Showing posts with label Hold Me While I'm Naked. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hold Me While I'm Naked. Show all posts

Friday, August 2, 2019

"Once Upon a Time in ...Hollywood" And The Week in Reviews

[I review "Once Upon a Time in... Hollywood" as well as the Netflix original "Murder Mystery" and DVD "Bumblebee."  The Book of the Week is "Three Women" by Lisa Taddeo.  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "Hold Me While I'm Naked."]

Once Upon a Time in...Hollywood

Once upon a time...there was an actor and his stunt double whose careers were on the way down and whose lives intersected with murderous history in the Hollywood of the late 1960's.

Once upon a time there was Woodstock, a weekend of hippies and love and peace.  Once upon a time we left our doors unlocked, picked up hitchhikers and weren't afraid of pit bulls.  Once upon a time we smoked and drank without a care in the world except where our next cigarette or drink was going to come from.  Once upon a time there were no mass shootings every month. Once upon a time there was The Golden Age of Hollywood.  Once upon a time there was a sense of innocence. 

But then once upon a time...the Manson Murders, which changed everything.  The end of innocence.  And once upon a time writer/director Quentin Tarantino decided to make a movie about all of that. 

And what a movie!

Rick Dalton (Leonardo Di Caprio) is a fading movie star who had a hit Western back in the 50's called "Bounty Law."  But now he's worried about his career and spends much of it making guest appearances as the heavy in westerns and law enforcement shows like "The FBI" and "Mannix" and wondering if his next career move should be Spaghetti Westerns in Italy.  Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) is Rick's stunt double but mostly acts as Rick's major domo these days especially since he is suspected of having killed his wife and getting away with murder.  Rick lives next door to up-and-coming actress Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) and her husband, director Roman Polanski (Rafal Zawierucha) and we all know what happened to Sharon and her friends, right?  

Well...this is Tarantino's take on that.

I moved from Michigan to California in 1970 right after college and don't think I wasn't scared.  I was scared of the new life I was forging for myself but I was also scared to move to California because of the Manson Murders.  The fear of earthquakes also didn't help.

Tarantino weaves a meandering tale of life in Hollywood in the late 1960's before the Manson Murders by focusing on an actor on his way down and an actress on her way up.  We can only wonder what Sharon Tate might have become had she lived.  She was beautiful and talented and married to one of the hottest directors in the world ("Rosemary's Baby" had just come out).  

Tarantino is a genius at creating a sense of time and place.  From the clothes, to the music to the set design, he creates a Hollywood of 1969.  But he also creates a feeling of dread as he focuses on these lives, with us knowing what we know.  Tarantino also has an eye for detail. Watching this film, there is the feeling that there is nothing in the film that Tarantino didn't specifically want to put there, from Sharon picking up a young hippie female hitchhiker (not a Manson girl, just a young random hippie of which there were many in Hollywood in the late 1960's) to Cliff's pit bull to why Rick learned how to use a flame thrower.  Tarantino is our modern version of Hitchcock who was also known for working out every detail of his films ahead of time and this is Tarantino's love letter to a bygone Hollywood.

The movie also uses one of Tarantino's many tropes as he jumps around in time to show us Rick's past and present film roles.  It's a bit of a film within a film and quite hilarious. 

And speaking of Tarantino film tropes - from nice guys going berserk to male bromances to Seinfeldian conversations to fitting pop music to revenge fantasy to his over-the-top and original take on violence - it's all here.  He also has fun highlighting his fake brands (there is some unappetizing dog food and his favorite Red Apple cigarettes show up yet again so don't miss the end credits when Rick does a commercialAnd, yes, the foot fetish trope was also in evidence. White go-go boots and Robbie's bare feet anyone?

Leonardo Di Caprio is just wonderful in this.  He plays against type as the insecure alcoholic Rick and adds just a twinge of a stutter to make the point.  And don't count Brad out, either.  His role isn't as flashy but he gets his turn to chew the scenery.  And I am not lying when I say I gasped when he took off his shirt. At 55 years old, he is as handsome as ever, if not more so. Margot Robbie is lovely as Sharon Tate, though she doesn't really have much to do except look lovely.  Interesting touch, though, that when showing Sharon watching herself in a movie, it's actual footage of the real Sharon Tate.  Interesting directorial choice.  Like I said, I don't think there is anything in this film Tarantino didn't specifically decide to do.

