Posts Tagged ‘Margaret Qualley’

Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Al Pacino


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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Margaret Qually

“NOVITIATE” My rating: B 

123 minutes | MPAA rating: R

The movies rarely treat religion with anything like respect or even intelligent understanding.  Which makes “Novitiate” a welcome anomaly.

Writer/director Margaret Betts’ film — made with a predominantly female cast and crew — is a serious attempt to examine a religious vocation through the eyes of one young woman.

Cathleen (Margaret Qually…she played the daughter in HBO’s “The Leftovers”) is raised by her hard-case mother in the American South during the 1950s.  Mom Nora (Juliette Nicholson) is a drinkin’, smoking’ modern woman with a tart tongue and a disdain for much of Eisenhower-era society.

But she’s devoted to her daughter and one Sunday takes Cathleen to the local Catholic church. Though irreligious herself, Nora wants her child to be able to make up her own mind. Almost against her better judgment, she accepts a free scholarship for Cathleen at the local parochial school.

The girl takes to Catholicism like other teens glom onto Rod McKuen’s poetry.  As graduation nears she announces that she wants to become a nun. Mom is horrified, but what are you gonna do?

And so Cathleen becomes a postulant at a cloistered community run by the hard-ass Reverend Mother (Melissa Leo), who hasn’t left the premises in 40 years.

Revered Mother — the spiritual version of a Marine drill instructor — makes no bones about her intentions to weed out the unworthy.  Her methods are often brusque and borderline cruel, and part of the wonder of Leo’s performance is that the character’s ogreish behavior is, if not likable, then at least understandable. It’s a long-tested system to which she adheres. (more…)

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