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I would like to start by making it clear to all who read this that this is not a review of the DVD, but merely the film. I watched the film on BT VISION recently and have therefore decided to review it for others that have not seen it yet.
Released in 1997 'Jackie Brown' is written and directed by the one and only Quentin Tarantino. It was the third film that he ever made and followed the very successful and Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs. As with most of his films he managed to put together an 'A' list cast including Samuel L Jackson, Pam Grier, Robert Foster, Robert De Niro, Bridget Fonda, Michael Keaton and funny man Chris Tucker. Grier and Jackson play the leads - Grier as flight stewardess 'Jackie Brown' who the storyline follows and the film is centered around (hence the title) and Jackson 'Ordell Robbie' a big time arms dealer who has been under the watchful eye of the cops for years but has always managed to avoid prosecution much to their dismay.
Obviously, being a Tarantino film there is a lot of violence and blood loss - most of this being due to Ordell. He basically has got to the top of his game by disposing of anybody who has stood in his way or has or is likely to cause him any problems with the law enforcement agencies.
To avoid being found out Ordell always keeps himself one step removed from the live action in terms of the dealing. His money is all held in Mexico and the only business he ever does is over the telephone. Grier enables him to live the big celebrity lifestyle by smuggling in money for him from Mexico to the United States when she flies in with work. Things take a turn for the worse for Ordell when Grier is stopped at the airport by the cops and found in possession of a large amount of cash and a quantity of class A drugs in her handbag. She has a decision to make - does she keep quiet or does she blab? The film follows the twists and turns of the next few months in a battle between an arm dealer rapidly losing the grip of his business and the FBI hot on his tail. I'm not going to say anymore other than a lot of people get killed along the way, but you could probably have guessed that anyway being a Tarantino film!
So, is it any good?
I thought it was a cracking film and the time flew by as I was gripped; given that it has a runtime of 154 minutes this has to be a good thing. There is a lot of violence in the film, but not as much as you might expect. It's rather slow paced, but in a good way because everything is well explained so you're never left saying "I don't understand?" and having to rewind to see if you get it after watching the scene a second time! Samuel L Jackson is great in his role. Although he is basically a horrendous example of a human being, he manages to get over an almost likeable character, so you end up being torn as to what you want to happen. De Niro plays his usual stern self as you would expect and Robert Foster is the love interest for the main character, which throws another spanner into the mix and again lightens the mood once in a while, which is quite nice actually.
I have read that this is thought of as one of Tarantino's poorer films, but I don't see that because it is very watchable and has a decent plot, which is more than can be said for some of his others.
I give 'Jackie Brown' four dooyoo stars ****
Jackie Brown is generally regarded as Quentin Tarantino's weakest film (although personally, I'd go for Death Proof). It's hard to put your finger on quite why since it has a fantastic cast, interesting set-up and some trademark Tarantino dialogue. Yet somehow it fails to be the sum of its parts and whilst enjoyable, is not quite up to the standards we expect from ol' Banana Chin.
As with most QT films, the plot is fairly labyrinthine with layer upon layer gradually being revealed as the various plot strands come together. It kicks off with Jackie Brown - an air stewardess and money runner for a local gangster - getting picked up by the authorities. To avoid jail, she agrees to take part in a plot to entrap Ordell, her gangster employer. Ordell, meanwhile, wants to make sure Jackie doesn't talk, so the only way she can escape with her life is to convince him that she is actually double-crossing the authorities and still working with him. Throw into the equation Bail Bondsman, Max, who becomes infatuated with Jackie and wants to help her and things start to get really complicated.
As with most Quentin Tarantino films, even trying to think about the plot hurts your head! Thankfully, because he is such a skilled film maker, you never feel like this when you are actually watching it. Sure, there are times when you don't have the full picture and Tarantino uses his usual fractured narrative technique to tell the same scene from different perspectives, or features sequences slightly out of sequence. Yet, for the most part, you always know what is happening and how the current scene fits in with the overall story.
In many ways, though, this is a bit of a weakness, because Jackie Brown lacks the complexity of Tarantino's earlier films. In those, you always understood the overall thrust of the plot, but didn't really fully appreciate where it was heading until the denouement. Jackie Brown is by far the most straightforward of QT's films. It's pretty easy to guess how it's going to finish up, who will make it to the final credits alive and who will end up with the big prize. I never really thought I'd say this, but here is a Quentin Tarantino film that is (whisper it) predictable.
If the plot is slightly disappointing, it's saved by a stellar cast, an ensemble cast consisting of current big name stars, names from yester-year and a smattering of faces you recognise but can't quite put your finger on. The cast works very well together and although there are a heap of big names, you never feel that they are letting their egos get in the way of the film, or that they are vying for top-billing. As he has done in so many of his previous films, Quentin Tarantino coaxes fantastic performances out of all his leads.
Samuel L Jackson probably has the meatiest part as gangster Ordell, a man desperate to get his million dollars out of Mexico where it is currently stored, using Jackie as his courier. Jackson showed in Pulp Fiction that no-one does sweary bad-ass quite like him and whilst Ordell is a million miles from Jules (neither as witty nor as sympathetic), it's clear that Samuel L is enjoying being reunited with Tarantino, and that enjoyment rubs off on the audience.
Whilst his role might not be as showy, it's actually Robert DeNiro's Louis who steals the show. His mumbling, bumbling shambolic style makes you wonder how on earth Louis could ever have hooked up with a nasty piece of work like Ordell, and even when you find out about some of the nasty things Louis has done, it's hard not to view him with some sympathy.
On the side of the (sort of) good guys, it's 70s blaxploitation star Pam Grier who shines, along with Robert Forster's bail bondsman, Max Cherry. Despite the fact they are happy to lie, cheat and steal whenever it suits them, Jackie and Max are likeable characters and it's clear that it's them the viewer is meant to be rooting for. There are some touching moments between them and a strong sense of chemistry, although it perhaps just lacks that certain something that makes the best on-screen partnerships. As such, the film lacks a little emotional punch which would have raised it up a notch.
