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Tag: Leonardo DiCaprio

Editorials

Romeo and Juliet Over the Years

October 9, 2020
Romeo and Juliet [Source: Microsoft]

The story of star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet is perhaps William Shakespeare’s most well-known and influential work.

Today we will look at how the classic love story has been interpreted over the years. And what has made this story such fertile ground for reinterpretation. But before that, lets quickly summarise the play.

Story

In Verona, Italy, the Montagues and Capulets are locked in a violent feud. To the chagrin of Verona’s Prince. However, when Romeo Montague infiltrates a Capulet party, he meets Juliet Capulet. Over the night Romeo and Juliet fall in love, eventually marrying in secret.

Juliet’s cousin Tybalt challenges Romeo to a duel for attending the party but he refuses. Romeo’s friend Mercutio duels instead and Tybalt fatally wounds him after Romeo tries stopping the fight. Romeo kills Tybalt in retaliation and is banished by Verona’s Prince. Romeo and Juliet manage to spend one night together before he leaves.

Juliet’s parents then blackmail her into marrying a man named Paris. Her friend Friar Laurence gives her a drug that will make her appear dead for 42 hours to allow her to escape and be with Romeo. Upon hearing of Juliet’s “death” Romeo races to her tomb.

After seeing Juliet’s body and killing Paris in a fight Romeo poisons himself, dying as Juliet awakens. Distraught Juliet takes her life with Romeo’s dagger. With Romeo and Juliet dead the Montagues and Capulets finally stop fighting.

Romeo and Juliet as portrayed by artist Frank Dicksee [Source: Ancient Origins]

Adaptations

Narrative adaptations of the play date back to the early 1900s and since then there have been many film versions of the story.

There are direct adaptations that set the action within the play’s time period. Examples include the 1968 version starring Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting. The Leslie Howard and Norma Shearer 1936 version, and recently the 2013 Hailee Steinfeld version. And aside from them Romeo and Juliet has been the basis for musicals (West Side Story), modern-day gang films (Romeo + Juliet), several animated films (Gnomeo and Juliet and Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride), horror-comedies (Warm Bodies), LGBTQ reinterpretations (Private Romeo), political satire (Romanoff and Juliet), exploitation (Tromeo and Juliet); even metafiction about Shakespeare himself (Shakespeare in Love). Just to name a few.

Evidently the play is a popular inspiration for filmmakers. And many adaptations have had decent critical or box office acclaim. But, what makes this story so attractive to filmmakers and audiences? It can be attributed to three major points.

Actors

Firstly, Shakespeare adaptations are great ways to show off actor’s talents. Many adaptations keep Shakespeare’s language intact which requires great skill to sound natural to modern ears. And because the characters in Romeo and Juliet are emotionally complex, they allow actors to show a great range in their performance. As a result, adaptations of the play have attracted many talented actors and actresses, young and old, new and established. Which appeals to filmmakers from a career perspective and audiences for entertainment value.

Romeo and Juliet
Young Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes in Romeo + Juliet [Source: Hollywood reporter]

Themes

Secondly, the story’s themes are universally appealing and malleable. Allowing constant reinterpretation. The themes of love, the folly of youth, the power of individuals against larger systems of power, etc. speak to a great number of people. It also allows the story to be told in many different ways as writers and directors interpret these themes differently. And as our perceptions of these issues change over time so to can our interpretation of this story. Allowing infinite storytelling possibilities.

Young and Old

Finally, the story offers something for both younger and older audiences. The heightened emotions of the characters and rebelling against systems of authority are very relatable to younger people. Easily allowing young audiences to identify with the characters. And older audiences can appreciate the story’s subtext (the sins of the past ruining the future) and the different spins each new adaptation puts on the text. Whether that be American racial tensions in West Side Story, LGBTQ representation in Private Romeo, or the irreverent parody of Tromeo and Juliet. Which only improves its popularity.

West Side Story, for many the best Romeo and Juliet adaptation [Source: CinemaBlend]

This tale may be over four centuries-old but as this article proves so, there is a version of this story out there for every Juliet and every Romeo.

Also Read: Films That Have Supported My Mental Health

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Reviews

Review: Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood

August 18, 2019

21st of May this year. La Croisette in Cannes became 1960’s Hollywood. Director Quentin Tarantino walked the most famous stairs alongside the “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” stars Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie for the world premiere of his ninth film. Sadly, we weren’t with them to enjoy the glitter, glamour and the film at Cannes but our patience is finally being rewarded. And oh boy, the wait was worth it! “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” is probably more Tarantino-esque than the director probably could have imagined!

Howdy Cowboy?!

