Once Upon a Time in Hollywood a tame Tarantino ode to the past

Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio star in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Updated 14 August 2019

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood a tame Tarantino ode to the past

  • Premiering at the Cannes Film Festival this year, the movie lays out a canvas of what Los Angeles and its most sparkling icon, Hollywood
  • The movie only casually refers to the horrific murder of Roman Polanski's heavily pregnant wife, Sharon Tate

CHENNAI: “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” despite all the pre-release hullabaloo it created, is a far cry from Quentin Tarantino's best. It is certainly not in the league of his early films, “Reservoir Dogs” or “Kill Bill,” and far less impressive than what I consider his best, the fantasy drama, “Inglourious Basterds.”

Premiering at the Cannes Film Festival this year, the movie lays out a canvas of what Los Angeles and its most sparkling icon, Hollywood, were like in the late 1960s, years when Tarantino was growing up. In a skimpy plotline about an actor who does Westerns, the film's most exciting moments arrive when we meet the Manson Family at its run-down ranch.

The movie only casually refers to the horrific murder of Roman Polanski's heavily pregnant wife, Sharon Tate (an actress and model herself), by the Manson cult in 1969. But it has mostly to do with actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio in an exceptional piece of acting), whose days as a dashing Western cowboy are over, and feeling like an outcast, he begins to lean closer toward his stunt double, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt with his easy “Ocean's 11” swagger). 

A large part of the thrill in their otherwise being-kicked-around-Hollywood life comes from their neighbour, Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie). Many works have made a spectacle of the fate that befell Tate, but Tarantino avoids walking the same path.

Instead, he offers a lighter, brighter picture of LA in the days gone by, recreating Hollywood from that era before the end of the studio system. We can sense wistful nostalgia, even unabashed longing, but it’s breezy enough not to dampen our spirits.

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” has a rather tame climax. The work could disappoint some who may have anticipated something very different. 


Cinema Akil founder brings the magic of independent movies to Dubai

Updated 18 August 2019

Cinema Akil founder brings the magic of independent movies to Dubai

  • Butheina Kazim founded Cinema Akil in 2014 as a platform for independent cinema
  • Kazim’s next goal is to expand the Cinema Akil concept from Dubai to the region

DUBAI:  Butheina Kazim has brought the magic of art-house movies to Dubai, through her project Cinema Akil.

Having worked in television, radio and film acquisitions, Butheina Kazim founded Cinema Akil in 2014 as a platform for independent cinema. For Kazim, who has also produced her own film “Letters to Palestine,” the project is about more than just watching films, it’s also for building community. 

She introduced the concept with pop-up screenings, but since last year Cinema Akil has a permanent theatre in Dubai’s art district on Al-Serkal Avenue. Step into the 133-seater theater, and you are transported to an old-school picture house.

“The permanent space allows us to release films every single night of the year. The programming is often exclusive and can’t be seen elsewhere,” said Kazim. But the pop-up format will always be part of Cinema Akil. “Our nomadic life allows us to reach different communities by bringing free public cinema to people.” 

Kazim works closely with special events such as Dubai Shopping Festival’s Market Out of the Box and Fashion Forward initiatives and has screened over 350 films across Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.

In summer, the cinema space’s robust line-up continues. “There’s a mythical Dubai exodus that everyone speaks of as soon as summer hits,” said Kazim. Some of Cinema Akil’s August highlights include “Straight Out of Berlin,” a series of eight films in collaboration with the Goethe Institut, which explores the many faces and tunnels of the German capital city.

There was even a “Cat Weekend” on International Cat Day earlier this month, when films that celebrate all things feline were screened.

Kazim has been encouraged by the region’s response to art cinema: “We’ve been blown away by the enthusiasm. Films we never expected to succeed, such “Cold War” by Pawel Pawlikowski and “Capernaum” by Nadine Labaki, had a wonderful response. It’s magical when that happens.”

Kazim’s next goal is to expand the Cinema Akil concept from Dubai to the region, giving cinephiles all over the Gulf a chance to enjoy independent films.