by Grant Stoner
(article originally appeared here on ReelGrok.com)
I recently had the pleasure of attending LACMA’s Film Series screening of Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown to celebrate its release on Blu-Ray disc this week. Considering the film was released 14 years ago, I’ll spare you the reviews, but I will say that it is certainly Tarantino’s most underrated work, and a film that I believe is one of his best. The 35 mm print that was screened looked great, even with the occasional film scratches that only added to the vibe of the film itself. While it was a blast re-watching a great film on the big screen again after all these years, the icing on the cake was the already scheduled Pam Grier and Robert Forster q&a along with the surprise announcement by curator Elvis Mitchell that Tarantino himself would be in attendance.
Having attended scores of producer-centric q&a’s over the years I’ve come to be very jaded by the prospect, and usually walk away underwhelmed by the experience. However, having never been in the same room with Quentin Tarantino to hear him talk, I was excited to see where this went. What was apparent from the start was the mutual respect/adoration/idolation going on between Pam Grier and Tarantino, but thanks to Mitchell’s deft moderating, the love fest was curbed and we were treated to some amazing behind the scenes nuggets, creative insights and terrific stories. Whatever you think about Tarantino, it can’t be denied that he loves movies, loves his craft, and adores his actors. One story that struck me as both genuine on the human level along with being genius on the filmmaking level is his regular practice of visiting his actors’ homes. He likes to feel who they are, and bring some of that into the character, and into the film. An example he and Forster discussed was that Robert’s father was a trainer in the circus, so Tarantino dressed Max Cherry’s (the character in the film) office with Ringling Brothers paraphernalia on the walls. Because of this, Forster really felt at home in this space, which translated a comfort level within the film.
What struck me the most, however, was the story about how Grier and Tarantino met, and that he told her he was writing a script for her. She was overwhelmed with gratitude and appreciation, and felt how fortunate enough she was to not only be a part of, but be an inspiration for someone’s dream. I think as producers and filmmakers, we can learn from this by always remembering that above all else, we’re in the dream making business.