Jackie Brown (1997)
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Those of you who expect an energetic, stylized, violent, comic book-esque film like Pulp Fiction will not get that from this movie. Its a lot more tamed, and to say the least realistic. I love Pulp Fiction, its one of my all time favorite movies. But I doubt in the real world there would be two hit men in matching black and white suits. The scenarios of that movie, while fun and totally entertaining, aren't too realistic. Jackie Brown on the other hand has totally real characters that don't come off as too over the top.
All the actors in the movie are superb.The lead is played by actress Pam Grier who nails the role. Tarantino again shows you don't need an a-list actor to carry a movie. Grier plays Jackie Brown, an airline stuartess in her 40s. Samuel L. Jackson plays Ordell Robbie, a gun dealer who uses Jackie to bring him in money from Mexico. Robert DeNiro (in a smaller role for such a big actor) plays Louis, Ordell's friend who recent got out of jail. Bridget Fonda plays Melanie, a "blonde haired surfer girl" who lives with Ordell. Michael Keaton (my all time favorite actor)plays ATF agent Ray Nicollette who wants to take down Ordell. And Robert Forster plays Max Cherry, a bail bonds man. Without giving too much away, all of these characters in one way or another are all after $500,000 of Ordell's money. Every character in this movie is great and unique in their own way. But for me, Robert Forster steals the show. Max Cherry is without a doubt my favorite character in all of Quentin Tarantino's movies.
To some people, this movie is just a crime/heist movie. But to me there is something quite beautiful to this movie. After a few viewings of the film, you will notice that underneath it all, this movie is really about two people. Jackie Brown and Max Cherry. Two people who are middle aged, lonely, and tired of their dead end jobs. Two people that meet in a very unlikely way. Two people that together figure out a way to steal $500,000 and get away with it. Take this movie however you want it. But to me, thats the heart of the movie, and thats why the movie works so well.
In conclusion, Jackie Brown is not a graphic crime story like Reservoir Dogs or Pulp Fiction that preceded it. Nor is it a stylized revenge saga like Kill Bill vol. 1 & 2 that followed it. Instead it is a stand alone film. A wonderfully acted character study. And for me, an absolute gem of a film. It's Quentin Tarantino's underrated MASTERPIECE.
Coming as a follow up to both Dogs and Pulp, this film was going to be the `greatest movie ever made' or it was going to be met with a critical response that seems to be a bit negative. It was the hype and hyperbole around anything baring the name Tarantino that perhaps was giving every film he did higher and higher standards to meet, it is wasn't Jackie Brown that was met in this way it would have been the next film, or the next one. However the reviews were mostly good, but it did get some unfair reviews from critics who expected this to continue the upward trend. In a way I believe that this film did show Tarantino's growth as a director.
Where Pulp Fiction was dizzying in it's style and pace, Jackie Brown is much more of a mature, balanced film that is satisfying in a more traditional sense that the design of Pulp. Developed from a Leonard novel, the plot is a solid crime thriller with a good plot that still gives room for Tarantino to do some time shifting as he reveals some key scenes from different perspectives to allow us to see the bigger picture. As a story it fills the rather generous running time pretty well and is enjoyable throughout.
The film is still full of Tarantinoisms for the fans - the heavy soundtrack, the pop culture references, the witty, slick dialogue. However where the film stands out is that the characters are actually better than in his previous films where they never really went beyond the story and dialogue. Here not only are they better but they also include well-written female parts! While some of the characters are as good as they need to be within the confines of the basic crime story, it is in Jackie and Max where Tarantino has grown up a bit - although in fairness this was an adaptation rather than his own script, but he still manages them better than some of his own thin characters.
Following the praise for Pulp and Tarantino's ability to rejuvenate careers, he must have had no problem cherry picking for this role. Grier gives a great performance and should be grateful for the role in an industry that generally ignores middle-aged women (not to mention black women!). The only thing surprising about her is how poorly she has taken this big lead role and used it to take her career on. Her performance embraces her age and uses it well, but it is Forster who gives the standout performance here. Not an actor many will be aware of apart from this film, he got an Oscar nomination for this and I think he deserved it. His performance is very low-key and quite moving - I think I will appreciate his work here more as I get older. Jackson does what is expected of him and has no real character, but his energy and skill are there to see. De Niro plays a little against type and is an interesting, but underused character. Fonda is really, really sexy and has some good lines while the rest of the cast do good work in small roles with people like Keaton, Tucker and Bowen in there.
