Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood [review]

Ok so so that new Quentin Tarantino movie (his 9th out of 10) Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood came out this past Thursday. First things first–what’s with the ellipses in the title? Kind of seems unnecessary. What does it add? You don’t add extra space to your speech when you’re saying it. I don’t really understand that. Do you think Tarantino has a lucrative endorsement agreement with the big ellipses companies? Someone should investigate.

For the most part, Tarantino’s movies all sort of revolve around how much he loves movies and Hollywood, and many of his films are driven by nostalgia (reflected in the fact that he’s now made 3 straight movies that revolve around the Western style), but this film takes it one step further: It is the literal embodiment of loving Hollywood and nostalgia. For better or for worse. Let’s start with the better, though. Oh, also, there will be some light spoilers. I say ‘light spoilers’ not because I’m holding anything back, but because this isn’t the type of movie that has a ton of huge plot points to give away. There’s some stuff in the 3rd act you don’t expect, particularly if you know the real history, but it doesn’t affect the overall film much. Spoiler alert nonetheless.

The first thing you notice about this movie is how well-acted it is, and that’s an especially interesting aspect of the movie because one of the 3 main characters (leonardo dicaprio) plays an actor in the movie, so try to not get confused. Anyways, Leo’s acting in this film was really spectacular–It looked like the type of role that would have been super fun to do. Brad Pitt was also good as Leo’s stunt double, but 99% of the acting Pitt does in the movie has nothing to do with Leo’s character. This movie is vintage Leo and Pitt, and there’s a large portion of the 2nd act that is just physically watching Leo act. While this was really long (see one of my criticisms below), it was fascinating at the same time.

Another thing I really liked is something you often take for granted in Tarantino movies so I wanted to make a point of mentioning it: The cinematography here was a ton of work and it ended up looking spectacular. You can tell Tarantino was having a ton of fun recreating sets from the 60s and transforming LA in general into this golden age vision he has. I have some big broad-sweeping issues with Tarantino having full control over his movies now (limited to no studio involvement) (see my criticisms below), but his cinematography is one thing that really benefits from his pure direction.

The last positive point I’ll make here is that it was a pretty entertaining movie–You do definitely start to feel the run time in the 2nd act, but in general with the great acting and the beautiful cinematography, you don’t actually get ‘bored,’ you just wonder what the purpose of a particular scene is, or why Tarantino chose to make it 15 minutes and not something more reasonable like 5 or 6. Let’s shift gears here though and look at some negatives. I have a lot of them.

2 hours and 40 minutes is REALLY long. The 2nd act in particular feels like it’s own separate movie. Leo spends the whole day acting, and it feels like you’re watching him for a whole day. He goes to makeup. He has a terribly long conversation with one of the other actors. He acts. He throws a fit in his trailer. He has another conversation with one of the other actors. He goes back and acts again. It was neat that they did a lot of single take type scenes, but man, it really starts to drag. This is where I got confused by the movie–I was about 90 minutes in and I had no idea what the plot or purpose of the movie was. If you say the plot of the movie surrounds the Manson murders (which is how the film was advertised), then you better be prepared to wait out the first 2 hours of the movie. It’s not that the first two acts aren’t entertaining, it’s just that they feel almost completely disconnected to the 3rd act in which ‘everything’ happens.

Frankly, when I see a Tarantino movie, I’m expecting a decent amount of humor, even if it’s really dark humor. There were a few occasions throughout the film where I let out an audible chuckle, but the ratio of runtime to audible chuckles wasn’t great. In that same vein, and related to the first negative point, the overall pacing, while not awful, was confusing at times. The 2nd act just feels like Tarantino playing with himself and seeing how much of a tribute to the golden age of cinema he can make while the 3rd act felt like an entire comedy-horror movie packed into 40 minutes.

