Quentin Tarantino's new work, 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' is a frequently funny film, though one charged with moments of great sadness. It's a film that seems at first to be preoccupied with a feeling of finality; its disparate strands of plot and the collisions between real-life and fantasy always arriving at the end of things; the end of the Hollywood studio system, the state of innocence, the American "West", a life, the friendship that exists between men, etc.…
Some attempts to place the story in modern-setting strike a false note & strain credibility. Nonetheless, this is an oddly engaging adaptation of Shelley's text, which weaves the familiar themes of motherhood, abandonment & doctors playing God, but adds additional commentary on the plight of those marginalised from mainstream society. One image is so haunting(& redolent of Tarkovsky) that it remains etched in memory.
For all its aesthetic perfection, Midsommar never rises above the level of a dumb slasher film. At its centre, it mines cheap laughs & discomfort from sneering at cultures & customs it perceives as different & using that as a basis for schlock horror. There's an obligatory throughline about grief & transcendence, but this is made silly by the attempts to shock. It's a visually beautiful film that is ugly in all other aspects.
Take the vivid multicultural future space of Winterbottom's Code 46 and strip it of all life, vitality, complexity and social commentary. Now imagine that same but neutered world re-populated by a generation of socially maladjusted men-children who shuffle about in hideous clothes, who listen to drippy acoustic ballads about cats and spiders, and who endlessly reminisce about a failed marriage that seemed to have about as much emotional heft as a schoolboy's first attempt at courtship.
Everything about the film…