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Jackie supplements her meager income as a stewardess by smuggling cash into the U.S. for gunrunner Ordell Robbie--until the day an ATF agent and an L.A. cop bust her at the airport. The cops pressure her to help them bring down Ordell, threatening prison if she refuses. With a sympathetic bailbondsman, who understands her restlessness only too well, Jackie arrives at a bold almost foolhardy plan to play off these opposing forces against each other. Matters are complicated by Ordell's confederates, Louis Gara and Melanie Ralston who have agendas of their own. By appearing to cooperate with both sides, Jackie attempts to outfox them both and walk away with a half million dollar payday!
For more about Jackie Brown and the Jackie Brown Blu-ray release, see Jackie Brown Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on September 30, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Pam Grier, Robert Forster, Robert De Niro, Quentin Tarantino, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton
Director: Quentin Tarantino
» See full cast & crew
Jackie Brown Blu-ray Review
And now for something completely different. . .
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, September 30, 2011
There's something that neither the "those who can't, teach" professors at film school nor the fawning acolytes that form any given Hollywood celebrity's entourage discuss after someone has managed to break through with one of the most acclaimed films of all time: namely, what to do as a follow up. Quentin Tarantino had started to make waves with Reservoir Dogs, but after Pulp Fiction became an international sensation, almost universally acclaimed by critics and embraced by worldwide audiences, Tarantino was the Golden Boy of Hollywood, a moniker that was either burnished or slightly tarnished (depending on your point of view) when his screenplay for Natural Born Killers became one of the causes célèbres of 1994. But it's a well worn adage in Hollywood that you're only as hot as your latest hit, and as soon as a few weeks after this one-two punch had conquered filmdom, people were already proclaiming Tarantino a passé past his expiration date flavor du jour. How, then, to prove it wasn't all some bizarre fluke? It's part of Tarantino's perhaps unexpected charm that his "big" follow-up to Pulp Fiction was a rather "smallish" film that had certain peculiar ambitions but not the overweening ambition of either Pulp Fiction or Natural Born Killers. (For the purposes of this review we're going to skip over the now largely forgotten—perhaps with good reason—anthology film Four Rooms to which Tarantino contributed a segment). With Jackie Brown, Tarantino did something that might have seemed, at least at that point of the auteur's career, out of character: he adapted the work of iconic writer Elmore Leonard. Tarantino also crafted a film that was specifically built around helping to reinvigorate the careers of at least a couple of actors whom Tarantino felt had been unfairly neglected by those flavor du jour suits who were so quick to dismiss Tarantino himself. Pam Grier had been a niche blaxploitation actress who hit her version of the big time in the seventies but hadn't been heard from much since, and Robert Forster was a guy who had seemingly been around forever and who had starred in a number of high profile films and television properties early in his career, but had then weathered a long semi-dormant period where he was lucky to get a few speaking lines in less than stellar properties. Tarantino also offers the viewer his Pulp Fiction co-star Samuel L. Jackson, here playing yet another vicious thug, one who is perhaps less articulate and Biblically astute than Jules Winnfield (Jackson's character in Pulp) but who might just be scarier in the long run. The excellent cast is rounded out by Michael Keaton playing ATF cop Ray Nicolette (a role he would reprise in another fantastic Elmore Leonard adaptation, Steven Soderbergh's excellent Out of Sight), Bridget Fonda as Jackson's pot smoking girlfriend, and none other than Robert De Niro as a recently freed jailbird who is partnering with Jackson to sell guns and make untold riches.
The first major difference fans of Pulp Fiction will notice about Jackie Brown is the latter film's straightforward narrative style. Unlike Pulp Fiction, this is a story with a beginning, middle and end, all in that order. But Jackie Brown is also a less freewheeling film experience, one that takes its time in establishing characters instead of, Pulp Fiction style, almost hurling them at the viewer, who is left somewhat stunned in the process. Jackie Brown is fascinating from this standpoint, almost as if Tarantino is willfully taking a step back and saying, "See—I can take my time and present things slowly and deliberately," something so tonally different than either Pulp Fiction or, frankly, Natural Born Killers.
Tarantino slowly weaves a tale of shifting alliances that center around the titular Jackie (Pam Grier), a down on her luck flight attendant whose long ago minor legal indiscretion has kept her from anything other than a bargain basement career. She's augmented her minimal salary by running money for a despicable thug named Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson) who has plans to sequester a cool million in illicit gains away so that he can permanently retire. Into this fray bail bondsman Max Cherry (Robert Forster) is sucked by Ordell, initially to bond out one of Ordell's minor minions, but later to bond out Jackie herself, a move which soon engenders romantic sparks between Jackie and Max.
