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October 11, 2019 7:52 PM   Subscribe

Robert Forster, resurgent Oscar nominee from Jackie Brown, dies at 78.

After an early promising string of roles (such as Medium Cool), Forster's career stalled until it was revived by Quentin Tarantino's casting of him as troubled but ethical bail bondsman Max Cherry in Jackie Brown. He most recently appeared in the just-released Breaking Bad movie El Camino.

His final scene from Jackie Brown, suitably melancholy.
posted by praemunire (39 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
He will always be Sheriff Frank Truman to me. "Twin Peaks: The Return" was haunted by ghosts when it first aired and it's only getting more poignant as time goes on.
posted by HunterFelt at 8:10 PM on October 11, 2019 [7 favorites]


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posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 8:12 PM on October 11, 2019


RIP. I didn't know he had such an interesting career. I've seen Jackie Brown about 150 times but this makes me want to see it again.
posted by bleep at 8:19 PM on October 11, 2019 [2 favorites]


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posted by Ranucci at 8:33 PM on October 11, 2019


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posted by bluecore at 8:47 PM on October 11, 2019


RIP.

His Jackie Brown performance is the best by anyone in a Tarantino film, imo.

Was really looking forward to seeing him in Mulholland Drive, but when they didn't pick it up his part was cut to next to nothing for the film.
posted by dobbs at 8:50 PM on October 11, 2019 [1 favorite]


Jackie Brown is my favorite Tarantino film by a long mile. Forster is a complete gem in that movie. And Jackie Brown is slowly moving into my very closely guarded circle of Movies I Watch All The Time, which right now contains Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon and those only.

It's entering very high status with me. I keep watching it. It continues to be perfect. There are few perfect movies. Right now, for me, the count stands at... well, I guess 3.

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posted by hippybear at 8:59 PM on October 11, 2019 [8 favorites]


"Twin Peaks: The Return" was haunted by ghosts when it first aired and it's only getting more poignant as time goes on.

This is entirely true and I thank you for the reminder to do a rewatch.

posted by hippybear at 9:04 PM on October 11, 2019


Jeez, this is uncanny timing. I watched a chunk of El Camino (which is quite good, BTW), and paused it right when I got to his part.

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posted by Halloween Jack at 9:10 PM on October 11, 2019 [1 favorite]


I really think Jackie Brown will endure where other Tarantino films will dwindle to curiosities, and that's in large part because of what Forster and Pam Grier brought to their roles.
posted by praemunire at 9:10 PM on October 11, 2019 [14 favorites]


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posted by nightrecordings at 9:17 PM on October 11, 2019


1) actors
2) least explicitly violent
3) most interlocking storyline
4) writing is least show-off
5) filmed incredibly beautifully
6) Robert Fuckin' DeNiro

I could go on.

It is Best.
posted by hippybear at 9:17 PM on October 11, 2019 [4 favorites]


And the thing about it is, the more I rewatch it, the better Forster's performance gets. It's got layers of things going on, and while Tarantino and his editor try to draw certain things to the fore to suit their narrative, you can see Forster is a deep lake with unseen currents.
posted by hippybear at 9:28 PM on October 11, 2019 [4 favorites]


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posted by Cash4Lead at 9:42 PM on October 11, 2019


I rewatched Jackie Brown two months ago, in anticipation of Once Upon a Time, not having seen it since it came out 20 years ago and ... I still don't see it as the overlooked Tarantino masterpiece so many do. It's just a nice little genre movie to me.

However I would gladly watch a 4 hour film with no plot that was just long scenes of Forster and Grier driving around, talking, walking at the mall, sitting in smoky bars. They had something special going on. Also I was blown away by how ... cinematic ... he was just in his presence. Something in the eyes, the posture, the frame was so old-Hollywood, quiet charismatic leading man. It caught me when he's riding up the mall escalator. He made guys like Keaton and De Niro look like slobs, which, I know, was the point, but still.

El Camino is already on the menu for tomorrow night, and I didn't even know he was in it.

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posted by mannequito at 10:51 PM on October 11, 2019 [7 favorites]


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posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 10:51 PM on October 11, 2019


He was just so damned good. We had just finished watching El Camino when I read the news.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:01 PM on October 11, 2019


Count me in the pool of people who think Jackie Brown is as good as QT gets for all the reason that hippybear lays out, plus let's face it - a huge leg up from Elmore Leonard base material.

QT has got a lot of weird off putting stuff going on with his works and attitudes, but being able to put Forster, Grier and that soundtrack together makes me at least happy for that moment.
posted by drewbage1847 at 11:15 PM on October 11, 2019 [8 favorites]


Robert Forster's Max Cherry works so well because he knew how to play off of Grier's Jackie Brown.

