Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing
Directed by Quentin Tarantino
I really didn’t want to see this movie. In fact, if ANYTHING else had bothered to come out this weekend I would have seen that instead, but nope! Everyone had to make way for this film so I guess I have to try and be professional! I don’t know, with everything we’ve heard about Tarantino recently it’s just hard for me to get excited to see his movie’s again; let alone support a new one. Cancelled or not, I just personally feel very much deflated thinking about him and going to see his latest movie just felt like even more of a somber experience. Still, while acknowledging the very real and very important context of the artist behind the art, is there a good movie to be found here? I guess we might as well find out…
Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) is an actor struggling to find steady work in the hectic world of late sixties Hollywood after a rather unsuccessful string of movies following a decent television career playing the lead role on a western. His stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) has stuck with Rick all this time since he’s had trouble finding work elsewhere and seems to have accepted his lot in life even if he’s basically Rick’s assistant at this point. Fortunately for Rick, he’s got a decent gig lined up playing the bad guy in some TV pilot which will hopefully get him some attention (otherwise he’ll end up doing Spaghetti Westerns which I guess weren’t good things to be in at the time) and this also means that Cliff has the day to himself which he uses to pick up a hitchhiker (Margaret Qualley) who wants to introduce him to her buddy Charlie who’s got a bunch of followers out in the desert. Oh, and on top of that Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) is Rick’s next door neighbor, and she’s doing stuff as well like… seeing movies and dancing around the house. Can Rick nail this latest role that may be his last chance to stay relevant? What will Cliff find at the compound the hitchhiker is taking him too, and will he be able to leave if things get out of hand? Is it just me, or is Tarantino trying a bit too hard here? Or perhaps not hard enough?
Death Stranding is owned by Kojima Productions and Sony Interactive Entertainment
I’m not gonna lie, I’ve been pretty down on Kojima’s latest game for a while now. Sure, we all got caught up in the hype when we first saw naked Norman Reedus and were left wondering what could all that nudity mean, but by the time that Del Toro got his own trailer and the babies became more and more… prominent (let’s go with that word) in the narrative, it all felt like a splash of cold water on the face; a revelation that he may be throwing things against the wall to see what sticks rather than doing something with any real thematic heft to it. But I could be wrong! I fully admit that watching trailers like this aren’t always a clear indication of what the final product will be like, such as the case with Dead Island or even The Order 1886, and frankly it all feels very intentional; as if he’s trolling for hundreds of videos breathlessly narrating their ideas of what this could all be about, and playing into that game is harmless but feels rather futile. Still, I’ve also been trying to get better at judging films in a non-literal fashion, and Kojima is if nothing else a VERY frustrated filmmaker! Until someone in Hollywood gives him a chance to direct something he’s gonna take it out on all of us by making the most bizarre and ludicrous trailers imaginable for supposed video games, and while I can’t really get mad at it, I just don’t feel the hype anymore. But hey, I’m already here and there’s a new trailer out with ACTUAL gameplay footage, so let’s at least take a look at what we know so far and see if there’s anything worthwhile to gleam from all this!
…What? – The First Two Trailers
As I said, I gave Kojima a lot of credit for that first trailer which was strange, provocative, and surprisingly vulnerable with some clear themes about loss, grief, and the way that male identity (in how we are socialized) play into those experiences. It sets a very apocalyptic tone with the dead animals, the copious amounts of oil (or an oil like substance), and the washed out aesthetic which goes along with the idea that this world is dying in some way. Not a bad way to kick things off, and Kojima couldn’t have been more popular at the time due to his recent fallout with Konami which made it a perfect storm of intrigue and feel good sentimentality. By the second trailer though, I was starting to get worried. Yeah seeing Pappy McPoyle (also known as Guillermo del Toro) carrying around a baby in a war torn city did advance the narrative at least somewhat since we know how some other people are reacting to the end of the world, but I don’t think the trick works twice and this felt more like a holding pattern than anything else. When we should have been getting hyped for the GAME, it was still being incredibly coy about everything. Now we had to start asking questions about the weird fetus thing, the black goop that keeps showing up, and new things like the soldiers with skulls for heads being lead around by Mads Mikkelsen! Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Mads Mikkelsen, but I was starting to get a bad feeling that Kojima left entirely to his own devices is gonna end up missing the forest for the trees when developing this.
The Nice Guys and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Shane Black
How amazing is it that on the cusp of a freaking Lethal Weapon television show premiering that Shane Black (the writer of the original film) has a new movie out in theaters just to show the futility of even TRYING to recreate what he did back in 1987? The guy may not be as prolific as some other great filmmakers out there, but between the films he wrote and the ones he directed, there’s no denying that Shane Black is a first rate talent that we should all be thankful is out there making movies. Does his latest film live up to his track record of excellence, or is this the first sign that the guy is tapped out creatively and that it’s all downhill from here? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) and Holland March (Ryan Gosling); the former being a goon for hire and the latter being a detective from the Richard Moore School of Sleuthing. The duo cross paths early on as Ryan Gosling is trying to find a girl (Margaret Qualley) for a client but the girl CLEARLY does not want to be found. Because of this, she hires Russell Crowe to convince him to stop, which he does… violently. Unfortunately for the both of them, this case is a lot bigger than either of them anticipated and after an assassination attempt fails to take out Russell Crowe, he goes to see Ryan Gosling about teaming up to find out what the hell is really going on here. Along for the ride (despite Ryan Gosling’s insistence to the contrary) is Holly March (Angourie Rice) who may only be a teenager, but is at least half as good as a detective as her father claims to be. Along their journey, they’re run afoul of gangsters, pornographers, at least one politician, and a shit load of gunfights as they search for answers and try to do something good for once in their wretched and miserable lives! Can this trio find out who this girl really is and why everyone is looking for her? Can these two knuckleheads work together without one of them killing the other? Does Shane Black find a way to fit in Christmas again!?