Controversy, an incredible cast, and a storyline that pays tribute to Hollywood itself. In many ways, Quentin Tarantino's latest movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood could be seen as the 'ultimate' film from the provocative auteur director. We take a look at all the reasons you need to be seriously excited for this latest offering from the legendary Tarantino…
What is it about?
The ninth film from the acclaimed and controversial Tarantino is set in Los Angeles in 1969, and focuses on television actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), as they negotiate their way through the ever-changing film industry. Weaving multiple overlapping storylines, the film is being billed as a tribute to the final moments of Hollywood's Golden Age. Central character Rick Dalton makes his name in television westerns, and the title of the film is in itself a homage to the classic Western film Once Upon a Time in the West and 1984 crime drama Once Upon a Time in America.
Of course, this is a Tarantino film, so one should also expect a dark undercurrent to proceedings as the film also takes place at the time of the true-crime story of the Manson Family murders, with Margot Robbie portraying perhaps their most high-profile victim, the actress Sharon Tate. The bright and breezy trailer is perhaps a deliberate double bluff - in the film itself we can surely expect all the bloodshed and inventive dialogue-driven scenes that we have known and loved in Tarantino's previous films.
Who is in it?
Pretty much everybody let's be honest. With an impressive cast that includes the aforementioned DiCaprio, Pitt, and Robbie, the film also stars Al Pacino, Dakota Fanning, Kurt Russell, James Marsden, Damian Lewis, Tim Roth, Lena Dunham, Bruce Dern and the late Luke Perry. DiCaprio, Pitt, Madsen, Roth, Russell and Dern have all worked with the director before, and this is the perfect all-star cast to bring this Tinseltown tale to life.
Why has it been controversial so far?
Given the film is set against the backdrop of the Manson Family murders, controversy was inevitable. The family of Sharon Tate had been particularly vocal in criticizing the film, worrying that it would be gratuitously violent and therefore negating the real-life tragedy that occurred. Tarantino subsequently reached out to Sharon's sister Debbie however, and after sharing details with her, and agreeing to move the release of the film so it didn't coincide with the anniversary of her death, it appears the initial backlash from the Tate family has subsided.
Throughout his career, Tarantino has toed the line between art and controversy and it seems that his latest film may just embody all of the uncomfortable yet distinctive and memorable stylistics that we've come to expect.
How does it compare to Tarantino's other films?
A story of celebrity fandom and cult worship that ties in with real-life murder and an examination of Hollywood and movie-making? Yes, this is definitely a Quentin Tarantino film. With much of the plot being kept under-wraps, it is still wildly open to speculation. Many suspect it may take a similar route to Tarantino's previous film Inglourious Basterds, which saw him imaginatively reinvent World War II history to spectacular and bloody effect. Similarly, his blood-splattered Django Unchained was a revisionist Western meets Blaxploitation movie, allowing Jamie Foxx's persecuted slave to enact revenge on his racist white tormentors.
It goes without saying that Tarantino has an encyclopedic knowledge of cinema, so a film that focuses on the culmination of Hollywood's golden era seems like the perfect fit for him. The glamorous, sun-soaked 1960s setting certainly lends itself to his distinctive style as well, and with all of these elements, it looks set to be another classic from the controversial and cult favourite director.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is released on 14th August. Tweet us your favourite Quentin Tarantino movies @Cineworld.
Sarah Buddery is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.