The drumbeat replicates the heart. As the record scratch bursts through, the pairing of Elmore Leonard’s eponymous character and the bondsman looking out for her is captured with excitement and keenness from the pulpy, blaxploitation style Quentin Tarantino wishes to replicate here. Jackie Brown (or Rum Punch to give it its real title) was never a text that exuded the notes and key roles of the blaxploitation feature, but Tarantino adapts it as such by twisting the arm of these characters and deploying a fine ensemble to take on the challenge. His critique of the typical machoism of the genre is on point, and surprisingly so. It is something not even Leonard could capture in his text.
At a time when social and political upheaval were grappling with the American Dream and its people, Medium Cool lingers on topics that, even now, are red with controversy. It is not the direction, writing or photography from Haskell Wexler that will stick in the mind of audience members, but his generalised topics and how he wishes to showcase them. A fictional grappling of cinéma vérité, journalists are shown talking over one another, under the guise of coming to an agreement. They say the same as one another, but the louder voice attempts to prevail. “All good people deplore problems at a distance” says one, but the men and women who speak of this are those that get up close to the horrors the average, functional member of society shies away from.
Drama films are ten a penny these days, you can accidentally stumble onto a couple hundred of these pieces of Netflix. Wading through such masses of content isn’t any good for anyone, so we either turn to the reliable star power of A-listers looking to pack a quick, dramatic punch, or something so left of field that the originality of the narrative swamps the less-than-desirable cast. I opted for the former, in this instance anyway, and I ended up with What They Had, an immediately forgotten drama directed by Elizabeth Chomko. Pooling together an extraordinary cast is no match for poor marketing, and it seems this piece musing on the importance of family ties has been all but lost.
The comedy genre is one of the few strands of film that ages dreadfully. One little slip up, cultural appropriation or timely nod to a no longer relevant media personality and you’ve nearly crushed the entire build-up of the film. Some are rather timeless, like Chuck Norris’ brief cameo in Dodgeball, or Adam Sandler’s little role in Dirty Work. Nothing kills the pace of a film quite like a comedy that feels very much a product of its time. It can’t be all that bad though, especially since Me, Myself and Irene cements itself into the “Jim Carrey is a zany fun lover” brand of moviegoing. I couldn’t imagine a worse time if I’d tried.