Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (or Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood, because they can’t figure out which one it is comes out July 26 and early tracking has it opening at around $30 million which Variety says is “on the softer side”. With three weeks to build awareness and momentum, that could change. This isn’t a movie for the kids. This is a movie for an older audience, if they’re still showing up to watch movies about movie stars, starring two of the biggest movie stars in the business directed by a star in his own right. 

So here’s Brad Pitt on the cover of Australian GQ talking about working with QT and Leonardo DiCaprio and what this film means to him, to them, to a certain generation. Brad calls it a “love letter to storytelling, it’s a love letter to LA, but it’s also a love letter to our childhood”. 

Later on, he muses that this business is now “a younger man’s game” and that he “could be a dinosaur and not even know it”. So we’re dealing in a lot of nostalgia here, summed up at the end of the piece by writer Jake Millar:

It’s hard not to look at those shots of Brad and Leo and Quentin on the red carpet at Cannes and get the sense this film is something big, something iconic. Because it sounds like a cliché to say it, but it’s easy to find yourself thinking they don’t make movies like this anymore, and they don’t make movie stars like these anymore, and maybe they never will again.

I mean, this is the obvious marketing strategy – remind people of what Hollywood used to look and feel like, what it used to stand for, tell them about the legends of the golden era, how much brighter they glistened in the sun, how what we have now is but a faded imitation of true glamour, a plastic copycat of a solar system that burned out. It’s not like that kind of yearning doesn’t have a counterpart beyond entertainment and pop culture. And I wonder whether or not that part of society might attach itself to the parallel and co-opt it for something more sinister: if only we could go back to the way we were, the “we” in this case being a very specific group of people. Not that that is the film’s intention, but we’ve seen how that sh-t can operate and mutate. Brad himself became the unwilling and unauthorised mascot of a movement he had to distance himself from just last month. Is this another layer to QT’s work on this film? Art is insight. It reflects and also exposes. Sometimes the reaction to the story is the story. Some of the most exciting directors today are the best trolls. See Jordan Peele. That said, I don’t know that Quentin Tarantino has that kind of irreverence when it comes to his own work. 

As for Brad – he looks great on this cover, in this shoot. The hair is good, just the right amount of scruff, as handsome as ever…exactly the image you want to preserve so that you’ll always see him this way even when he no longer looks it, exactly how they’ll cast for him in another 50 years when they reboot this film at the end of yet another cycle. 

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