Overall I enjoy this film and can understand why it will never be loved to the extent that Pulp was and is. However to me this is a more satisfying film with an enjoyable plot and a more traditional delivery. The development of actual good characters beyond snappy dialogue is what impressed me the most and it sadden me to see him regress about a decade into style without substance with Kill Bill Vol. One.
Especially enjoyable is the performance by Robert Forster whose character I thought was outstanding. Max Cherry, played by Forster, is a tempered bail bondsman who cautiously handles his unscrupulous clients. One day he is approached by Ordell Robbie, played by Samuel L. Jackson, to post a bond for Jackie Brown, a middle aged flight attendant for a low cost airline who gets caught smuggling Ordell's fortune in Mexico into the US. The initial meeting between Jackie and Max sets up a relationship between these two characters on both professional and personal level and that changes Max from a methodical and business man to almost an innocent young boy with a crush. The last scene in the movie between these two characters is absolutely brilliant.
I highly recommend this film and it's fun to watch Tarantino mature as a director. The little extras littered throughout the film such as "Chick with Guns", the fabulous locations such as the Cockatoo Inn, and the excellent characters make this film well worth a view.
Tarantino sets a different mood here compared to the more frantic and violent Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. This is more of a slow crime story that focuses more on being cool than being shocking. I think this movie works very well despite the slow pace which seems to put a lot of people off. Mainly i think it works because the actors are all giving it their best (the casting is also excellent) while Tarantino seems to handle the whole story more gently than in Pulp Fiction. He doesn't stress it, he doesn't run the risk of over-doing the "cool" parts. The end result is enjoyable but a lot more somber than what you're used to from Tarantino.
All in all i feel this movie is underrated. It's enjoyable, well made and stylish. Recommended to those not demanding all movies to head on at breakneck speed. I rate it 7/10.
"Reservoir Dogs" (1992) and "Pulp Fiction" (1994) were two of the greatest movies ever made, and they launched director Quentin Tarantino into the realm of Mainstream Hollywood Director. Most of the time, a director faced with this reality will sink into a slew of really bad movies, but so far Tarantino has been either extremely lucky or extremely talented - his third feature film, although lacking in the brutality of its predecessors, contains just as much wit. Based upon the Elmore Leonard novel "Rum Punch," it's packed with the clever dialogue that Leonard is known for in his writing. It's also got a good amount of style, too. It's not a typical Tarantino movie, but is that necessarily a bad thing? In this particular instance, no.
Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) is a flight stewardess forced into running jobs for Ordell (Samuel L. Jackson), a ruthless criminal who has no respect for life - or death, for that matter. However, during one of her smuggling efforts, a couple of FBI Agents (including Michael Keaton) nab her and offer her a deal: If she helps them get Ordell, she will be let free from custody. The Feds do not know who Ordell is, but they know he exists, and that is where Jackie comes in. She reluctantly agrees to participate in their sting operation, but all is not what it seems. And when $500,000 dollars disappears from his retirement fund, Ordell stops, thinks, and arrives upon the conclusion that we all anticipate with glee: Jackie Brown did it.
His partner in crime, Louis (the wonderful Robert De Niro), also decides to double-cross Ordell, with the help of a sexy blonde ditz named Melanie (Bridget Fonda), The movie's twisting plot line and intersecting story lines is very reminiscent of "Pulp Fiction," and De Niro's underrated performance is a real stand-out. The movie's quite well made and enjoyable.
