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Now Watching: Jackie Brown

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Now Watching: Jackie Brown

Post by Krubixcube on Tue Apr 22, 2014 12:40 am

I haven't seen the movie (one of the few Tarantino movies I haven't) but if someone wants to write up some facts/questions it would be much appreciated.

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Re: Now Watching: Jackie Brown

Post by Krubixcube on Tue Apr 22, 2014 1:30 am

I'm going to try and watch this today then I'll whack up a couple of discussion questions if you or avid don't beat me to it.

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Re: Now Watching: Jackie Brown

Post by Krubixcube on Tue Apr 22, 2014 9:22 am

I really liked it! Very different from his current stuff. I almost feel like he made Pulp Fiction and once he made a film in that style he never went back to anything else.

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Re: Now Watching: Jackie Brown

Post by BretBaber on Tue Apr 22, 2014 9:30 am

My favorite line is when Samuel L. says to De Niro "Don't mess with the settings, I have those just how I like it." He's referring to his car stereo, I always really dug that line.

I've only watched it once so I can't really say it's a bad movie, but it was just such a let down compared to Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, and the Kill Bills (I watched this after those movies).

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Re: Now Watching: Jackie Brown

Post by Krubixcube on Tue Apr 22, 2014 11:06 am

It's interesting seeing Tarantino do a film that isn't so blatantly self-referential or a throwback (at least, not blatantly). I REALLY liked it. The pacing was a bit slow at first but it picked up and when it did I was hooked.

No real weak links in the cast either. I liked how dopey De Niro's character was too.

Also Bret: for some reason I too really liked that line.

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Re: Now Watching: Jackie Brown

Post by avidacridjam on Tue Apr 22, 2014 12:04 pm

For the longest time I've considered this to be my favorite Tarantino film. No joke.

I'm thinking up some questions but if I'm beat to the punch, I'll just address those in a future post.

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Re: Now Watching: Jackie Brown

Post by avidacridjam on Tue Apr 22, 2014 12:33 pm

1. On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the film? Explain why.

2. This is the first and (to my knowledge) only Tarantino film (so far) that's an adaptation of someone else's source material (Elmore Leonard's Rum Punch). There are some that believe Tarantino aced the adaptation (Leonard included), keeping the spirit of Leonard's story and characters while giving it his own flavor. Others believe this lacks the pop culture references or the ultra-violence of his other works and it feels like a lesser, forgotten work. I suspect that not everyone has read Rum Punch but I don't think it matters. Is it as pure a "Tarantino" film as any other or is it lacking? What do you think?

3. One of the most controversial aspects of the film was Ordell/Samuel L. Jackson's frequent use of the word "nigger". Tarantino has tackled racism and racial slurs in his works before and since (Dennis Hopper & Christopher Walken's scene in True Romance, the entirety of Django Unchained, Tarantino's small role in Pulp Fiction) and has been criticized for doing so (famously by Spike Lee). Did you feel Ordell's usage of "nigger" was meant for cheap shock value or did it come honestly/organically from the character as written?

4. Your favorite scene? (including honorable mentions, of course)

5. Your favorite character? (ditto)

6. Thoughts on the soundtrack?

7. Other thoughts?

8. Out of curiosity, has anyone ate at Roscoe's House of Chicken And Waffles or ate chicken and waffles in general? (I haven't tried it yet)

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Re: Now Watching: Jackie Brown

Post by BretBaber on Tue Apr 22, 2014 4:37 pm

pspiddy, you forgot about his ass fetish as well. He's got one of those too.

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Re: Now Watching: Jackie Brown

Post by Krubixcube on Tue Apr 22, 2014 10:05 pm

Why don't you just MARRY avid, spiddy? GOD!

(Kidding, good job man)

1. 8 or 8.5. This is just off of a first viewing mind you but the pace in the beginning is a little bit slow and SOMETHING about it didn't click but I get the feeling this could change with a second viewing. Keep in mind though I'm the type of person that never rates a film 10 unless it's the holy mother of films so anything above a 7 for me is pretty god damn good.

2. I think Tarantino is associated for what he turned into (which isn't a bad thing) but it is interesting seeing Tarantino work in a more straight forward way and makes me wish he had evolved to alternate his well-known style with more stuff like this. I think he nailed the adaptation (I haven't read the original work mind you) but insomuchas it doesn't FEEL like it's adapted, it feels very much alive on the screen and the actors really own their rolls.

