Review by Michael Jacobson
Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster, Robert De Niro, Bridget
Fonda, Michael Keaton
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Features: See Review
Length: 154 Minutes
Release Date: August 20, 2002
47…the very best there is. When
you absolutely, positively have to kill every mutherf—ker in the room.
Accept no substitutes.”
a director ever scored a more exciting triple play with his first three movies
than Quentin Tarantino? Maybe Paul
Thomas Anderson, but few other names come to mind. Tarantino flexed his audacious artistic muscle for all to
marvel at in Reservoir Dogs, then he boldly used that muscle for a
strange, non-linear cinematic journey in Pulp Fiction that audiences
would either surrender to or give up on. Surrender
they did, to the tune of over $100 million at the box office.
Jackie Brown, Tarantino settles into an unmistakable yet comfortable
groove. It’s a film by an artist
who no longer feels he has to prove himself.
He’s concentrated all his energies into his story, his characters, and
his style, which, from a purely cinematic point of view, has never been more
daring yet more suited to the story at hand.
on the novel Rum Punch by Elmore Leonard, Tarantino mixes the crime drama
with a little 70s energy, blaxploitation style. He imagined it a perfect comeback vehicle for legendary
screen star Pam Grier (even though in the novel, the character is Caucasian),
and he was right…it’s only too bad that more producers didn’t recognize
what a hunk of dynamite she was and give her that comeback she was so fully due,
a la John Travolta in Pulp Fiction.
plays the title character as a stewardess caught between a rock and a hard
place. To support her piddling
income from her job on the worst airline in the country, she occasionally runs
money in from Mexico to illegal gun supplier Ordell (Jackson).
But a recent snag in the operation lands her in the custody of two ATF
agents, including Ray (Keaton), who makes it plain that he’s not interested in
her; only Ordell. If she helps
spring the trap, she’ll avoid jail. But
Ordell has a habit of getting to those who could speak his name before their
mouths ever open. What will she do?
the help of an enamored bail bondsman, Max (Forster), the desperate Jackie
begins to piece together the plot that might keep her alive and out of jail at
the same time. On the other side,
Ordell has placed his stock in several unlikely characters, the somewhat dim
Luis (De Niro) and the perpetually stoned Melanie (Fonda) to name two.
The fact that they end up engrossed in the unfolding plot is just one of
the ways Tarantino keeps us guessing…we know things can go wrong, but will
they, and how much?
crux of the film involves the intricate execution of Jackie’s plan, which
Tarantino shows us from different points of view…a brilliant stroke, possibly
a nod to Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing, but in this case, it’s more
indicative of Tarantino’s own style of fracturing and/or replaying time lines.
What we do or don’t see at critical moments has tremendous impact on
the way we view the story, which he reveals to us only a layer at a time.
We see how it all comes together…or in at least one case, how it all
goes to pieces.
always, Tarantino finds a perfect and dynamic cast to carry out his vision.
De Niro shines in an unusual role for him, playing mostly quiet against a
hubbub of activity around him. Jackson
is an actor capable of bringing great menace to a role, and he does so here with
no restraints, making Ordell considerably darker than his Jules character in Pulp
Fiction. Robert Forster,
nominated for an Oscar, has arguably never been better.
But of course, the real star and force that drives the picture from
beginning to end is Pam Grier. Her
presence is commanding and her performance is top notch…we are with her every
step of the way.
proved that one of the 90s’ great cinema stylists was more than just style.
Quentin Tarantino brought his characters to bigger and better life than
ever before, and used them to propel his story forward through twists, turns,
and other surprises. He makes it
feel as though they are dictating the outcome instead of him, which is perhaps
the biggest indicator than an already acclaimed and prolific young director had
finally found comfort in his own skin.
TRIVIA: Tarantino makes an
appearance in the film…sort of. He’s
the voice on Jackie’s answering machine.
right!! Miramax proved this edition
was one worth waiting for in more ways than one, starting with the stellar
anamorphic transfer (framed correctly at 1.85:1, not the 2.35:1 listed on the
box…sheesh…). Jackie Brown is
a detailed, colorful array of visuals from start to finish.
This may be Tarantino’s best use yet of art design, and this disc makes
the most of it with bright, natural and well-contained colors, sharp images,
clean print and no hints of compression artifacts.
A knockout all the way!
Choose Dolby Digital or choose DTS, Jackie Brown gets down.
From the few surprising bits of action that open up the listening
experience across all channels to the always terrific Quentin Tarantino song
score of classics that give the subwoofer its boom and the audio its ambience,
this is a disc that makes the most of 5.1 audio…clean, clear, dynamic, and
razor sharp all the way.
This two disc set is packed with goodies.
Some are fun and informative, and others are just plain fun.
Disc One features a short introduction by Tarantino as well as an
optional subtitled trivia track. It’s
just about as good as an audio commentary, because you can still watch the film
in 5.1 glory while reading endless amounts of notes and tidbits pertaining to
the movie while you watch…very well done!
Two has everything else, starting with the “How it Went Down”
documentary…interviews with Tarantino and his cast and crew (I think Robert De
Niro even says one line…maybe two!) that touch on the making of the film and
Tarantino’s inspirations. Even
novelist Elmore Leonard is in on the mix! There
is also the infamous “Chicks With Guns” video, six deleted and alternate
scenes, the “Siskel & Ebert” review of the movie, a big collection of
movie trailers for both Pam Grier and Robert Forster, three trailers and 8 TV
spots for this film, Pam Grier radio spots, 10 printed reviews and 8 articles on
the movie, filmographies, 9 stills galleries, Jackie Brown on MTV, and a
retrospective interview with Tarantino. There
are even some extras for your DVD ROM. An
outstanding package all around!