Don't misinterpret what I'm saying. This is no "Reservoir Dogs," nor does it want to be. It's not in the same vein as Tarantino's other movies, at least not at a superficial level. However, it is extremely entertaining, helped along by a great cast and a terrific script. The only difference here is that Tarantino did not come up with everything by himself. He adapted the screenplay from another source, something he usually doesn't do. But there's also a little-known fact that Roger Avary co-wrote some of "Dogs" and "Fiction" with Tarantino, as well as sparked the idea for some of his films. Here, Quentin adapts Leonard's novel and does justice. People who say it isn't as good as his other movies because it's recycled obviously don't know what they're talking about.
Tarantino started out as a video store clerk, and is the movie buff's filmmaker. Not only does Tarantino share a deep passion for films, but he also knows what most of the real movie enthusiasts want. He has yet to disappoint me with any of his directorial efforts. His own life story would make an interesting movie, and indeed it did with "True Romance," partially based on Tarantino's own self-image of himself. (A geek working at a comic book store falls in love and goes off of an adventure into a new realm -- in Tarantino's own case, it was film-making. For Clarence, from "True Romance," it was drugs and murder.)
Tarantino has a flair for raw energy in all of his films, and "Jackie Brown" is no exception. The movie is bursting at its edges, packed with wild antics and the occasional fierce brutality. The movie was criticized by Tarantino's die-hard fans for being too different from his other films. However, the mistake of many directors is to repeat the same formulas over and over again. One must at least give Tarantino credit for trying new things in each of his films. If anything, the only thing that Tarantino likes to insert into all his films is a large source of energy. And is that a bad thing?
A tired airline stewardess (Pam Grier as the eponymous character) sees a slim window through which she could escape to a more leisurely life. However, she will have to steal money from a nasty small-time arms dealer and convince the Feds she is trying to help them get the dealer. Can she make it work? On her side is bail bondsman Max Cherry (Robert Forster) who, we think, might want to squeeze out that window with her.
However, she has to outwit the venal Ordell Robbie (Sam Jackson) who we see is not the nicest guy in the world. Robbie is assisted by the dim-witted pothead ex-con Louis (Robert DeNiro) and his possibly-smarter-than-she-looks snow bunny Melanie (Bridge Fonda).
On the other is the law, in the person of Mark Dargus (Michael Bowen) and Ray Nicolette (Michael Keaton). She has to convince the Feds she is complying with the terms of her agreement with them and she has to convince Ordell that she is not scamming him. It's a hell of a balance. Can she do it?
Great music, typically a-bit-too-clever dialogue as one might expect from Tarantino. Tarantino features LA's grittiness in a way that those of us Angelenos who know that the Southland isn't all Beverly Hills and Hollywood really appreciate. The acting is fantastic. You've never seen Robert DeNiro act like this. He's dopey with a lot of repressed anger. DeNiro gets the essence of a conflicted ex-con. Robert Forster is competent and confident. The chemistry he has with Grier is smoldering. Sam Jackson eats up the screen in his scenes. It's like shooting fish in a barrel for him.
Pam Grier is phenomenal as Jackie Brown. You don't know just how honest Jackie is but you have sympathy for her from the get-go. Grier makes her gorgeous, smart, hard-working, sexy, confident, and diligent. It really is a shame that she hasn't had another role even APPROACHING one of this richness. It truly is a great role though and Pam Grier delivers in spades.
Tarantino still has his maverick streak though, as displayed in his trusting of Pam Grier to carry the entire movie. The casting of a middle-aged black actress with no box-office clout in the lead role can't have been easy in an industry notorious for it's scant regard for actresses after they reach 30. You can bet that the studios would have at least insisted on the safety of a Sharon Stone or a Demi Moore. But Tarantino, as he did when casting Travolta, stuck to his gut-instinct, and once again it proved an inspired choice. Grier, bringing with her the memories of her 70's blackploitation movies, gives a convincingly tough, wise and sympathetic performance.
Actors love to work with Tarantino because the roles he gives them will be invariably jucier than usual. That is once again the case here, although the casting isn't quite as inspired as it was in "Dogs" or "Pulp" (or "True Romance"). Samuel L. Jackson is reliably good - if hardly stretched - as an unscrupulous hustler who is not as smart as he thinks he is, and Bridget Fonda has fun as his conniving beach babe girlfriend. Robert Forster jumps at the chance to play a role with depth after years in made-for-tv hell. Robert De Niro though, despite providing some amusing moments, is disappointingly wasted as Jackson's dim-witted partner.
