For much of his career, Brad Pitt has eschewed the path of the traditional leading man. A recent Buzzfeed article pegged Pitt as “a character actor trapped in a movie star’s body.” If you look back at his filmography, there’s a clear pattern of Pitt playing off other actors as a kind of co-lead or ensemble head. This summer, he did it with Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. However, this pattern dates back at least twenty-five years, to when Pitt emerged as a full-fledged marquee name alongside Tom Cruise in Interview with the Vampire.
In Ad Astra, Pitt plays Roy McBride, an astronaut whose pulse rate never rises above 80 beats per minute. His journey to far-flung Neptune’s orbit to hopefully find his father and potentially stop an Earth-threatening antimatter surge positions itself as Apocalypse Now in space. Helmed by James Gray, Ad Astra is something of an anomaly, both in Pitt’s oeuvre and in the current blockbuster landscape. It’s a mid-budget movie based on an original idea, not an existing media property, and it doesn’t have a box office friendly director (like Pitt’s last collaborator, Quentin Tarantino) attached to it.
Seeing a film of that nature open the same day in theaters around the world is refreshing, but it does place a burden of expectation on Ad Astra, as its occasionally heavy-handed script peddles thoughtfulness with thrills in an event movie marketplace. The film’s title, which it never explains, is the Latin phrase for “to the stars.” Audiences no longer look to movie stars as reliable brands in and of themselves. Here, Pitt is on his own in a way he’s seldom been in his career. He can hold the screen, but can he elevate our heart rates?
To discuss that, we’ll be rocketing straight into spoiler territory in 3, 2, 1…
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Old and busted: Director’s cuts. New hotness: Miniseries extended cuts.
That seems to be the mentality that writer/director Quentin Tarantino now has when it comes to fleshing out his movies. Just recently, Tarantino released a new miniseries cut of his western The Hateful Eight on Netflix. It was different from the extended roadshow cut that toured the United States, and it was the first time any alternate cut of the movie had been made available to stream. And it sounds like there’s a chance he may be working on a Once Upon a Time in Hollywood miniseries extended cut. Read More »
20th Century Fox reveals more about James Gray‘s mysterious sci-fi drama every week, with a new Ad Astra clip debuting ahead of the film’s theatrical release later this month. But where previous trailers highlighted the more cerebral parts of the film, the latest Ad Astra clip previews an action-packed scene involving Brad Pitt and space pirates on the moon. Yes, it’s as cool as it sounds.
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James Gray‘s mysterious sci-fi drama Ad Astra is set to make its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival this week, and in anticipation of that premiere, 20th Century Fox is unveiling a special look at the film. The Ad Astra special look focuses on Brad Pitt‘s astronaut Roy McBride, who is sent on a mission to find his missing father (Tommy Lee Jones). But there seems to be more to this mission than a simple recovery, as tantalizing imagery and unanswered questions are peppered throughout the teaser. Watch the Ad Astra special look below.
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Even though The Walt Disney Company seems to be mostly disappointed with the movies they picked up for release this year from 20th Century Fox, there’s one that seems like it might really have the goods: the mysterious sci-fi drama Ad Astra.
Directed by James Gray (We Own the Night, The Immigrant), Ad Astra follows astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) who is sent on a mission to find his missing father (Tommy Lee Jones). Up until now we didn’t know why it was necessary to track down a man who is believed to be lost somewhere in the outer solar system, but a new IMAX Ad Astra trailer lays out the plot a little more clearly, and it also shows off some stunning visuals that make it mandatory to see this on the biggest screen possible. Read More »
Who could’ve guessed that Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, once thought of as “Quentin Tarantino‘s Charles Manson movie”, would end up being one of the sweetest films of the director’s career? Beneath the rampant speculation, beneath the True Crime trappings, beneath the bursts of shockingly graphic violence, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood has a warm, loving heart.
It’s a melancholy film – a film about endings, and beginnings. It’s about living your dreams, and realizing that sometimes those dreams aren’t enough – and then learning to accept that. You may be doing what you love, but you might still not be where you want to be. And maybe that’s okay, as long as you have someone to share it all with. It’s a fairytale. A question of “What if…?” writ large on celluloid. And it’s a masterpiece.
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One of the selling points for Quentin Tarantino‘s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is the big movie-star team-up of Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt. But things could’ve turned out much differently. According to Tarantino, if Brad Pitt hadn’t been available, he would’ve offered another big movie star his role: Tom Cruise. But that doesn’t mean DiCaprio would still be in the movie too. As Tarantino tells it, it was important to get the pairing of his leading men just right.
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When a character in Inglorious Basterds looks down at the camera and says, “I think this just might be my masterpiece,” it’s clear that writer-director Quentin Tarantino is carving a self-congratulatory blurb for his own World War II film. Maybe he’s earned the right to gloat. As a viewer, when I think of Tarantino, I think of chapterized revenge. The revenge in Inglorious Basterds is of a historically revisionist nature. It unfolds in five chapters, which collectively serve as a five-point-palm exploder on the moviegoer’s chest. As Once Upon a Time in Hollywood hits theaters this Friday, we can hazard a guess that it might take a similar revisionist approach to its treatment of the Manson murders.
Tarantino was the quintessential filmmaker of the 1990s and he’s never made a movie that was as culturally significant as Pulp Fiction. That kind of era-defining success only comes once in a career. There are cinephiles who prefer Jackie Brown—a like-minded exercise in restraint that consciously appeals to an older audience. These two entries are linked in Tarantino’s directorial filmography in that they’re the only instances where he’s shared a writing credit with someone else. Roger Avary helped conceive the story for Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown is based on an Elmore Leonard novel.
As great as those movies are, it’s the exuberance and unpredictability of his more original screenplays that made me a fan of Tarantino’s work. In Inglourious Basterds, these elements come into play in a film that is perhaps the truest expression of Tarantino’s style, which is simultaneously cartoonish and craftsmanlike. Tempering some (but not all) of his excesses, he distilled his ideas for a TV miniseries down into a punchy script with sections that play like short stories. Don’t let the title fool you: the results were glorious.
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Cool Posts From Around the Web:
The Morning Watch is a recurring feature that highlights a handful of noteworthy videos from around the web. They could be video essays, fanmade productions, featurettes, short films, hilarious sketches, or just anything that has to do with our favorite movies and TV shows.
In this edition, watch as Adam Savage reveals his build of a fully functional version of Zorg’s gun from The Fifth Element. Plus, pay attention as Jon Favreau breaks down what went into a scene in Disney’s remake of The Lion King, and The Today Show has an extensive chat with Quentin Tarantino and the cast of his new movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Read More »
The first Once Upon a Time in Hollywood clip just popped up online, featuring a stuttering Leonardo DiCaprio, a too cool for school Brad Pitt, and a flustered Kurt Russell. The striking thing here is how relatively low-key this clip is compared to the energetic trailers we’ve seen so far. Perhaps Sony wants to save all the wild stuff for the movie itself. Watch the clip from Quentin Tarantino‘s latest below.
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