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Posts Tagged ‘Dakota Fanning’

Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Al Pacino

“ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD”  My rating: B+

161 minutes |MPAA  rating: R

Crammed with alternately bleak and raucous humor, a palpable affection for Tinseltown’s past and peccadilloes, and enough pop cultural references to fuel a thousand trivia nights, “Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood” is a moviegoer’s dream.

Here writer/director Quentin Tarantino eschews his worst tendencies (especially his almost adolescent addiction to racial name-calling) and delivers a story that despite many dark edges leaves us basking in the sunny California sunshine.

Each scene has been exquisitely crafted with every element — art direction, costuming, cinematography, editing, acting — meshing in near perfection.

In the process Tarantino rewrites history, blithely turning a real-life tragedy into a fictional affirmation of positivity. It’s enough to make a grown man cry.

The heroes (??) of this 2 1/2-hour opus are Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), a star of TV westerns who now (the time is 1969) sees his career circling the crapper, and his stunt double, the laconic tough guy Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), who not only steps in to perform dangerous feats on the set but serves as Rick’s best bud, Man Friday and chauffeur (Rick’s had one too man DUIs).

Tarantino’s script finds the  alternately cocky and weepy Rick (DiCaprio has rarely been better) lamenting his fading status in the industry (he’s been reduced to playing villains in episodic TV) and contemplating the offer of a semi-sleazy producer (Al Pacino) to make spaghetti Westerns in Europe.

Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate

Cliff, meanwhile, picks up an underaged hitchhiker (Margaret Qualley) who takes him to one of his old haunts, the Spahn ranch, an Old West movie set now occupied by one Charles Manson and his family of hippie misfits.

Newly arrived at the home next to Rick’s on Cielo Drive is director Roman Polanski and his beautiful actress wife, Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie). Tate is a sweetheart, an all-American beauty radiating an almost angelic innocence and positivity. But we can’t help twitching in anxiety…after all, everybody knows that in ’69 she and her houseguests were the victims of a horrific murder spree by Manson’s brainwashed minions.

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Kevin Kline, Dakota Fanning, and Susan Sarandon

Kevin Kline, Dakota Fanning, and Susan Sarandon

“THE LAST OF ROBIN HOOD” My rating: B- (Opens Sept. 5 at the Tivoli )

94 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Like it or loathe it, “The Last of Robin Hood” succeeds in taking a red-flag subject — pedophilia — and forcing us to reconsider our intense feelings about this taboo.

The writing/directing team of Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland get away with this by relating a largely true story involving one of Hollywood’s most charismatic leading men.

Here are the facts:  In the last two years of his life, legendary big-screen swashbuckler Errol Flynn kept as his mistress a girl — a self-described “dancer/singer/actress,” though any one of those labels is debatable — who was only 15 when their relationship began.

Beverly Aadland (Dakota Fanning) had been kicking around the periphery of Hollywood for years. Most recently she had faked her age to get work as a backup dancer in musicals. That’s where she was spotted by the always-on-the-prowl Flynn (Kevin Kline), who was working on a nearby soundstage.

A practiced bullshitter with a charming line of self-deprecation (told by a fan that he had seen one of Flynn’s movies five times, the actor responds: “How extraordinary — I could barely get through it once”), Flynn wooed and seduced Beverly.

But a strange thing happened. The old alcoholic womanizer fell in love. He called Beverly his “little sprite” and “wood nymph.” He dubbed her “Woodsy.”

Not even the late-arriving revelation of Woodsy’s tender years (she had been passing herself off as 18) could cool the ardor of a man who nearly two decades earlier had endured a humiliating trial for statuatory rape and remains a tantalizing target for any prosecutor looking to make a name.

Curiously, “The Last of Robin Hood” is less about Flynn and Beverly (a pretty but vacuous girl with a largely unformed personality) than it is about Flynn and Beverly’s mother, Florence Aadland (Susan Sarandon).

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Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, and Peter Sarsgard...eco-terrorists

Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, and Peter Sarsgaard…eco-terrorists

“NIGHT MOVES” My rating: B+ (Opening June 13 at the Cinetopia and AMC Studio)

112 minutes | MPAA rating: R

For want of a better description, Kelly Reichardt’s films are often called “minimalist.” They are made simply, without a lot of technical razzle dazzle, and they concentrate on characters, not big effects.

But just because Reichardt eschews the big melodramatic moment doesn’t mean her films are emotionally barren. Her “Old Joy” was an aching study of two men on the brink of middle age who have outgrown their friendship. “Wendy and Lucy” will resonate with anyone who has loved a pet. And her Western “Meek’s Cutoff” was a harrowing tale of settlers lost on their journey through the Great American Desert.

“Night Moves” may be her most conventional film to date.  It’s a thriller, a genre with whose tropes we’re all familiar. And yet the gentle Reichardt touch is evident everywhere, with an emphasis on atmosphere and slowly building tension rather than big action set pieces.

In fact, the film’s biggest moment takes place off screen.

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