Jackie Brown 3.0 stars

At first, and for the better part of its two and a half hours, this is apt to seem an oddly unadventurous undertaking for Quentin Tarantino, a gabby adaptation of a novel by his revered Elmore Leonard (source of notoriously mediocre movies), draggy, only fitfully funny, lifelessly staged, largely static. He waited three years after Pulp Fiction for this? In the long run, though, and the run is very long indeed, it is the oddness and not the unadventurousness that wins out. (Notwithstanding the late-innings gimmick of a pivotal episode played out three times in succession from three different points of view.) That the characters come alive as people (rather than remain stiff and cold as genre archetypes), that the caper takes shape in logical stages with plausible motivation, that the minimal violence is dispatched with almost Godardian offhandedness, that telephone numbers are recited out loud without the prefix "555" -- these things are odd enough. Odder yet is that such a youthy Hollywood director would pay such sincere respect to his elders, and, too, that he would take up as his principal theme the desperation, the resignation, the possible serenity of middle age. The scene in which Robert Forster talks about his vanishing hair and Pam Grier about her spreading hips is priceless. And who else in Tarantino's position of power, and at his brink of stardom, would opt to reach so far below the A-list for his hero and heroine? With Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro, Bridget Fonda, Michael Keaton. 1997.

Duncan Shepherd

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Comments

Talls Nov. 19, 2008 @ 4:38 p.m.

In Jackie Brown, Tarantino is light years away from the top shape he showed in either Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs. In fact, if it weren't a QT film, nobody would have talked about it and it would have quietly faded away into anonimity.

The reason for this disappointment? Elmore Leonard's novels may look wonderful on paper but are too complex and slow-paced to be translated into movies. All the attempts to do so have failed miserably.

Nevertheless, there are some wonderful moments in the film. I liked the scene where Samuel L. Jackson kills that young boy, it tells you 'hey, this is not the funny guy we've laughed at a couple of scenes before, this is a dangerous, cold-blooded killer'. It was a very important moment in the movie.

All in all, Jackie Brown is a movie worth seeing. Oh, and excellent performances by Pam Grier and Robert Forster.

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SDaniels Jan. 22, 2010 @ 1:46 a.m.

I could not disagree more with your analysis, Talls. In fact, I think Jackie Brown is his most mature film, delving wonderfully the relationship between a man and woman in their forties, both supposedly beyond the unrealistic expectations of young "love," but yet full of the tragicomic, ironic insecurities of middle age, the kind that lead some to undress in the dark. Grier and Forster craft fully dimensional characters who wake up and make something a little more energetic of what remains of their days.

Let your expectations of novels fade, and watch this one again for its own merits. This film is slower and more contemplative than anything else Tarantino has done, and shows he is capable of more than comic book narrative and stilted allegory with guns.

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