I guess I value directors over stars, because two films — one just out, another due in the fall — got me thinkin’ about goin’ to the movies again. It’s anyone’s guess whether I’ll actually make it past the velvet rope.
The first is Quentin Tarantino‘s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” I knew nada about the film, not even the title. But sight unseen, I was in, just ‘coz it’s Tarantino. Not that I’m blind to his faults. In every Tarantino movie, there comes a point where you just say, “Oy, is this guy self-indulgent.”
Cases in point: The casting of a director buddy as a fearsome vigilante in “Inglorious Basterds” (unconvincing). Or Brad Pitt‘s entire performance in same (a ridiculous caricature). Or Samuel L. Jackson‘s soliloquy about the death of Bruce Dern‘s son in “The Hateful Eight” (disgusting). Or Leonardo DiCaprio‘s very presence in “Django Unchained” (too meta and self-aware). Or any time Tarantino puts himself in a movie (the camera does not love him).
Well, the other day, I saw the trailer for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” by accident at the gym, and now I know that Pitt and DiCaprio star in the movie. (Yeah, the whole world already knew that, but I’ve been out of the loop since newspapers finally, irrevocably dumped me.)
For me, a Pitt-DiCaprio film is the perfect s*** storm. If only I didn’t talk a friend into going before I found this out. I am not psyched. But I will honor the agreement like a gentleman, and attend the movie. Ugh.
The second film that intrigued me is Rob Zombie‘s forthcoming “Three From Hell,” the third movie to feature the fun-loving, serial-killing family of Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig), Otis Firefly (Bill Moseley) and Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie).
I loved Zombie’s first film in what is now a trilogy, “House of 1000 Corpses.” It restored Haig to the screen as the undeniably scariest of all scary clowns … it was a knowing, loving homage to Tobe Hooper‘s “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974) … it brimmed with deep-cut references, such as the Zacherley-like TV horror host … and its soundtrack had a Buck Owens song and a remake of “Brick House” by Lionel Richie and Zombie! (The CD version has a rockin’ verse by rapper Trina that unfairly didn’t make the closing credits, but I digress.)
I admit, however, that “Corpses” devolved into an ’80s-like atmosphere for its protracted climax. (Sigh) Whaddaya gonna go?
The sequel, “The Devil’s Rejects,” was a different kind of movie — a tad closer to “Silence of the Lambs,” especially in its torture porn, but as seen through Zombie’s cartoon-y prism. Terrible things happen onscreen (such as when Otis and Baby commandeer the motel room of a traveling C&W group). But you can’t look away.
But “Rejects” is ultimately uneven. It veers recklessly between gory horror and comedy; it has willfully wonky morality; and a few too many genre cameos. (At times, “Rejects” is like a Chiller Theatre Expo on celluloid.)
Still, I dig it. Lynyrd Skynyrd‘s “Freebird” has never sounded the same. Neither, come to think of it, has Elvin Bishop‘s “Fooled Around and Fell in Love.”
The question remains: Will I go see “Three From Hell,” or chicken out?
Hey, man, Sid Haig is in it. The dude is 80! He’s an American treasure! (Although, the trailer suggests that another character, not Haig’s Spaulding, completes the title trio with Moseley and Moon.)
That one, I won’t miss. I’ll probably be sitting in the theater by myself, but I will not miss it.
P.S.: I caught “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” last night (July 30, 2019). It was awesome! I highly recommend it to fellow movie buffs! DiCaprio and Pitt are terrific! Bruce Dern and Clu Gulager are in it! That’s all I’ll say!