Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is one of Quentin Tarantino’s best

It’s official old buddy, I’m a has-been.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – I love Quentin Tarantino, he could write a phone book and I would probably praise it as genius. So it means something when I say not only is this film brilliant, but it’s one of Tarantino’s best. From the man who taught me to love film, has outdone himself once again.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a story of place, nostalgia, and fear for the future. It shows a man struggling to figure out what’s next, spinning in the beautiful Los Angeles sunlight and the rhythm of a Hollywood golden age. It is a film anchored by terrific performances, that captures Tarantino at its best while also allowing him to differ from his previous work. Here the film is about the importance of an era and the characters that could have populated it, and relies less on violence to get that point across.

Hollywood in 1969 is realized in beautiful detail, from the spinning lights, smooth cars, and easygoing songs. From appearances by Bruce Lee, to fun moments at the Playboy Mansion, it gives us the best of that era.

This movie could have easily become a toy, something to look at but not examine too deeply. Thankfully it is a thoughtful film as well, and has plenty of terrific and serious moments to anchor it.  Leo is terrific as Rick Dalton, managing to bring melancholy and muse to the character. Dalton is looking back wondering where to go now. From the long stares, to crying over a novel that’s particularly timely, Dicaprio seems to embody Tarantino. The torture and the pain is a terrific touch, with lines and great scenes to go along with it.

However, he is bested by his partner Brad Pitt, delivering a terrific performance as Dalton’s stunt double Cliff Booth. Cool, funny, but pained all the same, Booth is the soul that in Dalton needs. He is funny, but also gives a jolt when needed. Both men deliver endearing performances, at points in their careers when it was easy to wonder if they had anything left.

One of my favorite parts of the movie is how Tarantino plays with the expectations. While I will not spoil anything, just know that even with all that has been written about the Manson murders, expect the unexpected. It is a brilliant and charming twist on a tale told over and over again.

9/10

 

 

Good Night, and Good Luck, Taxi Driver, & USWNT

Good Night, and Good Luck – George Clooney directs the film about the late Ed Murrow, and his takedown of Senator Joe McCarthy. Murrow was a terse writer, blunt and calculated in his attacks. The movie’s tone matches that to some degree and so does the film’s message. Joe McCarthy and others like him were wrong, and this film makes no concessions on that. It is interesting to see the work place and how it operated. Clooney does a great job of immersing you in the moment, using black and white as well as old clips to really immerse people in the atmosphere of television in the time period.  Unfortunately, there is not that much to be gained from this movie that could not already be learned. It is a good film, but not a great one, and one that does not entirely justify its existence. With that said, every single person should watch Murrow’s full newscast on McCarthy. It is still brilliant. 7/10

Taxi Driver In Taxi Driver, Senator Palantine’s campaign slogan is “we are the people”, implying that he is among the people who suffered in Vietnam and who have suffered as a country. Does he really understand what the people have gone through, does he know his people?

This movie has been a cornerstone in the film industry forever, and one of the main reasons is how it challenges the idea that anyone can no what some of us are going through. Travis Bickle is a unique character, defined by his loneliness and his social ineptitude. His loneliness is relatable, his social ineptitude causes him problems. That seems to be the story of his life and it makes Bickle do horrible things.

This film is not only about capturing a character but about capturing a moment, and it does so very well. While it can stall and meander, it is a worthwhile watch for any film fan, and for anyone trying to get a sense of Post-Vietnam America. 8.5/10

This USWNT is a team we do not deserve, but one we are so fortunate to get. They were incredible throughout and today’s final was emblematic of a team performance. Rose Lavelle also gets to have an incredible moment and score in a World Cup Final. An incredible group and an incredible team. Congratulations USWNT! Live it up!

KAWHI AND PG! I MUST BE DREAMING!

If this is a dream, I do not want to wake up. Today, Kawhi Leonard signed with the Clippers and Paul George is getting traded to the Clippers. OH MY GOD!!!

I shall not bore you with the story of my everlasting love for the LA Clippers, as courtly and as beautiful as it may be. I will tell you that it is genuinely shocking to be in this moment. When I first fell in love with the team, The Clippers were the laughing stock of the NBA. No one came to games. Clipper Daryl would scream his heart out, and the 30 other people in the arena would respond with glory. When Lob City came to LA, the momentum of the franchise shifted drastically. That momentum however, was halted by an owner too ignorant to admit he was wrong.

Steve Ballmer set things in a new direction, and he hired Jerry West. West brought with him a vision of an organization that could win a title. Now that organization is finally here.

I cannot say enough about the Clippers team this past year. Everyone wanted to talk about LeBron and the new look Lakers. It never bothered this group. This team showed grit and determination when no one even paid attention. They came and gave the Warriors a run for their money, and showed impressive heart throughout the year. A team led by two guys coming off the bench, found new hope. I also cannot say enough about Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari, both of whom played their hearts out this year. Shai and Danilo will continue to do great things and I am excited to see their futures in Oklahoma City.

Today is a day that has been years in the making. The Lob City years were great, but our shot at winning the title was never really tangible. Today, the possibility of winning a title feels real. Clipper Nation, this year is our year.

 

Toy Story 4 & A Book Review I wrote

Toy Story 4 – This movie is another great addition into the Pixar canon and for whatever reason I doubted it. The third movie seemed like the perfect conclusion to the series. Making a fourth film just seemed like a money grab.

In spite of my fears, this movie completely justifies its existence and hits every beat. The fact that we have seen these characters and this group so many times, definitely takes away from the wonder and excitement of the first few films. Even with that, the movie glides with such confidence and fun, its hard not to feel yourself falling back into the traps of that world.

It also finds ways to play with the conventions of good and evil, allowing for empathy and understanding. It gives time for toys to discover themselves, and what brings them together. This movie never treats its audience as stupid, but still gives ample amount of fun for even the smallest of children.

Calling this a kids movie is selling it short. It is a movie appropriate for kids that can be enjoyed by all. The best Pixar movies are more powerful for adults, and Toy Story 4 is no different. While some of the initial charm from the series is taken away, this movie is still a must-see for any Pixar fan. 9/10

The author does a terrific job of simplifying and defining the dilemma, but the rest of the book misses multiple opportunities to address it.

I have been working as an intern for the Washington Examiner and got to write a book review on Tyler Cowen’s book Big Business. Please check it out! I will be trying to see more movies this summer so I will be coming back with more reviews so stay tuned for those as well.