Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

There are two things I would like to make clear: 1) I do not like Quentin Tarantino movies. 2) I like this one. And no one is more surprised than I! In fact, I have already pre-ordered the DVD.

Written and directed by Mr. T. himself, this delicious time capsule delivers the goods. It's fun, it's scary, it's entertaining. I'm not sure if the younger generation will have quite the same reaction to all things familiar in 1969: airlines (remember Pan Am?), luggage (no wheels), cars, fads (everybody smokes), movies, television (the movie opens with an episode of "LA Law," featuring Rick Dalton), clothes (GoGo boots!), food (I came home and made myself a box of Kraft's Macaroni and Cheese!), and above all, that tingly feeling I got as I recognized a few names and began to worry.

Here is part of Tarantino's terrific cast:
  • Leonardo DiCaprio ("The Wolf of Wall Street") Rick Dalton is a television star. We see parts of his successful series before it was cancelled (he wanted to be in movies). He also does guest spots: watch him sing "Green Door." Oh, and he hates hippies!
  • Brad Pitt ("Moneybag") Cliff Booth is Rick's stunt double. He is also his driver, handyman, gofer, sounding board and one of Rick's few friends (he "carries his load"). When Cliff takes off his shirt, we see the assortment of scars a stuntman accumulates. Yeah, Brad is eating again...
  • Margot Robbie ("I, Tonya") Sharon Tate lives with Rick's neighbor, Roman Polanski. She is luminously lovely...and pregnant. Watch her when she sees her name on a movie marquee.
  • Al Pacino ("Hangman") Marvin Schwarzs describes the career arc of a soon-to-be has-been television actor as he pitches the advantages of starring in a spaghetti western.
  • Luke Perry ("Riverdale") Wayne Maunder plays the father of a kidnapped girl.
  • Timothy Olyphant ("Deadwood") James Stacy is the star of a movie that features Rick Dalton.
  • Damian Lewis ("Billions") Steve McQueen describes the marriage-go-round of 1969 Hollywood as he surveys the crowd at the Playboy Mansion. (We recognize many of them, e.g., Mama Cass.)
  • Kurt Russell ("Guardians of the Galaxy") Randy agrees to hire Cliff over his wife's objections.
  • Margaret Qualley ("Fosse/Verdon") Pussycat sells acid-laced cigarettes at a bus stop but hitches a ride with Cliff to the Spahn ranch, where she lives. Of course she calls policemen "Pigs."
  • Dakota Fanning ("Ocean's Eight") Squeaky Fromme (yes, THAT Squeaky Fromme) lives at the Spahn ranch.
I hate to leave anyone out, but it looks like everyone wanted to be in this R-rated venture, so the list goes on and on: Emile Hirsch (Jay Sebring is a friend of Sharon's), Mike Moh (Bruce Lee's fight with Cliff is outrageous), Rumor Willis (Joanna Pettet is a well-known face from the '60s). Movie clips, television clips, and made-up clips make the two hours and forty-one minutes fly by. After the first thirty or forty F-bombs, you won't notice them any more. No nudity, no sweaty bodies, no vehicular mayhem and no blowie uppie stuff (just a couple of bits with a flamethrower).

Just remember, this is Tarantino; he re-writes history when he feels like it: remember when they shot Hitler in "Inglorious Basterds?" When he is funny, he is really funny. When he is violent, he is really violent. This is his penultimate film, his last one is rumored to be a Star Trek outing.
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Here is a sample:
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"Spiderman: Far From Home"

Any movie that begins with Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" and sung by Whitney Houston sets the stage; so here we go. First there was "The Blip." A five-year blank spot occurred, remember "Infinity War" and "Endgame?" Now missing people are back and they haven't aged, but everyone else is five years older, so there are support groups, etc., to help people adjust.

With a script written by a committee, brothers Anthony and Joe Russo direct this massive effort. They were given a 90-minute story which the committee inflated to a 129-minute CGI extravaganza. I dozed through many of the stupifying special effects, which consisted primarily of blowie uppie stuff in every color of the rainbow. The effects did NOT advance the story.

Part of the Russos' gigantic cast:
  • Tom Holland ("Avengers") Peter Parker / Spiderman is such an earnest high-school boy, excited about his class trip to Europe, AND maybe a chance to spend some quality time with MJ.
  • Samuel L. Jackson ("Avengers") Nick Fury is as impatient as always and Peter Parker's immaturity tests his temper. Particularly when Peter sends Nick's calls to voicemail.
  • Marisa Tomei (we will always love her in "My Cousin Vinny") Aunt May has trouble keeping Peter's secret, but she likes the guy who was the late Tony Stark's chauffeur.
  • Jon Favreau ("Chef") Happy Hogan is the lucky fellow who catches Aunt May's eye. He is also sort of a life coach for Peter as those high school students try to cope with their summer romances.
  • Jake Gyllenhaal ("Zodiac") Quentin Beck / Mysterio has Peter excited. He may be the perfect superhero to replace Tony Stark / Iron Man! Mysterio tells Peter, "Don't apologize for being the smartest one in the room."
  • We have classmates played by Zendaya (MJ), Jacob Batalon (Ned), Anjourie Rice (Betty) and Tony Revolori (Flash). The adult advisors are the comic relief and the scenery is terrific...until it's blown up. Grrr....
Some things are enjoyable, Peter is given a pair of glasses that had belonged to Tony Stark, so he discovers Edith, who is his own personal Alexa. She will do his bidding without question. Oops! I also enjoyed the trips to Venice, Prague, Czech Republic, London and Dorset. And I got a kick out of that bossy blonde in Austria when she orders him, "Take off your clothes!"

The effective scenes where we see what a fine young man Peter Parker has become, are too few and far between. I appreciated the "In Memorium" segment that acknowledged the missing Avengers. The apocalyptic CGI did not add to my experience. Sorry.
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See what I mean:
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