Sunday, 19 February 2012

Jackie Brown [1997]

Directed By- Quentin Tarantino
Genre- Crime/Drama/Thriller
Released: 25th December 1997 (USA) and 20th March 1998 (UK)
Filmed in the United States
Produced by Miramax Films

Jackie Brown was directed by Quentin Tarantino and it is about an air hostess being heavily involved with an arms dealer, it is also a tribute to the 1970's blaxploitation films. In the opening sequence of the film Quentin Tarantino uses a medium close up tracking shot to show the character walking along an escalator that is typically found in an airport. The way in which Tarantino captures the black, middle aged women walking enables the audience to see that she is going to be an important character in the film, as she is focused on heavily and some low angle shots are used to reinforce this. The lighting used in the scene is very ambient and the use of non diagetic sounds in the form of Bobby Womack, 110th Street adds emphasis to the Character of Jackie Brown because if you listen to the lyrics they seem to be a story about someone trying to make it/ get out of the ghetto, which is reasonably interesting and could foreshadow the rest of the film. 

The character of Jackie Brown then comes off the walkway/escalator and the chorus of walking across 110th street is playing, this cuts to a close up shot of the scanning machines and a passenger who's bags are being scanned. However Jackie is able to walk straight on past the security desks and to the terminals. [We don't know anything about her involvement with Ordelle at this point, but you could now see how she could execute the deals because of how easy it is for her to get past.]

This then cuts to a medium, low angle shot of Jackie walking through the terminal. She is walking with her head up and a very straight, sophisticated posture which shows the audience her importance to the film yet again. She is also the closest character in the foreground of the shot which could suggest her superiority and power to the audience and also the other people walking in the shot. The audience can also tell she is an important part of the film because when she is walking through the airport, nobody else looks on her level, by this I mean that the people walking in the shots are inferior to her. She also doesn't make eye contact with one person which could suggest that she doesn't care/too good for them, in this particular sequence Jackie is walking completely the opposite direction to everybody else, foreshadowing that at some point in the film she may turn again something, which could be Society.

This then cuts to a slightly low angle, medium close up of Jackie Brown walking towards the camera, this is the first time the audience has seen all of her face therefore could suggest that she keeps herself to herself. Every other person in this shot is blurred to reinforce the importance of the character of Jackie, she is in her own world if you like. This then quickly cuts to a close up of Jackie's face as she is still walking through the airport, still all other people in the shot are blurred out and are also walking at a much slower pace, suggesting that Jackie is more advanced, keeping the audiences concentration firmly on the character of Jackie Brown. Another medium close up tracking shot is then used to show Jackie running through the airport to her check in desk just before a flight, this could foreshadow that later in the films she could be running from someone/something or maybe even justice? 

This scene then finishes and cuts to a medium shot of two men on a sofa, one of which is white that looks shabby and one that is black that is smart. This then cuts to a close up shot of a television and a show called "chicks who love guns" is on, this is showing pretty much naked women in bikini's with AK-47's and all sorts. However the two characters sitting on the sofa are not interested in the girls at all, the black male aka Ordell is thoroughly explaining what gun it is, where he finds it, how much it costs and how much he sells it for. Immediately the audience can tell that the man [Ordell] is an arms dealer which might help the audience to figure out for themselves what might happen. 

The shooting of Beaumont Livingstone by Ordell Robbie

This scene starts with Ordell visiting Beaumont at his apartment during the night. A medium shot is used to show the two characters on the thin balcony, there is little sense of any community at all and the lighting also infers a sense of isolation. The medium shot used captures the way both of the characters look beautifully, from this shot the audience can tell Beaumont is vulnerable and weak due to the fact that he has his shirt off. This is contrasted heavily when it comes to the character of Ordell, a firm standing man that is fully clothed in brands that reflect a gangster-esque style.You can see his gold is elaborate, this clearly makes Ordell superior and much more powerful than Beaumont. 

From 2.50 both characters proceed to walk down the stairs to Ordell's car, after he claims that he has a job for Beaumont. The characters are shown walking, Ordell is walking upright with a very good posture and Beaumont is walking sluggishly, again signifying his vulnerability, particularly to Ordell. Here Quentin Tarantino uses a very clever type of tracking shot to show the characters walking parallel to railings, which strangely suggest to me that events could happen which would put either of them in trouble. These railings look like a Prison Cell, very similar to when the young boy is driving the car in Essex boys and bars appear on the screen. 