Brad Pitt being Leonard DiCaprio’s stunt double? It seems that in the 60’s everything was possible. Meet Rick Dalton (DiCaprio), a once very well respected television cowboy, whose career is now spiralling downward at a rapid speed. After gaining worldwide fame with the Western television series ‘Bounty Law’, Dalton is now becoming one of the oldies on his way to his showbiz grave. Being there to help him out with his professional and personal life is his stunt double/close friend/personal driver Cliff Booth (Pitt). While Dalton is constantly being reminded of the glamourous life he once had, his new next-door neighbour Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) is dreaming of her glorious upcoming acting career. In the city where it’s all about fame, status and being rich, both Dalton and Tate are doing everything they can to keep their fantasy alive. For Tate that means getting to know rich and famous, for Dalton it means going to Italy and making movies that are out of his comfort zone. Of course, as any good friend, Booth is joining Dalton during his Italian voyage.

Six months after they first set foot in Italy, Dalton and Booth return to Hollywood. Dalton got married to actress Francesca and his outstanding life is back on tracks. Booth starts again living his usual Hollywood life. Enjoying the city and its people, the time with his dog and naturally also his on-set work (although that seems to become less and less). When he one day decides to give the rather horny hippie Pussycat (Margaret Qualley) a lift to the Spahn Movie it seems that also his life will be influenced by a woman. Curious to find out what happened to their lovely neighbour Tate? Well, she got married to a rather famous Polish director. It seems that Hollywood is the only thing that connects the three of them. Well, a Tarantino movie wouldn’t be a real one if there wouldn’t be more than what meets the eye…

A brilliant tribute to Hollywood made by outstanding people

“Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood”. Well, the title says it all. Tarantino is honouring Hollywood most meticulously and nostalgically. TV and movie pastiches, numerous billboards, the typical 60’s cinema theatres, the incredibly recognizable pop tunes, and commercial advertisements are all passing by. However, it’s mostly the film crew that was able to get the right vibe flowing through the film. First of all, there’s the stunning production design from Barbara Ling. She thought of every single detail: whether it’s the interior of the saloons, the neat and clean design of Dalton’s mansion or colourful and dazzling parties, it’s all achieved beautifully.

We also have to applaud the flawless work of Arianne Phillips who was in charge of the massive variety of costumes. From rock ‘n roll cowboy to stylish actor and from just an everyday outfit to multi-coloured, elegant and chic dresses, it seems that no costume was too hard to find or to create for her. If you’re Quentin Tarantino then you know how to choose your cinematographer and with Robbie Richardson, he made a faultless choice. Richardson brings life and colour to this film like no one else can.

Pitt + DiCaprio + Robbie = the perfect trio

Pitt, DiCaprio, and Robbie all in the same film. Do we need to tell you how great that casting was? Probably not but we’re going to do it anyway. One thing is for sure: DiCaprio is not going to have to wait for another Oscar as he did for his first. He’s spot-on as Dalton. One moment he has to deliberately act like a beginning actors while a few seconds later, he has to perform like it’s his last scene ever. DiCaprio does it with an enormous amount of flair, emotions, and craftsmanship.

Having one great actor was not enough for Tarantino as he also added Brad Pitt to the cast. Pitt oozes tranquillity, charisma, and personality as the rough-though, straight-to-the-point but also loving stunt double Booth. It will be an extremely close call who will take home the awards for best leading actor. If you’re looking for a leading actress who performs impeccably a beautiful, full-of-life and determined upcoming actress, then you should go for Robbie. She gives this film the more elegant, colourful and joyful touch.

And the award goes to…

“Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” may or may not be Tarantino’s penultimate film and if he decides to fold up his director chairs after his next film, then we hope that that movie will be from the same calibre as this one. “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” is a visually stunning, perfectly performed, while also being a craftily and passionately made homage to Hollywood in the ’60s. It would come as absolutely no surprise if “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood”, its director and cast become the front-runner during the following award season.  

Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (Official Trailer)

Also Read: 5 Horror Films & The Real Events Behind Them

Editorials

Dynamic Duos: Iconic Actor/ Director Match-Ups

July 11, 2019

Batman and Robin, Doc and Marty, Bonnie and Clyde, Han Solo and Chewbacca. There are many iconic duos on screen, but there are just as many iconic partnerships between some actor and director duos that are behind some iconic films.

