Monday, July 29, 2019

Reviews of "The Lion King" and "Once Upon a Hollywood"

I don't consider myself a film reviewer, not by any stretch, because first of all, I'm not a particularly good wordsmith.  Second, I just don't have the time right now to see all the films I want to see.

However, I believe that my fans are interested in reading what my thoughts are on certain current films - so here they are.

I just saw "The Lion King" and I was very impressed.  I felt that the animated version, which was released in 1994, had a strong story and good animation - but nothing to get really excited about.  However, the new version, directed by Jon Favreau, is something to shout about.  He also did a great job with "The Jungle Book", which was one of my favorite films of 2016.

But with his version of "The Lion King", I really connected with the story in a much deeper and passionate way.  The fact that all of these jungle animals talked and acted like humans made the "Circle of Life" story that much more powerful.  It's a beautiful, glorious movie.

I give "The Lion King" an "A".

The other film I recently saw was Quentin Tarantino's "Once Upon a Hollywood".  It's a fable that hearkens back to the movie around the time of the Charles Manson murders.  Mr. Tarantino, to me, is a stone hero - he and the Coen brothers are my biggest influences.  However, because of Quentin's big success, I believe he feels he has license to include every thought in his head.  There are so many places in this film where my mind started to wander, and I asked, "Why is this sequence in the film?"  It's 2 hours and 15 minutes long, and would have been a dynamite 1 hour and 40 minutes if they trimmed it down.  That's the down side.

My favorite parts were Brad Pitt's fight with Bruce Lee - hilarious, and Brad Pitt entering the Spahn ranch and the nest of vicious hippies - creepy.  And, of course, the big battle at the end, with Brad and Leonardo DiCaprio fending off the Manson killers.  It's totally scary and outrageous, as only Tarantino can do it.  It's like "The Road Runner" only with real actors.

Brad and Leo make a great team - they reminded me of John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson in "Pulp Fiction", just riffing on life and their careers as they cruise around 1960's L.A. in their car.

Another big plus is the beautifully lush cinematography by Robert Richardson.  The scene in Frank & Musso's is so lush and delicious, I wanted to eat it.

I saw the film at a screening for Academy members, and before they showed it we were read a text message from Quentin himself, asking us to not reveal the ending - so I will respectfully honor that request.

After I saw "Titanic", I left the theater on a "film high" and I wanted to tell everyone, "GO SEE THIS FILM!"  Well, that's how I felt after watching this film, like Brad Pitt after he just smoked an acid cigarette.  I give this one an "A+"!

--Bill P.

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