Throw in a few other familiar faces (Michael Keaton, Bridget Fonda) in extended cameos and you have the sort of dream cast you would expect from a Tarantino film, all turning in excellent performances and (in some cases) working against type, but trusting the story and the director to bring everything together in a good film.
What's slightly disappointing is the lack of Tarantino's trademark banter between characters (the equivalent of the "Royale with Cheese" conversation in Pulp Fiction or the "tipping" debate in Reservoir Dogs). Whilst there are a few instances of nicely crafted dialogue, it's not in the same league as earlier films.
The final issue is one that affects all of Tarantino's films: it is littered with bad language. Barely a scene (indeed, barely a line) goes by without one character or another uttering an obscenity. Virtually no swear word is left unused, although as with most Tarantino movies, the F word and the N word are very over-used. If you find bad language offensive, you're not likely to watching Jackie Brown beyond the five minute mark.
As I said at the start, this is a strong candidate for Tarantino's weakest film to date... But then that's a bit like saying a freshly boiled kettle is slightly hotter than a pan of water that came to the boil two minutes ago - it's all relative. Jackie Brown only appears weaker because the previous films had all been something different and special. You could argue that Tarantino is a victim of his own success, having raised our expectations to unrealistic levels. Jackie Brown might be a little more formulaic, but it's still a good film!
Direction: Quentin Tarantino
Running time: approx. 154 minutes
(c) Copyright SWSt 2012
I'm yet to watch a Tarantino film that I don't like, so it's kind of a testament to the director that this isn't one of his best, yet I still think it's great. As per usual, it's the characters and the conversations that make it riveting, as well as some very recognisable actors and a score that fits the film perfectly.
The premise is simple - the titular character, played by Pam Grier, is an air hostess who has taken a bit of a downgrading at work. In short, she doesn't have as much money coming in as she used to. Ordell Robbie (Samuel L Jackson) is an arms dealer needing someone just like Jackie, and so he enlists her help for trafficking the money. However, cop Ray Nicolette (Michael Keaton) has been tracking Ordell and needs a way to catch him, so he approaches Jackie and coerces her into helping him as well. Stuck in the middle, and with things getting more and more complicated, Jackie soon finds that she's got herself deeply involved in something she wished she hadn't. But maybe she's a bit more astute than everyone thinks she is.....
The thing I like the most about this is just how deep everything is. Tarantino never shies away from getting something to be complicated, in fact he thrives on it and achieves what I'm sure most directors would struggle to do at the same time as maintaining their own style. The cast as ever remains strong, with Robert De Niro and Bridget Fonda dumbing down their usual abilities to give turns as substandard cons looking for a quick buck, Chris Tucker a fast mouthed jailbreaker with a quick mouth and a short role, and the ever present Robert Forster in a smooth role as a potential love interest for Jackie as a bail bondsman.
The deepness extends to the plot as well, because if you think about it all that is happening is one crook is trying to get some money from A to B. Jackson is effortless as Ordell, once more completely at home in the role that Tarantino has written for him. This actor director combination is one of the best I enjoy watching, and has always produced quality one liners, speeches and bulks of scenes that have me riveted to the screen whenever they're on.
But what makes this different to the usual Tarantino film is the constant violence. This is more of a storyteller film and involves tension and potential violence and things turning sour, whereas the majority of Tarantino's other films have things turning sour and violent early on, and the characters and scenes descend into this sort of freedom to do whatever they choose and act naturally with a violent undertone all the way through. I feel this lends itself well to Tarantino, especially as he uses this for visual effects and colouring quite well. Jackie Brown though relies more on your concentration and looking at the events unfolding and how the story pans out as opposed to the action entailed in the film.
It's almost like it's a toned down version of other films he has made, and at times it just doesn't quite have the same edge that his more violent films do. It seems weird to me to say that less violence is worse, but in this case I did find that it just wasn't the same. The genius is still there, I just felt it was lurking just round the corner as opposed to being fully unleashed to us right from the word go. There are flashes and moments towards the end where De Niro's character just gets frustrated and starts going a bit nuts, and I thoroughly enjoyed this, but even though these moments were few and far between, the film was still excellently written and delivered, it was just missing that edge that the rest of his films have. Recommended.
Of all Tarantino's films, this is the one that lacks something, and for once you can see that on the screen. So it is Tarantino's weakest film. And yet, it's still massively superior to most other films. It still has all of Tarantino's spark, including the violence, the excellently crafted plot, the action and the ever sharp and witty dialogue. But it's a longer film, and sometimes is too slow. But, the pace really is the only problem with it. Everything else from the plot and the acting, through to the action and dialogue is as sharp as a razor. Jackie Brown is was also the first film that Tarantino adapted from a book. Before this, everything had been an original idea. It has an outstanding cast, including Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster, Robert De Niro, Michael Keaton and Bridget Fonda. It also pays homage to numerous blaxploitaton films that were made in 70's.
The film is set in Los Angeles in 1995. It starts in a hotel as Jackie Brown, who is an airline stewardess for a small mexican airline. This is the latest step down for her in her career. Her job hover, has enabled her to get a small but profitable job as a money smuggler for gun runner Ordell (Samuel L. Jackson).
However, she has been under watch for some time, and finds herself drawn into a plot to get Ordell with the ATF, an American enforcement agency.
At the same time, we meet the seemingly cool but totally ruthless Ordell as he kills one of his workers (a young Chris Tucker), who was on the verge of turning into an informant for the ATF..
This is why the ATF uses Jackie, or attempts to use er. But she's not so easy to break, even with all the threats that ATF agent Ray (Michael Keaton) throws at her.
Soon though, Ordell worries that Jackie might turn informant, and goes to kills Jackie. However, she gets the upper hand, and tells him that she will give the police false information so he can retire.. At the same time, she hatches a plan to steal the money from him.
