Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood (2019)
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Emile Hirsch, Margaret Qualley, Timothy Olyphant, Austin Butler, Dakota Fanning, Bruce Dern, Al Pacino, Damian Lewis, Luke Perry, Clifton Collins Jr., Nicholas Hammond, Scoot McNairy, Spencer Garrett, Mike Moh, Maurice Compte, Lew Temple, Lena Dunham, Maya Hawke, Lorenza Izzo, Samantha Robinson, Damon Herriman, Zoë Bell, Kurt Russell, James Marsden, Michael Madsen, James Remar, Brenda Vaccaro, Rumer Willis, Dreama Walker, Costa Ronin, Madisen Beaty
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Synopsis: Story of a Western TV series villain in the 1960’s, his stuntman/chauffeur, and the house on Cielo Drive that Polanski and Tate lived in at the time of the Manson Family murders. DiCaprio (villain) is next door neighbors on Cielo Drive. He and Pitt as the stuntman (and the stuntman’s dog) encounter the doomed neighbors as well as the Manson cult members. Tarantino tells the story in his inimitable way. Tarantino has made this his love letter to L.A. through recreating what the town looked like at that time, the costumes, cars, and a non-stop kick butt soundtrack throughout the many driving scenes in it. One of my favorite movies from 2019. The meticulous details and the brilliant wit knock me over in it. Amazing production with an unbeatable cast.
Etc.: I was unhappy with DiCaprio getting Best Actor nomination and Pitt getting (and winning) Best Supporting Actor, (I thought they should be reversed) but I’m over that now. After watching it again last week, I think DiCaprio earned his nomination and am happy Pitt won. Phoenix had a lock on Best Actor, and Pitt would have missed winning. A final note: I always knew Tarantino had a foot fetish, but *dirty* feet? Maybe that was his nod to the 60’s? The feet are filthy here!
Starring: Kang-ho Song, Seon-gyun Lee, Yeo-jeong Cho, Choi Woo-shik, Park So-dam, Jeong-eun Lee, Jang Hye-jin
Director: Joon-ho Bong
Synopsis: I went into this movie cold. Being very general here, it shows how humans prey upon and exploit others in society. It brilliantly explores the wealth gap between rich and poor. It left me wondering who the real parasites were, which may be why it is such a provocative film. I enjoyed it because it showed a glimpse into the Korean culture at both ends of the socioeconomic spectrum. It is a very dark comedy but I would characterize it as a comedy-horror hybrid.
Etc.: Korean film with English subtitles; Won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Directing, International Feature Film, and Writing (Original Screenplay). It is also the first non-English language film in Oscar history to win the award for Best Picture. There are some disturbing scenes of violence and other disturbing material. Not a movie you’ll soon forget!
In the Heat of the Night (1967)
Starring: Sidney Poitier, Rod Steiger, Warren Oates, Lee Grant, Larry Gates, James Patterson, William Schallert, Beah Richards, Peter Whitney, Kermit Murdock, Larry D. Mann, Matt Clark
Director: Norman Jewison
Synopsis: Down in the 1960’s good ol-boy South, the behavior of the whites against the blacks depicted in the film is extremely shocking, so be prepared for blatant racial remarks and flagrant prejudice and discrimination in it. The story revolves around a white man being murdered in the middle of the night, a black man waiting at a train station for his next train, and a Tweedle-Dee-Tweedle-Dum police force that is woefully inadequate to investigating the murder. The clash between the expert Philadelphia homicide detective (i.e. the black man at the train station who gets compelled to help the untrained-in-homicide-investigation police solve the crime), played expertly by Sidney Poitier, and the Sheriff of the town who begrudgingly has to admit he needs the homicide detective’s help to solve the crime, is what drives the plot of the movie. Small town politics and rednecks in trucks with gun racks add more tension to the mix. Poitier shines in this role, and Steiger plays a great foil to him.
Etc.: Jim Adams has given me added info on this movie (thanks, Jim!): “In the Heat of the Night won five Academy Awards, including the 1967 awards for Best Picture and Rod Steiger for Best Actor.” This made me wonder what the others were so wiki helped. It also won Oscars for Film Editing, Sound Mixing, and Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium. It was also nominated but didn’t win for Best Director and Sound Effects. It swept the Golden Globes as well.
In the Heat of the Night was followed by two sequels, “They Call Me Mister Tibbs!” (1970) and “The Organization” (1971) as well as a TV series, with Carroll O’Connor as the sheriff and Howard Rollins, Jr. as the homicide detective.
Starring: Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Jessica Williams, Lisa Kudrow, Will Forte, Jason Sudeikis, Eduardo Franco, Noah Galvin, Skyler Gisondo, Molly Gordon, Billie Lourde, Michael Patrick O’Brien
Director: Olivia Wilde
Synopsis: Cute movie about two brainiac high school students who are graduating the next day, played very well by Dever and Feldstein. One of the two finds out that the same students who were screwing around at school all 4 years are headed to the same prestigious universities as she is, which leads to her to convincing her lifelong bestie to go with her to the “wild-smart kids” graduation party. The rest of the movie has them engaging in adventures about town that are humorous and frustrating at the same time.
Etc.: Geared for high schoolers, but there are some clever and funny scenes older people would also enjoy. (The scene in the Uber van with them and their high school principal is worth seeing the movie.) This is Olivia Wilde’s first full length movie she directed. Will Ferrell is one of the producers.
Cold War (2018)
Starring: Joanna Kulig, Tomasz Kot, Borys Szyc, Agata Kulesza, Cédric Kahn, Jeanne Balibar, Adam Ferency, Adam Woronowicz
Director: Pawel Pawlikowski
Synopsis: lifted directly from netflix/dvd.com blurb:
In the Polish countryside, Wiktor, a musician on a state-sponsored mission to collect folk songs, discovers a captivating young singer named Zula. Over the next fifteen years, their turbulent relationship will play out in stolen moments between two worlds: the jazz clubs of decadent bohemian Paris, to which he defects, and the corrupt, repressive Communist Bloc, where she remains—universes bridged by their passion for music and for each other.
The movie is visually stunning and the two main leads give wonderful performances. Art House genre with great music. This is a political movie but it is more of a love story, which moves between Poland, Paris and Croatia.
Etc.: Polish movie with English subtitles; Academy Award nominations for Best Director, Best Cinematography, and Best Foreign Language Film