Leo DiCaprio posted the new trailer to Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, telling his 19 million followers to “experience a version of 1969 that could only happen #OnceUponATimeInHollywood.” What DiCaprio might also have said — and what he really means — is to experience a version of 1969 that could only happen in the mind of Quentin Tarantino, that most singular of modern visionary directors.
As is the case with hardly any other director working today, a Tarantino film release is an event. With his 9th film Tarantino mines the type of two-man wise-ass buddy bromance star power that first made his fame in the instant classic, Pulp Fiction. Then it was Samuel L. Jackson and a reinvented John Travolta; now it is Brad Pitt and DiCaprio. In both films a powerful female character provides part of the action’s pulse — first there was Uma Thurman, now it is Margot Robbie.
But Tarantino’s knowing dialogue is always the star of the show, even as his plotting, pace and gore demand a viewer’s attention. Pulp Fiction was filled with meme-like moments of conversation between Travolta and Jackson, as well as the other characters. Their banal talk of the French “royale with cheese” and “le Big Mac” remains strangely compelling and memorable and watchable, even decades later.
In the new Once Upon A Time in Hollywood trailer Tarantino already delivers a new meme moment, when Bruce Lee (actor Mike Moh) boasts about having such dangerous martial arts skills that his hands are “registered as lethal weapons” — so that if he fights someone and accidentally kills them “he goes to jail.” Sounds serious until Brad Pitt wields the perfectly deflating Tarantino response: “Anybody accidentally kills anybody in a fight they go to jail. It’s called Manslaughter.”
— Leonardo DiCaprio (@LeoDiCaprio) March 20, 2019