ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD: Hey, Leo, don't cry. Your hair looks good, too.
The final blockbuster of the summer—according to school calendars, not nature’s—is upon us. Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw creatively spins off the Fast & Furious franchise without original stars Vin Diesel and the late Paul Walker. Dwayne Johnson’s federal agent, Luke Hobbs, and Jason Statham’s former bad guy, Deckard Shaw, team up to defeat a “black Superman” played by Idris Elba. A pretty much super-powered villain introduces an interesting new wrinkle in a series whose auto stunts grow increasingly fantastical in each new entry. Uncredited John Wick director David Leitch proved he has the mettle for such action pics in Atomic Blonde and Deadpool 2.
Other pickings around town are slim if you have already seen Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. If you have not, get to a theater—the movie is currently at Ciné, as well as the local multiplexes—instantly (after reading the review below, of course).
The Georgia Museum of Art’s Deep Blue Seas Film Series continues on Aug. 1 with Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Filmmaker Angela Sun investigates the effect of our plastic obsession on the remote Midway Atoll. Also at the museum, parents and kids can check out The Adventures of Zack and Molly on Aug. 3. This three-part animated series is produced by UGA professor Samantha Joye, who will be present for a Q&A.
The local libraries continue their recent science-fiction screenings. On Aug. 3, the ACC Library will screen some space-themed movies as part of the Adult Summer Reading Program. The movies are a surprise, but popcorn is a guarantee. The Oconee County Library’s Sunday Cinema on Aug. 4 is 1969’s Marooned, starring Gregory Peck and Gene Hackman.
So, is Quentin Tarantino’s new epic worth the investment of time and money? Read on…
ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD (R) Tarantino’s new film is a love letter and a time machine to the Hollywood lost in the wake of the Manson murders. Tarantino recreates a fantasyland that lost something—probably not its innocence—with the violent deaths of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and her friends.
The Pulp Fiction auteur frames the murders with a meandering day-in-the-life look at Tate (Margot Robbie), a fading television star named Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rick’s stuntman-cum-driver, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), who may or may not be a murderer. While Tate goes to the movies to see herself in The Wrecking Crew with Dean Martin, Rick shoots a pilot for a Western starring the up-and-comer he once was. Meanwhile, Cliff ponders how wise it was to fight Bruce Lee on the set of The Green Hornet before visiting the Spahn Movie Ranch with a Manson girl named Pussycat (Margaret Qualley). These three lives converge—sort of—on that infamous, hot August night.
Like all Tarantino’s films, Hollywood boasts quotable dialogue, cool performers—DiCaprio should garner the awards, though Pitt is the cooler cat—and stylish flourishes destined to wow critics and QT fanatics more than general audiences. Despite its leisurely pace and lengthy runtime, Hollywood ranks as one of QT’s most enjoyable pictures, a two-and-a-half-hour game of who’s who—both actor and character versions. It is also highly unlikely any filmmaker will ever feature a flamethrower more rousingly.
WILD ROSE (R) Wild Rose is one of those overall appealing imports supported by Britain’s National Lottery. Directed by Tom Harper (BBC’s lavish adaptation of “War and Peace”) and written by Nicole Taylor, Wild Rose follows an odd protagonist, Rose-Lynn Harlan (Jessie Buckley), a Scottish single mother who dreams of Nashville and country music stardom. She also just got out of a yearlong prison term. (Can you imagine the love affair music mags would have with this backstory?) With the help of her wealthy new employer, Susannah (Sophie Okonedo), Rose-Lynn’s dreams seem in reach, although at the expense of her two children, nearly silent Wynonna (Daisy Littlefield) and angry Lyle (Adam Mitchell), and the disapproval of her mum (Julie Walters).
Wild Rose will appeal to any viewer capable of stomaching another self-destructive protagonist. Rose-Lynn’s good-time-gal routine wears thin as her irresponsibility keeps derailing her life and her dreams. The movie is riddled with complications for plot devices that do ultimately pay off with a finale that feels earned, not gifted. That coda is as expectedly feel-good as the performances are exemplary. Buckley, the 2008 runner-up on Britain’s “I’d Do Anything” who also appeared in Harper’s aforementioned “War and Peace,” as well as HBO’s “Chernobyl,” has a voice and is a charmer. This relatively small movie should help her realize her professional dreams of stardom, even if it may only be remembered as a mostly-on-key footnote.