3. It didn't feel like shock value at all. I think it's always a tricky subject when a white writer starts trying to write from that perspective and it's always going to raise some hackles as it were, but in this case it didn't feel like shock value and really, I think if an actor walked up with the lines for the day and said "look man, using this word in this context is no good" I think he would change it.

4. Your favorite scene? I don't know why, but I really enjoyed when Robbie meats Jackie in the bar and she goes through the plan and he keeps freaking out about it despite having already been told it last night. Just was a good play between characters that I enjoyed but there were loads of good scenes. Mel and Lewis being dopey together in the apartment were always welcome too.

5. As much as I love dopey Robert De Niro, Samuel L. Jackson knocked it out of the park as the intimidating yet dumb-as-fuck Robbie. Don't think there were any weak links in the cast.

6. I kept listening to the supremes after I finished watching this...I don't know if that counts as a thought.

7. Shame this movie tends to be billed as Tarantino's "other" or "lesser" film, when it's probably one of his best. Certainly not as snappy or shocking but the quality of the writing and the filmmaking are great.

8. Nope...too bad.

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Re: Now Watching: Jackie Brown

Post by avidacridjam on Thu Apr 24, 2014 4:52 pm

I'll get to answering the Qs tomorrow on my day off. I need more time and sleep to compose some epic essay answers.

I don't fuck around with this shit, people.

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Re: Now Watching: Jackie Brown

Post by BretBaber on Fri Apr 25, 2014 1:27 am

I keep wanting to watch this but can't find the time to do so.

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Re: Now Watching: Jackie Brown

Post by Krubixcube on Fri Apr 25, 2014 2:23 am

It is pretty long.

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Re: Now Watching: Jackie Brown

Post by BretBaber on Fri Apr 25, 2014 10:05 am

Yeah, 2 and a half hours. I might be able to manage soon since I"ll be working later this week. View time is also competing with the last season of Breaking Bad that I just started as well. Not enough time.

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Re: Now Watching: Jackie Brown

Post by avidacridjam on Fri Apr 25, 2014 11:39 am

1. On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the film? Explain why.

8.5. After the one-two punch of Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained, calling Jackie Brown my favorite Tarantino film isn't so easy to say these days but for the longest time it was comfortable to say. Most people still cling to Pulp Fiction and that's a perfectly understandable choice but my problem with that film is that I made the mistake of watching it too damn much. When it came out on blu-ray finally, I had put almost a decade between me and my last viewing and it pains me to say that my over-familiarity with it still lingered, even though it's still wonderful.

Jackie Brown works no matter how many times I see it. I think I like these characters better and I enjoyed the con games, the strategy and the relationships. This isn't so much a crime film but a character study of people drawn into crime. And Tarantino knows people.

Especially when they know that they're not getting any younger.

2. This is the first and (to my knowledge) only Tarantino film (so far) that's an adaptation of someone else's source material (Elmore Leonard's Rum Punch). There are some that believe Tarantino aced the adaptation (Leonard included), keeping the spirit of Leonard's story and characters while giving it his own flavor. Others believe this lacks the pop culture references or the ultra-violence of his other works and it feels like a lesser, forgotten work. I suspect that not everyone has read Rum Punch but I don't think it matters. Is it as pure a "Tarantino" film as any other or is it lacking? What do you think?

Someone once asked Stephen King why he wrote Gerald's Game and he replied that he wanted to write a novel about how old people can be cool and sexy. I don't recall all of Leonard's novel but I remember that the movie complimented the novel. It's kinda crazy how the voice of the film feels like its both Tarantino and Leonard's.

So how does one follow-up Pulp Fiction? Was Tarantino going to dip back into the crime genre with fragmented narratives and a big ensemble, on a much bigger scale? I'm sure that's what some wanted him to do. I'm sure that what's some still wish he did. The thing is, Tarantino proved over and over since then that while his films follow his interests, said interests are far and wide.

What I admire and envy about him is that he's one of these elite few directors (like Stanley Kubrick, Paul Thomas Anderson, Terrance Malick, Martin Scorsese)  who are able to pursue their passion projects on their own time. It was a long 3 year stretch between Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown and the next break would be 4 years. I suppose he's fortunate enough to live off royalties or side projects during those breaks but the truth is that he makes his films when he's damn good and ready. I can't imagine how good that feels. He takes his time with his scripts on every aspect (character development, themes, dialogue) and just works on them over and over until he feels he's nailed it. By the time production starts he knows what he wants and sets out to get exactly that.

