16 August 2019.
ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD ***1/2
Finally coming out – after loads of PR and anticipation – Quentin Tarantino’s latest and ninth film was the star attraction in Cannes this year with such heavyweights as Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and the stunning Margot Robbie in the cast.
This is Tarantino’s tip-of-the-hat to Tinseltown and the profession of filmmaking of which he is such a passionate fan. It is also his least violent work, summing up bits and pieces of his previous films and paying homage to much of Hollywood’s history, while zeroing in on the fading career and insecurities of a minor Hollywood actor (DiCaprio) and his stuntman double (Pitt).
At their Cannes press conference, a serious, concentrated DiCaprio lauded Tarantino for his encyclopedic knowledge of movies and said the film was “a love letter to the outsiders of the industry”, while a more relaxed, smiling Pitt said their two characters were really two sides of the same personality so typical of precarious stardom.
When I first saw it in May, I felt their dual portrayal was stronger than the film itself, a witty, exciting work with an ingenious twist on the Sharon Tate/Manson murders. The film would be perfect with a half-hour cut from its 2 hours and 40 minutes, for it tends to meander in the first part. But then Tarantino is simply having too much fun with his numerous references to filmdom’s moments and eccentricities, with which he is so familiar. And his depiction of the late 1960s is spot-on. All those minute details may leave some of his audience bored or perplexed, but on second viewing I understood better the meticulous view of his cherished industry, which he treats as the art that it is.
For that, and the brilliant acting, direction and conception, it should be going to the Oscars and deserves any awards it receives, for it was overlooked at Cannes. Except for Brad Pitt’s tough pooch who deservedly won the amusing Palme Dog (a twist on the Palme d’Or) there. The scenes of his feeding times are a hoot!
You’ll fully appreciate the obedient canine when you see the ending, which is a wild, crazy moment and thoroughly satisfying.
PETER LINDBERGH – Histoires des femmes *1/2 (vo French, German)
I was eager to see this documentary, as I respect and appreciate the art of contemporary photography and its edgy, varied ways of revealing the world, both aesthetically and in the commonplace.
Unfortunately, this too-lengthy film turned out more about the director, Jean-Michel Vecchiet’s disjointed vision with ultra nervous, MTV-style editing, repeated scenes of grim, random vistas, and a mishmash of music that was jarring rather than evocative. Where was the real Lindbergh (other than him laughing the whole time), and how about more on his views and the famous models and personalities he photographed?
The subject matter here is about quality talent, but the format, manner and result are not, making for very frustrating viewing. Unlike the outstanding documentary GATEWAYS TO NEW YORK (still on the Geneva screens – run to it!) by Martin Witz, who illuminates the life and work of O.H. Ammann, the Swiss engineer in the early 1900s responsible for building so many of that city’s great bridges.
Two completely different docs – the first, a tiresome, self-indulgent conceit of the director – the latter, a brilliant portrait of a man’s accomplishments and his time.
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.