A Tarantino Trawl: Jackie Brown

Moving right along from last weeks look at Pulp Fiction, this week I’m looking at Tarantino’s third feature, Jackie Brown.

What’s interesting with Jackie Brown is that this is the first and, to date, only film in Tarantino’s back catalogue which is based on a source material. Although if you want to be picky I guess you could mention Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City in which Tarantino was credited as guest director, but that hardly counts. The source material in question is Elmore Leonard’s novel Rum Punch, which I must admit I’ve not yet read myself so can’t actually comment on how good a job Tarantino did in terms of adaptation. But regardless of that, Jackie Brown is another classic.

Blaxploitation queen, Pam Grier stars as the titular character along with Robert Forster, Samuel L Jackson, Robert De Niro, Bridget Fonda and Michael Keaton. When flight attendant Jackie Brown gets caught smuggling money across the border for black market gun salesman Ordell Robbie (Jackson), she sets about trying to play him and the cop after him (Keaton) in the hopes of walking away with half a million dollars. Along with the help of bail bondsman Max Cherry (Forster).

At a 150 minute running time, Jackie Brown is bloated slightly. But when you have Tarantino’s rich dialogue and beautifully dark humour, it’s barely a problem. While it doesn’t pull the same punch as Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs, there’s still much to be admired thanks to the cast. Grier brings a fantastic lead role to life as Jackie but it’s the supporting cast that are the highlights. Samuel L Jackson seems to have a lot of fun with Ordell Robbie and yet still gives a menacing performance at times. Though he spends much of his time chatting away about guns and trying his best to impress his newly released prisoner guest, Louis (De Niro) he does have one or two moments which prove he is much more.

Robert De Niro meanwhile, stays rather silent and is probably the least outgoing of the cast, yet still manages to stay entertaining. And again, he has some moments which bring lots of laughs. Whether it be trying to show Bridget Fonda’s Mel the best 3 minutes of her life or finding a particularly effective way of dealing with her mockery, De Niro and Fonda make a fine double act.

It’s usually the second film that’s the dodgy one when it comes to successful directors, but with Tarantino it seems it was almost third time unlucky. Whilst it’s certainly not awful, compared to Pulp Fiction it is a slight drop. A very slight drop mind. But then again, how could anyone ever be able to bring a film after Pulp Fiction and make it better?

Of all Tarantino’s directed films, Jacie Brown is probably his worst. HOWEVER, even at his worst. He’s still pretty fucking great…

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