Champaign, Ill. (WCIA)
Quentin Tarantino’s latest film and a low-budget look at toxic masculinity are on area screens this week. Here to review “Once upon a Time in Hollywood” and “The Art of Self-Defense” are film critics Pam Powell and Chuck Koplinski.
The Art of Self-Defense
A man (Jesse Eisenberg) is attacked at random on the street. He enlists at a local dojo, led by a charismatic and mysterious sensei (Alessandro Nivola), in an effort to learn how to defend himself. In its examination of the pitfalls of modern masculinity, the dark comedy is the obvious progeny of “Fight Club.” Eisenberg is very good as the nebbish, deadly weapon, but Nivola steals the film with his turn as a charming psychopath who makes the most outlandish philosophy seem logical. A true sleeper worth seeking out. 3 ½ Stars (Chuck Koplinski) Rated R. 104 minutes. SAV.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Starts Friday)
A faded television actor (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double strive (Brad Pitt) to achieve fame and success in the film industry during the final years of Hollywood’s Golden Age in 1969 Los Angeles. A wonderfully acted, beautifully shot, tightly written film that is ultimately undone by writer/director Quentin Tarantino’s penchant for gratuitous violence and revisionist history. A frustrating movie that wastes the fine work of all involved. 2 ½ Stars (Chuck Koplinski) Rated R. 161 minutes. AMC-C, AMC-D, SAV.