To assist with the plan, Ordell gets the help of his annoying girlfriend Melanie (Fonda) and dim-witted crook Louis (Robert De Niro).
However, as with all Tarantino films, things start to go wrong and soon no one know who to trust, leading to some brilliant action sequences, some ever sharp dialogue and a great climax.
This is a slick, smooth film with a lot of action, some sharp Tarantino style dialogue and his usual violence. As always, there is nothing simple about the plot, and the film jumps from one scene to another very quickly between several separate plots. You're always engrossed in the film, as there is nearly always something on. However, this does suffer from being too long and slow at times. Tarantino could have done to cut about twenty minutes of dialogue out of this just to make it faster. There are some scenes towads the beginning and middle that are just two slow. But towards the end, the film is relentless and really takes off, becoming as good as Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction again. It also has a sharp sountrack as well.
Again, as with Tarantino's previous films, this has some fabulous character acting. The star of the show is Samuel L. Jackson, who is as cool as ice as the character of Ordell. He has some stunning lines, and is always compelling to watch on screen. But it has to be said that Pam Grier makes a career best with this film. There is also great support from Robert De Niro as the somewhat dim witted Louis 'who used to be cool', and Bridget Fonda is brilliant as the annoying Melanie.
Overall, this is a class act from Tarantino. But he tried too hard to make it classier and slicker, and it's noticeable within the first two thirds in that there are some scenes that just aren't fast paced enough. However, in the final third, this film really does take off, and the climax is a clever and tense one.
Jackie Brown is based on Elmore Leonard's novel Rum Punch and is Tarantino's homage the blaxplotation era. Following the arrest of air hostess Jackie Brown, played by Pam Grier, for possession of drugs and money, she is given a chance by the police to avoid a jail sentence by helping to snare her boss Ordell (Samuel L Jackson). The film's finale replays the same scene in which various characters attempt to get their hands on the money fronted by the police to snare Ordell. This is by far my favourite Tarantino film. As usual with Tarantino's films the soundtrack is excellent and features seventies soul records from the Delphonics and Bobby Womack. The careers of Grier Robert Forster (who plays bail bondsman Max Cherry) were both revitalised following their roles in this film. Quite rightly as the their performances are excellent as is the casting for this film overall. Robert De niro excels in a minor part as one of Ordell's associates and Michael Keaton is perfect in his role as one of the cops.
While at times I have found Quentin Tarantino's nonlinear storytelling quite frustrating, I do tend to enjoy his movies. Jackie Brown, his third as a director, may not seem like the most stylistic of his works within the first sitting -- especially when it has Pulp Fiction to contend with -- but it's a film that will grow on you each time you watch it. The leisurely pace is one of the main reasons why I like it so much.
So, what is Jackie Brown about? Well, the title character (Pam Grier) works as a flight attendant for a small Mexican airline, who also smuggles illicit arms money into America for gun merchant Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson). The FEDS soon bust Jackie and attempt to cut a deal with her to get to her boss. Feeling threatened by the law and Ordell, she hires an honest bail-bondsman, Max Cherry (Robert Forster), and attempts to work up a scheme so that no one will mess with her anymore.
The plot may sound conventional, but much of the film's enjoyability stems from the interactions between the characters. Based on the novel Rum Punch by Elmore Leonard, the dialogue is quirky, intelligent and really quite hilarious in places. The characters appear authentic: when they interact with one another you really begin to feel the chemistry between them. Conversation is much more than just a plot device: the seemingly-spontaneous reactions help develop the conflicting identities of the characters. Even if they just sat on the sofa, doing nothing in particular, you remember the moments they have together because the dialogue is so compelling.
One of my favourite scenes involves Jackson and Robert De Niro watching a "Chicks with Guns" commercial on TV, and discussing the influence of the media and guns on crime in America. Well, I say discuss, but it is actually Jackson that does most of the talking about how everyone wants to be a killer just because they saw it in the movies. De Niro just sits here, quietly nodding in response to what Jackson is saying, but part of the fun is depicting his personality from his physical reactions. During the commercial, he notices Ordell's blonde "associate" resting her toes on the rim of his glass on the coffee table, quickly begins to feel agitated, and sits up to move it. Tarantino wants you to pay attention to little things like this in the picture. The detail really is quite intriguing.
Of course, the writing wouldn't shine through without some good performances from the film's actors. Jackie Brown boasts not only an all-star cast, but an all-star cast with some strong performances.
Pam Grier is the main attraction as the title character: she is prominent both in beauty and mind; an independent, black woman plotting to deceive everybody. Robert Forster is subtle, yet incredibly likable, as the bondsman and Jackie's love interest (he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor). Jackson is hilarious in his neo-blackploitation mode, saying "nigga" and "motherfucker" at every opportunity; De Niro, as Louis the ex-con sidekick, says very little, but you know he could burst into a fit of rage at any moment. There are also notable supporting performances from Bridget Fonda, who is quite charming as the clueless, blonde sidekick, who gets high and watches TV all day; Michael Keaton is the dodgy ATF agent; and Chris Tucker is crack-head Beaumont Livingston, one of Ordell's co-workers.
Comparisons with Pulp Fiction are inevitable and may not always benefit Jackie Brown's reputation, but the latter feels like the most mature film of the two. Violence and humour is still a key feature, but not to Tarantino's usual extent, which may disappoint some of his hardcore followers. To me, however, his work feels more intelligent and a lot more meaningful here; the excellent R&B and Soul soundtrack is also a strong contribution to the laid-back feel of the whole movie.
If I had to choose, I'd pick this as my favourite Tarantino movie to date.
For all of Quentin Tarantino's works, such as Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, and the Kill Bill series, there's one film that so often becomes lost among the way - it is Tarantino's 1997 film Jackie Brown, a crime caper that's by all other standards superb, and by Tarantino's high ones, simply great.
