April 25, 2018
Roxy Cinema Artist Series: Vigilante (35mm) + Q&A with William LustigApril 25, 2018
Thriller / 1983 / 90 minutes
Trading on the vigilante fever that swept cinemas post Death Wish, William Lustig’s 1983 film Vigilante marries his gritty, grindhouse sensibility to the well-tread subject matter, proving a perfect union. Robert Forster plays a working class stiff in early 80s New York City who joins a gang of local vigilantes (headed by blaxploitation star Fred Williamson) after his family is attacked in their home by a law-protected gang member. Forster’s average joe charisma is on full display, and his turn to righteous anger and vengeance – nicely paired with Williamson’s intense, finely-honed physicality – is well-calibrated and cathartic. It’s the sort of hysterical, paranoid nonsense that was rampant in the Regan era, but Lustig knows how to play up the cartoonishness of it all – particularly when it comes to the ridiculously thuggish gangs – making for a thrilling, enjoyably trashy piece of exploitation cinema. With Richard Bright, Rutanya Alda and the always wonderfully sleazy Joe Spinell.
Jackie Brown (35mm)April 25, 2018
Thriller / 1997 / 154 minutes
Operating at the apex of his 90s superstar trajectory, Quentin Tarantino surprised 1997 audiences by following up his smash Pulp Fiction with the far more downbeat but no less virtuosic Jackie Brown. An adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s novel Rum Punch, Jackie Brown tells the story of a middle-aged African American flight attendant/low level money smuggler (blaxploitation icon Pam Grier in a patented Tarantino career-revitalizing role) who finds herself caught between the FBI and her psychotic gun runner boss (Samuel L. Jackson), and must enlist the help of a 50-something bail bondsman (Robert Forster, in a sweet, hangdog performance) to outwit both parties. The usual Tarantino flourishes are evident – a great soundtrack of 70s pop and soul deep cuts, homages to genre cinema, explosive violence, cracking dialog – but what has allowed Jackie Brown to age so well is the maturity already making its way into the freshly-minted auteur’s vision, an astute, crime film take on the existential crossroads of middle age. With Michael Keaton, Robert De Niro, Bridget Fonda.