What’s with the toes in this movie? There are two distinct scenes here where the toes are out in full display–Once when the brunette Manson girl is in Pitt’s car, and once when Margot Robbie is watching herself at the theater. I didn’t know Tarantino had a foot fetish before this, but after watching this and doing some other research on Uma Thurman, it’s all coming together. It was distracting. It didn’t add anything to the movie. It wasn’t interesting. I felt like I was watching Rex Ryan make a movie. I’m not even one of those people who’re grossed out by toes. I just didn’t get it. Shrug.

Ok, by far my biggest criticism and the one that really bugs me: Tarantino treats his female characters like s**t in this movie, and he doesn’t really seem to care. Let’s start with Margot Robbie. She’s advertised as one of the 3 main characters. She portrays Sharon Tate, a real life figure with a fascinating story. So what does Sharon Tate do in this movie? Nothing. Literally nothing. She goes to a party. She dances a bit. She goes to the movies. She has about 7 seconds of dialogue. Tarantino makes this really intriguing historical popular figure into a barbie doll. An object. Not a sexual object thankfully, but just an object. My dog could’ve played that part just as well, because Margot Robbie was given absolutely nothing to do. I spent just about the entire runtime waiting for her to either do something interesting or link up with some of the characters we actually care about. Nahhhh, not gonna do any of that. Thanks!

Margot Robbie’s not the only female who gets shafted big time in this movie though. Kurt Russell’s character’s wife is in the movie for about 20 seconds. She’s the only prominent female on a set. She’s portrayed as super cranky and bossy. Great! Oh, and lest we not forget about Brad Pitt’s character’s wife either! Also annoying and irritating. BIG SPOILER ALERT AHEAD. Oh, and the fact that Brad Pitt killed her and got away with it? Tarantino wants us to view that as the joke. That’s the joke. I feel like I missed something. Then you have Dakota Fanning as Squeaky Fromme. Super creepy and wildly intriguing female character. Meh, let’s get her in there for 30 seconds. And finally, and a lot of people have been forgetting this, but Leo gets married between the 2nd and 3rd acts. His new wife? Some Italian floozy who’s given no character and is just a parody. Great. I don’t think movies have to follow Title IX regulations. Not every movie has to be about women as much as it is about men. But this movie makes its women look awful, and it’s extremely intentional about it. This was a huge turn off.

Overall, while the movie looks good and the acting performances from Leo and Pitt are great, the whole thing just feels super drowsy. I can’t imagine watching this at home on my couch–I’d be asleep 45 minutes in. SO DRAWN OUT. Not a ton of momentum, and we’re not really sure if we should be rooting for the main characters or not as one is a crying alcoholic manchild (Leo–it’s funny but doesn’t necessarily make you want to get behind him), a murderer (Pitt, who I go back and forth on regarding his hero or anti-hero status), and Margot Robbie, who again, gets absolutely nothing to do. Overall, this was basically a movie about how great it was to be a white man in the 60s. Everyone else (even Bruce Lee!) is treated like dog crap in this film. It’s clear Tarantino is crazy-nostalgic for the past, but if it’s the past he’s envisioning in Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, eh, I’m good.

Spoiler Statute of Limitations

Hey Beaners

You probably thought I was dead didn’t you! While we’ve been busy with the podcast and our BRAND new Father’s Day song for 2019 (posted below), it’s been about a month since we posted on the blog, which is the longest drought we’ve had since we launched in the winter. If you haven’t been following the show, it’s been a super busy time for us as I packed up shop and moved to Chicago. Between the new apartment, new job, connections with new and old friends, the couch getting, the NBA Finals and Stanley Cup watching, and the live tweeting (boy, that’s a lot of things to be in between all at once. Reminds me of the Oscars after party at Lady Gaga’s condo), I just haven’t had a lot of time to sit down at my desk and write. Frankly, there were 2 days there in between jobs where I wasn’t even employed and didn’t even have a desk. What happens if you’re in between jobs and you get in an accident or have a medical emergency and you don’t have health insurance? Like if I was driving from Baltimore to Chicago and I chipped my tooth on a slim jim at a rest stop in Toledo, what’s the deal? Am I just eating that cost? No pun intended??? These are the things I think about. Anyways, here’s the Father’s Day song. Hope you like it


