Spling reviews Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Ice on Fire and Colossal as broadcast on Talking Movies, Fine Music Radio. Listen to podcast.
Good morning – welcome to Talking Movies, I’m Spling…
This week, we’re talking about an epic comedy drama, an environmental documentary and a romantic comedy fantasy with a difference.
Starting off with a film now on circuit…
ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD
A faded television actor and his stunt double strive to achieve fame and success in the film industry during the final years of Hollywood’s Golden Age.
Writer-Director: Quentin Tarantino
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Emile Hirsch, Timothy Olyphant, Dakota Fanning, Bruce Dern and Al Pacino
– having started out as a video store clerk, Tarantino’s eclectic style has always been characterised by pop culture references and violence with a dark comedy edge
– this makes Once Upon A Time In Hollywood one of his most tame films if you ignore several infrequent yet brutally violent outbursts
– following the fictionalised career of a TV turned film actor, loosely based on Steve McQueen and a number of similar leading men, Tarantino immerses us in 1969 Los Angeles
– smoking, forgotten brands, lost musical artists, hippie culture and spaghetti westerns, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood feels like a revenge-fueled love letter to the dying embers of Hollywood’s Golden age
– fine co-lead performances from Pitt and DiCaprio keep the lid on this slow-boiling and sprawling comedy drama
– this tale of a troubled pretty boy and a tough guy has a number parallels with buddy movies such as The Nice Guys and Lethal Weapon, even venturing into the terrain of True Detective, but without the gumshoe storytelling
– at almost 3 hours, it’s quite a long affair but remains compelling thanks to the full immersion, memorable scenes and hotchpotch of characters
– the ending may cause some frustration and the violence borders on Evil Dead ridiculous, but Tarantino attempts and largely succeeds in encapsulating the joy, despair and paradox that is Hollywood.
An excellent 8 on the splingometer
Moving on to a documentary now on Showmax…
ICE ON FIRE
Visionaries and scientists work to mitigate climate change and minimize climate-related events, despite a rapidly warming planet.
Director: Leila Conners
Narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, who also serves as producer
– while our blue planet is reaching a critical tipping point in terms of carbon emission and climate change, technology is reaching a juncture where it can be used to start slowing down the impact
– fossil fuel giants have invested trillions in infrastructure, which continues to drive profits… but at whose sacrifice?
– with renewable energy costs plummeting, we’re starting to see a situation where companies can actually derive profits from solutions without any added altruism
– it highlights many technological advances aimed at absorbing, reducing, storing or reversing the damage caused by global warming as a result of spiking CO2 and methane levels
– the documentary advocates a number of solutions, investigating the progress and proliferation of renewable energy schemes harnessing solar, tidal and wind
– leveraging headlines from reputable news sources and commentaries from an international community of scientists to getting a layman’s understanding from fisherman and farmers, Ice on Fire attempts to demystify climate change and what can be done on a macro scale to slow or even reverse it
– beautiful aerial photography and visualisations mesmerise with a blend of what could be described as sci-fi spa music
– permafrost, biochar, direct air capture, the Paris climate deal, CO2 to rock processes… its a documentary that seeks to educate and illuminate the public on a range of never-before-seen technologies
– while verging on being too complicated, it’s a surprisingly hopeful environmental documentary
An solid 7 on the splingometer!
And finally a film now streaming on Showmax…
An out-of-work party girl gradually comes to the realization that she is connected to an attack on Seoul.
Writer-Director: Nacho Vigalondo
Stars: Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis and Dan Stevens
– There have been many interesting hybrids when it comes to genre mash-ups over the years and one of the most interesting is Collossal fusing romantic comedy with city-demolishing kaiju action
– featuring a solid ensemble, the screenplay is sharp-witted and manages to throw a net over the high concept, even when it seems like it’s ready to self-implode
– from the outset, the fantasy element makes it seem too bizarre to suspend belief, but to its credit the filmmakers manage to ground the strange and offbeat idea, supplanting the story in a small town slice of Americana
– playing up some serious dark comedy around apathy in response to news in another time zone, the focus is more on the comedy drama than the city destruction, which also shows in terms of the weighting on visual effects
– while devastating to a city, the actions come to reflect the interpersonal squabbles of two people who failed to launch
– it’s a fascinating premise, the kind of outlandish and surreal movie you’d expect from the imagination of Michel Gondry
– while it doesn’t quite pan out, owing to its over-the-top fantasy and perceived distance from the leads, it remains an entertaining, strange, refreshing and surprisingly funny distraction
A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer
So just to wrap up…
ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD… a compelling, entertaining, immersive, retro-cool, stellar and well-acted Hollywood tale… An excellent 8!
ICE ON FIRE… a comprehensive, eye-opening, exploratory and optimistic climate change documentary… A solid 7!
COLOSSAL… a wickedly funny, refreshing and strange comedy-romance-fantasy mash-up… A satisfactory 6!
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And remember, Don’t WING it, SPL!NG it!