It takes a creative mind to take an old story and retell in a new and different way.
Quentin Tarantino‘s new movie, Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood, has just hit theaters. Set in Los Angeles in the late 1960’s, Rick Dalton’s (Leonardo DiCaprio) career was once red hot. But that limelight has faded. His best friend/assistant/former stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) is always by his side. While Rick and Cliff try to revive their careers, Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) is Hollywood’s latest it-girl. But there is danger lurking behind the bright lights and glittering facade. The Manson family is out to commit murder.
This is not the first time that Tarantino has played fast and loose with history. His 2009 film, Inglorious Basterdsalso played fast and loose with history. What I liked about this movie is that both Rick and Cliff are flawed and likable characters. They just want to return to the success they once had. As Sharon Tate, Margot Robbie tells the story of the real life woman, not the murder victim that we think of today.
If I had to name my favorite aspect of this film, it was the chilling effect of the scenes with the Manson family. Though we know now what plans they had in store, the general public knew nothing about the murders until it was headline news.
I recommend it.
Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood is presently in theaters.
Titanic is basically the story of a fictional upper class Juliet and a lower class Romeo set on the real ship. Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a poor artist who wins a ticket on the Titanic over a game of cards. Rose Dewitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) is a socialite who is unhappily traveling with her mother and fiance back to America. Fate brings them together, but can fate and love keep them together as the ship sinks and issues of class and wealth get in the way of a happy ending?
I was a teenager when this movie hit theaters. Like many teenagers back then, I thought the movie was, well, perfect. There was romance, drama, class politics, beautiful period clothing, and on top of it all, one of the most infamous naval disasters in modern human history. When I look back at the film through the eyes of an adult, the luster is slightly gone, but this film will always have a place in my heart. While James Cameron is not the best screenwriter, the narrative and dialogue could be much worse. Of course, it helps that Leo and Kate’s on-screen chemistry (and off-screen BFF relationship) is indisputable.
Titanic is one of those movies that 20 years later, I still know by heart. There are some movies that will always mark certain times in our lives. Titanic will always be a reminder of my teenage years.
I think I may watch it again, not just for old time’s sake, but because it’s still a pretty good movie.
There nothing as exciting as a forbidden romance, especially on the big screen. For a film where the basic narrative is a forbidden romance to not only initially succeed at the box office, but to last long after it has left theaters, well, it has to be pretty special.
While some films within this narrowly defined narrative have failed and have been forgotten, both Titanic (1997) and Dirty Dancing (1987) have gone on to not only become classics, but also generational markers. In honor of the 20th anniversary of Titanic and the 30th anniversary of Dirty Dancing, I’d thought it was time to celebrate these remarkable films that have stood the test of time.
Loosely based on the sinking of the actual Titanic, the film combines real events with real people who were on the ship with the fictional romance of upper class girl Rose Dewitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) and lower class boy Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio). Told in past tense by Rose in her twilight years (Gloria Stuart), Rose is traveling on the Titanic back to America with her mother, Ruth Dewitt Bukater (Frances Fisher) and her unwanted fiance, Cal Hockley (Billy Zane).
Rose and Jack have a near immediate connection, but the difference in their class nearly keeps them apart. Then Titanic hits the iceberg and everything changes.
I think many writers (including myself) will agree that James Cameron is not the best at writing dialogue and the plot is predictable, but that is the fun of this movie. It is also to progenitor of the fictional story within a real historical event genre. And who could forget the film’s theme song, which no one could get away from in the late 1990’s.
Set in the early 1960’s, Frances “Baby” Houseman (Jennifer Grey) is a young woman going up to the Catskills with her family for summer vacation. Lacking in confidence, Baby is young, idealistic and naive. She falls for Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze), the hotel’s lead male dance instructor who is technically off limits to her. When Penny Johnson (Cynthia Rhodes) is no longer able to join Johnny on the dance floor, Baby steps up the plate. But she is not a dancer and is aware that both she and Johnny are breaking the rules by not only dancing together, but falling in love.
What can one say about Dirty Dancing? The music is danceable (and singeable), Baby is an every woman and Patrick Swayze was not too bad on the eyes either. It’s basically a coming of age story combined with a forbidden romance, which elevates the movie to a higher plane of character and story development.
And course, Dirty Dancing has it’s own iconic theme song.
The fact that both of these films have lasted as long as they have is a testament to the power of love, the dangerous excitement of forbidden romance and the fact that both films are incredible.
P.S. The inspiration for this post came from the reboot of Dirty Dancing, which will be airing on ABC on Wednesday. Look for my review later in the week.
Every successful filmmaker, over the course of their career, develops his or her unique style of film making.
Baz Luhrmann is known for his colorful and sometimes eccentric films.
Bursting into Hollywood with his 1992 film, Strictly Ballroom, Lurhmann often tells stories of characters trying to succeed against seemingly impossible challenges.
His 1996 adaptation of Romeo + Juliet, starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Clarie Danes as the young lovers. Standing in the way of their happily ever after was John Leguizamo as Tybalt, Paul Rudd as Paris and Paul Sorvino as Fulgencio Capulet. The genius of this film was that while the Shakespearean text was unaltered, Lurhmann wisely chose to set the film in modern day Verona.
Five years later, he tried his hand at the musical genre with Moulin Rouge. In 1899, Christian (Ewan McGregor) is an idealistic young poet who has come to Paris to follow the Bohemian Revolution. His companions take him to the Moulin Rouge, where the star is Satine (Nicole Kidman). Christian and Satine fall in love, but the Moulin Rouge’s patron, the Duke (Richard Roxburgh) also has eye on Satine. Utilizing modern pop music, the story is about love against all odds.
The 1950’s are often viewed with the lenses rose colored glasses. Television programs like the Donna Reed Show and Father Knows Best presented the image of the perfect Caucasian middle class family where the problems were simple and solvable with 30 minutes. Life is never that perfect or that easy.
Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates’s novel about the imperfections beneath the surface, was published in 2000.
Frank and April Wheeler are living what seems to be the perfect suburban middle class life in the 1950’s. But there are issues bubbling beneath the surface the threaten their marriage, their family and the image that they have cultivated for their friends and neighbors.
In 2008, the book was adapted into a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.
The book and the movie are both incredible. Despite it’s glossy image, the 1950’s was a very complicated and dark decade. Like any couple, Frank and April had problems that are not always obvious to the passerby, but upon further inspection, reveals large issues that are unresolved. The end is unflinchingly heart breaking.
Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a poor artist who wins his tickets to the Titanic in a card game. Rose Dewitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) is returning to America via the Titanic to marry, though not by choice. Their romance is as ill fated as the ship they are sailing on.
Was I one of those teenage girls who saw this movie more than once in the theater? Yes. Was I one of those teenage girls who listened to the soundtrack till I was blue in the face or the CD became so scratched that I had to replace it? Yes. Was I also one of those teenage girls who thought Leonardo DiCaprio was the hottest thing on screen? Yes, though now I know better.
Let’s put this movie into perspective. Rose and Jack’s doomed relationship has a Romeo and Juliet, Heathcliff and Cathy feel to it. Complete with fate and those around them determined to see the lovers going their separate ways. Is James Cameron a good director? Yes. Is he a good screenwriter? That depends on your opinion. The dialogue in this movie, even with the A list actors reciting the lines, is a little wooden.
But it’s the kind of movie that on a lazy, rainy weekend afternoon, that you watch just because it’s on. And for my generation, it’s all about nostalgia and a movie (complete with it’s iconic theme song) that played on and on and on….
And just because this movie takes itself a little too seriously, I give you SNL’s take on Titanic.