Jackie Brown Reviews
(Full review TBD)
Despite being the least 'Tarantino-ey' Tarantino movie, 'Jackie Brown' is also his first book adaptation - and he doesn't disappoint. Filled with great performances and fueled by an electric soundtrack, this is a highly enjoyable, well written crime caper that even those not a fan of his previous works can sink their teeth into.
Jackie Brown is definitely a left turn from Tarantino's films as it wasn't an original idea but rather he adapted Elmore Leonard's novel, other notable work include Out Of Sight and 3:10 To Yuma. This choice of not adapting an original story is strange but it doesn't matter anymore after you have seen it, because it's still an entertaining film. I haven't read the source material but I have read reports that this film adapts the novel accurately and that Leonard's novel is filled with dialogue. This film indeed has that element, which works in favor of Tarantino as he has a complete understanding of how to make dialogue look and sound interesting. This may be dismissed by many due to the fact that it lacks the style and charm that was found on his previous two films, the film instead takes a conventional approach to it's storytelling but personally this isn't really an issue for me as the story is still entertaining to watch unfold and Tarantino doesn't completely lose his touch with this film. True, the film relies on the story in developing it's characters rather than having them spill out words that collectively will shape their personalities, but Tarantino's dialogue and style isn't the star of the film but rather the motivations and intentions of the characters.
Looking at Quentin Tarantino's career, his films differ from one another and the director is starting to walk the same lines as Kubrick in not repeating oneself. Jackie Brown is the director's heist film and he has achieved in not grounding the film on the same style and level as the other heist films it is now compared to. The film may not scream out Tarantino but it does at the very least experiment. The heist itself was a genius in execution, how difficult it must be to have us see the same heist and not feel repetitive and tiresome.There are also moments in the film where it uses a split screen showing two moments at the same time, and the film also has unusual choices of transitions. This is the first time we get to see Tarantino's ability to let the audience gain introspection of the characters.
In order to get that dark and gritty style that the film needed, Tarantino opted for a change in cinematographer and hired Guillermo Navarro. Navarro is now known as a frequent collaborator with Guillermo Del Toro and those films usually have this murky black tone to it and the credit goes to Navarro's photography. This is also one of the main reasons that it doesn't have that look that is prevalent on the director's previous two films. Jackie Brown's look is definitely one of the reasons that the film has personality and it does allow us to perceive the story with seriousness that it demands. Navarro and Tarantino aren't afraid to gets shots of a scene where you barely even see the characters and the only thing that takes notice in the scene is the dialogue. This dark tone does lose that humor that Tarantino was known for but that aspect isn't truly necessary here to engage the audience, though there are moments where it does get you laughing. When it isn't dark, the image looks nicely saturated and soulful, which mixes well with the film's soundtrack.
Again, Tarantino stays away from the traditional film score and fills the film up with musical nuggets that works perfectly with the scene. The previous two films touches on tracks within the Rock N' Roll and Pop genre, while here he chooses tracks within R&B genre. These tracks have so much soul in them and it does in a way throwback to the classic films that Pam Grier was in. Though I do wonder if the film would be improved using an original score, even if it retains that quality that the soundtracks give but I guess we'll never know.
The film's cast includes a return of Samuel L. Jackson and a number of stars who are known to have lost their touch, in particular Pam Grier. Honestly, I have yet to see a film that Grier is in but after this film, it proves that she has acting chops and that she brings great personality in a role that it's hard to not keep your eyes off her. Grier should have been nominated for Best Leading Actress at the Oscars that year but that is just my personal opinion. The rest of the cast were great with notable stand outs like Robert Forster and Bridget Fonda. Forster plays it more casually but not being near the borderline of laziness, while Fonda brings the sex to the role and she was able to bring the immaturity and bratiness that the role needed. Keaton and De Niro are a bit underused and their characters doesn't really have more to them that I could grasp on to. Jackson on the other hand still brings his usual style that was also found on Pulp Fiction but he changes it enough that it doesn't feel like he is repeating himself. Chris Tucker's role may be short but he was entertaining to watch, I laughed on a lot of the things he said even if it wasn't meant to be funny.
Jackie Brown is an entertaining crime-heist film that definitely needs much more attention. I personally felt that this film is much stronger than Reservoir Dogs but it doesn't capture the greatness that Pulp Fiction was able to give off, regardless of it's stellar cast, amazing music, excellent cinematography, and a story that had me locked on to until the end of the film.
A masterclass in acting from the ensemble cast , particularly Samuel L Jackson. Though De Niro puts in one of his under the radar performances that gets better the more you watch it.
The real stars of this movie however are the sassy Pam Grier and the sublime Robert Forster.
Everything you'd expect from a great Tarantino movie. Great dialogue, believable characters with depth, and a punchy story line.
It really doesn't get better than this.