Martin Scorsese / Leonardo DiCaprio

Dicaprio and Scorsese

This duo first appeared in 2002 with “Gangs of New York” and have produced four feature films together since, with two more in development as well as a promotional short. While this partnership has not produced as many films as Scorsese’s other famous partnership with Robert DeNiro, it is arguably more varied, with their collaborations including genres like crime, comedy (“The Wolf of Wall Street”)and biopic (“The Aviator”), with Leo helping the director win his first Oscar with his role in “The Departed”

Interestingly it was actually DeNiro who introduced the pair, after having worked with DiCaprio previously, DeNiro sang the young actors praises and that Scorsese needed to work with him, with the director referred to as “extraordinary fortune” and that they wanted to make movies the same way

Christopher Nolan / Michael Caine

Nolan directing Sir Micheal Caine on the set of “The Dark Knight Rises (Warner Brothers/Legendary Pictures, 2012)

When Christopher Nolan turned up at Micheal Caine’s house, he was initially going to turn down the part of Alfred, Batman’s loyal butler, as serving dinner and coffee didn’t really appeal to the veteran actor. Then he read the script and quickly changed his mind, noting that he had “written great parts for real actors“.

Michael Caine is a prolific actor who has been in the business for over sixty years, so it’s fair to say he recognises talent when he sees it, and that’s exactly why he keeps partnering up with Nolan. Since “Batman Begins” in 2005, Nolan has included him in every one of his films, with a small voice cameo in “Dunkirk” being the only time he hasn’t appeared in person.

Sam Raimi / Bruce Campbell

Campbell and Raimi at a promotional event (WDIV ClickOnDetroit )

Raimi and Campbell have been friends since high school, making short films in their spare time. They eventually convinced some dentists to invest in their first feature “Evil Dead” and both of them became cult horror icons.

Bruce Campbell has gone on to have roles in various fan favourite projects, but aside from his role as Ash Williams, he is also known for his memorable cameos in various Raimi movies, especially his Spider-Man trilogy, appearing in various roles through the series. If Spider-Man 4 had ever gone into production, Campbell would once again appear, this time as the villain Mysterio.

Guillermo Del Toro / Doug Jones

Del Toro and Jones, talking about “Shape of Water”

Possibly the least recognisable duo on this list, not due to the body of work, but because Doug Jones’ face is often hidden behind hours worth of prosthetics, with his first big break actually being a McDonald’s ad. He first met Del Toro on the director’s English language debut “Mimic“. Despite the films’ troubled production, the two became friends, bonding over their love of monsters and movies.

Jones has appeared in all of Del Toro’s films since the original “Hellboy”, except for “Pacific Rim”, with his biggest arguably being the creature in Del Toro’s “Shape of Water” which won an Oscar for Best Picture.

Matthew Vaughn / Mark Strong

Matthew Vaughn and Mark Strong

Some partnerships happen because of a pre-existing friendship or a recommendation. Some just happen because the pair find each other easy to work with, as is the case with Director Matthew Vaughn and actor Mark Strong.

The pair have worked together four times since their first collaboration in 2007’s “Stardust” with Strong only being absent for X-Men First Class. Having previously played villainous characters in “Stardust” and “Kick-Ass” he plays Merlin in the “Kingsman” films, in which he is a member of the super-secret spy organisation.

Wes Anderson / Bill Murray

Anderson and Murray going over a scene for “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” (Beuna Vista Pictures, 2004)

Murray has worked with Anderson since his second feature “Rushmore”. Anderson sent him the script with no expectations, then had an executive leave their own office while Murray talked to him about the role. His role in “The Royal Tenenbaums” happened simply because Murray lived close to the shoot, the two talked about “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou”.

Murray and Anderson have such a good rapport, that he instantly says yes when the director calls, no matter the project. He must get the call a lot as Murray has appeared in all of Anderson’s film since, totalling eight, with some being important parts, and others just wordless cameos.

Quentin Tarantino / Samuel L Jackson

Quentin Tarantino and actor Samuel L. Jackson pose at the Hollywood Walk of Fame on December 21, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images)

Tarantino has several actors that he frequently collaborates with, which he refers to as his “Tarantino superstars“. However. he clearly has a favourite, Samuel L Jackson, whom he frequently writes roles in mind for. The admiration goes both ways, as Jackson cites some of his roles in Tarantino’s films as his favourites.

Jackson has appeared in 6 of Tarantino’s 9 films (Tarantino considers “Kill Bill” one film, and Jackson does not feature in “Once upon a time in Hollywood”). He actually auditioned for “Reservoir Dogs” but didn’t get the part, when he saw Tarantino again later at the premiere, the director told him he was writing something for him, which would turn out to be his Oscar-nominated role in “Pulp Fiction”.

Also Read: Video Nasties: The History of Censored Films in the UK

Editorials

Five Sci-Fi Films To Watch Right Now On Netflix

April 15, 2019

Netflix has hundreds of films from blockbusters to indie gems to cult classics and it has no shortage of great science-fiction.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (comicbook.com)

The Plot – The film follows Jyn Erso a woman who has been on the run from the Empire since her childhood because her father is the man who designed the Death Star. Forced by the Rebel Alliance into a mission to extract her father from the Empire’s clutches and so disrupt their plans, Jyn becomes more and more involved in the civil war that is only just beginning.

