Through My Eyes: Movies, TV and Books

THROUGH MY EYES: ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD

OUATIH-header

It’s been two weeks since I went to see “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.” Of course, I went opening night because I am a huge Quinton Tarantino fan. And I love the cast that he had plaing in this particular joint. I wanted to wait a couple of weeks to let the story settle in my brain before writing what I thought about it. As with anyof my “Through My Eyes” takes, I preface it by stating I am not a professional movie critic. I am simply a guy who likes movies and has an opinion.

First of all, I felt like this movie was brilliant. The main plot was a bit weak but the plot layers were not. Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a fading Hollywood star, and Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) is his stunt double who no longer receives any work. The two’s careers are mirrors, with Dalton struggling to find meaninful work and Booth reduced to an “assistant” to Dalton, with the most important task chauffeuring him around, as Dalton had lost his license. Through a series of events, we discover that Dalton lives next to a house purchased by Roman Polansky and his girlfriend, Sharon Tate. When we are introducded to a “hippie” movement that is anti-establishment, we begin to see where this thing may be headed. Booth, gets hooked up with one of the hippie girls who takes him to where she is staying at the Spahn Ranch and then we know that Dalton, and Booth, are right in between the dots that connect the Charles Manson cult to the Tate/Polansky home. And we all know in real life what happened there. I won’t spoil the movie by giving details but I felt like the way Tarantino meandered this story through the layers of other stories was exceptional work.

There were some scenes that I felt stood out to me and I will share those so, SPOILER ALERT!

I loved the scene where Booth, who had gotten a charity gig on a movie as a favor to Dalton, had an altercation with Bruce Lee. The two got into it physcially and I laughed at the outcome of that interaction. You’ll have to watch the movie for that ’cause I ain’t telling.

Brandy
Brandy stole the last scene

The ending of the movie, which has taken some criticism, was fabulous and typical Quinton Tarantino. Extreme violence when the Manson crew decides to kill Dalton, after confronting them in the street, instead of invading the Polansky home. They didn’t expect to find Booth awake in the home and as good as the actors in that scene were, the star was a pitbull from Delaware named “Brandy”. My greatest fear was that they were going to end up killing Brandy but (SPOILER) they did not. I won’t tell you how the scene ends but it was incredible if you’re a Tarantino film fan.

Overall, I loved the tribute to throwback Hollywood, as it’s golden days were fading at the end of the 60’s. Dicaprio was good but Brad Pitt stole the show in my opinion. I will definitely pay to see it again.

THROUGH MY EYES: YELLOWSTONE

yellowstone-season-2-art-paramount-network-20064066-1280x0So, I had some friends talk me into checking out Yellowstone last season, which was the first for the Paramount Network’s series. I figured I’d check out one or two episodes and that would be it. The truth is, I’ve never been a big fan of Kevin Costner. I don’t dislike him, I just think that all of the characters he plays becomes Kevin Costner instead of the otherway around. Boy, was I shocked. The guy is killing it as John Dutton in this series and I, personally, think this is the best performance he’s ever given. I binge watched until I cought up with it. Now, into season 2 with three episodes remaining, and I think this is the best series on television. In fact, it rivals my all-time favorite, The Following with Kevin Bacon.

Rip Wheeler
Cole Hauser rocks as Rip wheeler

If you haven’t seen any of Yellowstone, I recomment starting right now. It grabs you out of the gate and keeps your attention with non-stop drama beautiful scenery, and sometimes unbearable cruelty. The acting is very good, the characters compelling, if a little irredeemable. It will really draw you in.

Someone was asking me to compare it to something and I’d have to say it is a combination of Bonanza meets Dallas with the rawness of a MA rated R movie because of the violence, sex and general subject matter and behavior/language of the characters. I would say that Costner in his best performance steals the show, but it wouldn’t be true. Every cast member is phenomenal. My favorite? Cole Hauser as Rip, the ranch foreman and right hand man of John Dutton (Costner) or Kelly Reilly as Beth Dutton, the ruthless, bitter daughter of John Dutton.

THROUGH MY EYES: BIRD BOX

BIRDBOXHad an opportunity to watch BIRD BOX on Netflix and wanted to put my two cents in about this movie. While I am certainly not a professional movie critic, I do appreciate the art of film and have an opinion.

