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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Jackie Brown's Perfect Ending: Hit Me With Your Best Shot

One week after my first foray, I'm happy to join in for another version of "Hit Me With Your Best Shot," hosted by The Film Experience.

We're celebrating Jackie Brown on the basis of Quentin Tarantino's 50th Birthday.  I was also excited to rewatch this movie since I remembered it fondly but hadn't seen it since it's release in 1997.  It more than lived up to my memories, bringing an entertaining, low-key charm to it's great characterizations and iconic imagery.

When it came to best shots, there was no way I was going with anything that didn't involve Jackie Brown (the fabulous Pam Grier) herself.  As great as the surrounding characters are, the whole movie is a valentine by Tarantino to 70's era-blaxploitation star Grier.  One thing I love about Tarantino is his over-the-top love for cinema both high and low, and you can sense his giddy thrill every time he gets to frame a shot staring his screen goddess.

As I watched the movie, I was surprised how absent Jackie is from the beginning of the  plot, not making her main entrance (except for the opening credits) until about 30 minutes in.  We hear the name "Jackie!" and she turns around, looking ready for whatever comes.  This is one of my runner-up shots.

Throughout the movie, Tarantino gives us jailed Jackie, distressed Jackie, sneaky Jackie, superfly Jackie, and triumphant Jackie.  For her coolest look in the film, I also almost went with this shot, with Jackie at her sly, confident best.

Yet, in the end, I chose the last moments of the movie because it's just about a perfect ending, and a touch out of character for Tarantino.  I'm a sucker for endings poignant rather than sad or happy, and this fits the bill. Think of the over-the-top, violence-laden endings of Inglorious Bastards and Django Unchained, and then compare it to this quiet but emotionally fraught ending.  Jackie's finished with her scheme, outwitting both the criminal Ordell and the feds.  She's free and ready to take off for Spain.  Yet something is missing... she fell in love with bail bondsman Max Cherry, but something has kept him from declaring his love.

Is her lifestyle too intense for him? Does he not feel he's good enough for her obvious superfly qualities? Did they meet too late in life?  Hard to say, but the last shot and the lyrics of the awesome "Across 110th Street" give us a nice clue.

The Best Shot...

Been down so long, getting up didn't cross my mind
I knew there was a better way of life and I was just trying to find 
You don't know what you'll do until you're put under pressure
Across 110th Street is a hell of a tester.

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