

PerformancesThe performances in the film a solid enough, we do meet a lot of characters which does make it more difficult for us to see any other cast truly shine in the film, but nobody seems to put their foot wrong.

StoryThe story here follows a group of different drifters on their adventures across America, we do jump between a large number with more random ones being added right to the end of the film too, none of these stories seem to be connected which doesn’t help us want to follow any of the stories more than the others. We do have some interesting stories which could have done with having more time placed on them, only they seem to get left to focus on other stories too. It would have been nice to see more time on some of them though.

Adventure/ComedyThe adventure shows us just how many different drifters can find themselves going through on the way to making a difference on their trips, while the comedy can come from the colourful characters we meet along the way.

SettingsThe film is set in a range of different locations around America which does show just how far these people will go for their next adventure.

Scene of the Movie – Rachel’s adventure.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Too many random adventures.

Final Thoughts This is an interesting look drifters in America, we have plenty of stories that show just how far the people are looking to go for adventures.

Overall: Drifters 101

Eaten by Lions (2018)

Director: Jason Wingard

Writer: David Isaac, Jason Wingard (Screenplay)

Starring: Antonio Aakeel, Jack Carroll, Asim Chandhry, Johnny Vegas, Vicki Pepperdine, Kevin Eldon, Sarah Hoare, Nitin Ganatra

Plot: When Pete and Omar lose their beloved Gran they go in search of Omar’s estranged father, confronting him on the day of his daughters engagement party.

Tagline – Two boys…three dads

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Enjoyable Comedy

Story: Eaten by Lions starts as we follow half-brothers Omar (Aakeel) and Pete (Carroll) who have just moved into a new foster home after their Gran passes away, asking that they both look after each other. Omar wants to go in search of his real father, which Pete isn’t going to let him do alone.

The boys head to Blackpool where Omar’s estranged father is meant to live confronting him at his daughter’s engagement party, Malik (Ganatra) only to learn that it his brother Irfan (Chaudhry) is the father and he isn’t ready to be one.

Thoughts on Eaten by Lions

Characters – Omar decides to go in search for his real father after his grandmother passes away, he learns that he is the son of a rebellious member of a big Indian family and does everything he can to help Pete through the days. Pete is the half-brother of Omar, they were raised together, he doesn’t let his disability get in his way and is happy to talk he way through each situation he finds himself. Irfan is the father of Omar, he is a laidback man that isn’t ready to be a father and only shows himself to be a bad example to the boys. The rest of the characters we meet are the family that Omar is sudden thrown into and the friendly local that helps the boys out when they need help.

PerformancesAntonio Aakeel does give us the reserved performance needed for his character being the straight-talking shy of the two brothers. Jack Carroll gets nearly all the laugh through his confident character, the two show excellent chemistry together. Asim Chaudhry gets laughs too showing us how he can play this role for laughs.

StoryThe story follows two half-brothers raised together and with different father with different culture backgrounds that decide to go in search for one of their real fathers, this sees them heading to Blackpool and meet his father and testing his loyalty to his half-brother. This does show how brothers can come from different parents and will always be there for them, you true family will always be willing to let you in and moving on from losing a parental figure can become very difficult. The way this story is told does give us plenty of laughs and gives both boys an adventure.

ComedyThe comedy in the film does get plenty of laughs with Pete and Irfan getting most of the laughs through the film.

SettingsThe film is mostly set in Blackpool, which does give us a chance to see the iconic boardwalk and tower.

Scene of the Movie – The party.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The awkward racism from the foster parents.

Final Thoughts This is a delightfully entertaining comedy that could be enjoyed by all and shows how cultures can clash with ease.

Overall: Fun and entertaining.

Night School (2018)

Director: Malcolm D Lee

Writer: Kevin Hart, Harry Ratchford, Joey Wells, Matthew Kellard, Nicholas Stroller, John Hamburg (Screenplay)

Starring: Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish, Rob Riggle, Romany Malco, Taran Killam, Megalyn Echikunwoke, Al Madrigal, Mary Lynn Rajskub

Plot: A group of high school dropouts are forced to attend night school in hope that they’ll pass the GED exam to finish high school.

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Just a Stand-Up Comedy Film

Story: Night School starts when high school dropout Teddy (Hart) sees his future go up in smoke right after proposing to his beautiful successful girlfriend Lisa (Echikunwoke) seeing his job vanish and his future employment needing a GED, this forces Teddy to return to high school for a night school.

The former class enemy is now the principal Stewart (Killam) and doesn’t want Teddy in the class, he must prove to the teacher Carrie (Haddish) that he wants to study, while keeping his struggles a secret from Lisa, which sees him becoming friends with the rest of the class to pass.

Thoughts on Night School

Characters – Teddy has been working in sales working off each pay check to look like he has been living a better life, he has a successful beautiful girlfriend, his life changes when he career goes up in smoke and his failure to complete high school is holding him back in searching for a new job. He tries night school, which sees him needing to challenge himself instead of trying to get through quickly. Carrie is a teacher of the night school, she doesn’t take anything from any student, though she is committed to helping people learn. Even if her methods might finally get through to Teddy. Mackenzie and Jaylen are two of the members of the class that are trying to get their education too, with their own stories.

PerformancesKevin Hart does fall back into his normal routine where he tries to throw more of his comedy into a role, rather than showing us a real character, with real problems that should be taken a lot more seriously. Tiffany Haddish continues to show she is great at the fast-taking jokes, but this doesn’t work for the character. The supporting performance are all mostly comedians trying to get their jokes out too.

StoryThe story follows a high school dropout that needs to get his GED so he can find a new job to continue living his life of luxury and keep his girlfriend, only this becomes more difficult than he could ever imagine. This is a poorly used story which could address a much bigger issue in education, where the students can suffer with learning disabilities and not get the help needed, it seems to focus on making a joke out of trying to better yourself instead of using the real issues that are meant to be giving these people more of a chance in the future. Even though it might not use this in the final part of the film, it also tries to paint the idea that you could only have a beautiful partner if you are successful. By showing education being a joke for Teddy it doesn’t help anybody that has ever struggled with education before and in the end this does just feel like a stand up routine instead of an actual story.

ComedyIf you want to see fast flowing jokes which feels more like a stand-up routine so if you like that you will get on with this film.

SettingsThe film does use the high school settings to show where the learning was coming from and the low paying job that Teddy must take just to make ends meet.

Scene of the Movie – Graduation.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The comedy.

Final Thoughts This is a comedy that just misses on the fact the story should be taken a lot more seriously, sadly this could have elevated this film to a new level.

Overall: Unfunny comedy.