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JACKIE BROWN

SYNOPSIS:
Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) is a 44 year old spinster flight attendant on a US-Mexico shuttle airline, who can’t get a better job because of her criminal record. She supplements her income by running cash for Ordell Robbi (Samuel L. Jackson) a low-life arms dealer who has saved $500,000 for retirement in a safe-deposit box in Mexico. Ordell is planning to earn another half million in one more sale, with the help of his old prison buddy Louis (Robert DeNiro), and then retire. When Jackie gets nabbed at the airport by ATF agent Ray Nicolet (Michael Keaton), she can either take the rap or do a deal that will deliver Ordell to the cops. She chooses to double cross both sides for her own (retirement) benefit and agrees to help Ray catch Ordell in exchange for dropping the smuggling charges. But she tells Ordell that she is going to double-cross the ops. Meanwhile, Louis contemplates double-crossing Ordell and Jackie with the help of Ordell’s much stoned and much abused girlfriend, Melanie (Bridget Fonda). Jackie develops enlists the help of a bail bondsman who has a crush on her - Max Cherry (Robert Forster) – to carry out a double double cross.

"There’s a line in Jackie Brown which, in a way, sums up the mood of Quentin Tarantino’s adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s novel (Rum Punch). Ordell Robbi (Samuel L. Jackson) is meeting Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) in a black neighbourhood bar during a rather tense episode. They’re alone bar the barman, who makes a low key pass at Jackie; she is indeed a handsome woman. Ordell shakes his head in wry amusement and says in his black badass way: "I bet if you came here on a Saturday night, you’d need nigger repellant. . ." The tone of the language is perfectly typical of the film, a tale set in the underworld of Los Angeles in the 70s. The fact that Jackie Brown is such a handsome but unattached woman, provides the setting for the sexual/romantic undertones that drive the motivations of Jackie Brown’s ally in the story, the bonds bailman Max Cherry (Robert Forster). This is Tarantino territory, but his camera is much steadier: his approach is a blend of classic film techniques and personal flourishes – not to mention his punchy use of music, often juxtapositioning source music while jump-cutting between scenes for great effect. The performances are first rate, all of them. Jackson’s confident, arrogant, sharply dressed, pony-tailed dude of a gun runner is the dark sun around whom the planets revolve: Melanie (Bridget Fonda) is a blonde with a bong and a low ambition level. Her flat is where he hangs out and does business. Fonda finds her character but it takes a while for us to fully understand her various sides. She manages to retain a mystery while apparently being a simple, two sided young woman; it’s a compleat performance, peaking perhaps in what may be the shortest sex scene on film, and the most droll. Louis Gara (Robert de Niro) is a bank robber just out after four years in prison. This is yet another de Niro, after all this time; an underdressed underachiever with a hang dog expression but a fatally short fuse. The idiosyncratic nervous ticks are absent, the character beams out of him, the eyes speak of confusion, fear, and a modicum of bravado. This gripping, funny and human film even has warmth. It’s at least as good as LA Confidential, but the language is even more muthafucka colourful."
Andrew L. Urban

"Quentin Tarantino is a master at setting up a funky jigsaw puzzle, which he puts together tantalisingly. Jackie Brown is directed with meticulous attention to detail and camera shots with intriguing points of view. Colourful characters inhabit a world which sucks you in, like a vacuum cleaner. Each with his own agenda, the characters journey through the twists and turns of a maze that exercises the mind. The script is economical, divulging just enough information to satisfy yet making you hanker for more. Samuel L. Jackson is as cool as can be with those berets, that pony tale, long, plaited goatie - and an attitude. Proficient in the art of persuasion, his idea of letting an employee go is sending him to the morgue. Street wise, yet he moves his lips when he reads, demands to be in control, and keeps a string of subservient women, mostly out of it on dope. Pam Grier is extraordinary as Jackie Brown - she jumps out, all woman, strong, tough and makes you want to hear every word. The whole cast is solid gold: De Niro, fascinating as a dishevelled, out-of-control loser; Bridget Fonda, laid back as an ambitious no-hoper who offers sexual favours as casually as a cup of coffee; Michael Keaton, biting as the hard-nosed cop; Robert Forster, stunningly complex as the bail bondsman. The technique of showing a scene more than once, divulging extra information each time, is used to great effect, while much of the music has a strong editorial rationale. Pulp Fiction is a hard film to top, but Tarantino has done it, with great flair, style and sheer cinematic genius."
Louise Keller

"Had Jackie Brown been Tarantino’s first movie, plaudits would have been shouted far and wide. This fast, clever and deliriously hilarious throw-back to the seventies blackploitation films, is a winner from go to whoa. The mood is deliciously set from the opening sequence, in which a funky, long-haired Samuel L. Jackson as gun-dealer Ordell, shows buddy crim Louis a video on the best guns that money can buy. Tarantino developed the film as a homage to 70s black star Pam Grier and Grier doesn’t disappoint. She’s aged to perfection, and playing this tough but vulnerable character seems perfect for her. Grier is surrounded by major talent. De Niro is at his driest as the somewhat slow ex-con whose face expresses a range of emotions, and is often hilarious. Samuel L. Jackson shines as Ordell, while Bridget Fonda lights up the screen as the drugged-out Melanie. Also impressive, so different from the others, is Robert Forster, quietly touching as the bail bondsman whose feelings for Jackie change his life in unexpected ways. Unlike his earlier work, Tarantino’s direction is less self-conscious, and there are some original touches, such as a memorable sequence in which we see three different perspectives during the climactic conclusion. The dialogue is sharp and intelligently written, if filled with the usual profanity, and despite the film’s length, Tarantino keeps things moving at a brisk pace. Jackie Brown is an inventive, exhilarating piece of snappy entertainment, and while not as ground-breaking as its predecessors, it’s still a compelling film to watch and listen to."
Paul Fischer

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 3
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

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See Andrew L. Urban's exclusive interview with SAMUEL L. JACKSON

See Paul Fischer's exclusive interview with

PAM GRIER

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JACKIE BROWN (MA)
(US)

CAST: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster, Robert De Niro, Bridget Fonda, Michael Keaton, Michael Bowen, Melanie Ralston, Denise Crosby, Sid Haig, Tom ‘Tiny’ Lister jnr

DIRECTOR: Quentin Tarantino

PRODUCER: Lawrence Bender

SCRIPT: Elmore Leonard, Quentin Tarantino (based on Leonard’s novel Rum Punch)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Guillermo Navarro

EDITOR: Sally Menke

MUSIC: not credited

PRODUCTION DESIGN: David Wasco

RUNNING TIME: 153 minutes

 

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 5, 1998

Video Release: May 10, 1999
Video Distributor: Roadshow Entertainment
RRP: $24.95







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