Sonstein Sunday: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

Jonathan Clarke’s review: If this really is the second to last film Tarantino will ever make, he’s going out with a bang. The film, his 9th, shows the filmmaker’s love affair with late ‘60s back lot Hollywood, where TV shows like “Batman” “FBI” “Combat” “Green Hornet” and more were all the rage.

Leonardo DiCaprio is Rick Dalton, the star villain or “the heavy” of these shows and TV Westerns, who is drinking away his career. Brad Pitt is Cliff Booth, a Vietnam vet/war hero and stunt double/best friend to Dalton and Margot Robbie plays a pregnant Sharon Tate, who lives next door to Dalton in the Hollywood hills. Al Pacino is perfect as a powerful Hollywood agent telling Dalton he’s ruining his career doing guest spots and that he should go to Italy to star in Spaghetti Westerns.

Set to the soundtrack of legendary LA top 40 AM radio station KHJ “Boss Radio,” only Tarantino can turn 2 of Hollywood’s biggest stars into loveable losers, rewrite the tragic history of Sharon Tate via Charlie Manson’s Spahn Movie Ranch crew, and even Bruce Lee (Mike Moh) makes an appearance as Kato from Green Hornet and actually loses a fight to Booth (Pitt).

Not as bloody or violent as previous Tarantino films, but there is some. Bottom line, if you love Tarantino’s “Inglorious Basterds,” “Django Unchained,” “Pulp Fiction” etc., you will LOVE this! I certainly did!

4 ♥


Produced by Trudie Styler, Sting’s wife, this is based on the true life story of a white supremacist that left his hate group and then helped the FBI bust ‘em. Jamie Bell (who we first saw at 13 in “Billy Elliott”, winning a BAFTA Best Acting award) is unrecognizable in the title role, his face covered in tattoos, requiring 3 hours a day in makeup. He’s amazing in the lead role. So is Vera Farmiga as the creepy matriarch of the hate group. This is the antithesis of her past roles but she nails it. The film is dedicated to director Guy Nattiv’s late grandfather, who survived The Holocaust.

3 ½ ♥

“For Sama”

Imagine falling in love, marrying and having a child while you’re being bombed on a daily basis. This was director WaadAl-Kateab’s life for 5 years in the Syrian city of Aleppo. She documented it all- real life in wartime. The interviews with the children are heartbreaking. One scene will sear into your brain: kids playing in a bombed/burned out bus, pretending they’re going to school.

Al-Kateab can be heard on my podcast “Sonstein Sessions” on the IHeartRadio app.

4 ♥

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