Plot: In 1969 Los Angeles, declining television actor (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), and his stunt double (Brad Pitt) attempt to revive their careers in a shifting film industry, while discovering that their neighbour is the upcoming actress Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie).

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The title “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood” appears to give us the grand promise of a gritty Sergio Leone-esque epic; something cut from the same cloth as the late Italian director’s ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’ and ‘Once Upon a Time in America’, two great films with substance and style to match it. Combine this with the facts that: it is Quentin Tarantino who made this film; it is likely one of his final films; it was already controversial before it premiered; and that this film contains perhaps the most stellar cast in recent times (Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie and Al Pacino are only some of the big names that feature in the film), it is easy to see where the high expectations comes from. …


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There are many filmmakers that could be considered truly influential but there are few that could be considered as daring as Jean Luc-Godard. And there are even fewer that could claim to have transformed the medium of cinema in their first film! His first feature film, Breathless (À Bout de Souffle) released in 1960 and it dazzled audiences with its frantic style. There is a reason why Roger Ebert himself said of Breathless:

“Modern movies began here…no debut film since Citizen Kane in 1942 has been this influential” — Roger Ebert (2003)

The release of Breathless signified the beginning of La Nouvelle Vague (or The French New Wave), a film movement that was brought about by a group of young critics writing for a film magazine called Cahiers du Cinema. Unhappy with the safe, unexciting direction that cinema was going in, they decided to take matters into their own hands. Among this group was Francois Truffaut, Jacques Rivette and of course Jean-Luc Godard. …


It is hard to believe that there was once a time where sound was not a part of the cinema experience. Cinemas were almost entirely soundless (with the exception of a live music score) which made film a largely visual medium of storytelling. Then came the sound-on-disc technology, which allowed films to have synchronised sound for the first time. Early sound films still only included mostly music, with the only “talkies” being shorts. Then came The Jazz Singer (1929), the first feature length film to also have synchronised sound in the form of singing and dialogue (if only in individual scenes).


Of all the movements and styles of cinema that have occurred, the French New Wave may be one of the most interesting. Deliberately distancing itself from the superficiality of mainstream cinema, “La Nouvelle Vague” created an entirely new brand of filmmaking which is defined by its emphasis on realism, experimentation and the inclusion of social and philosophical commentary.

This New Wave continues to have an impact on cinema all over the world. …


It begins with a simple image: a six-year-old boy laying on the grass watching the sky. He has already been through one major struggle in his life: witnessing his parent’s divorce. But little does he know that life plans to throw many more obstacles his way.

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This is the beginning of Boyhood, a film that teaches us that growing older and facing the future is not as easy as the movies would have you believe.

On Coming-Of-Age

Mason (Ellar Coltrane) lives with his older sister Samantha and his mother Olivia (Patricia Arquette, who won an Oscar for this role). Mason’s father (Ethan Hawke) visits occasionally to meet the children but is still not on good terms with Olivia. Determined to join a career to be able to support her children alone, they move cities so she can go to university and hence find a better job. This sets in motion a series of events in their life that shake all of them, Mason especially. …


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Say the words ‘influential films’ and Citizen Kane typically comes to mind. Star Wars. Psycho. And while these films are culturally significant and technically very innovative, there is one director and one film that almost all cinema should give thanks to for one particular invention. That director is Sergei Eisenstein and the masterpiece in question is called Battleship Potemkin.

Battleship Potemkin may just be one of the most important films that you have never heard of.

A silent film filmed in 1925, Battleship Potemkin was intended as a revolutionary propaganda piece based very loosely on the mutiny of Russian sailors of the Potemkin against their authority figures. After a successful rebellion, an effort to unite the population of Odessa to fight against oppression leads to a fierce massacre of the citizens by the Cossacks. …


Avid film-goers will be shocked to hear that I had not seen ‘The Shining’ until just a few days ago, and that only happened because it was Stanley Kubrick that was behind the camera. Of all the genres in cinema, horror is the only one that I could not get into. Nevertheless, I am willing to make an exception for the occasional masterpiece; films that are so good that they must be watched (if only for the pleasure of analysing the film and eventually writing about it in an article like this one).

The Shining belongs to that small subset of horror films that I not only watched but also enjoyed immensely (other films would include Psycho and Get Out). Upon finishing the film, my first question was this: “what was it about this film that I loved more than others of its kind?” …


Martin Scorsese is among the greatest and most popular directors of the modern era. With his twenty-five films and counting, he has managed to remain original every time, while still keeping his signature directorial style and applying it to a modern context.

Films such as Goodfellas, Taxi Driver, The Wolf of Wall Street, Raging Bull and The Departed (which won an Oscar after all) may be considered his best. But to understand the way a director directs and tells a story, I find it a useful exercise to go back to the start. For Martin Scorsese, that would be Mean Streets. …


Spoilers for Roma for those who have not watched it (it’s on Netflix!)

Some of my favourite films of all time are the ones that give you more than a glimpse into a life or event that you may or may not have lived. And for that reason, Roma by Alfonso Cuarón was quite possibly the film of 2018 that had left the biggest impression on me.

Set in the Mexico City in the early 1970s, the story revolves around a maid, Cleo and the family she is serving, as they goes through a turbulent year in their lives. While Cleo copes with being pregnant, the family — Sofi and her three children — copes with being abandoned by her husband. …


Warning: There will be spoilers for the film!

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Almost three years ago, when I first watched La La Land, I remembered thinking that it would take a long time to see a film of its kind that could top the experience of watching this film. And could you blame me? The musical is perhaps my favourite film genre; unfortunately, it just so happens that it is also one of the rarest.

I watched A Star is Born this month and I must say A Star is Born soars above expectations with its stars, Bradley Cooper (playing Jackson Maine) and Lady Gaga (playing Ally) rising to the occasion and producing an experience that is heart-breaking and genuine. This is Cooper’s directorial debut, but it is filmed with the grace of a more experienced filmmaker (which almost was the case — names such as Clint Eastwood were attached to the project at the start). …

About

Varun Chaubey

Loves exploring and writing about films of all kinds. Creator of ‘The Film Odyssey’

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