You go into Jackie Brown expecting a modern blaxploitation film and what you quickly receive is a rich character study under the guise of a crime plot. That Tarantino fleshes out everyone (giving everyone moments to shine) and keeps a large-scale confidence game in focus is amazing. This is a crime plot in which the victor isn't the one with the guns but the smarts. Initially you feel afraid for Jackie but she reveals her inner strength and wit (and you know the moment it arrives), you start rooting for her because the only way she gets out of this mess is to outsmart all of her opponents. If she can get rich while doing it, why the hell not?

3. One of the most controversial aspects of the film was Ordell/Samuel L. Jackson's frequent use of the word "nigger". Tarantino has tackled racism and racial slurs in his works before and since (Dennis Hopper & Christopher Walken's scene in True Romance, the entirety of Django Unchained, Tarantino's small role in Pulp Fiction) and has been criticized for doing so (famously by Spike Lee). Did you feel Ordell's usage of "nigger" was meant for cheap shock value or did it come honestly/organically from the character as written?

Tarantino was interviewed once by Playboy or Sight & Sound and he said something to the effect of: "In my mind, in this story, it made sense that Ordell spoke that way. It isn't pleasant but its honest." Tarantino isn't racist nor is he going for cheap thrills; in his films, all the spectacle (horror and action) is hard-earned and with a purpose. If Spike Lee has a problem with it, that's his problem.

4. Your favorite scene? (including honorable mentions, of course)

The running theme here is not the plot-driven moments but the scenes where the film takes a break and just lets the characters breathe.

It's a quieter scene but its an absolute joy: the scene where Max returns to Jackie's house to retrieve his gun (and probably angry) and how his visit turns into a deepening of their relationship. She makes coffee, puts on a record by The Delfonics and they talk about her current problems with Ordell, the ATF agent and a local cop. Soon the conversation turns to the subject of getting old and its here that I believe the point of this film is buried. What scares Jackie isn't Ordell killing her but how her past in drug smuggling has put a serious dent on her ability to earn a living as she gets older. It informs us why Jackie feels she must proceed with the con job she has cooking in her mind. She's also getting a feel for Max, wondering whether or not she can trust him to get him involved and make him a partner. She also likes him.

Speaking of which, the Jackie/Max relationship was fantastic. Robert Forester and Pam Grier had plenty of chemistry but the film played it smart by making them friends first and slowly planting the seeds each time they met. It was never forced; it felt organic.

So when Max goes to a music store to pick up a Delfonics cassette because he's so smitten with her, I couldn't help but smile and relate. Even I have done that with someone I was crazy about.

Ordell: "I didn't know you liked the Delfonics."
Max: "They're pretty good."

HM: Ordell convincing Beaumont to accompany him on a business run by hiding in the trunk of his car. Both actors play off each other wonderfully. This is probably Chris Tucker's finest hour. And I love LOVE how the camera pulls up as the car takes off in the distance and the visual gag of where the car stops and how poor Beaumont is so easily dispatched.

The intense, chilly scene where Ordell visits Jackie at her home to question and murder her and how she turns the tables on him. The great split screen gag leading to the reveal of the missing gun (note the smile on Max's face as he's driving to his office; he's already in love) is fantastic.

Also, Robert De Niro and Bridget Fonda's conversation about her photographs and how that abruptly turns into a quickie.

The way Michael Keaton freaks out at Grier in the interrogation room after the money disappears following the "mishap" in the dressing room.

Watching Jackie waiting on Ordell and practicing pulling out her gun.

"Oh shit! That rhymes! 'Blew Beaumont's brains out!'"

5. Your favorite character? (ditto)

Jackie Brown. The movie is an all-out love letter to Pam Grier and Tarantino gave her the role of a lifetime.

HM: Ordell. Sam Jackson not only gets most of the one-liners but he even proves to be a genuine threat. I love that scary scene of him waiting for Max to leave Jackie's house while Johnny Cash's "Tennessee Stud" is playing.

This might be the last substantial role Bridget Fonda had and she was great as Ordell's stoner mistress. I love how she pestered De Niro at the mall.

6. Thoughts on the soundtrack?

Perfect. As usual Tarantino cleverly picks songs that tie in thematically and even add flavor and intensity to scenes.

7. Other thoughts?

Nope, other than I'll have to watch this again sometime.

8. Out of curiosity, has anyone ate at Roscoe's House of Chicken And Waffles or ate chicken and waffles in general? (I haven't tried it yet)

Answered my own question there. *facepalm*

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Re: Now Watching: Jackie Brown

Post by Krubixcube on Sat Apr 26, 2014 2:15 am

Yeah, all the characters have a very understandable edge to them and it really grounds the story despite the style. I mean, you're all articulating it better than me but yeah...good stuff.

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