Jackie Brown

on December 25, 1997 by Melissa Morrison
"Jackie Brown" is a kick, well-executed (so to speak) and well-acted. The plot is taken straight out of a '70s TV crime show, in whose aesthetic--Naugahyde, boxy sedans, seedy cocktail lounges, all set in generic Southern California--the movie is steeped. Stewardess Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) is at the center of a swirl of cops and criminals scheming to lay hands on half-a-million dollars belonging to gun dealer Ordell (Samuel L. Jackson, whose screen magnetism could suck the fillings out of the audience's teeth). What raises the story above cheesy TV standards, though, is the matrix of players, whose motivations and characters are developed by dialogue (skillfully adapted by Tarantino from Elmore Leonard's book "Rum Punch") and crafted filmmaking.
   A big part of "Jackie Brown's" appeal is the evidence that Quentin Tarantino continues to build on the reputation he established with "Pulp Fiction" as a filmmaker who can go big-time without sacrificing his pungent style. "Jackie Brown" isn't the movie-length adrenaline rush "Pulp Fiction" was, but it deepens and broadens Tarantino's storytelling. Characters don't just natter amusingly about pork and foot massages, they communicate. In addition to the now-expected indelible characters (Bridget Fonda as a perpetually stoned surfer girl, Robert De Niro as a shambling convict with a slow fuse, Michael Keaton as a twitchy, boyish ATF agent), "Jackie Brown" has heart. This is mainly attributable to Grier and Robert Forster, two refugees from the '70s whom Tarantino has anointed for comebacks. Grier's title character is sexy and complicated (and, go figure, a middle-aged black woman as the nucleus of a high-profile Hollywood movie). Forster, as a smitten bail bondsman, conveys the tender heart behind his character's craggy face and seen-it-all businessman's demeanor. Starring Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro, Robert Forster, Bridget Fonda and Michael Keaton. Directed and written by Quentin Tarantino. Produced by Lawrence Bender. A Miramax release. Comedy/thriller. Rated R for strong language, some violence, drug use and sexuality. Running time: 150 minutes.
Tags: tarring Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro, Robert Forster, Bridget Fonda and Michael Keaton. Directed, written by Quentin Tarantino, Produced by Lawrence Bender, Miramax, Comedy, thriller

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