This was a good post-apocalyptic thriller with strong unseen antagonist and some amazing acting. Sandra Bullock put forth an incredible performance and John Malkovich, who happens to be one of my favorite actors, was strong in a limited role.

The monsters were kind of elementary. They are unseen creatures who can cause people who see them to be driven to commit suicide. It is never clear what the victims see when looking at them and it is implied that they all see something different. So people can no longer go out with their eyes uncovered; they have to wear blindfolds, which makes things interesting. However, we find out later in the movie that people suffering mental illness, and I am assuming it is schizophrenia, are not affected with the suicidal ideations. They are, however, very dangerous and become secondary villains in the plot.

I thought the movie really missed its mark. It had so much potential and the way it built suspense about the unseen antagonist was very good. In my opinion, the secondary theme of the plot, as well as the resolution, was how the disconnect between people in terms of relationships can be harmful and how being able to connect to each other as human beings in times of struggle is a necessity for survival. But I do think that the failure to really focus on a climatic point between the real-life monster and the people caused this movie to suffer. In fact, it was almost as if the move BEGAN with the climax and digressed from there to an anti-climactic resolution

THROUGH MY EYES: THE SHALLOWS

shallows blake lively

As I am always quick to point out on my reviews, I am not a professional film critic. I got a message asking me why I felt qualified to give a review of a movie. Well, because I saw it and I have an opinion.

First of all, Blake Lively did a phenomenal job in this movie. I spent a little time in theater in high school and college (thank you Suzette Cagle for turning me on to it) and can tell you that being the single actor in a script is a difficult thing to sell. Granted, there were some other players in the film but for the most part, Lively carried the show alone with only her counterpart, the Great White Shark, sharing the stage.

I enjoyed this movie. It was billed as a “horror” film (or thriller) and it is as basic as it gets when it comes to creating terror by trying to get you to identify with Lively. YOU are alone in this bay with an eating machine that is hunting you down like a predator. There were plenty of shots of the monster doing damage and showing it’s pearly whites, but Director Jaume Collet-Serra did a fantastic job of creating the fear with what he didn’t allow you to see, as well.

So, girl goes to a secluded beach where her mom used to surf to face her demons, dealing with her inability to help save her mother from another monster – Cancer. She’s given up her career over it and basically concluded that regardless of how hard one fights, we ultimately fall prey to our fate. But something happened to her on that rock she was stranded on during this stand off with the beast. She began to realize that despite the incredible odds of the fate that appears to be stalking, one should continue to fight until the end. Hey, it paid off for her and made her realize that if she could overcome this monstrosity from the sea that nearly mutilated her to her demise then she could certainly overcome the demons that haunted her from her mother’s illness and continue on with her life. We all have a few road blocks and detours along the road of life. Just because one road is closed doesn’t mean you don’t continue the journey. You simply take a different route.

Anyway, if you’re looking for a deep movie that is going to make you think, this ain’t it. Quite simply, this movie is about primal fear and overcoming that which scares you. Not letting the boogie man win, whether it is a 24 foot great white shark or the death of a loved one.

I thought this was a great movie; and it was perfect timing because I went to see it with my youngest son (don’t worry, he’s 21) while we were on vacation in Myrtle Beach. That’s right; a shark movie while we were at the beach!

Did I mention Blake Lively rocks?

THROUGH MY EYES: LIGHTS OUT

Lights Out Diana

As usual, I preface this by stating I’m not a movie critic, just a guy who enjoys movies. So, i went to see Lights Out on it’s opening night and have to say I was a little disappointed.

It stormed out of the gates in a manner very similar to the style in which I write – fast with a lot of action. It even revealed within the first few minutes the sinister Diana to the audience. Unfortunately the speed dropped quickly and the movie went stale on back story, which was practically spoon fed to the audience.

It definitely had its creepy moments and those “jump” scenes but it was very predictable and the ending was a glaring torch that cold be easily seen from a distance.

In all fairness the original short was such a great piece of work that perhaps my expectations of this were way too high. I just felt like the story was shallow and even the short 80 minutes was probably way too much time for this script.

So, would I recommend it? Sure. If you’re a horror fan it’s worth a watch. But I wouldn’t pay twice to see it and I doubt I’d spend money on the DVD for my library.