Some of you might recognize this title from Ryan Adams’ Jacksonville City Nights.  It’s as much an ode to forlorn love and lust as anything he’s written,  but that’s not what this column is about.

It’s about Brown.  Jackie Brown.

And love.  L’amour.

You’ve probably seen or avoided dozens of romantic comedies.  In fact, chances are you’ll probably see one this weekend.  Warner Bros. and Garry Marshall, director of Pretty Woman (1990), are hoping you’ll flock to see “Valentine’s Day.”  It’s an ensemble flick with famous faces like Julia Roberts, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner and Topher Grace (?????) crammed into every possible square inch of celluloid.  Before I continue, I should tell you that Roger Ebert tagged the film with 2 out of 4 stars.  Instead of “Valentine’s Day,” I would consider another Marshall-Roberts pairing, “Runaway Bride” (1999), a critically overlooked film but one that’s well-written and provides Richard Gere with a bit more depth than he’s accustomed. Kudos to Marshall for finding a way to plug U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” into a scene that works.  Not easy.

But if you’re planning on staying in on the one holiday of the year that demands that you go out, check out Quentin Tarantino’s homage to blaxploitation cinema, “Jackie Brown” (1997).  “Jackie Brown” is one of the greatest love stories in film. Really.

The love story between the down-and-out flight attendant, Ms. Brown, and the angst-ridden Max Cherry, a bail bondsman of 19 years, is one of honesty.  Tarantino’s love poem is steeped in wisdom in which only people that have been ‘round the block can only fully understand. Cherry is in his fifties, Brown, mid-forties, but she’s told she could put a thirty-year-old to shame.  Boo yah.

Cherry and Brown meet outside of a jail to the sweet, sweet harmony of Bloodstone’s “Natural High,” said to be Tarantino’s favorite love song.  From that point on, their relationship slowly blossoms.  They share music, meet over drinks and scheme to rob a ruthless gun-runner of $500,000.

Even while Tarantino works feverishly to pay respect to Pam Grier and Robert Forster, the unsung queen and king of exploitation cinema, by the end of the film, you can’t help but wish that Max and Jackie fall away into a happy ending.   In one scene, Jackie asks Max bluntly, “If you had the chance to walk off with a half million dollars, would you take it?”  A better question for Max might be, “If you had the chance to walk off with love, would you take it?”

Other films you and your date can’t go wrong with:

  • Chungking Express (1994)
  • Sabrina (1995)
  • (500) Days of Summer (2009)
  • Remains of the Day (1993)
  • Lucky You (2007)