Movie-star swagger. That’s what we’ve been missing in this sequel — and reboot-choked summer — and finally we get to see two of the most appealing actors on earth, Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, loose, funny and having the time of their lives in director Quentin Tarantino’s riff on Hollywood at the end of the 1960s.
Ironically, they’re playing guys whose careers are pretty much washed up: DiCaprio is Rick Dalton, the onetime lead of a TV western who’s having trouble finding work as the culture shifts around him. Pitt plays Cliff Booth, Rick’s longtime stunt double, gofer and drinking buddy.
Bemused by the hippie culture, they have ominous run-ins with flower children who turn out to be the followers of Charles Manson. And Rick happens to live next door to director Roman Polanski and his actress wife, Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie, sunny and gorgeous but otherwise wasted).
If you think you know what awful things are going to happen, guess again. Oh, there will be blood, but Tarantino blends fantasy and real history here in an original and unpredictable, if somewhat meandering, movie that’s his best in years.
Groovy music, fashion, cars and cameos (Al Pacino, Kurt Russell, Bruce Dern . . . ) abound.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is now playing.