Ok so on my other show I co-host, the White Noise Podcast (now available on Stitcher), my buddy and co-host Matt and I were discussing Gladiator and I accidentally spoiled the 3rd act of the film, except Gladiator came out in 2000 so I don’t really feel like mentioning that Joaquin Phoenix stabs Russell Crowe is much of a spoiler, not to mention anyone could have seen that coming anyways. Did you know Gladiator came out on Cinco de Mayo? That’s appropriate because in the movie apparently Russell Crowe is like half spanish and half italian. Eh mama mia! At what point did we stop referring to Romans as Romans and refer to them as Italians? You never hear someone in 2019 be like “oh she’s a pretty good looking Roman broad” and that’s probably more because of Title IX and #metoo, but you know what I’m saying? When did we make that shift? And who was Roman Polanski? That’s the guy hanging out in Europe cuz the US wants to nail him, right? Shouldn’t the UN be able to do something about that? That was probably the worst part about the Obamadministration–Why couldn’t we nail that guy? And what about Ray Lewis?? He straight up killed a dude

So to get back to the actual purpose of this blog post, what’s the statute of limitations on movie spoilers? Does it depend on the type of movie? Remember in that one Seinfeld episode when Frank is talking about Harrison Ford jumping out of the helicopter in Firestorm but Mr. Ross is like ‘yo homeboy I haven’t seen that one yet!” I think I really would’ve liked Firestorm a lot–I kind of imagine it as Air Force One but with a more badass villain (no offense to Gary Oldman but it was kind of a meh from me) and a more action hero-esque Harrison Ford (think more like Temple of Doom). I think something like 3 months is enough time to hold onto the spoilers, unless it’s a movie where the whole thing is the twist. For instance, I wouldn’t ever want to spoil The Sixth Sense, Memento, or Shutter Island to you because while they’re great movies even if you understand how they work before getting into them, they’re frankly way less fun. On the other hand, if you tell me that Joaquin Phoenix stabs Russell Crowe in Gladiator, well I kind of feel like any dummy could have figured something like that was gonna occur at some point. Similarly, telling me that Stinky Pete is actually a bad guy in Toy Story 2 really doesn’t feel that bad to me. So I guess I’m saying it’s a judgment call. Sorry to anyone who hasn’t seen Gladiator or Toy Story 2 yet. It really feels like you missed the boat on those ones.

That’s about all I got. Thanks for reading my blog, and don’t forget to subscribe if you haven’t already. Hopefully I’ll be on here more frequently now that I’m settling in to more of a routine. Happy June!

Hey Restaurants–Get off your High Horse and Show me the money a la Cuba Gooding Jr

Hey fans and friends – Quinn David Furness coming at you with a midweek check-in and our second ever installment of the Beantown Blog. I gotta tell you, I really like what we’ve developed here. I can’t tell you how many times throughout a week I think of something I really want the world to know about, but it’s too long for a social media post, too short for any sort of podcast or Beantown Unplugged series, and not really best suited for standup. Not to mention the standup scene out here in Baltimore is somewhere on the spectrum of ‘Non-existent’ and ‘What do you mean stand-up?’ My dear Friend of the Podcast Matthew Fiedler has been asking for some sort of midweek 5-minute rant weekly for a long time now, so I hope you’re satisfied with this for now, Matthew.

Let’s get right to it–Restaurants who don’t put prices on their menu. I’m sitting here on lunch break the other day, and you know me, I’m swiping and such, up down left and right, interacting with the fans, publishing some instachats, going facebook live, you get it. I happen to stumble across an insta story from my old piano teacher, and she posts a photo of the menu of this place, and it looks nice and all, mixed chopped salads, greek parfaits, the works, etc etc etc, but you know what I notice? No prices. That’s right, nothing.

