A Movie Log

A blog formerly known as Bookishness

By Charles Matthews

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Jackie Brown (Quentin Tarantino, 1997)

Sometimes called "the Tarantino movie for people who don't like Tarantino movies," Jackie Brown feels a bit like Tarantino under the influence of Martin Scorsese. That's not just because of the presence of Robert De Niro in the cast, but also because it's the Tarantino film that feels most under control, with its long takes and following shots. It's also the only Tarantino movie adapted from other material, in this case the novel Rum Punch by Elmore Leonard, which imposes a certain rhythm on the material, unlike Tarantino's usual jazzy riffs and variations. On the other hand, any time that Samuel L. Jackson (who is to Tarantino what De Niro used to be to Scorsese) is on screen, you can feel the obvious synergy between director and star. The real star, however, is Pam Grier, whose Jackie Brown is a force of nature, proud and statuesque, like Sophia Loren or Anna Magnani in their prime. Delivering her lines out of the side of her mouth, she's clearly in control even when things seem to be going against her. She's well-matched with Robert Forster's wearily implacable Max Cherry, a bail bondsman who can't help getting too involved with his clients. It's clear from the outset that Jackie and Max have what it takes to triumph just by sheer persistence over Jackson's flamboyant Ordell Robbie, not to mention his somewhat too stoned accomplices, Louis (De Niro) and Melanie (Bridget Fonda), and the wiseass ATF agent Ray Nicolette (Michael Keaton). The pleasure of the film consists largely in watching this gallery of top-notch actors go through the paces of the plot.