As with Pulp Fiction, where Tarantino resurrected the career of John Travolta, here he brings 70s blaxplotation queen Pam Grier back into the limelight, playing a desperate airline hostess who is co-erced by a slimy ATF agent played by Michael Keaton (who delivers his best performance in years) into helping bring down head honcho drug dealer Ordell Robbie (Samuel L Jackson), along with his buddy that's recently been released from jail (Robert DeNiro), and a groupie-like girl that seems to fleet between both of them (Bridget Fonda). Also along for the ride is a bondsman, played by Robert Forster, who has a certain affection towards Grier's character, and Forster was also nominated for an Academy Award for his work.
Like all of Tarantino's other work, it boasts a superb soundtrack and some musings on pop culture and society. None of it is quite as pungent as the commentary he provides in Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs, but it's nevertheless a criminally underrated crime thriller with a superb cast.
Certainly one of Quentin Tarantino's minor works, Jackie Brown is nevertheless an engrossing and winding crime thriller with a collective of great performances from Robert De Niro, Samuel L. Jackson, Pam Grier, Michael Keaton and Robert Forster.
Jackie Brown (1997) is another of Quentin Tarantino's nineties offerings. Coming on the back of Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, Tarantino was a name that sold movies back then (and to a certain extent he has the same effect still today). So is Jackie Brown in the same league as these cinematic greats?
Well for me, no. However, Jackie Brown seems to be a marmite movie, you either love it or hate it. So many people I know rate this above Tarantino's other works so definitly give it a go. I have tried watching it a number of times to see if it is one of those which you just need to keep trying with, but for me it just never really hooks me in.
Set in Los Angeles in 1995 we follow the life of Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) who, in her role as flight attendant, soon becomes embroilled with money laundering and gun running operations between Mexico and the US.
This film stars Samuel L Jackson, Robert de Niro, Bridget Fonda to name just some of the big hitters and to be fair the quality of acting and the way this film looks visually are both good. In my opinion, it is puzzling how so many names which are usually associated with quality roles can together produce such an uninspiring movie. Go figure!
So what turned me off this film. Well the plot, to be honest. It seems so complex and the way each layer is introduced is, in my opinion, so badly done that for the first half of the film you are left wandering what is going on. I have watched this film a couple of times now and even with some prior knowledge, the early part of the film seems unneccesarily complex.
The film too seems more interested in appearing 'cool' and almost feels like a Tarantino by numbers production to be honest. I won't waste too many more words on it suffice to say this is only my opinion. Other people love this film...
The one redeeeming feature of note, I suppose, is the soundtrack which features some classics such as Didn't I Blow Your Mind This Time? by the Delfonics and the Bobby Womack hit Across 110th St which is the well placed opening track. One thing I will say for Tarentino is that he is unrivalled at choosing the best music to accompany his films, this film iteself however, is, for me, his weakest effort to date.
Jackie Brown was Quentin Tarantino's third film as writer and director and, coming off the success of Pulp Fiction, expectations were extremely high indeed. Luckily, the enfant terrible of 90's cinema does not disappoint in this extremely mature and engrossing tale of an air stewardess named Jackie Brown (played to perfection by Pam Grier) looking to make her fortune by ripping off a weapons dealer (Samuel L. Jackson in a typically charismatic performance) while simultaneously bamboozling the cops who are watching her every move.
The plot of this movie is extremely complex and, since much of the enjoyment comes from figuring out what's going on, I daren't say too much for risk of spoiling it. I will say, however, that Tarantino makes good use of his familiar storytelling devices (multiple perspectives, shifting vantage points, and a narrative which boomerangs through time) to construct a movie which holds your interest from the opening to end credits. Highly recommended.
Who Scams the Scammers?
Pam Greer plays Jackie Brown, a flight attendant who also works for Samuel Jackson's character who is an illegal arms dealer. She bring in the money from his deals. However, not all goes to plan and she ends up getting arrested by the FBI.
In order to save her life from Jackson she sets up a daring scam with her bail bonds man who Jackson used to get her out of prison and develops quite a crush on Jackie.
Of course, if all goes wrong then lives are at stake, and just who is scamming who?
Quentin Tarantino's third film is quite a departure from Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. It still however contains they very witty dialogue that has become his trademark. It does not contain as much violence as most of his other films, it doesn't need to as the plot is so strong, hence the 15 certificate.
The film is quite long but always keeps your attention and it's pace. Pam Greer oozes cool throughout, why she's not been in more major films is a mystery to me. Samuel Jackson as ever is excellent. Even Micheal Keaton gets in on the action as an FBI agent. DeNiro is a little underused in the film, it's not his best performance but he still plays his slightly dopey ex-con part well.
The music Tarantino has chosen is great, and really suits the mood of the film. Check out the soundtrack. This film has certainly sold many a Delphonics album.
This is perhaps Tarantino's most accomplished work, certainly streets better than his Kill Bill films. Come on Quentin, let's have more as good as this.
Main Cast List
Pam Grier - Jackie Brown
Samuel L. Jackson - Ordell Robbie
Robert Forster - Max Cherry
Bridget Fonda - Melanie Ralston
Michael Keaton - Ray Nicolette
Robert De Niro - Louis Gara
Directed By : Quentin Tarantino
Running Time : 154 Minutes
Certificate : 15
Thanks for reading.
Adapted from Elmore Leonard's novel Rum Punch, Jackie Brown is Quentin Tarantino's third outing as a director. Following the brilliant - and controversial - Reservoir Dogs and the equally good Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown has a lot to live up to. So, is it as good as its predecessors?
Lovers of Tarantino's earlier works may feel somewhat dissapointed by Jackie Brown. The film is full of Tarantino's directorial trademarks: snappy, witty dialogue; 1970s pop music, and of course his "flashback" style of storytelling, although this is less evident than in his previous works. Despite this, though, I can't help feeling as though something is missing. This is almost 'Quentin Tarantino For Dummies'.