In addition to Di Caprio, Pitt and Robbie, there are more stars galore - Dakota Fanning, Luke Perry (in his last role before his untimely death), Al Pacino, Kurt Russell, Damian Lewis, Emil Hirsch, Zoe Bell, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, Lena Dunham, even Clu Gulager, who was himself a TV western star in the 1960's and Brenda Vacarro, fulfilling another of Tarantino's tropes, bringing back old actors who we haven't heard from in awile. It's fun to try to recognize all the big names that turn up in cameos. And young newcomer, Margaret Qualley, who plays Pussycat, one of the Manson girls, is a standout.   Looks like everyone wants to work with Tarantino.

This movie was so brilliant I cried. OMG, I wish I could tell you how this film ends because it is so brilliant, so cathartic...but I can't. You will just have  to see it for yourself. And even if you THINK you don't like Tarantino, you would be wrong!


Rosy the Reviewer says...ring, ring, Mr. Di Caprio?  Oscar calling. We have a Best Actor nomination for you. Ring, ring, Mr. Pitt?  People Magazine calling.  We wanted to let you know that you are still the Sexiest Man Alive!

***Some Movies You Might Have Missed***
(And Some You Will Be Glad You Did)!

On Netflix

Murder Mystery (2019)

A New York cop and his hairdresser wife go on a vacation to Europe only to end up in a murder mystery where they are the chief suspects.

When Audrey Spitz (Jennifer Aniston) finally gets her husband, Nick (Adam Sandler), to go on a European vacation, they meet Viscount Charles Cavendish (Luke Evans) on the plane who invites them to join him on his yacht to celebrate his uncle Malcolm Quince's (Terence Stamp) marriage to Cavendish's ex-wife, Suzi (Shiolo Kutsuma). That sure sounds like more fun to Audrey and Nick than the tour bus they had planned to take so off they go to the yacht.  Unfortunately, wouldn't you know?  A murder takes place! Uncle Quince is killed right before he planned to change his will to give everything to Suzi. Mmm.  Very suspicious. Who is the killer?

In typical Agatha Christie style, there is the usual list of guilty-looking suspects with motives on the yacht - Cavendish's cousin, Tobey (David Walliams); actress Grace Ballard (Gemma Arterton); Colonel Ulenga (John Kani) and his bodyguard Sergei (Olafur Darri Olafsson); the Majaraja Vikram of Mumbai (Adeel Akhtar); and race car driver Juan Carlo Rivera (Luis Gerardo Mendez).  Starting with Tobey, the suspects start dying off so Interpol Inspector de la Croix (Dany Boon) comes on the scene and in a very convoluted Agatha Christie way, Audrey and Nick become suspects and must solve the murder themselves, which of course they do.

Directed by Kyle Newacheck and written by James Vanderbilt, there are some laughs to be had and the European landscape is wonderful to look at.  Aniston plays her usual character that she perfected in "Friends" and Sandler, is well, Sandler.  I was never much of an Adam Sandler fan.  I could never shake my memories of him as Stud Boy on the MTV game show "Remote Control," but he has matured a bit and given up some of his bad acting habits so I enjoyed him more than usual.

Rosy the Reviewer's fun and won't do you any harm but you probably won't remember it a couple of days later. 

Bumblebee (2018)

A prequel to the Transformer films, Bumblebee is an Autobot who has taken refuge in a junkyard but is discovered by young Charlie Watson (Hailee Steinfeld), who is turning 18 and confused about what to do with her life.

From what I can figure out, it's 1987 and Bumblebee, a member of the peace-loving Autobots, was sent to earth to protect our planet from the Decepticons. But he is beaten up and robbed of his memory and voice so transforms into a Volkswagen Bug to hide from the bad guys.  

Fortunately he meets Charlie Watson, a young girl who likes music (The Smiths) and wants a car.  She works at a fast food place at the beach and is mistreated by the cool kids.  She discovers our little Autobot in a junkyard, and wouldn't you know, she works on cars so she adopts him, fixes him up and dubs him Bumblebee. Eventually, Bumblebee shows himself to her, and it's a good thing that she seems to be open to things like her Volkswagen turning into a giant robot.  She also doesn't realize she has gotten herself into the middle of a bot war. But the two form a friendship and, the film is spent with Charlie trying to keep the bad guys from finding Bumblebee while at the same time finding herself in this sweet coming of age tale.

Written by Christina Hodson and directed by Travis Knight (and not Michael Bay, the usual director of this franchise), this film was very reminiscent of "Chappie," where a robot has human and endearing qualities and is just so damn cute.  But it's also the first Transformer film with a female lead - Steinfeld is an engaging screen presence - and unlike the previous Michael Bay directed films, is less about the bot wars and more about the power of friendship and family. 