Without words, upon meeting they immediately saw each other as survivors, swimming upstream against time — an unforgiving current for actors, especially — and they both bring that to the table (literally so, in the scene when sharing coffee in Brown's apartment).

Classic film, one of Tarantino's best, and it couldn't have been so without Forster.

His work as the Charon-like ferryman for Walter White was understated. Characters in the world of Breaking Bad can't exist without someone to hold their hand on their way to hell. He gave no judgement, but offered no forgiveness or sympathy, either.

As Gaff might say, he did a man's job, sir. RIP.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 12:35 AM on October 12, 2019 [4 favorites]


We recently planted Foerster grass in the yard, which I immediately renamed Max Cherry grass. And so it shall remain.

Add me to the Jackie Brown is best camp. Everything about that movie works. That moment when he checks the mall exit and realizes he hasn’t been followed... so subtle, so great. Improves with every viewing.

(And hey, Bridget Fonda! Was she ever better than in those scenes with DiNiro? “That’s Japan.”)
posted by kinnakeet at 1:10 AM on October 12, 2019 [5 favorites]


"You can win it in the late innings. You've still got the late innings, but you can't quit. Never quit." Amen.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 4:18 AM on October 12, 2019


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posted by condour75 at 4:39 AM on October 12, 2019


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posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 6:41 AM on October 12, 2019


Watched El Camino last night, woke up today to read this - .
posted by caution live frogs at 7:14 AM on October 12, 2019


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Everyone bags on Skip E. Lowe but he got more out of Forster on his acting theory and philosophy than anyone else.

This shitty week just got a whole lot shittier. RIP.
posted by holborne at 8:23 AM on October 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


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posted by Pendragon at 8:56 AM on October 12, 2019


El Camino was one hell of a way to bookend a career, on the other end of playing against Brando and Taylor in “Reflections in a Golden Eye”. RIP

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posted by dbiedny at 10:10 AM on October 12, 2019 [2 favorites]


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Medium Cool is a terrific time capsule and worth seeking out. Jackie Browne was probably his best role but he was one of those actors who's good even when he's in a bad movie.
posted by octothorpe at 10:21 AM on October 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


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posted by filtergik at 11:10 AM on October 12, 2019


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posted by detachd at 11:47 AM on October 12, 2019


One of the best character actors there was.
I loved him TP 2. The telescopic screen on his desk was great. He was unique and shall be missed.
posted by clavdivs at 11:59 AM on October 12, 2019


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I, too, think Jackie Brown to be Tarantino's best film. I think it's flawless. And it's absolutely true that a huge part of this was Forster's and Grier's performances. Forster, especially, was just a joy to watch every second he was on the screen.

Being well-aware of Tarantino's vices, and very disappointed in his career, I think it's worth mentioning that Tarantino cast Forster and Grier and the particular and emblematic genius of that decision speaks to the heart of why Tarantino really is a talented and important filmmaker. But like quite a few artists of that type, he's his own worst enemy and his best work always involves other talented people with the power to keep him in check and complement his abilities. This is most true in the case of Jackie Brown and that's why it's so good.

It's arguably unfortunate that discussions of Fortster's death today frequently reference Jackie Brown, but he should have won an Oscar for that role and the fact that it's Tarantino's best film will benefit Forster's legacy, keeping his work and particularly that brilliant performance in the public eye.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:09 PM on October 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


He was really great as Carla Gugino's father in Karen Sisco. Sadly, hardly anyone watched the show and it died after one season.
posted by suelac at 2:26 PM on October 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


(And hey, Bridget Fonda! Was she ever better than in those scenes with DiNiro? “That’s Japan.”)

I wish she would come back to acting; it's been 17 years since her last role.
posted by octothorpe at 3:37 PM on October 12, 2019 [2 favorites]


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posted by porpoise at 9:29 PM on October 12, 2019


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posted by Gelatin at 6:13 AM on October 13, 2019


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posted by How the runs scored at 3:03 PM on October 13, 2019


I just (re)watched Jackie Brown, and whoa. He ( and Pam Grier) are so great in that.


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posted by hap_hazard at 2:28 AM on October 14, 2019


As it happens, Jackie Brown wasn't Robert Forster's only intersection with Elmore Leonard's work. He also played Marshall Sisco, the father of Karen Sisco, the eponymous heroine of the short-lived TV series Karen Sisco, based on the Soderbergh movie Out of Sight, based on the Elmore Leonard novel of the same name. I remember the series being not bad (maybe even pretty good?) but Forster himself was, as always, great. I would watch a half-hour of him reading the phone book each week.
posted by mhum at 12:29 PM on October 14, 2019 [4 favorites]


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