At times this feels like just another thriller, but every now and then Tarantino reminds you what all the fuss was about. Jackson's brutal (off-screen) dispatching of Chris Tucker in the boot of a car, as the camera slowly cranes up into the sky, is masterfully conceived and a scene, which is subtly built up to, involving a teasing Fonda and a p*****-off De Niro is as unexpected and as shocking as anything Tarantino has done before. By refusing to make a Pulp Fiction 2, Tarantino may have missed out on some easy money, but this film has enough to suggest that he will be more than just a flash in the pan.
Jackie Brown is definitely a left turn from Tarantino's films as it wasn't an original idea but rather he adapted Elmore Leonard's novel, other notable work include Out Of Sight and 3:10 To Yuma. This choice of not adapting an original story is strange but it doesn't matter anymore after you have seen it, because it's still an entertaining film. I haven't read the source material but I have read reports that this film adapts the novel accurately and that Leonard's novel is filled with dialogue. This film indeed has that element, which works in favor of Tarantino as he has a complete understanding of how to make dialogue look and sound interesting. This may be dismissed by many due to the fact that it lacks the style and charm that was found on his previous two films, the film instead takes a conventional approach to it's storytelling but personally this isn't really an issue for me as the story is still entertaining to watch unfold and Tarantino doesn't completely lose his touch with this film. True, the film relies on the story in developing it's characters rather than having them spill out words that collectively will shape their personalities, but Tarantino's dialogue and style isn't the star of the film but rather the motivations and intentions of the characters.
Looking at Quentin Tarantino's career, his films differ from one another and the director is starting to walk the same lines as Kubrick in not repeating oneself. Jackie Brown is the director's heist film and he has achieved in not grounding the film on the same style and level as the other heist films it is now compared to. The film may not scream out Tarantino but it does at the very least experiment. The heist itself was a genius in execution, how difficult it must be to have us see the same heist and not feel repetitive and tiresome. There are also moments in the film where it uses a split screen showing two moments at the same time, and the film also has unusual choices of transitions. This is the first time we get to see Tarantino's ability to let the audience gain introspection of the characters.
In order to get that dark and gritty style that the film needed, Tarantino opted for a change in cinematographer and hired Guillermo Navarro. Navarro is now known as a frequent collaborator with Guillermo Del Toro and those films usually have this murky black tone to it and the credit goes to Navarro's photography. This is also one of the main reasons that it doesn't have that look that is prevalent on the director's previous two films. Jackie Brown's look is definitely one of the reasons that the film has personality and it does allow us to perceive the story with seriousness that it demands. The film's dark tone does lose that humor that Tarantino was known for but that aspect isn't truly necessary here to engage the audience, though there are moments where it does get you laughing.
Again, Tarantino stays away from the traditional film score and fills the film up with musical nuggets that works perfectly with the scene. The previous two films touches on tracks within the Rock N' Roll and Pop genre, while here he chooses tracks within R&B genre. These tracks have so much soul in them and it does in a way throwback to the classic films that Pam Grier was in. Though I do wonder if the film would be improved using an original score, even if it retains that quality that the soundtracks give but I guess we'll never know.
The film's cast includes a return of Samuel L. Jackson and a number of stars who are known to have lost their touch, in particular Pam Grier. Honestly, I have yet to see a film that Grier is in but after this film, it proves that she has acting chops and that she brings great personality in a role that it's hard to not keep your eyes off her. Grier should have been nominated for Best Leading Actress at the Oscars that year but that is just my personal opinion. The rest of the cast were great with notable stand outs like Robert Forster and Bridget Fonda. Forster plays it more casually but not being near the borderline of laziness, while Fonda brings the sex to the role and she was able to bring the immaturity and bratiness that the role needed. Keaton and De Niro are a bit underused and their characters doesn't really have more to them that I could grasp on to. Jackson on the other hand still brings his usual style that was also found on Pulp Fiction but he changes it enough that it doesn't feel like he is repeating himself.
