Having dominated the airwaves of cult cinema since the early 1990s, many thought that Quentin Tarantino would have run out of steam by the late 2010s, but his masterpiece Once Upon a Time in Hollywood proved each and every doubter wrong.
A methodical analysis of contemporary America at the turn of the 1970s, Tarantino’s most recent movie featured the likes of Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie and Al Pacino, with the incredible modern epic being the celebrated filmmaker’s greatest-ever piece of work. Restrained and efficient, the filmmaker ditches his devotion to throwaway pulpy stories for a more controlled, personal tale of a movie star (DiCaprio) and his stunt double (Pitt) during Hollywood’s ‘Golden Age’ of the late 1960s.
As they grow ever more prominent in the industry, poison seeps into the promised land of Los Angeles, as the murderous, real-life Manson family plan a violent act that would forever change the identity of modern America. In the middle of this swirling cauldron of ill-fate sits the unbeknownst victim of Sharon Tate, played by Margot Robbie, the princess to Quentin Tarantino’s tragic fairytale that takes place under the wistful glow of the setting sun of Hollywood’s golden age.
Whilst Robbie’s portrayal of Sharon Tate seized many of the headlines, it was Leonardo DiCaprio’s lead performance that Tarantino had been planning for years, eyeing up the actor for the role ever since working with him for the blaxploitation movie, Django Unchained.
Singing the actor’s praises, Tarantino went so far as to compare DiCaprio to such fellow stars as Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter.
“One of the things I like about Leo is he just doesn’t plug himself into two movies a year,” Tarantino initially asserted, comparing him to such contemporary social media figures as Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart. Continuing, he adds, “He kind of stands alone today, like Al Pacino or Robert De Niro were in the ’70s, where they weren’t trying to do two movies a year — they could do anything they wanted, and they wanted to do this. So that means this must be pretty good”.
Having worked with both Pacino and De Niro throughout his career, Tarantino certainly can speak from experience. In fact, after working with De Niro on Jackie Brown in 1997, the filmmaker had plenty of praise for the iconic 20th century icon.
Speaking in an interview with Charlie Rose upon the release of Jackie Brown, Tarantino stated, “He deserves his reputation as probably the greatest actor of his generation”. Continuing, he comments, “I think he is the best actor in the world. I’ve never seen an actor so completely consume himself in character, in true character work during the work. And what I mean by that is when Robert is playing Louis…he is working moment to moment”.