Just Seen: Jackie Brown / Tyrannosaur / Mad Men

Jackie Brown

Tarantino’s third film was the only one of his I hadn’t yet seen. It’s a curious sidenote on his career, Tarantino at his most reserved and subtle. For some reason he Benjamin Buttoned his way back into homage-heavy gore-schlock – not necessarily a bad thing, but you wouldn’t predict a career trajectory like this. Jackie Brown is the kind of film a director might make towards the end of his career: a legacy piece. A measured, sprawling crime epic.

Sure, the pop cultural touchstones are there – the casting of Pam Grier, the blackspoitation soundtrack, Samuel L Jackson’s use of the word ‘motherfucker’ – but they’re definitively muzzled, in service to the meandrous plot. Elmore Leonard’s original story is so dense and meaty that Tarantino even has to eschew his trademark off-kilter narrative, playing it smooth and linear. The result is something quite unusual; you feel like you’re watching a David Fincher film from the 70s. Devoid of the expected tawdry bloody pleasures, I found a rather sweet middle-aged love story acted with lashings of heart and soul from Grier and Robert Forster. Here’s hoping Quentin’s got another one of these in him.

Tyrannosaur

Paddy Considine’s debut was unforgivably overlooked by nearly every major award ceremony, and plenty of critics. Who the hell knows why – Tyrannosaur knocked me for six. I sincerely can’t remember the last time a British drama has affected me as much.  Peter Mullan plays Joseph, a lonely, violent drunk who befriends Hannah (Colman), a troubled Christian charity shop manager, and together they forge an unlikely allegiance confronting their respective pains. It’s something of a cliché to call a performance a ‘revelation’, but Olivia Colman really did reveal a great deal more than she had let on in the myriad of lighthearted sitcom roles she’s thus far been known for. (Bucking her film’s trend, she did win a much-deserved Empire award, and her tear-sodden acceptance speech is just lovely.)

Within such a modest framework, Considine’s astonishingly assured scope spans class, alcoholism, religion, marriage, domestic abuse, death, and murder. And beneath the grim kitchen-sink exterior it bears all the traits of a dark, surprising thriller. Few ‘character studies’ are are as gripping as this. I mean, quite frankly, Considine can piss off – seriously, no one man deserves that amount of talent, the bastard. Not only is he one of our greatest working actors, but he has the potential to be one of our greatest exports behind the camera, too. What a dick.

Mad Men (season 5)

[HERE BE SPOILERS] After five seasons, I remain to be convinced that AMC’s awards-laden drama isn’t much more than a glossy, big-budget, high-production-value soap; the issues of 1960s America continue to be handled a little too heavily (it’s as if the word ISSUES flashes up on the screen sometimes), and precedence continues to be given to soapy relationship dramas and over-sensationalised storylines. Lane’s tragic exit from the series is yet another rather stagey incident to take place in the SCDP offices – remember this?.

But, Lord help me, soap or not, I’m hooked. Perhaps it’s an unfair comparison. It is one of the slickest, sharpest things it’s possible to watch on telly, and every element – from costume to acting – is of premium quality. I just wonder whether Don Draper’s marital problems is the fleshiest plotline they can muster. I’ll still wait with baited breath for season 6, of course.

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