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STUDIO: Miramax Films
RUNNING TIME: 154 minutes
- Breaking Down Jackie Brown: A roundtable of popular critics offering their takes on the film
- Jackie Brown – How It Went Down: A collection of interviews from Quentin Tarantino, author Elmore Leonard, as well as cast and crew
- A Look Back at Jackie Brown: An hour-long interview with Tarantino
- “Chicks with Guns” Infomercial: An awesomely bizarre video of largely endowed women in bathing suits who like to shoot assault rifles, briefly featured in the film
- Siskel and Ebert “At the Movies:” The critics review Jackie Brown
- Marketing Gallery: Three trailers and eight spots that aired on television
- Deleted and Alternate Scenes: Features a special introduction from the director, himself.
- Soundtrack Chapters: Lets you jump into the film at any of its many musical cues
- Robert Forster Trailers: Old-school trailers from Forster’s body of work
- Pam Grier Trailers: A similar collection with Pam Grier’s best trailers, including several of her blaxploitation films
- Pam Grier’s Radio Spots: Same thing but with radio adds, posters accompany the adds
- Trivia Track: A collection of fun facts about the film
- Still Gallerys: Iconic images from the film and on-set
Quentin Tarantino’s followup to Pulp Fiction; an adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s 1992 novel Rum Punch.
Quentin Tarantino (director), Pam Grier, Robert Forster, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro, Bridget Fonda, Michael Keaton
Jackie Brown (Grier) is an aging (but still sexy) flight attendant for a low-level Mexican airline. Barely scraping by at her day job, she moonlights by smuggling money back into the States for a bad dude by the name of Ordell Robbie. Coming back from one of her flights, Jackie’s intercepted by the ATF who find the cash and some cocaine that Jackie didn’t even know was stashed. Ordell hires bondsman Max Cherry (Forster) to bail Jackie out. The two form a bond and Jackie resolves to screw the Feds and Ordell out of $500,000 in one last smuggling operation. Meanwhile, Ordell brings an ex-associate (De Niro) back into the fold to help with what he thinks is his last big score.
If not for Inglourious Basterds, this would be my favorite Quentin Tarantino film. It’s the least-Tarantino of his works, if that makes sense. Adapting from Leonard’s novel, this 1997 effort is the director’s most restrained work. The trademark Tarantino homages are still there – the director has referred to this as his loveletter to 70s blaxploitation films in many an interview. But it also manages to be his most focused narrative, refreshing given the nonlinear nature of his two previous works. Much of that can be attributed to the fact that Tarantino is working off of somebody else’s story instead of creating a work from scratch. But I also think Tarantino was smart enough to realize that the complexity of the story called for a more straightforward approach to storytelling.
There’s a lot happening in Jackie Brown, thankfully Tarantino’s precision with dialogue and character work shines through. Even the minor characters like low-level thug Beaumont Livingston (Tucker) or beach bunny Melanie Ralston (Fonda) feel complete and well-rounded. There’s a truth to the depravity of these characters that hits closer to home than any of Tarantino’s other works. They’re lowlifes for sure, but lowlifes you might run into at the bar or in line at the DMV. Jackson’s Ordell Robbie isn’t a criminal mastermind, he’s just a lazyass sociopath who’s muscled and murdered his way into a position of power. Likewise, Jackie Brown is nothing special. She’s middle-aged, her best days are long behind her, and she’s slumming it to pay the rent. There’s nothing “Hollywood” about these people and, given the way I’ve just described them, there shouldn’t be.
Jackie Brown amounts to a mad grab for cash – but more than anything, that cash represents a second chance. For Ordell, it’s his last shot to get his money and get away scott-free. For De Niro’s Louis Gara, he’s fresh out of jail and doesn’t know how not to go back. For Jackie, this is her last shot to have the life we sense she was one time on track for. Max, finally, might find in Jackie that something special that has evaded him thus far.
Grier may play the title character, but this is Robert Forster’s film. His bail bondsman Max is a poor schlub that, like Brown, has been around the block a few times. He knows he’s surrounded by trash, but he’s resigned himself to die in this cesspool. Jackie Brown comes into his life like a lightening bolt and, all of the sudden, he has a purpose again. He knows Ordell, and he’s aware of the stakes of the game he’s playing in, but something draws him to Brown. At the end of the film it’s too good to be true. Not because Jackie treats him maliciously. Rather, it has to be too good to be true – because that’s how these things ultimately play out in his experience. It’s note perfect, and it’s beautiful.
It’s fitting, and no doubt on purpose, that Tarantino cast Grier and Forster as the leads in his film about second chances. Both actors had been light on work in the years leading up to the film. Especially Forster, an actor who was seemingly everywhere for a time, had seen his career evaporate. Both actors prove it was through no fault of their own, and Forster in particular turns in my favorite performance of his career.
Jackie Brown is a quiet film in Tarantino’s otherwise very loud filmography. To that extent it’s largely overlooked. But it’s an oversight that should be rectified as soon as possible, considering it’s arguably one of the director’s finest works. Thankfully, this is the disc to do it with.
Miramax/Lionsgate are giving Jackie Brown the full Blu-ray treatment and throwing everything and the kitchen sink at us in terms of special features. The 1080p transfer is every bit as gorgeous as you’d expect, having been personally approved by Tarantino. I did notice some minor noise in the darker shots, but nothing too distracting. You’ll hear Bobby Womack’s Across 110th Street in all its funky glory with the clarity of the disc’s DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. A straight-up “making of” would have been appreciated in the special features but the interviews should be more than enough to hold your interest. One of Tarantino’s best is now available in the finest format – you bet your ass I’m giving it five stars.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars