January 20th, 2020

On the plane I was able to catch a couple of movies that I have been meaning to see.   First was Once Upon A Time in Hollywood.  The Golden Globes were kind to this very long film which is set in the late 60s in Hollywood.   I note that younger viewers who know little to nothing of this time won’t necessarily get the full impact of it.   I will leave that statement without further elaboration since much of it hinges on the ultimate resolution.  For me, knowing this history then there was a bit of an “a-ha” moment as some things came together.
I think the love being shown to Brad Pitt as Supporting Actor is justified.  His was an interesting role as stunt double for an aging DiCaprio western character, who seemed to share a number of qualities with real Clint Eastwood.   The three hour length could have easily have been trimmed.  For example, the extended sequence with Pitt interacting with Bruce Dern was longer than needed.   I found the sequence with Bruce Lee was entertaining just as someone getting their comeuppance but if he wasn’t that way, then it was offensive.  Do I really think that Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate reflected the reality of her?  I don’t know. The interaction of her at the movie theatre watching her own film was interesting but not all that informative.   The scenes that showed the actual Tate in the movie was the interesting part since I don’t think I remember ever seeing her act.  In the end, was this the best picture of the year?  I don’t think so.   As in almost any Tarantino film there is a violent component which some viewers may find just too much.   Is it necessary?   Likely not.   But there are times when it is imminently satisfying.   For me this could easily be a two hour film without taking much away.   It is worth seeing and Pitt does some really good work.

I also saw Rocketman, the Elton John biopic which seeing the success of Queen’s  Bohemian Rhapsody added to the music noise.  Musicians who no longer make the money from albums, and aren’t touring can look to seek their stories to be made into movies.   Queen has made a fortune.   This movie differentiates itself from Queen by being more of a musical.   Sadly for me the original songs are modified and changed and sung by the actors (and not Elton John).  Iconic songs for me like Border Song lack in quality and energy.  Others too like Tiny Dancer, and Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting among others just don’t work.  I also don’t have a lot of sympathy for Reggie/Elton.  Poor, multi-talented, rich, hoarder who doesn’t have a lot of love from his family.   Boo hoo.   I like to see the creative process and also think his gift for visualizing music to lyrics is fascinating.   He is an accomplished talent.   While professing profusely that he has never had an argument with Bernie Taupin, I think we saw a couple of arguments in the film, like when Bernie decided to move back to the UK.   How Bernie didn’t hear any music as he wrote his lyrics is interesting too.   I was also surprised to see how Elton was played by his manager (Robb Stark).  He may have signed a contract but I have to imagine that there is an exit clause which allows him to end it.   If there isn’t, then he isn’t as smart as you might think.   This movie is infinitely better with Elton’s voice doing the singing.   I am glad that I followed through on the promise to myself not to pay for this movie.   So Elton gets my money for his songs and (mostly) Bernie’s lyrics but not for a movie.   Jamie Bell plays Taupin.   I like him better as Billy Elliot.  The Elton marriage to a women was kind of glossed over, but not ignored.

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