As I said above, Tarantino makes less use of his typical flashback structure this time around. For the most part the film tells the story chronologically, rather than starting somewhere in the middle of the action and working both backwards and forwards from that point simultaneously. The flashbacks are saved for a crucial sequence in a clothing store, which we are shown three times through from three different perspectives. Unlike in Reservoir Dogs and especially in Pulp Fiction, this doesn't seem to add anything to the film. It would appear that Tarantino used this structure simply because it is unconventional. Either that, or he was paying homage of sorts to Japanese director Akira Kurosawa, who famously used the convention of one-scene-from-3-viewpoints in his 1950 masterpiece Rashomon. After seeing Tarantino's later Kill Bill films (especially Volume 1), this does not seem like too outlandish an idea.
"Enough of all that. What is it acutally about?" I can hear you asking. Well, I'll tell you. The film's title character, Jackie Brown (played by Pam Grier), is an air stewardess who supliments her income by smuggling money into America for gun dealer Ordell (Samuel L. Jackson). One day she is arrested by Federal agents while carrying a large amount of smuggled money. The only apparent way for her to stay out of jail is for her to work with the agents to catch Ordell collecting the money. Instead, she puts into motion an elaborate plot to escape with the money herself.
I won't go into any more detail about what actually happens in the film, because I don't want to ruin it for those who haven't seen it. What I will say is that you should definitely give it a try. Even if you have seen Reservoir Dogs and/or Pulp Fiction and decided to stay away from Tarantino's furutre releases - and that is perfectly understandable, given the graphicly violent nature of those two films - take the time to watch Jackie Brown. The little violence there is is generally offscreen, and there is no hardcore drug abuse. This is simply a straightforward crime/heist movie, complete with some perfectly delivered lines from Samuel L Jackson. This is watered-down Tarantino. As such, I would highly recommend it to those who enjoy simple, easy-to-watch thrillers. For those who loved his earlier films, or who simply love mindless violence, I'd say give it a miss. Get the popcorn out and rent Natural Born Killers instead.
Having just written a review for Pulp Fiction: Collector's Edition I decided it would be best to follow that up with Tarantino's follow-up, Jackie Brown.
Arguably the best adaptation of Elmore Leonard's work to hit the big screen, "Jackie Brown" was also the film that proved Tarantino could do more than just guns and heists. He could do guns, heists and relationships. Eight years on, it's lost none of its easygoing hipness and it still, to quote Samuel L. Jackson, just "too cool for school".
This two-disc Collector's Edition doesn't scrimp on extras. Quentin acts as master of ceremonies, taking us through the documentary "Jackie Brown: How It Went Down", deleted and alternate scenes, Siskel and Ebert's television review, MTV interviews, more trailers than a white-trash caravan site, TV spots, radio spots, the infamous "Chicks With Guns" video and much more. The quality of the material is occasionally dubious (De Niro's so unenthusiastic he looks like he's re-auditioning for "Awakenings") but the discs are worth their price tag for the extended interview with the director alone. His conversation's so manic you'd swear he'd just swallowed an espresso machine.
Quentin Tarantino aka a God among directors, along with the likes of Sam Mendes and David Lynch is responsible for a trio of outstanding movies that defy all cliché, or anything relatively usual. Tarantino is currently in the process of a fourth addition to these series of hard-hitting ass-kicking films, baptized Kill Bill (the name alone makes me want to wet my pants ? no please don?t run away now) and will star Uma Thurman (methinks he has a particular liking for this young lady). QT has established himself a sublime reputation that a sea of directors fail to live up to, and that?s why we love his movies so much. Since our introduction to Mr T in Reservoir Dogs we have seen coloured misters, adrenaline injected honeys and a foul-mouthed bunch of people we just love to love. (Sorry for my American terminology e.g. movies, I blame countless years of American high-school TV shows and their rotting on my poor mind). 1997 saw Tarantino?s third written-and-directed-by feature ?Jackie Brown? hit the silver screens. This edgy thriller boasts the usual suspects of Tarantino films (e.g. the biggest stars that exist on God?s green earth!) stepping into the shoes of a group of unique characters in the unseen underworld of the USA. The story is of typical Tarantino; it is rather a binding of six individual stories and their connections in a tale of conning, deceit and down-right greed. Rather reflecting on the themes of human nature might I add (Media Studies exam the other day, I?m sorry). The stories are based around $500,000 that is being smuggled across the border from Mexico to the States, Jackie Brown being the smuggler and Ordell (Jackson) the orchestrator of the operation. This part of the story is only a foundation for the rest; the six central characters and each person?s want and search for the mystery cash. The duration of the film we are left guessing as twist and turns and new revelations take the story in completely different directions. The film does start a little too slow for my liking, but I suppose that is the irony of direction from QT, he starts slow e.g. the scene in the coffee shop in Pulp Fiction and focuses on the meaningless conversation and events in life that we face every day so we find a relation to the characters; then he bombards us with fantastic storylines and nail-biting action that physically jerks you while watching. The opening