Can’t say that I was especially blown away by Haskell Wexler’s docudrama that follows Robert Forster’s Chicago TV cameraman as he surveys the turbulent climate that builds to the 1968 Democratic National Convention riots. Forster is engaging, as is Verna Bloom as a struggling single parent whom he is drawn to, and there’s no denying Wexler’s style keeps you on edge throughout, but in other respects the film exposes my lack of familiarity with this particular era of US history – a period I thought I understood better. I’m definitely looking forward to exploring the numerous features on Criterion’s recent release in the hopes of garnering a better understanding of what went down.
I recently discovered that my girlfriend hadn’t seen any Quentin Tarantino films (with the exception of Pulp Fiction, which I’m pretty sure everyone of our generation has seen) and so I’m strategically working her through his back catalogue. Rather than subject her to the shouty foul-mouthed machismo of Reservoir Dogs, I thought the laid back cool and strong female protagonist of Jackie Brown would be the way to go. Not only did she like the film, but it again reminded me of how good the film is. When compared with his “second phase” films – Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained – it’s not immediately obvious that they were made by the same director. or if they were, Jackie Brown feels like the work of a much older, mature and seasoned incarnation of QT. While I like the man’s recent output a great deal, there is a noticable lack of discipline in both (so it can’t all be pinned on the passing of Sally Menke), while right here – before he discovered the Weinsteins would let him do whatever he wanted when making Kill Bill – he showed a clarity of vision and level of restraint that only survives in pieces today.