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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio star in Quentin Tarantino's "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood".

Summer Arts Preview: Film

Once Upon A Time in Hollywood

I’ve been going to the premieres of Quentin Tarantino's movies since “Inglourious Basterds” in 2009, not just because they’re great, but because they’re fun. Throughout the director’s career, he’s always injected a strong blend of dark comedy and genuinely impressive action into an electric and energized editing style. While “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood” shouldn’t give us any reason to expect a lesser product, it puts Tarantino (and our imaginations) at an interesting crossroads. The tale of a fading television star in a changing entertainment landscape, set against the backdrop of Charles Manson’s cultish L.A. rampage, seems a promising mix of fact and fiction. Will Tarantino go the route of “Django: Unchained” and contextualize his story as a quasi-historical fable? Will he mirror “Inglourious Basterds” and retcon a chapter in history for comedic effect? Or, will we see him employ some new form from his whimsically deranged mind and gift us with an ass-kicking cocktail of historic criticism, affectionate pastiche and against-the-grain humor yet again?

“Once Upon A Time In Hollywood” will be released on July 26th.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Maybe it’s Clair de Lune. Maybe it’s the 10,000th iteration of blue-and-orange color palettes. Whatever it is, the marketing for “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” has been absolutely delicious. In the continuing collision of kaiju lore that spans almost a century, the 2014 rendition of “Godzilla” was, while of high production value, a narrative letdown. Michael Dougherty’s upcoming sci-fi action epic is placed interstitially after “Kong: Skull Island” and before “Godzilla vs. Kong,” giving it a benefit of the doubt, but also a crucial pivot point for the subgenre’s direction. With a stacked cast including Millie Bobby Brown, Vera Farmiga and Kyle Chandler, “King of the Monsters” could be an exciting return to blockbuster form, or a relapse into the myriad of licensed offshoots that comprise a monster collection of nearly three dozen movies.

“Godzilla: King of the Monsters” will be released on May 31st.

Spider-Man: Far From Home

As someone who passionately and irrationally dislikes the entirety of Marvel’s second-phase oeuvre and a good majority of the superhero amalgam in general, the third-phase collection — including “Thor: Ragnarok,” “Infinity War” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” — has been a promising step in a more idiosyncratic direction. Where my major critiques of Marvel’s modus operandi have been stale cinematography, recycled narrative beats and a library of forgetful scores, the newer films have taken a nice direction towards ambivalent moral conflicts and fish-out-of-water characterization to drive the plot forward. It looks like the final third-phase film, “Far From Home,” will continue these ideals of self-referential comedy, alien locations — or, anything but NYC — and continuing to expand the Marvel roster with Mysterio as portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal. Clearly, the marketing didn’t mind spoiling the presence of some characters still shrouded by the “Infinity War” conundrum, but if these elements are conducive to a new and formatically innovative philosophy for the superhero genre, I’m all for it.

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“Spider-Man: Far From Home” will be released on July 5th.

Christian Memmo is a film columnist for the Daily Cardinal. To read more of his work, click here.

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