At 3.34 an extremely low angle shot is used to show both characters looking into the boot of Ordell's car, this is a generic convention of a thriller as it represents claustrophobia/isolation. The use of a low angle shot helps to back up the power and importance of Ordell, this shot could be representative of people looking down at other people/decisions. Quentin Tarantino likes to use the low angle shot from within the boot in Pulp Fiction and Reservoir dogs and many other of his great films. 

Ordell then proceeds to talk to Beaumont about guns and other such things and asks Beaumont to help him with a job. Beaumont is very adamant on this which starts off Ordell on trying to persaude him by offering him Junk food if he does so, thus representing a negative image of America in a sense that everybody is quite obsessive with junk food. The very noir lighting and feel to this particular clip of the scene helps to establish to the audience that something dark/ threatening could be about to happen. 

Ordell manages to finally convince Beaumont to get into the trunk of the car and proceeds to do so. Again this part of the film is similar to Essex boys because Jason put the man in the back of the white van, where he was then led to die pretty much, this could be a reflection of that? A medium shot is then used to show Ordell getting into his car, once he is in the Drivers seat the mise-en-scene of the clip becomes very very dark. This darkness is used to show Ordell put leather black gloves on, foreshadowing the killing of Beaumont Livingstone. The audience at this point can hear both non-diagetic sound in the form of some light music and diagetic sound made from Ordell putting on his gloves. This then cuts to a close up shot of Ordell going in his glove box compartment and revealing a pistol, again foreshadowing future events. 

The car then proceeds to drive straight down the dark and murky road  to a vanishing point and then makes a left turn. The camera angle at this moment in time is tracking and panning the movements of the car. The camera angle then switches to a high angle long shot, almost birds eye view of a dark abandoned factory/warehouse wasteland and then you just see the headlights from Ordell's car entering this place. This wasteland is almost very similar to the marshes in Essex boys, a grotesque environment in which their is no ground of morality. Both Jason and Ordell knew exactly where to take their victims and what to do with them, signifying intelligence and an enormous amount of power. The car then stops in almost the centre of the shot and you see Ordell get out, open the boot and fire 2 or 3 shots at Beaumont, this location and use of lighting helps to tell the audience what an outcast of Society Ordell really is. 

Don't go shopping with Robert De Niro

In this particular scene Melanie and Louis are in a shopping mall participating in their part of the exchange of two bags. Quentin Tarantino has challenged the typcial conventions of the thriller genre here by setting one of the main events of the film in daylight, in a mall with lots of people about. Melanie is essentially stuck to a strong hand of Louis and will not let her leave his sight. Previously in the film these to characters have grown to have a small bond with each other, dope smoking etc.. However now Melanie is really testing Louis' patience by being pandantic and playing mind games with him, the audience never really knew before this what the bad side of Louis was like, not too many questions about why he was in Jail arose from the film, leaving a sense of Enigma that Melanie is soon to find out about. 

The two then leave the mall and head for the car park to find the car. Here Melanie is continuing to beleaguer and provoke Louis by asking him a series of questions about the location of the car. "Is it this isle, or the next one?" Louis then says he has found the car and Melanie keeps asking him if he is sure and positive, making his  temper very unpredictable. Louis then stops and turns round to talk to Melanie warning her to keep her mouth shut from now on. However Melanie incapable of this and has clearly underestimated to ruthlessness of Louis, he turns round with his pistol out and shoots her two times, in broad daylight infront of many cars. This action defines the character of Louis very well as it shows how ruthless and temperate he is, the fact that he just walks off to the car afterwards tells the audience he has no remorse/ regret at all, he really doesn't even care about the consequences.

1 comment:

  1. Your analysis, of the way Tarantino represents Jackie, Ordell and Louis is proficient. I like the way you have made an inter textual reference to Essex Boys and have recognised Tarantino's use of the generic convention of darkness when Ordell shoots Beaumont Livingstone. I also am interested your reading of Melanie and how she plays mind games. You could add another small post explaining the difference between Ordell and Louis psychopathy. For example Ordell's choice of darkness and premeditation of Beaumont's murder and Louis' unpredictable behaviour. The way Tarantino has shot these two murders is a clue to what makes Ordell and Louis tick.