When a Quentin Tarantino movie is released it becomes a cinematic event. Tarantino is now considered one of the great filmmakers not only of our generation but of all time. Therefore it is no surprise that Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is one of the most eagerly anticipated films of 2019. Tarantino fans know this will be something special as the great man gets to touch on one of his favourite topics in the film – film nostalgia. Not only that but the film also brings together three of the biggest stars in Hollywood at the moment – Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie and Brad Pitt.
“First of all it was such a joy, he loves cinema so much,” says Brad Pitt as he talks about working with his co-star DiCaprio on the film. “He loves talking about and there was such a great energy on the set… it was like none other. And then working together was just really automatic for us… I can’t describe it any better than that. It was just really easy and we had a good laugh. We came onto the scene at the same time so we have a lot of the same references, we all know the same people and he just really generous and giving.”
When the talk turns to what it is like working with Tarantino as a director DiCaprio quickly says. “The first thing Quentin does aside from having you read the script is he gave this immense back-story and biography of not only our individual characters but our relationship together – our history as two kind of outsiders in the industry that are trying to make their way day-by-day to be successful. Having grown up in this town, having all that reference and being able to work with Brad I think on that first day there was just an amazing understanding of who these men were and how they rely on each other to survive and to navigate through this industry.”
As mentioned earlier Once Upon A Time In Hollywood explores the nostalgia of 1960s cinema and Pitt is quick to elaborate on that. “It is a love letter to this community that we love, and have hated at times,” he explains. “It is L.A. which we love, and to cinema and the people – the greats. It is to both cinema and television, both, and even some of the unsung people that came before us – people like the Rick Dalton character.”
DiCaprio is quick to agree. “What is unique about this movie is that it is a slice of life. It is a slice of the lives of all of these people. People that are within and without, and there is a certainly an under-current with the Manson girls and how that really changed America and culture forever. I mean 1969 is not just a seminal year as far as changing cinematic history but around the world there were radical movements and things happening during that time period. He gives us this time warp but also mixed with this Tarantino fairy-tale aspect with it, so it is this nostalgic look back at what could have been through the eyes of guys that are the daily grind just trying to make ends meet and our characters rely on each other for everything.”
I other big talking point about Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is that it is a refreshing break from the big franchise movies that flood our cinemas these days, that is not a point lost on Tarantino himself. “I think there is something kind of groovy about the fact that this isn’t based on another movie, it isn’t based on a franchise, it isn’t based on a character, it’s not a re-boot, I don’t even know what that title means to me it is just a re-make,” Tarantino says. “I am always proud of the fact that I write my scripts from scratch and one of the things that I like the most, and sitting here now and going around the world now, is that there was a time, there was a day that I sat down at a table in front of a blank piece of paper and none of this existed at all. And until I started to fill out that blank piece of paper this would never have existed, so I can always go back to that day and remember when none of this existed at all until I filled that piece of paper… with a pen. You can’t write poetry on a computer.”
The other thing you very quickly learn if you are a Tarantino film fan is that his films are something that have to be experienced in the cinema and that is something that Margot Robbie agrees with. “I just don’t think that anything compares to the community experience that you get when you go to a cinema and sit amongst fellow unexpecting audiences where you are about to experience something at the same time,” she says smiling. “It heightens your experience to hear the people next to you laugh, giggle or gasp and bop their heads to the music. It heightens the experience and you will never get that at home in the same way, especially if you are alone. If it is shot on film and is projected on the screen it is a truly cinematic experience. I know because I was fortunate enough to see it in person. These sets are not added in post, this isn’t a CGI film – there was no green screen, there was no ‘we’ll make it look like 1969 later just use your imagination now’ – I was there and I got to see it, and I’m telling you that when you sit there you can feel the authenticity – you are truly transported to 1969.”
Tarantino also says that he makes his films to be watched in a cinema. “With my movies I am going for a whole bunch of different emotions,” he explains. “Sometimes they are even counter-intuitive to each other. Part of what I am trying to do is play the audience. I kind of feel that my job is that of a conductor and the audience is my orchestra. I don’t make movies to have people sit there and let the images glaze over them I want them to respond so I make them movies that people can actually react to and not just watch. So I like the idea that they are laughing… and then it is like “STOP LAUGHING, STOP LAUGHING” and then “LAUGH.” Now when a director can do that, and I have been an audience member and directors have done that to me, to me that is an audience having a good time at the cinema… that is why I go to the cinema.”
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is in cinemas today.