sequence is a four or five minute long piece of film picturing a dare-I-say rather sexy lady (for a lady almost three times my age ? oh goodness how wrong does that sound. But she is looking? mighty fine for her age) in stewardess apparel who we come to know as Jackie Brown following her grand entrance of a walk-on and a blurring background. A 70?s theme prominent throughout the entire sequence. However, even with the introduction to our supposed central character I found my mind drifting as I was sidetracked by a floating piece of lint or a dancing light on the wall, but on second watch I came to the realisation that the slow-opening was ironic against the smack-in-the-face action that would come to follow in the next 143 minutes. From the ?slow? start the speed and intensity picks up as we are drummed to death by the characters and their part in the plot. Jackie Brown is perhaps the main focus of the story, hence the title; this stewardess with one heck of a ?tude, Pam Grier makes the transition from African-American 70s girls-kick-ass TV shows such as Foxy Brown (whereshe nabbed the title character)to 97? brown - well, with a faint sense of 70s arriving with her as a seventies throw-back (funnily enough every character in this film are time-warped to that particular decade). I suppose it is meant to make a general audience nostalgic, but me in my young age, it just promotes stereotypes of a time before my time. I don?t even think Mr Tarantino was really old enough to appreciate the era, but who am I to make assumptions when I?m sure a gre
at number of members of Ciao would think that I am too young to appreciate the whole experience of life itself. Samuel L. Jackson fits the role of Ordell an illegal gun-dealer who?s a little too big for his boots and over-estimates his role in the criminal goings-on on the backstreets of the West. He is surely foul in the mouth-region and his language is of usual Tarantino scripting, a good 95% of the words leaving his voice box are sexual or crude? Good ol? Jackson. This time round Jackson has a role of lesser importance bestowed upon him compared to the characters that exist to be natural show-stealers and best-supporting actor accumulators. His fast-talking and cringe-worthy interruptions leave one agitated as Samuel L irritates the fiery pit outta? you. That?s when you realise the spectrum of acting abilities that Mr Jackson demonstrates; you know they?re good when you want to punch them! Robert De Niro (Mr Megafame) comes from his usual ?expected? confident Mafia-boss guise to an ex-convict with an uncertainty about his lifestyle and age. His shifty shiftiness in this role physically affected me; his stammering and stuttering defined his character and it was a new side seen to De Niro; as if he is branching out from the world of one-character-playing and proving there is an actor beneath it all. Bridget Fonda plays a chain-cannabis-smoking, bikini-boasting, slim-lined, sex-goddess of an angel (that was rather long-winded) who fails to do nothing but talk complete and utter horse manure ? and yet she is one of my favourite characters in the entire film. Bridget Fonda hasn?t aged much since Single White Female I must say, she must be in her early thirties I?m sure. Maybe I?ve got some strange fetish for older women. That?s a scary thought. So young, so young. Michael Keaton, Mr Wayne (Batman for all you people out there living in a cocoon; yes all of you who did not understand my oblique cultural reference!) exceeds Jackson
in irritating me. Keaton?s character as a self-loving cop who tries too hard to fill the shoes of the cops in the movies. I was full body cringing through embarrassment in his scenes as his alter-ego is rather pathetic. Robert Forster was nominated for Best-Supporting Actor for Jackie Brown at the Oscars in 1997, but I?m not sure if he won (Lol, how stupid does that sound, I was only nine at the time though!) but his performance was outstanding. He was lonely, and lost in a crime filled world; as a bails bondman trying to fit in. He is the personification of ?uncool? and meeting hip, cool, sexy Jackie Brown he falls into some sort of love; a distorted, African-American music influenced love. This movie has it all and flaunts it all. It even features my favourite convention of cinematography; the expected time-split in Tarantino film-making where it features the same event happening but from three different perspectives, I found this to be visually astounding and it pretty much defined the film which somewhat lacks that ?thing? that existed in Pulp Fiction overall. The underlying humour of a somewhat grave storyline (drugs, crime, death etc.) works terrifically with the characters; in which they each have their moments. The ?sex scene? which arrives part-way through the film is crude and yet bloomin? hilarious. Samuel L. Jackson stole almost every punch-line, and I feel sometimes he has an unfair advantage being Tarantino?s directors-pet and being an uber-star in relation to those such as Pam Grier for instance. Throughout the film I think I was continually disappointed in a way ? I thought Jackie Brown was Grade A quality movie-making, it?s plot, characters, involvement etc. can only be described as ?excellent? but I think it lacked that certain X-factor that existed in Jackie Brown?s predecessors. I somehow feel that if this film had come from a different director I would have enjoyed it more ? it wouldn?t have it?s big broth
ers ?Pulp Fiction? and ?Reservoir Dogs? to live up to. ?My ass maybe dumb, but I?m no dumbass?? Jackie Brown is an essential piece of viewing to Tarantino fanatics, those who wish to reminisce on the seventies with the funky beat of 70s R&B cropping up every couple of minutes or those who just have a love for offbeat thrillers that capture reality in a completely far-fetched situation (or so it seems to me with my head buried under much sand; no crime like this exists in my little brain). Jackie Brown kicks be-hind.
