Aging, as a staged theme, provokes other forms of performance to become strained and uncertain
“She was also an actress, which made the discussions of her even more real because she could be anything. She was a good actress, she was brilliant at pretense. She was more real in suspended disbelief than most things are just standing there. Her body, the one that you touch with your hands, unfolded into other people, and she was so sunk into performance that things got funneled into moments as hard as diamonds. The moments shimmered and hung in the air, they were at her fingertips, they were her craft.” —Eve Babitz, Eve’s Hollywood
“She was a great actress, but only in real life.” —Hilton Als, White Girls
THERE is a 30-second scene at the end of Quentin Tarantino’s 1997 revved-up blaxploitation film Jackie Brown where Ms. Brown (Pam Grier) is practicing. She’s practicing to brassily draw her gun, a firearm named a Colt Detective Special. With the gun carefully placed in an open desk drawer, easily reachable, Ms. Brown purses her lips three times, sometimes smiling, always grabbing the gun and pointing, punctuated by a sigh. In each sequence, part of a triptych, her left forearm is posed gracefully on the desk, in secretary-like fashion. She is bracing herself for what’s to come; she is staring beyond the camera. The eponymous heroine is a flight attendant for a crappy Mexican airline and, in conjunction with her lack of professional success, is often described as a “middle-aged woman,” struggling to get what’s hers.