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DVD REVIEW FOR
"JACKIE BROWN"

(1997) (Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson) (R)

Length Screen Format(s) Languages Subtitles Sound Sides
154 minutes Letterbox (2.35:1)
16x9 - Widescreen
English
French
English
Spanish
Dolby Digital 5.1
DTS
2 Discs

PLOT & PARENTAL REVIEW

AUDIO/VIDEO ELEMENTS:
Rather sharp and featuring good color reproduction, the image here, for the most part, looks good, but does have some problems. Various color palettes (such as one in a bar scene bathed in red light) are a bit too much for video to reproduce (whereas film has no problem with them), and some pixelation/grain and digital artifacts (such as digital noise on curtains, etc.) is present. Available in both Dolby Digital and DTS, the audio track features various vintage songs that all sound terrific. Various effects (street noise, gunshot echoes, etc.) are also present, although most of the effects are appropriately of the complementary rather than standout variety.
EXTRAS:
Disc One:
  • Scene selection/Jump to any scene.
  • Quentin Tarantino Introduction.
  • Soundtrack Chapters (listing the songs in the film).
  • Enhanced Trivia Track (Onscreen text).
  • Sneak Peeks for this film's soundtrack and the Pulp Fiction DVD.
  • DVD-ROM: Stash the Cash Trivia Game.
  • DVD-ROM: Enhanced Playback Track (extra information such as behind the scenes trivia, quotes, images and more).
  • DVD-ROM: Screenplay Viewer (Watch the movie and read the screenplay).
  • DVD-ROM: Review and Articles about the film.
  • DVD-ROM: Filmographies.
  • DVD-ROM: Link to Website.

    Disc Two:
  • Jackie Brown: How it Went Down - 38+ minute documentary about the film and its production, including interviews, clips and stills.
  • A Look Back at Jackie Brown - 54+ minute interview with Quentin Tarantino.
  • Chicks with Guns Video - 4+ minute segment (part of which was in the film) with an introduction by Tarantino.
  • 6 Deleted and Alternate Scenes (with introduction by Tarantino).
  • Siskel & Ebert "At the Movies" Jackie Brown review.
  • Jackie Brown on TV - Promotional Contest and MTV Live.
  • 3 Theatrical Trailers.
  • 8 TV Spots.
  • Still Galleries.
  • Reviews and Articles about the film.
  • Filmogrpahies for Pam Grier, Robert Forrester and Quentin Tarantino.
  • 12 Robert Forrester trailers (for past films).
  • 19 Pam Grier Trailers (for past films).
  • 7 Pam Grier Radio Spots (for past films).
  • COMMENTS:
    What happens when you mix the works of two artists known for creating interesting, well-developed characters? Well, if the two happen to be novelist Elmore Leonard and writer/director Quentin Tarantino, you can certainly expect an interesting time at the cinema, and that holds true for "Jackie Brown." Based on Leonard's 1993 crime novel, "Rum Punch," Tarantino has changed the title, the name Jackie Burke to Jackie Brown, and made her an African American woman. Nonetheless, he's kept the many interesting personas and the twisting plot where the characters attempt to double-cross those who are trying to do the same back to them.

    Much like Barry Sonnenfeld's adaption of Leonard's novel, "Get Shorty" and most of Tarantino's body of work, the emphasis is on a strong story that's inhabited by interestingly diverse characters and the dialogue they speak. Unlike any of those movies, however, this one takes a while to get rolling. While the characters are very interesting, the plot is very slow to develop, and it's only because of the characters and the performers that inhabit them that it initially holds our interest.

    Most of that can be attributed to Samuel L. Jackson, who teams up with Tarantino for the second time after his Oscar nominated performance in "Pulp Fiction." We've always believed Jackson to be one of the greatest living actors in the business, and this film adds yet another feather to his distinguished career. Some will obviously look for comparisons between his character Jules in "Pulp," and Ordell in this one, since both are profanity spewing, involved-in-crime killers. On the surface they're similar, but Jackson provides enough subtle nuances to each character that they come off as completely different individuals despite their similarities. It doesn't hurt that Tarantino has given Jackson the best lines in the film, and it's the character's charisma that makes you want to watch him despite his less than scrupulous behavior.

    Tarantino also makes a casting coupe by putting Pam Grier in the title role. Known for her early career performances in the 1970's "blaxploitation" films, such as "Black Mama, White Mama" and "Scream, Blacula, Scream!" and later in "Foxy Brown," she's yet another comeback kid in the Tarantino camp (last time it was John Travolta). Grier had made something of a return to fame in "Original Gangstas," the 1996 parody of those 1970's films, and Tarantino -- who has a knack for "retro" things & performers -- had made it clear he was one of her big admirers. Once again playing the tough, single lady, she's clearly one of this film's highlights. In this movie she may have found a role that resurrected her career and briefly got her out of the "B" movies in which she had recently appeared.

    Equally successful is Robert Forster whose bail bondsman character, Max Cherry, changes his ways once he meets Jackie. Having played various supporting character roles for nearly three decades, he delivers a sympathetic, yet seedy character. Less successful and extremely disappointing is Tarantino's use of the great Robert De Niro. Reduced to playing a dimwitted caricature of the more subdued characters he every so often plays, this has to be one of the worst uses of this award winning talent. Except for one violent, somewhat pivotal scene, Tarantino could have left out his character altogether.

    Faring a little better, but still not great, is Bridget Fonda as an annoying, drugged up surfer girl. Her character serves its purpose during the course of the story (to be an annoyance to Ordell and Louis), but Fonda isn't given much leeway in portraying her. Michael Keaton is likeable as always, but doesn't play a character that's much different from many he's played in the past. Still, and as always, his quirky performance is fun to watch.

    While it sounds like the movie's a mixed bag, it fortunately gets much better as the plot progresses. For that's when the double cross elements begin to appear and most of the fun begins. It's also the time when Tarantino gets back in step with what made "Pulp Fiction" so interesting and that's his use of nonlinear storytelling. Audiences and critics loved that film for suddenly going backwards in time and arriving at a point midway through where we had just been.

    While he doesn't make as big a jump here, several smaller jumps are nearly as effective, and we get to witness a pivotal scene several times from different character's perspectives that reveals more information every time we see it. Combined with the accelerated and newly entertaining plot, that cinematic device helps lift the film from it's rather mediocre beginning. Finishing with a fun flourish, the effect one leaves with is that the overall film is better than its individual parts.

    Still, it's not as good as "Pulp Fiction" or "Get Shorty," both of which were more clever and had great performances from nearly all of the cast. While this is in no ways a bad film, one only wishes that it didn't wait until the second half to really take off, and that some of the major talent involved wasn't vastly misused and/or underused. It's almost as if Quentin decided to tone everything down a notch, so as not to compete with his earlier, hyped up features. Yet the strong characterizations of the leads, Tarantino's attention to smart, witty dialogue, and the stepped up last half of the film make the feature worthwhile.

    Jackie Brown - Miramax Collector's Edition is now available for purchase by clicking here .

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