This is a prequel to the Transformer films, but because I had not seen any of the Transformer movies, I had no idea what it meant in relation to the Transformer movies to follow, but as a stand alone film, despite the occasional plot hole and Huh? moment, it was fun and sweet. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...there is the transforming for the little kids and teenaged angst for the teens with a good message about the power of family that adults will like.

***My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project***

85 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

Hold Me While I'm Naked (1966)
(alt title: Color Me Lurid)

A short film about the depression and sexual frustration of an underground filmmaker.

A young filmmaker appears to want to make an erotic film but has difficulty keeping his performers. I would say it's semi-autobiographical and highlights director George Kuchar's own struggles to get a film made. There is some nudity and sex and lots of open-mouthed kissing in between. That's about all I could get from this.  There is no plot per se, though our guy starts out happily and ends up not so much. Let's just say there is a scene with twinkly music where he holds a bird (obviously a fake one - I mean, these things are uber low budget) on his finger and at the end of the film, the bird is lying dead. Thump.

Yet another "underground" film that made the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" book.  Mercifully, it was less than 15 minutes. At least I was somewhat aware of where this thing was going.

Why it's a Must See: "[This film} attains a level of emotional seriousness that makes it stand out among the camp and trash Hollywood parodies to which it is inevitably compared."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

This film is the best known and most acclaimed of the many films by director Kuchar.  It appears on the Critics' Poll of the top 100 films of the 20th century and supposedly influenced John Waters' later films.  It's an interesting counterpoint to "Once Upon a Time in...Hollywood (see review above)," in that this film was made in 1966 by a young filmmaker, when the Golden Age of Hollywood was waning, and explains somewhat why Rick Dalton was finding it difficult to find roles.  Let's just say if John Waters was around and interested in this film, things were changing in Hollywood. His first film was made in 1964 and called "Hag in a Black Leather Jacket."  That says a lot about what was happening film-wise in the mid to late 60's.

Rosy the Reviewer says...not as bad as "Blonde Cobra," but almost.
(Available on YouTube)

***The Book of the Week***

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo (2019)

An examination of women and desire.

The reason I am so drawn to nonfiction is because the old adage "Truth is stranger than fiction" is so true.  You can't make this stuff up.  And that applies to the stories of the three women Taddeo highlights in this book.

There is Maggie, a young woman from North Dakota, who in her 20's decided to sue her teacher for initiating a sexual relationship with her when she was 17 and he was 29.  The case made national headlines especially since he had been awarded Teacher of the Year.  Lina was an Indiana housewife whose husband Ed not only rejected her sexually, he refused to even kiss her.  Her longing for affection led her to an affair with her first love who she found on Facebook.  Finally, Taddeo highlights Sloane, a seemingly proper woman in her 40's who runs a restaurant and lives a privileged life in Rhode Island except her husband insists on her having sex with other people while he watches.

Taddeo spent eight years researching these women's lives and presents a detailed and raw portrait, peeling away the layers of their lives in the hope that we can understand them and hopefully ourselves but, unfortunately, despite what I think was Taddeo's earnest and noble goal to help us understand women and desire, I didn't come away from this book feeling that I had really learned anything.

Touted as "a groundbreaking portrait of erotic longing in today's America...a feat of journalism and a triumph of storytelling," I have to admit that I had a difficult time relating much of this to myself. I have never had an affair with my high school teacher, nor been gang raped nor have a husband who likes to watch me have sex with other men and women (well, I don't think he does).  Also Taddeo has a prose style that is very flowery - lots of metaphors and other figures of speech - which made me feel I was reading a novel rather than a work of nonfiction. That's not the style of nonfiction I enjoy.  And then there's the sex.  I am far from prudish, but it all got to be a bit too much, a tad too raw.  I found myself thinking "Ew, not necessary" too many times.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like your nonfiction to read like a novel with lots and lots of descriptive sex , you might like this but don't expect any real revelations about women and desire.

Thanks for reading!

See you next Friday


"The Lion King" 


The Week in Reviews
(What To See and What To Avoid)

as well as

the latest on

"My 1001 Movies I Must See

Before I Die Project" 

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Check your local library for DVDs and books mentioned.

Next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database). 

Go to, find the movie you are interested in.  Scroll down below the synopsis and the listings for the director, writer and main stars to where it says "Reviews" and click on "Critics" - If I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list.