But there's also a subtle growth in technique in Tarantino's approach in Jackie Brown, and not just from the more reserved storytelling style. Note his brilliant, almost dissociative, way of detailing Jackson's character Ordell Robbie's viciousness in a chilling early scene after Ordell bails out an underling and then guilt trips the kid into supposedly help him scare some sense into some other thugs. The denouement to the scene is perfectly staged and is much more powerful in the way that Tarantino does stage it then it might have been in a more visceral, up close and personal way. The film is also remarkable in that the performances never approach the cartoonish heights that made Pulp Fiction such a stylistic tour de force. Jackie Brown is a much quieter film (at least most of the time), a deliberative study of a bunch of desperate characters all out to basically grift each other, with the viewer being kept deliberately off kilter for much of the film as Jackie herself attempts to get out of a precarious "professional" relationship with Ordell with her life and limb (and possibly untold riches) intact.
Jackie Brown is at its core a film about second chances, and it's certainly no mere coincidence that Tarantino provided later career second chances for Grier and Forster in this film. Both of them are fantastic here, if deliberately understated, almost antithetical to the performance style in Pulp Fiction. The rest of the cast is similarly great, though De Niro doesn't really get a chance to do much of anything (a late scene with Bridget Fonda where he's struggling to find his car after having pulled off a money grab is a highlight however). But what Jackie Brown established more firmly than even Tarantino's ability to help resurrect some dormant acting careers was that Tarantino himself had some perhaps unforeseen range. Perhaps the most amazing single thing about Jackie Brown is how completely different from Pulp Fiction it is.
Jackie Brown Blu-ray, Video Quality
Jackie Brown is presented on Blu-ray with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.85:1. This is, like Pulp Fiction, a transfer personally approved by Quentin Tarantino, so who are we to argue? Well, maybe a few of us will argue, but only just a little bit. While this is by and large as fantastic looking as Pulp Fiction on Blu-ray is, there is a noticeable uptick in softness in several scenes, notably a lot of the midrange location shots in and around the San Fernando Valley. On other hand, more easily controlled shots, typically extreme close-ups, are bursting with sharpness and astounding fine detail, literally down to the eyelashes on several characters' faces. Colors are excellently saturated and fairly robust, though Jackie Brown hews a more subdued palette line than does Pulp Fiction. This film also is considerably darker (in the literal sense), and some of the most dimly lit sequences suffer from moderate crush. Sticklers will also notice very minor haloing courtesy of edge enhancement in a handful of moments, but otherwise this is another sterling effort that presents the film in its best ever home video release.
Jackie Brown Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Jackie Brown continued Quentin Tarantino's love for great source cues, and the film is stocked full of fantastic vintage soul and R&B numbers that play in counterpoint to the lives of Jackie, Ordell and Max. Presented courtesy of a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix on this new Blu-ray, the music sounds absolutely fantastic, with a snap and vitality that gives this film a very vibrant sonic ambience. The occasional but often startling rattle of gunfire also is presented viscerally, with some impressive LFE. Surround channels are used very well, if not quite as hyperbolically as they were in Pulp Fiction. Dialogue is very clearly and cleanly presented and is always very well prioritized in the mix. Fidelity is spot on, with superb dynamic range.
Jackie Brown Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Jackie Brown Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
If you've seen Pulp Fiction but not Jackie Brown, you must prepare yourself for a completely different viewing experience. If Pulp Fiction slapped the viewer about the head and shoulders until they were stunned into obedient awe, Jackie Brown is like the slow, deliberate seduction of a Delfonics tune played late at night in a steamy Los Angeles apartment. This is a film much more about relatively more realistic characters, characters who are caught up in some desperate straits and are struggling to escape the grind of everyday life. Tarantino proved that he could do more than merely shock with this film, and Jackie Brown remains one of the more curiously satisfying films in Tarantino's oeuvre to this day. Highly recommended.
Jackie Brown: Other Editions
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Jackie Brown Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Interview: 'Jackie Brown' Star Robert Forster - September 19, 2011
With Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown about to be released on Blu-ray, Robert Forster, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in the film, sat down with Blu-ray staff reviewer Jeffrey Kauffman to reminisce about his long and eventful Hollywood ...
• Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown and The Crow Pre-orders Up - August 5, 2011
Miramax's upcoming October titles Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown and The Crow are now available for pre-orders on Amazon.com. Those much awaited classic catalog titles are attractively priced at $13.99, which continue a relatively new and welcome trend, lower ...
• Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown Blu-rays (Updated) - July 26, 2011
This October, two of Miramax's most beloved catalog titles will make their Blu-ray debuts: Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction and its 1997 followup Jackie Brown. Tarantino's award-winning crime dramas have long been unavailable on Blu-ray in the United States; Lionsgate ...
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