Why It’s Great – In my opinion this has been the best of the new crop of Star Wars films. A self-contained story (more or less) that fixed perhaps the biggest plot-hole in all of Star Wars – namely, who builds a priceless weapon of mass destruction with such an easy Achilles’ Heel. The cast is sensational with Felicity Jones and Diego Luna as great leads, Ben Mendelsohn doing his Evil Scumbag routine in space and with great actors like Mads Mikkelsen and Forest Whitaker taking on small roles.

Verdict – A wonderful addition to the Star Wars Saga.

Inception (2010)

Inception (hit.com)

The Plot – Leonardo Di Caprio plays Cobb, a very special kind of criminal who enters peoples’ dreams to steal information. Challenged to the seemingly impossible act of “inception” – implanting a new idea in a dream that the dreamer will believe to be their own Cobb puts together a crack team to accomplish his goal.

Why It’s Great – Christopher Nolan doesn’t make bad films. Or at least he hasn’t yet. Inception was the first film Nolan directed after Nolan makes blockbusters like no one else, making them as intelligent and original as they are a spectacle. There is a lot of the “one last job for a criminal” motif going on but that is just a great jumping off point. The special effects are truly stunning with the city landscape being twisted and folded as the high point and even if the writing and acting were terrible – which they aren’t – it would be worth watching for the effects alone. As frustrating as the ambiguous ending might be, I like a film that is brave enough not to give you all the answers.

Verdict – A dazzling and smart sci-fi blockbuster.

The World’s End (2013)

The World’s End (kino&co)

The Plot – Gary King wants to reassemble his school friends to complete the “Golden Mile” a pub crawl along twelve pubs in their home town. Sadly for Gary much has changed since school, the group is estranged and he is no longer – if he ever really was – their leader. As the friends reunite and start their pub crawl things in the town become increasingly odd leading to a sensational fight in a pub toilet that reveals what is going on in the town.

Why It’s Great – All of the Cornetto Trilogy are more than what a simple category can describe – all of them are excellent examples of their genre but excel in being films about people. The World’s End is a film about aliens slowly taking over the planet but it’s also about friendship, betrayal, dealing with disappointment in life, youth (and losing your youth), what is life about and more. I would say this is my least favourite of the trilogy but that still could put it in my top twenty films of all time. It has another feature of the Cornetto Trilogy in combining huge, over the top scenarios, in small unlikely places. Few films pack the emotional punch of The World’s End let alone comparing it to other sci-fi comedies.

Verdict – A triumphant end to the Cornetto Trilogy.

Back To The Future Trilogy (1985, 1989, 1990)

Back To The Future (npr.org)

The Plot – After accidentally travelling backwards in time teenager Marty McFly interrupts the meet-cute between his parents and thus will never be born. Recruiting the younger version of the scientist who sent him back in time, Doc, Marty seeks to set the timeline right and save himself. In Part 2 Marty and Doc travel to the future to avert a disaster for Marty’s son only to make things much worse everyone – well, nearly everyone. And Part 3…well Part 3 is set in the Old West for some reason ( just go with it, it’s fun).

Why It’s Great – I suppose it’s cheating to put a whole trilogy into one slot but it’s surely a crime to break up these wonderful films when they make such a satisfying collection. It’s hard to overstate the impact these films had on science-fiction and pop culture in general. For many these are the films that made time-travel (and all the paradoxes, dangers and opportunities that come with it) vaguely possible to understand, partly through literally drawing it on a blackboard in Part 2.

Verdict – If for any reason you have not seen these films prepare to watch three of the most enjoyable films ever made.

Annihilation (2018)

Annihilation (midwestfilmjournal.com)

The Plot – Lena’s soldier husband returns mysteriously to their home but something is very wrong with him and it isn’t long before the government swoops in and takes control of the situation. It turns out her husband was sent on a secret mission into The Shimmer – a mysterious area of land where normal rules do not apply and her husband is the only person to return from numerous missions. Lena, a scientist and former soldier joins the next team determined to find out what happened.

Why It’s Great – While it does feel somewhat fitting to include a Netflix original film on this list doesn’t mean Annihilation doesn’t got a free pass – it’s a great sci-fi film, and in a way that few sci-fi films are. It has gunfights and monsters and all those things going on it has also has unusual ideas that make you think about the world and the universe. Science-fiction gets a lot of criticism but to me it’s always been the genre of big ideas – whether that’s time travel or space flight or what it means to be human. Written and directed by filmmaking genius Alex Garland and adapted from the successful Southern Reach book trilogy this film comes with exemplary sci-fi credentials.

Verdict – Bizarre mind-bending sci-fi epic.