Jackie Brown is an entertaining crime-heist film that definitely needs much more attention. I personally felt that this film is much stronger than Reservoir Dogs but it doesn't capture the greatness that Pulp Fiction was able to give off, regardless of it's stellar cast, amazing music, excellent cinematography, and a story that had me locked on to until the end of the film.
It is, without question, Tarantino's most mature and complete work to date as a director. Mature in the sense that Tarantino here is not preoccupied with 'homages', references, style (not too much, at least), or indulging himself in his fantasies. Tarantino, for once, is primarily a storyteller, and the approach works stunningly well. "Jackie Brown" is a fantastically entertaining crime thriller that not only does justice to Leonard's source material, but in some senses improves on it (admittedly, the novel this is based on is hardly his best work). The cast is a dream for this sort of movie, and contains what is as of 2008 Robert De Niro's last truly memorable performance, the music fits perfectly, the atmosphere created is the sort you can lose yourself in for the running time of the film (which feels significantly shorter than it is), and the screenplay, with its witty exchanges, striking characters, and plentiful plot twists, keeps the viewer more than entertained. This is a truly engaging film.
Tarantino movies do it for me. I don't think he's one of the greatest directors of all time or anything, but he is a talented director with the capacity to make tremendously entertaining films. While many would prefer him to do films like "Kill Bill" I think "Jackie Brown" is a far better representation of his talent. He's certainly not completely out of his element here, there's plenty of 70's retro cool in this film, but thankfully it is contained and kept from going overboard.
Expect another "Pulp Fiction" and disappointment is an understandable reaction, but if you go into this with an open mind and expect nothing in particular you might just find that "Jackie Brown" is not only Tarantino's best but one of the most entertaining films of the 90's.
"Jackie Brown" features many "Tarantinoisms" that we have come to expect from his films; slick cinematography, a soundtrack that is perfect for the film (in this case, 1970's R&B) a rich cast of eccentric characters, a solid amount of violence and even more profanity. If there was a Tarantino film that DIDN'T include these elements, I would be disappointed. As John Travolta was dug up to star in "Pulp Fiction", Tarantino resurrects two 1970's actors, Robert Forster and Pam Grier, and both prove once again that there are few contemporary directors around who have better gut instincts and an eye for casting than he. Although there could have been many other bigger name, safer choices that would have jumped to be in Tarantino's perceived follow-up to "Fiction", the film geek once again proves that he knows best. Grier is absolutely luminous, and looks at least 10 years younger than her actual age. Better than that, she is sexy, spunky and knows what she wants. The supporting cast is also excellent, and while it's definitely film geeky to admit it, like the actors who appear in the ensemble films of Paul Thomas Anderson or Wes Anderson, I always admire the cast of Tarantino's film because while they may not have a large or prestigious role in the film, they are always juicy characters that are sometimes played against type. I loved seeing Michael Keaton as a hard-faced, leather jacket clad fed, and Robert DeNiro, who can chew scenery better than a lot is fantastic as the quiet, shlubby and slobby sidekick.
Anyone who approached "Jackie Brown" looking for a Pulp Fiction sequel was probably either somewhat disappointed or, like me, encouraged that Tarantino can not only do flashy, but can spin a good story as well. And perhaps even more importantly, he wasn't a two-trick pony with the inspired films "Pulp Fiction" and "Reservoir Dogs". While I have mixed feelings about Tarantino the man, (I am endeared to his almost autistic-knowledge of film and his inherent film geekiness, but I am both fascinated and repelled by his almost constant hysteria and, particularly in the infancy of his fame, his inability to turn down an acting job or engage in ceaseless self-promotion) I certainly count him among my favorite directors and anytime he releases a film, it's an event. Before seeing his latest releases, "Kill Bill Vol. 1 & Vol. 2" I lamented that he possibly took too much time off between projects, but after seeing "Vol. 1" I quickly reconsidered, saying that if he is going to consistently put out superior product, he can take as much time as he wants.