So let’s talk about it. Yeah, I’m calling you out, the fancy steak places, the seafood joints where they got a guy in the bathroom handing you towels, the Five Guys to your McDonald’s, if you will. Look, we’re not all Bill and Melinda Gates. We can’t all go to a restaurant, order an appetizer, an entree, a dessert, AND a drink without starting to sweat it a bit. I know ever since I switched careers from music to education, I’ve had a bit more of a financial cushion, but the cushion isn’t that thick baby. Nay, this is an injustice. I know you want to seem all high-end fancy whatever, but as an American citizen, I believe I have a right to know how much my appetizer is going to cost. Would I like a glass of sauvignon blanc? Yes, but only if I know if I’m gonna have enough money to pay for health insurance at the end of the month (TY OBAMA). Of course that tierameisut (I’m leaving it like that because it was my first attempt and it was close) on the dessert menu looks tasty, but you know what else I could do with $10? College Quinn could’ve eaten for a week. That’s a slight exaggeration but not far off (when I was 19 living in Uptown, Chicago, I used to take a $20 bill to Aldi up on Broadway/Wilson and walk out like a king)

Here’s my secret: A lot of people I talk to don’t place enough emphasis on the cost efficiency of items. For example, if you buy a big ole sack of rice, that’s crazy good value, because you can get multiple pounds of rice for about $2-3. On the other hand, sure, we all love cheese, but you might just get a mid-sized bag of shredded stuff for another $2-3. You tell me what’s more valuable/efficient. So here was the plan, and it was all about staples: Rice, barley, typically chicken (I like turkey and beef but chicken tends to be the most cost effective), no superfluous beverages besides Folgers coffee (that stuff still haunts me), just the produce you need to make a big batch of something like chili or jambalaya, apples for breakfast, oats, and frozen veggies to stay fit.

Now, occasionally when either myself or one of my music buddies would score a church gig, we would make it rain ($50-100 may not sound like a lot to you, but as 19-year olds, it was everything). That’s when we pulled out the big guns–Hawaiian Punch and Vodka. I’m telling you, this stuff is the nectar of the gods. I distinctly recall one time pre-gaming at my apartment in Uptown with roommates (drinking the aforementioned nectar) before taking the train to campus for the sole purpose of playing drunk pickup basketball. And the best part? We brought thermoses filled with more of the concoction, so that in between games, we could stay (de?)hydrated. Here’s the kicker, and you might not believe it but I promise to god it is true: We were better wasted than sober. I don’t know if it was divine intervention because we went to a Catholic university or simply the sheer power of Hawaiian Punch and Vodka, but in those moments, we were infinite. If you want proof, I played in a rec basketball league last spring. 8 games in a season. I probably averaged about 20 mins/game in 40 minute games. You wanna know how many points I scored the entire season? 0. My hops just aren’t what they used to be. I know people roll their eyes when I complain about getting old, but the marathons I’ve run and the hamstring and back issues I’ve had have really taken it out of me.

So here’s the point: Hey Restaurants–Get Off your High Horse and Show Me the Money. That’s what Cuba Gooding Jr (aka Rod Tidwell) told Tom Cruise in ‘Jerry Maguire,’ and he won an Oscar for that. Isn’t it enough that I actually showed up to your restaurant? I shouldn’t have to spend the entire meal eating in fear. That’s not fair to me, our communities, or America. I’m p certain there’s a clause in the Geneva Convention that prevents that. Leave it up to a bunch of fancy rich communist restaurants to turn their noses up to such a universally binding document.

All right, I ran out of things to say. See you this weekend for the podcast. Or before on the Blog if I think of something else. Also, I’m finishing up my Oscars monologue–If anyone has any good last second jokes, email me at beantownpodcast@yahoo.com or leave a comment here. You’ll get writing credit and it’s tax deductible! Also, trying to get hooked up with Justin Bartha so if anyone knows the best way to contact him, please also let me know.