I looked toward watching “Jackie Brown” with very, VERY high expectations that this would be one of the all-time great gangster films of our modern era. I mean, when you look at the credentials, there’s no escaping it, isn’t there? Quentin “Pulp Fiction” Tarantino, master of everything slick, witty, cool and violent adapts Elmore Leonard’s crime novel “Rum Punch”. Elmore Leonard, you say? Well, he was only that guy who wrote the novel, that the fantastic George Clooney vehicle “Out Of Sight” was based on. He’s only one of the best crime novelists EVER, combining (mostly) original storylines with some of the best lines I have heard for ages. This movie seems like the damn holy grail! You have the two major driving forces of original, witty modern crime thrillers teaming up today, each with his own style- Tarantino loving everything explicit, bloody, quickfire and funny while Leonard always goes for a more subtle, often laid back approach to his most famous novels. But Tarantino isn’t just any action-mad director (i.e. he isn’t John Woo etc.), he’s the director of “Pulp Fiction”, which is sure to star in most people’s top five movies of all time lists. I mean, who could forget the wit, the charisma, the hyper-violence that “Pulp Fiction” introduced to the wider world, or the controversy about it’s glamorisation of crime that surrounded it? Who could forget the numerous Oscar nominations, the all-star cast and the flipping timespans? But, Tarantinto didn’t only co-write and direct “Pulp Fiction”, before that his debut movie was “Reservoir Dogs”, which hogged the headlines with a certain “ear scene”. But enough of my expectations, the hype and Tarantino’s fantastic two films prior to this. Let’s get on to how good this film actually is… Unfortunately, this film
is not equal to the sum of its parts. Something is lacking, some kind of spark is absent from its midst. Yes, Tarantino did assemble his biggest all-star cast yet, which includes: Pam Grier Robert Forster Samuel L. Jackson Robert De Niro Bridget Fonda Michael Keaton Chris Tucker But something has gone eerily wrong during this film’s execution. Some kind of pace is missing; some kind of magic is not present. Maybe, I’m going a bit too far. This is still an immensely watchable, and often hilarious movie about bums at the lower tier of the mob’s chain and is about on par with the quality of Scorsese’s Goodfellas or Coppola’s Godfather Part Two. However, it is miles behind the peerless originality and fun of “Pulp Fiction”. I’d put this down to the book Tarantinto decided to adapt. It’s a bloody love story. Yes, I know- there’s a heist, there’s drugs (frequent marijuana use), there’s a hot Bridget Fonda sex scene, there is shooting and violence (but not THAT much) and there is a s**tload of swearing (excuse the pun, I couldn’t help it). But at the heart of all the scamming, it’s a love story between middle-aged Pam Grier and the geriatric Robert Forster. Now, if you put that in the trailers instead of showing badass Samuel L. Jackson smoking pot, shooting some dudes and saying some kick ass jokes, see how much profit you’ll get! You see, Tarantino doesn’t do love stories, Tarantino does people being sodomised, people being slashed with karate swords, people’s brains being randomly blown out, weird Bible quotes, stabbing a women in her breasts with an antidote after she’s had a drug overdose and Tarantino does people’s ears being slashed open. Tarantino does everything furiously, hardcore and keeps the action relentless at all times. A laid-back heist caper interwined with a love yarn is just not his bag. Also, the soundtrack to this is all wrong. I know, Tarantino was trying to mimic 70s blaxploitation flicks (already obvious by having Pam Grier as leading lady) but I think he goes a bit overkill on the soul and disco to the point that when you hear the film’s theme tune for the third time, you wish you were hearing Pulp Fiction’s fabulous flamenco-driven music. What is also worrying is the lack of violence in this film. People see Tarantino flicks to see insanely violent scenes, certificate 18 scenes. I counted about six gunshots during the whole course of this movie, with minimalist gore, the only random and unexpected act of violence (a Tarantino trademark) being (WARNING: SPOILER AHEAD) when De Niro suddenly shoots Fonda in the chest and stomach for her being “annoying”. The much hyped Fonda sex scene is also a bit of a let down, but this was expected considering the film is only a 15. But, she does look HOT wearing a bikini for the whole of the film, flashing her tits through her bikini top continuously. That said, the acting here is top notch. Grier, forever doomed into that “female Shaft” cesspit, does a wonderful understated take on the title character. Michael Keaton is an absolute joy as the officer interrogating her about her relationship with Samuel L. Jackson’s Ordell. He has some classy lines, such as: (Grier lights up a cigarette) Keaton: Did I give you permission to smoke? Grier: Can I smoke…please…? Keaton: No! Back to Samuel L. Jackson, his character here is no match for his bible-quoting, brain-blowing, gun-toting assassin in Pulp Fiction, but that isn’t down to him, but Ordell’s naivety, and his basic down and out arms dealer. Although Jackson’s occasional spark does shine through often: Jackson: AK-47, when you absolutely, positively have to kill every motherf**ker in the room, there is no altern
ative! Bridget Fonda plays here beach stoner down to a tee, conveying the insecurity, pathos and relentless bitchiness of her character, the part time girlfriend of Ordell. She has one outstanding line: Fonda: (after insulting her old Japanese boyfriend for him being crap at speaking English) I shouldn’t be saying that, I mean his English is better than my Japanese. Robert De Niro, usually king of these movies, takes a backward role here, being much more of a “filler” character who doesn’t really do or say much and rarely adds to the creativity of the story, he’s just there… as a bum! Chris Tucker, well that just depends on if you like the Rush Hour films or if you hate them. I personally love them so, although he only has about 10 minutes screen time before he dies a bloody death, he is always an enigmatic screen presence. In brief, you can look at “Jackie Brown” as Tarantino’s post “Pulp Fiction” movie. A film to please his eager fans while some fresh material settles into his head. Hopefully that material is “Kill Bill”, starring Uma Thurman, which will be released October of this very year. Thank you for reading, I really hope you enjoyed that as much as I hated writing it. Chow, MakeMeOver
