Also known as: Tonari no Totoro (original Japanese title) Release Date: April 16th, 1988 (Japan) Directed by: Hayao Miyazaki Written by: Hayao Miyazaki Music by: Joe Hisaishi Cast: Japanese Language: Noriko Hidaka, Chika Sakamoto, Shigesato Itoi; English Language: Dakota Fanning, Elle Fanning, Tim Daly, Frank Welker
Tokuma Japan Communications, Nibariki, Studio Ghibli, Toho, 86 Minutes
“Trees and people used to be good friends. I saw that tree and decided to buy the house. Hope Mom likes it too. Okay, let’s pay our respects then get home for lunch.” – Tatsuo Kusakabe
Considering that this was released with Grave of the Fireflies, I don’t know how Japanese families got through both movies, as the feels are so damn strong in both of them. However, I hope that this one was shown second, as it’s the one that leaves you on a positive note.
This is one of the cutest movies ever made and I think it’s damn near impossible not to love, unless you’re a heartless heathen that hates everything wholesome and sweet in the world.
The story follows two very young sisters as they move into a new house with their father in the Japanese country. Their mother is sick in the hospital, so throughout the film, they visit her when they can but as the story rolls on, you learn that her condition has worsened.
All the while, supernatural things are happening in and around their home. The girls eventually meet a spirit named Totoro. As legend would have it, he only appears to those who are near death. The girls can see him because of their mother’s condition.
The girls have a few cool adventures in this and the spirit world opens to them more and more. However, even if it feels like the writing is on the wall regarding their mother’s mortality, this does have a wonderfully positive ending that I wasn’t expecting, especially after seeing Grave of the Fireflies before this movie.
Up to the point of this film’s release, this was Hayao Miyazaki’s magnum opus and for great reason. It’s his most endearing and human story out of his earliest pictures. This is also the first that I feel became truly iconic outside of Japan. In fact, Totoro went on to be Studio Ghibli’s mascot.
Also known as: Untitled #9, #9 (working titles) Release Date: May 21st, 2019 (Cannes) Directed by: Quentin Tarantino Written by: Quentin Tarantino Music by: various Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Emile Hirsch, Margaret Qualley, Timothy Olyphant, Austin Butler, Dakota Fanning, Bruce Dern, Al Pacino, Julia Butters, Mike Moh, Luke Perry, Damian Lewis, Samantha Robinson, Rafal Zawierucha, Damon Herriman, Lena Dunham, Maya Hawke, Harley Quinn Smith, Danielle Harris, Scoot McNairy, Clifton Collins Jr., Dreama Walker, Clu Gulager, Martin Kove, Rebecca Gayheart, Kurt Russell, Zoe Bell, Michael Madsen, James Remar, Toni Basil, Quentin Tarantino (voice), Vincent Laresca, Lew Temple, James Marsden (extended release), Walton Goggins (voice, extended release)
Visiona Romantica, Heyday Films, Bona Fide Group, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures, 161 Minutes
“When you come to the end of the line, with a buddy who is more than a brother and a little less than a wife, getting blind drunk together is really the only way to say farewell.” – Narrator
It’s probably no secret that I really loved Quentin Tarantino’s earlier films.
However, his more recent stuff hasn’t quite hit the mark for me in the same way. I think a lot of that has to do with his reliance on his dialogue and his films coming across as a handful (or less) of long conversations with a bit of cool shit sprinkled in and an overabundance of ultraviolence that isn’t as effective as it once was and often times feels out of place and jarring.
That being said, I really fucking dug Once Upon a Time In Hollywood.
It’s not a picture without its flaws but it’s well constructed, well written and perfectly paced, which isn’t something I can say for the rest of Tarantino’s more modern pictures.
I haven’t liked a Tarantino movie this much since the Kill Bill films.
I’m not sure what changed in the way that he paces and constructs his movies but this plays much more like Pulp Fiction or Jackie Brown and that’s a very, very good thing.
A lot of credit has to go to the massive cast, all of whom felt perfect in their roles. It was really cool to see Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt play best buds and sort of go on this adventure together. Their characters were an homage to Burt Reynolds and his stuntman, Hal Needham, who were really close and had a tight bond for years.
DiCaprio’s character was also based off of all the television western actors who were once big stars but never seemed to be able to move on to bigger projects and sort of got typecast and brushed aside.
The third main character in the film is Margot Robbie, who plays a fictionalized version of Sharon Tate, the most famous victim in the Charles Manson murders.
However, like Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, this film doesn’t follow history’s path and it carves out its own unique story. But I’ve always really loved alternative history takes in fiction. Hell, The Man In the High Castle by Philip K. Dick is one of my all-time favorite novels. I still haven’t watched the television show, though.
Anyway, the film does run long but it’s not as exhausting as The Hateful Eight. We’re not trapped in one room for three hours, here. Instead, we get to explore old-timey Hollywood in an era where it was leaving its glamorous age behind and moving into the darker, grittier, post-Code era.
There are some scenes, while pretty cool, that probably didn’t need to be in the film and don’t serve much purpose other than amusing the director.
One such scene is the fight between Bruce Lee and Brad Pitt’s Cliff Booth. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it but it didn’t serve the story other than to show how cool and tough Booth was but by this point in the movie, we already knew that. It was also a way for Tarantino to wedge in a few more cameos, in this case: Zoe Bell and Kurt Russell, two of his faves.
The sequence that really cemented this film as being pretty solid was the one that took place at the ranch. Here, Brad Pitt’s Booth discovers that an old friend’s ranch has become infested with cultish hippies, who the audience comes to learn are associated with Charles Manson. It’s an absolutely chilling sequence that builds up suspense in a way that I haven’t seen Tarantino do since the opening scene of Inglourious Basterds, a decade prior.
The climax of the film is also well constructed and pretty fucking intense. This is the part of the film where history is altered and we get to see some epic Tarantino-styled justice befall the force of evil that has been brooding over the story for over two hours.
I probably should have seen this in the theater and I believe that it’s the only Tarantino picture that I haven’t seen on the big screen. However, his two previous films exhausted me and I assumed that this would do the same. But I’m glad to say that this seems like a return to form and I hope this momentum carries over into his future projects.
Rating: 8.75/10 Pairs well with: other more modern Tarantino films.
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