Read Karina Longworth's article “Tarantino's Angst” from L.A. Weekly's print edition.
When Texas's Alamo Drafthouse comes to town to unleash their special brand of bad-ass cinema experience, they mean business. No one's going to stand in their way, not even the entire city of Torrance, CA. (Okay, maybe not every citizen in town, but the city government at least.) The first stop on their Rolling Roadshow tour – beloved classics exhibited outdoors, in the locations where the movies take place, on a blow-up screen with a projector run out of a truck – was scheduled to be at the parking lot of the Del Amo Mall, site of the climactic money exchange in the evening's feature presentation, Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown. Citing noise restrictions, however, the city refused the Drafthouse (and local partners Cinefamily) the right to roll film at nearly the last minute.
“Torrance… my home town!” Tarantino bellowed to the gathered crowd of cineastes on Saturday night. “And they fucked me in the ass!” The show did go on, of course, thanks to the fine hospitality of the Proud Bird restaurant on Aviation Blvd., right near the flight path at LAX – site of employment for Cabo Air stewardess Jackie Brown (Pam Grier), and her run-in with ATF agents that gets the whole double-crossing crime spree going. With their expansive lawn in back of the restaurant, underneath the panoramic windows that allow diners to watch the planes coming in, the Proud Bird turned out to be a terrific local for the maiden voyage of Rolling Roadshow 2010. (The series, though it took a brief sabbatical in recent years, is back with a vengeance; upcoming screenings include Dirty Harry in San Francisco's Washington Square Park, and Rocky on the Liberty Steps in Philadelphia.) Tarantino – who introduced the film along with its Oscar-nominated co-star, the great Robert “Max Cherry” Forster – admitted he was excited to be at the Proud Bird for the very first time. (Whoa – somewhere in L.A. that Quentin's never been before?!)
Though a bit brisk for a summer's evening – thanks to the marine layer draping the coastline near the airport – dozens upon dozens of film buffs and Tarantino fans turned up to enjoy the show. Considering our love of both the film and Elmore Leonard's source novel, we were pleased to hear more than a few exclamations in the realm of “I know, Jackie Brown is my favorite of his movies, too! I always feel like I'm the only one!” The Proud Bird served up a bargain buffet of food – tacos, grilled corn, hot wings – to the crowd that beat the hell out of popcorn (though some brought that, too), and their bar kept the beer and cocktails flowing all night. (Though we were left to wonder why no one thought to have a Screwdriver drink special – in honor of the favorite tasty beverage of Samuel L. Jackson's Ordell Robbie – going that evening.)
If there was one drawback to the proceedings, it was that even with the Drafthouse's quality portable sound system, the people who didn't show up early enough to score seats close to the screen or straight down the middle of the lawn (where the speakers were pointed) had some issues hearing the film most of the night. We were almost directly under the flight path after all; though we would agree with Drafthouse founder Tim League's assessment before showtime that in a way, the screaming plane landings added a bit of ambiance to Jackie's adventure, sometimes the ambience was a little more in-yo-face than we anticipated. (Man, those Fed Ex cargo planes would wake the dead during an earthquake!) Hardly a dealbreaker, though. One thing that's assured with an Alamo Drafthouse crowd: Most of them probably love the movie so much they know all the dialogue, anyway.