Cinema Review

By Kidus Tamiru , September 01, 2019

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Runtime: 2hrs 41m
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie

Once upon a time in Hollywood is a period drama/comedy set in 1960’s Hollywood about a has-been actor, Rick Dalton (DiCaprio), and his stunt man and best friend Cliff Booth (Pitt) as they try to navigate the changing times to save their fading careers. This is the ninth film by writer/director Quentin Tarantino. He has been a bit focused on making films set in the past (his last four) for a while now. But he does seem to be inching forward with the timeline with each film. I really hope he gets back to the modern era like his early films by his next one. It seems he’s just using the period settings of the films so he can honor his filmmaking heroes.

  Speaking of honoring filmmakers, this film is definitely his most indulgent work in that regard.

In some ways, this doesn’t feel like a Tarantino film at all. It has almost no suspense or violence; it’s doesn’t rely on dialog; it has flamboyant shots like with long takes of people quietly driving and so on. But what it lacks in suspense, it more than makes up for with fantastic, and sometimes hilarious, performances from the leads. Both DiCaprio and Pitt make their drastically different characters come to life so perfectly. And even with almost no dialog, Margot Robbie plays Sharon Tate so well as the innocent young starlet that you’ll dread what’s to come on the ending (If you know of the Manson family story).

Another interesting thing about this film is how it mixes historical fact and fiction so seamlessly you don’t know where one ends and the other begins. Most of the directors and some of the TV shows (even some of the specific episodes on those TV shows) that the fictional Rick Dalton starred in were actually real. So, this is a sort of slightly alternate history where an actor called Rick Dalton was discovered and became famous with everything else around him being real history. And his existence does end up changing history in the end. But I still haven’t decided whether or not I like the ending. It was just so unexpected I need to the see the film a few more times. So, I can’t tell you you’ll love the ending.

In fact, I can’t tell you you’ll love the movie at all. It goes without saying that you have to be a fan of Tarantino to appreciate this film even a little bit. But you have to be a BIG fan of his to enjoy it. If you’re expecting Tarantino’s trademark violence and suspense, then you’re in for a huge disappointment (but you will get your money’s worth if you make it till the end). Tarantino seems to have matured as a filmmaker and he’s getting out of his comfort zone on this one. He doesn’t rely on snappy dialog or violence, but that does give the film an indulgent, meandering feel.

This is definitely not a family or a date movie. This has been dubbed Tarantino’s “Love letter to 60’s Hollywood” and it’s a perfect description.

7.5/10

Weyne…YeArada Lij 5

Directed by: Biruk Tamiru
Runtime: 1hr50m
Starring: Alemseged Tesfaye, Edil Werk Tasew, Tezera Lema

Weyne…is a story about a man who works as a counterfeiter who falls in love with a single mother who works as a prostitute. Yep, it’s just as dumb as it sounds. I really don’t know how these films even pass the initial stage of people asking, “Are you sure this is a good idea?”. The “plot” is so weak I have no idea what message they’re trying to convey, cause I’m sure it’s not supposed to be entertaining.

And if you’ve actually read the title, this is actually PART 5 of some stupid series about idiots running around trying to be funny. And, I usually don’t judge these films based on my taste alone because it could be a matter of not understanding their humor. But when the entire audience is quiet, or even worse, laughing at the “serious” scenes, I know a movie is in trouble.

The first and foremost fuckup of this film is the unbelievably amateurish writing. The unrealistic dialog (especially for the little kid), the cringe inducing jokes, the aimless plot, there’s literally nothing salvageable about the script. The long ass jokes take too much time to get to the punchline. Not to mention the fact that there are so many of them. It’s like the writer is under the impression he gets paid by the number of jokes (come to think of it, that’s not so far-fetched for Ethiopia).

If you’re familiar with Ethiopian films, I’m sure you’ll recognize the writer/director’s name. Biruk Tamiru has been making films for a while now. So, that’s why it’s amazing how somebody could retain this level of incompetence with this much experience. I’ve seen wedding videos more entertaining than this. And It’s not just the writing, the cinematography and directing are terrible too. This film has practically no establishing shots, so scene changes are a bit confusing. It has no sense of story or pacing, it is just “comedic” scenes tied together one after the other. And the ending is just magnificently stupid.

2/10

Hobbs and Shaw

Directed by: David Leitch
Runtime: 2hr 17m
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba

Hobbs and Shaw is a spin-off of the Fast and furious franchise following Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw, as they partner up to stop a super human terrorist from unleashing a deadly virus. The two lead characters were not even major characters on the Fast and Furious series, but their chemistry and rivalry was so entertaining in those movies; they got their own spin-off film. And rightly so, it’s not bad. In fact, I enjoyed this better than any of the F&F movies. For starters, it’s streamlined with its characters; you just have to follow three major characters and each brings something to the table. Second, it has the first formidable and charismatic villain in the entire series. Idris Elba as the “Black Superman” is pretty cool to watch (fun fact: it was the black James Bond in the script, Elba changed it because of his rumored ties to the character).

So overall, this is a film for little boys. It has good action scenes, a lot of machismo and juvenile jokes that appeal to kids. So as long as you don’t go in expecting John Wick, you’ll enjoy this.   

7/10