"Shining the light on Hollywood."
by Dorothy Billing on 28/08/19

Quentin Tarantino directs this colourful and racy pastiche of the Hollywood movie industry at the end of the 60's. But you don't just get to see one story unfold, it's more a collection of several stories where fiction is artfully blended with fact, as the lives of the up and coming stars of that era are paraded before us in a heady mix of retro music, fashion, old style picture houses and of course, cars. Lots of them! So if your'e a lover of explosive eye candy in all its forms this is the one for you.

Leonardo DiCaprio (Rick Dalton), doesn't fail to deliver the goods as the somewhat disillusioned actor trying desperately to hold onto his best western star character, in the long running TV series "Bounty Law". But it seems his star is fading fast, as he tries to make the transition from TV to movie actor. The one good thing still on the horizon though is his long time buddy and stunt double, Cliff, played by Brad Pitt. DiCaprio gets to show his versatility but Pitt almost steals the limelight, in that his character is actually the more interesting one. Like a faithful puppy, Cliff is chauffeur, gofer, handyman and friend, but still goes home to a rusty old trailer at night, while Rick soothes away his troubles in a slick mansion with neighbours like Sharon Tate and Polanski living right next door to him.

Although Rick is a fictional character Tarantino has based him on several real life actors of the time, to include George Maharis and Tab Hunter, who was the Hollywood golden boy of the era. It's an ambitious concept but does it really succeed? While DiCaprio can't fail to keep us watching, it did seem sometimes, more like a case of having to pull out too many people from the box. But, to his credit, what successfully emerged through all these different characters, were solid glimmers of Burt Reynolds. It was Tarantino's intention to base the friendship between Rick and Cliff on that of Reynolds and his own stunt double Hal Needham, this was something which definitely worked well in the movie, and both DiCaprio and Pitt have great chemistry.

There's really not much to dislike here, the entire movie is a masterful blend of art and fiction. With one exception, the Bruce Lee scene. While some may see it as an oversight, staunch fans of Bruce are very indignant about it. Mr Tarantino, what were you thinking? It's caused a rather big blot on an almost flawless canvas, and mars the overall standing of this movie. While Mike Moh is admirable in his portrayal of Mr Lee, he definitely has the stance, the moves, and the presence captured well, there's a touch of arrogance which is overplayed. The ending of the scene is also unfavorable and doesn't do justice to the Little Dragon's prowess and excellence as a martial artist, first and foremost. In real life Bruce would surely have the measure of a stuntman within seconds! By all means have him thrown into the side of that car, but then it would have been so much fun to expand on that, to see him get back up and deliver the final winning blow, with a touch of humour, which he most definitely had.

But, looking at the movie overall, it nevertheless still has its joyful moments and is very entertaining, and with a stellar cast to include such stalwarts as Al Pacino and Bruce Dern, along with Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate, it's like being in a luxury candy store. Watch out for newcomer Damian Lewis as a very convincing Steve McQueen. Not forgetting those gorgeous vintage cars like the Cadillac de Ville, and the cute blue Karmann Ghia driven by Cliff, plus some glorious music, courtesy of Deep Purple and Vanilla Fudge, which are used to wonderful effect, turning up the mood button for those scenes where dialogue just isn't necessary. In true Tarantino style the ending of the movie is a shocking one, but it fits perfectly.

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