And that is why I look at "Jackie Brown", a film that wasn't quite as stellar or lauded as his others with a certain amount of fondness, because it is a great piece of work, without all of the flash, bells and whistles of its predecessor. Knowing that a "Pulp Fiction 2" would be an instant hit, Tarantino decided to go in a different direction, and it's that willingness to take a chance, even if it's not a huge leap, that makes me appreciate it that much more. It's probably my least favorite Tarantino film, but even my least favorite Tarantino film garners a better rating than 80% of contemporary cinema. Even Tarantino fans that I know let this film go under their radar, so if you are in the same boat, seek this one out; it is well worth it. 7/10 --Shelly
First, there is violence in the film, but it is not a nonstop bloodbath, which turns me off.
Second it has a very tight plot with some unexpected twists.
Finally, all of the actors without exception give really strong performances.
A really well-executed story which doesn't seem nearly as long as it is because it just keeps moving along.
"Jackie Brown" is another great movie by Quentin Tarantino. The story of a sophisticated swindle shows the return of Pam Grier to a lead role and Robert Forster in an important role. The scene in the department store is original, with different perspectives of the same event. However there is a hole since it seems that there is no investigation with the seller but the marked bills. Otherwise she would tell that Jackie Brown had found a bad with towels in the fitting room. My vote is eight.
Title (Brazil): "Jackie Brown"
But he also has a tendency to spin unique plot webs that you never really see from any other writer.
Most of the time it is the mundane tried and true "Cop and the witness against the bad guy, serial killer, mafia boss...enter cliché here" motif that you've seen in a million other movies. Elmore always takes it a step further for the sake of originality.
Instead of the same old thing you have the Bail bondsman and the middle-aged Stewardess against two corrupt ATF agents and an arms dealer with delusions of grandeur.
What could be better? You have the pairing of Leonard and Tarantino, two masters of dialogue, two masters of entertaining plot lines that come together to give you a little gem of a film that you will never see the like.
I'll go over the plot and then review it. Ordell Robbie(Jackson) is an illegal arms seller. One of his aquaintences Beaumont Livingston(Tucker) was put in jail for carrying a machine gun that he bought from Ordell. Ordell goes to Max Cherry (Forester) and gets a 10,000 dollar bond to get Beaumont out of jail. After getting him out, Ordell pays Beaumont a visit and kills him.
Later.....while walking in the airport parking lot from her job as a stewardess, Jackie Brown(Grier) is stopped by two FBI agents Mark Dargas(Bowen) and Ray Nicholette(Keaton). They check her bags and we soon figure out that Beaumont told everything to get out of going to jail. Jackie is Ordell's money runner for the guns he sells. Unfortunately, in the money bag for him, the buyer had slipped in some cocaine for Ordell and Jackie goes to jail. Ordell goes back to Max and has him move the 10,000 dollars from Beaumont to Jackie. Max drives her to her house and is beginning to fall for her. Ordell goes to Jackies house to try to kill her, but Jackie stole Max's gun and protects herself. This all spirals into fooling Ordell out of 40,000 dollars.
My review: 9 out of 10. Robert Deniro and Bridget Fonda were excellent together as Ordell's friend and girlfriend. Keaton has a gem role that's small but important. Grier and Forester are in their best roles ever and Jackson is good as always. This movie is not fast paced but has so much interesting dialogue that makes up for it. Tarantino knew what he was doing.
R for language, some brief bloody violence, drug content and a brief scene of sexuality(between Deniro and Fonda)
The thing that defines the film from Tarantino's other work is that is not his own creation (or his own ripoff of someone else's creation) but a legitimate adaption of a novel. Tarantino's style was never that conventional and when you see him working within conventional cofines, which is sort of what this is, despite being a vibrant-feeling piece, his whole style just doesn't work and he can't acomodate proper pacing. Tarantino's style is suited to fast-pased thrillers or just things told of out of sequence. When he tells a character-driven crime story in a rather linear matter, his very superfluous direction and writing ends up chugging the whole thing down, when it should be either speeding the thing up or directing more so its focus. The opening is more in line with his type of films, but once it gets into relationships and more complex elements of story and character, the thing just kind of drags.
