Tonight for BAAM (that’s the abbreviation. Just deal with it.) we’re drinking Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale and watching the 1997 Quentin Tarantino film Jackie Brown. I’m not usually too keen on brown ales and I feel as if Jackie Brown is a forgotten Tarantino film, but both are pleasantly surprisingly and are worth returning to.
When stacked up against Tarantino’s other films, Jackie Brown is generally low on the list in terms of its popularity. Sandwiched between Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill years, Jackie Brown is a little treasure tucked away behind some big stars. While the film sports actors like Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro and Michael Keaton, the real star of the filmis Jackie Brown (as to be expected), played by a superb Pam Grier. To boil down a convoluted plot, Grier’s character triple crosses (I think triple…I lost count) Samuel L. Jackson who makes his money by running guns. Caught between jail time and the possibility of her own murder, Jackie Brown forges a clever way of getting clear of jail while stealing all of Sam Jackson’s cash with the help of a bail bondsmen. Retrospectively, the film is quite simple but when you’re in the middle of it, it’s hard to see what lies next. Sometimes the ambiguity works as it builds narrative tension. Other times I just felt confused. But that’s kind of how Tarantino does things and I don’t think he’s going to change anytime soon. His writing is sharp and quick while his cinematography is slow and often poetic, but sometimes the two don’t mesh. While it’s cool to see tense, important moments shown distantly or mundanely, at times the visual style of a scene or shot drowns out the narrative altogether. There are a number of times when we are left staring at empty rooms, expressionless faces or people walking down a street without a real purpose. And while this is unusual and done with the best of intentions, it feels as if sometimes Tarantino is more interested in how cool his movie looks than in telling a great story. That complaint ties directly to my second complaint, which is the length. The film is an unnecessary 150 minutes long. While I appreciate the choice of using long, slow takes, at times they really just felt indulgent on the part of the filmmaker. But all in all, I like this film. Pam Grier kicks ass, Samuel L. Jackson kicks ass (as can be expected), Robert De Niro almost says nothing and it looks very cool in the way that only Tarantino knows how. Also, quick side note, this film loves music. Seriously, just listen to this movie and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
And on to our beer for the evening. As I mentioned earlier, I usually don’t drink brown ales. They tend to run a bit too malty and bitter for my tastes but Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale seemed to do the trick for me. This beer, which I’ve only seen sold in 550 ml bottles, pours a lovely reddish-brown color with a rich, creamy head. The aroma does not hide that classic, dark malty flavor of brown ales. However, with that first sip, you get something much smoother and downright tastier. You still get that chocolately maltiness, but it isn’t overpowering. You still get some of that yeast flavor and just a taste of bread. Also, it continues to taste great as it warms, a trait I love to see in beers. To be honest, I didn’t really taste any nuttiness but that’s just my unrefined pallet. While other brown ales have disappointed me in the past, I think Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale might have given this brew a second chance in my book.
So that was my evening. Jackie Brown and Nut Brown Ale. An interesting mix actually. I enjoyed both and I also learned a little bit as well, which is more than I can usually say when I sit in front of the TV and drink a beer.
A quick closing note: as Thanksgiving is rolling around the corner and I’ll be headed home to my beloved Boston, odds are you won’t be seeing another BAAM (there it is again, get used to it) for a little over a week. Obviously I’ll be drinking some beers when I’m home (Sam Adams? Harpoon? Magic Hat?) but I’ll probably be too busy socializing and being popular to spend my time with likes of you.
Happy Thanksgiving and happy drinking!
A somewhat overlooked Tarantino flick
Razor-sharp writing with excellent delivery
Great visuals but at times they get a bit carried away