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Jackie Brown (1997)

 

Starring: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert DeNiro, Robert Forster, Michael Keaton, Bridget Fonda
Director: Quentin Tarantino

Rating: R

Studio: Miramax

Review Posted: 12.28.02

Spoilers: None

 

By Dylan Grant

 

The Movie

 

Quentin Tarantino’s (directed Pulp Fiction, wrote True Romance) third film, based on the Elmore Leonard novel "Rum Punch," is finally available on DVD after a five year wait. The story revolves around a flight attendant (Grier) who finds herself in a jam. She plays the ATF and a street savvy gun dealer against the middle to get herself off the hook. The film is calm at the beginning, but builds to a rolling boil as the characters begin scheming and plotting against each other, each trying to chase and outrun everyone else. Don’t be fooled if this sounds like a familiar formula. In Tarantino’s hands the story takes on a freshness rarely seen in film today, filled with the kind of subtlety and humor most writers and directors just are not capable of.

 

Jackie Brown has held up well in the years since its initial release, better in many respects than Tarantino’s other films. It is Tarantino’s most mature work. While his previous two films were the works of a movie-obsessed kid stuck behind a video store counter, Jackie Brown reads like the work of a movie obsessed adult who has done some living. The writing is as crisp as anything he has written; the dialogue crackles. The pacing of the film is slower than what Tarantino has done in the past, more deliberate, but the film never gets off track.

 

The acting is flawless. The film is a showpiece for Grier, and she shines as a flight attendant who is barely scraping by. You can’t help but be entranced by her. The standout is Samuel L. Jackson. The dialogue seems written especially for him, and Jackson turns in one of his best performances, creating a character striking in its realism. Also notable is Robert Forster as Max Cherry. Seeing him this film will make you wonder why it took so long for him to get a decent role. There isn’t a wrong note sung by anyone in the cast, from the main characters to the bit parts. Chris Tucker shows up for one scene and gives his best performance ever. The performances are what make this film so great, so adult.

 

The characters that inhabit this part of the Tarantinoverse are less like genre creations and more like people we might actually run into. The last shot in Max Cherry’s office at the end of the film is strikingly poignant.

 

10 out of 10

 

The Video

 

The transfer here is pristine. Especially admirable are the films many dark scenes. Darkness dominates the film: night scenes, dark interiors, a shopping mall. Too often the richness of a dark scene is lost in the film to video translation; the scenes get so dark we cannot tell what we are looking at. With Jackie Brown we have a transfer of the highest quality, and the picture is as flawless as if you were seeing it on the big screen. Jackie Brown is presented in the original 2.35:1 widescreen ratio.

 

10 out of 10

 

The Audio

 

While perhaps not the best example of what surround sound can do, the makers of this DVD didn’t scrimp on sound, making both DTS 5.1 digital surround sound and Dolby digital 5.1 surround sound available to the viewer. From the soul music that scores the film to the climactic Del Amo Mall scenes, the sound reels you into the film from the first frame. When the characters are in the mall, the sound is so clear you will think you are in a food court, watching the film. Also available are French and Spanish language tracks.

 

10 out of 10

 

The Extras

 

With a second disc devoted entirely to bonus features, just about anything you have ever wanted to know about Jackie Brown is here.

  • Quentin Tarantino Introductions

  • How It Went Down Original Documentary

  • A Look Back At "Jackie Brown" - Interview with Quentin Tarantino

  • Chick with Guns Video

  • Siskel & Ebert "At the Movies" - "Jackie Brown" Review

  • Deleted and Alternate Scenes

  • "Jackie Brown" on MTV

  • Robert Forster Trailers

  • Pam Grier Trailers

  • Pam Grier Radio Spots

  • Still Galleries

  • Reviews & Articles

  • DVD-ROM: Enhanced Playback Track, Trivia Game, Screenplay Viewer

And it doesn’t stop there. We get a glimpse of the long road from novel to screen, the cast and crew, and some interesting footage of Samuel L. Jackson and Tarantino talking about The Q’s infamous predilection for the “N word.” You can also put this disc in your computer’s DVD-ROM for access to a screenplay viewer and other extras. Jackie Brown comes in a handsome package with a replica movie poster and a booklet that contains a letter from Elmore Leonard, the original Los Angeles Times review, filmographies and more. No stone has been left unturned, and the completeness of the features makes this DVD well worth the wait.

 

10 out of 10

 

Overall

 

Jackie Brown is Quentin Tarantino’s most mature work, and it is one of the best recent examples of superbly executed filmmaking. That alone makes this DVD well worth your money. With the added features you have the most complete version of this film there is ever going to be.

 

Overall DVD rating: 10 out of 10

 

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