Weddings and +1 Suppression: An In-Depth Look into the Totalitarianism of Modern Holy Matrimony

The Title Says it All, doesn’t it?

Well, February is here, and that means it’s wedding season. A time of great passion. A time of great joy. All sounds pretty nice, eh?

Hey folks, Quinn David Furness checking in here with our first ever installment in the ‘Beantown Blog,’ a new opportunity to bitch and moan about whatever’s on my mind at any point anywhere anytime. No longer will you the Friend of the Podcast have to wait for our weekly shows to see exactly what’s grinding my gears on a daily basis. Let’s jump in here.

So here’s the deal–I’m not normally the guy who gets invited to a lot of weddings. Surprised? I don’t know if it’s because people don’t want paparazzi at their special event, or what the situation is, but I accept it because I recognize that while many things are, not everything is about me. Long story short, weddings are not usually something I have a lot of material for due to inexperience. Well, in the past week or so, I’ve all of a sudden had multiple issues with wedding invites and +1s, and that brings me to what we’re here to talk about: +1s and their legal status.

Now I know what you might be thinking–“Oh man, Quinn, +1s? That’s pretty simple. You give your invitee a +1, and they get to bring whomever they want to bring. As long as there’s no weird bad blood or anything between the invitee’s +1 and the host of the event, it’s all good.” Well, you’d be wrong. There have actually been a couple of different instances involving +1s I could talk about here, but I’m going to focus on one specifically.

When you send out an invite and include a +1 for the invitee on the invite, you are giving up your right to control who the +1 is at that point. When you drop it in the mailbox or you send your e-card, BOOM. It’s done. I think there was some sort of Supreme Court law from the 50s that established this, but I don’t really remember. We’ll get someone from the writing team to check that out. Back to the bit here tho, I’ve got a female friend who’s got some weddings coming up this summer, and she wants me to act as her +1. Easy enough. I’ve done the +1 before. I know the +1. I was born to play the +1.

There’s only one problem. The hosts of these weddings [that’s right, multiple instances] is not sure if I’m a suitable +1 because they don’t know me well. Pretend for a second I’m that lawyer from Serial who botched the case (and she also died RIP in Peace): “WHAAAAAAATT??” My running buddy from grad school Elyse used to be a killer impression of her. She’s also getting married this summer! I’ll be there! No word on the +1 situation for that wedding yet…Feels like I’m jinxing it at this point.

So what’s the deal here? I thought this was AMERICA, where you could bring anyone you wanted as your +1 because it’s your God-given goddamn constitutional right. As a PSA to all of you out there getting ready to send out your wedding invitations: This isn’t the 1950s Soviet Union anymore. You’re not Stalin. Your totalitarian authoritarianism has no power here.

You might think I’m overreacting, but if this is indicative of a larger societal cultural trend, I won’t hear it and I won’t stand for it. Invitees should be free to bring whomever they choose! We all want the special day to be filled with joy, mirth, and happiness.

Has anyone ever read that novel House of Mirth by Edith Wharton? I read Ethan Frome once and I just remember feeling really depressed when it was over.

BTW Cristina Gutierez was the name of the Serial lawyer. She died in 2004, technically of a heart attack, but she had diabetes and MS too. Woof.

In conclusion, you don’t get to pick and choose your invitee’s +1s. That’s not what this country was founded on. You wanna know what America is all about? Liberty. Freedom. Passion. Fear. Greed. Obesity. Diabetes. Football. The TODAY Show. Howie Mandel. But it will never, and I mean NEVER, be about wedding authoritarianism.

Thanks again to everyone for reading. This was pretty fun, eh? Hope you’re having a good day, wherever you’re reading from. I’ll leave you with an inspirational quote

Fear is America’s #1 natural resource -Quinn David Furness