I like to think I know my cinema. I can bandy the word ?noir? around when I get confused, rattle off a dozen French director?s names to impress the chicks, and slag the mass-produced Hollywood blockbusters like I?d be the first to knock $20 million back to star in The Mummy VI. However, the big question I ask, come the end of any film, is, ?Was that cool, or did it suck?? It?s a technical analysis, but one that serves me well. In the case of Quentin Tarantino?s 1997 offering, Jackie Brown, the answer to the all-important question is ?Yes?. Jackie Brown is a very cool film. Although based heavily on ol? Elmore Leonard?s novel Rum Punch, Jackie Brown is clearly a Tarantino event. The collection of big-namers filling quirky roles, and the depiction of parallel storylines has Pulp Fiction written all over it. However, unlike Pulp Fiction (and Reservoir Dogs), Jackie Brown doesn?t rocket along. At over two and a half hours, this film meanders along like a pothead?s day off. It?s a cool meandering though, with interesting characters. If Tarantino does anything well, it comes in the form of conjuring up cool, ?watchable? characters. All up, Jackie Brown is another winner for Tarantino. A triple cross in the making ? The story Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) is a forty-something flight attendant. She?s been bumped down her particular career ladder until the stage where she?s now working for a dinky little airline that flies back and forth between California and Mexico. Age is not on her side, and without a nest egg she finds herself smuggling money and drugs for a budding arms dealer by the name of Ordell Robbie (Samuel L.Jackson). The film kicks off with Jackie on her most recent return from Mexico with a bag full of cash for Ordell. Making her way out of the airport she gets nabbed by ATF officer, Ray Nicolet (Michael Keaton) and co. After being sat down for a deep and meaningful talk with the law, Jackie?s faced with a heavy prison senten
ce. It?s apparent though that the ATF boy, Nicolet, is far more interested in bringing down the big-fish, Ordell. Thus Jackie offers her assistance in launching a sting to catch the arms dealer red handed. However, Ordell?s not a man to be messed with. His reputation for dispensing violent retribution, on anyone that hinders his business success, is well known. Accordingly, Jackie finds Ordell and immediately tells the arms dealer about what the ATF plans, and adds a tasty little suggestion for a double cross. Ordell accepts. Looking after Ordell?s interests may save Jackie?s life, but she?s well aware that it wouldn?t be much of a life to live. She?s bound to lose her job, and who?s going to employ a middle-aged woman with a criminal record? Using all her wiles, Jackie comes up with a plan. To triple the cross, Jackie enlists the aid of her bail bondsman, Max Cherry (Robert Forster), who has taken an obvious fancy to her. Together they plan to hoodwink both Ordell and the ATF and spirit away with a lot of money ? enough money for the aging flight attendant to live comfortably for the rest of her life. Thus the stage is set, with three camps maneuvering to get what they want on a very tight time line. We?re left to see who succeeds. A galaxy of stars ? the acting As mentioned at the beginning of this review, Jackie Brown contains the usual Tarantino-esque collection of stars. To blurt them out, before I select my highlights, Jackie Brown?s cast includes Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster, Robert De Niro, Michael Keaton and Bridget Fonda. Jackie Brown signals the comeback of Pam Grier for her fans. It?s a glistening comeback, that, sadly, didn?t result in any further major roles. However, as Jackie the aging flight attendant performing a mad juggling act, she?s superb. Of particular note is her ability to convey the angst of a lonely middle-aged woman who?s painfully aware that her best years of em
ployment and security are behind her. It?s the type of character that?s not often featured (especially in a Tarantino film) and Pam Grier performs it with spirit. Who better to play a charismatic gangster than Samuel L. Jackson? As Ordell Robbie, Jackson?s all street wisdom and cool, complete with a trademark ?Kanga? hat worn backwards. If you didn?t get enough of him in Pulp Fiction, then you?ll be pleased with his performance in Jackie Brown. In two of the quirkier roles are Robert De Niro and Bridget Fonda. De Niro plays an old crim that?s recently been released from the joint and is hanging out with Ordell. In much the same way as Bruce Willis was happy to share the limelight in Pulp Fiction, De Niro?s happy as a secondary character in Jackie Brown. As always, De Niro?s a pleasure to watch. The highlight of De Niro?s role comes when Bridget Fonda?s character, Melanie begins to get on his nerves. Melanie?s Ordell?s ?little surfer girl?, who sits around cheerfully smoking drugs and pulling her pants down for the occasional bit of sex. Like De Niro, Fonda seems happy to play this little part to the best of her ability. More F words than you can poke a stick at ? The dialogue. I?ve never been an arms dealer, or a crim of any sort for that matter. Accordingly, I?m left taking Tarantino?s word for the sort of dialogue that bounces back and forth between the ?badder? members of Western society. If Tarantino?s right, then they swear a lot. Jackie Brown is dialogue heavy, with each of the character?s chipping in with long conversations in between the films bursts of action. As with the swearing, some viewers will consider the dialogue excessive. However, I didn?t. I felt that it provided the characters with necessary depth. For instance, without a few long ramblings by Jackie to Max Cherry we never would have discovered her anxiety over her age and her future financial well-being. I can hear you blood-thirsty ps
ychos out there thinking, ?Where?s the violence? Has Tarantino gone soft?? Relax! Jackie Brown coughs up enough violence to keep your hunger pangs at bay. It?s not the abattoir of blood that Reservoir Dogs was, but there?s enough shootings to keep you happy, and it?s all delivered in classic Tarantino style. Joe?s final word In case it hasn?t become apparent, Jackie Brown shouldn?t sit on the shelf next to Aladdin. It?s definitely not suitable for the kiddlywinks. Additionally, if politically incorrect concepts, violence, and heavy profanity upset you, then Chitty Chitty Bang Bang might be a better option for your viewing this Friday night. Jackie Brown is cool. In many ways, I rate it higher on the cool chart than Pulp Fiction, or any of Quentin Tarantino's other films for that matter. Accordingly, I?m giving this film five big stars. If it were any cooler it?d be the Fonz. Cheers for reading! ~Joe
The curiosity of Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown is Robert Forster's worldly wise bail bondsman Max Cherry, the most alive character in this adaptation of Elmore Leonard's Rum Punch. The Academy Awards saw it the same way, giving Forster the film's only nomination. The film is more "rum" than "punch" and will certainly disappoint those who are looking for Tarantino's trademark style. This movie is a slow, decaffeinated story of six characters glued to a half million dollars brought illegally into the country. The money belongs to Ordell (Samuel L Jackson), a gunrunner just bright enough to control his universe and do his own dirty work. His just-paroled friend--a loose term with Ordell--Louis (Robert De Niro) is just taking up space and could be interested in the money. However, his loyalties are in question between his old partner and Ordell's doped-up girl (Bridget Fonda). Certainly Fed Ray Nicolette (Michael Keaton) wants to arrest Ordell with the illegal money. The key is the title character, a late-40-ish flight-attendant (Pam Grier) who can pull her own weight and soon has both sides believing she's working for them. The end result is rarely in doubt, and what is left is two hours of Tarantino's expert dialogue as he moves his characters around town. Tarantino changed the race of Jackie and Ordell, a move that means little except that it allows Tarantino to heap on black culture and language, something he has a gift and passion for. He said this film is for an older audience although the language and drug use may put them off. The film is not a salute to Grier's blaxploitation films beyond the musical score. Unexpectedly the most fascinating scenes are between Grier and Forster: glowing in the limelight of their first major Hollywood film after decades of work. --Doug Thomas