It's got so much good in it, with great acting and great dialouge, but Tarantino just doesn't pace it right cause he can't handle a story of this type and the movie ends up feeling a bit boring, by the time you're finished. Still, though, it's got so much good in it, that it's not necessarily a bad way to spend an afternoon but maybe there'll be a point, where you wish it were it over, when there's probably still a good amount to go.
Working from master pulper Elmore Leonard's novel "Rum Punch", Tarantino had a concrete base from which to build on, which he does with aplomb. Cleaving close to the spirit of Leonard, Jackie Brown is rich with glorious chatter, each conversation either pings with a biting hard ass edge, or alternatively deconstructing the vagaries of the human condition.
Oh for sure Jackie Brown is talky, but nothing is ever twee or pointless, it's a film that pays rich rewards to those prepared to grasp the characters on show, to be aware that all is building towards the final third. It's then here where the story brings about its stings, with a complex operation cloaked in double crosses and evasive captures, of violence and more...
There's a wonderful portion of the story that sees Tarantino play the same sequence out from different character perspectives, but it's not indulgent. Tarantino reins himself in, not letting stylisations detract from the characters we are so heavily involved with. His other triumph is bringing Pam Grier and Robert Forster to the fore, who both deliver terrific performances. It's through these pair, with their deft characterisations, where Jackie Brown is most poignant and purposeful.
Is Jackie Brown undervalued in Tarantino's armoury? Perhaps it is? For it's ageless, holding up as a piece of intelligent work of note, and well worth revisiting by anyone who hasn't seen it since it was first released. 9/10
Jackie Brown differs from previous Tarantino projects in that it is adapted from a novel, rather than being an original screenplay straight from the director's brain (albeit filtered through his many cinematic influences). It contains rather less of the dialogue-for-dialogue's sake that was so integral to the appeal of Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs, so no "Royale with Cheese" business here. It still has plenty of cracking dialogue in pursuit of plot though, and scenes such as Lewis trying to explain what went wrong with the switch are glowing examples of Tarantino's black humour. Overall it's a finely constructed thing, a nod towards the lovers-in-crime sub-genre of film noir as much as it is a stylistic homage to blaxploitation. And perhaps it's those romantic undertones and the slightly more low-key violence that put off many of the less broadminded Tarantino admirers.
Always something of a minimalist behind the camera, Tarantino's visual style here is at its most simple. Like a Sergio Leone picture, every scene basically boils down to a stand-off between two characters. Tarantino mostly eschews camera movement, just giving us stripped-down shots of people glaring at each other. Of course some may miss the more flamboyant touches that could be seen in his earlier movies, but for the sake of story and character, he is better without them. Special mention must be made of the music in Jackie Brown. Tarantino is of course known for his use of popular music soundtracks, but here it is more apt and co-ordinated than ever. The opening sequence is perfectly timed to "Across 110th Street", the aching melody and lyrics setting the tone of the whole movie as Pam Grier strides along to the beat. At other times the soundtrack is even witty, as when Robert Forster steps out of the changing room. Tarantino should try making a musical one day. It'd be amazing.
The simplicity of Tarantino's approach has given more prominence to the cast. Blaxploitation star Pam Grier here gets her most significant role in years, slotting into Tarantino-world with ease and confidence. She has a lot of silences – her refusal to answer when she's asked if the envelope can be searched, the long close-up of her while Michael Bowen interrogates her offscreen – but she constantly acts through them, subtle reactions flickering across her face. Crucially she has the necessary strength of character to make us believe she would stand up to cops and gangsters. Other honourable mentions must also go to Robert De Niro, bringing presence to his small part, and his unlikely but fruitful pairing with Bridget Fonda, who matches him for comical delivery.
Jackie Brown clearly lacks the superficial pizazz and deconstructed narrative that wowed everyone in Pulp Fiction, but in its place there is a clear, strong story arc and a slightly more human, emotional slant. To my mind that's more than a fair exchange. But perhaps it's most helpful not to consider what it is or is not in comparison to its predecessor. Jackie Brown is an excellent movie in its own right.