Monday, January 28, 2013
(December 1997, U.S.)
After the great cinematic miracle of the 1990s that was known as PULP FICTION (1994), director Quentin Tarantino could have made a two hour dog food commercial as his next theatrical feature and I wold have been the first one on line to see it! The first glimpse I had of the film JACKIE BROWN was a series of movie posters depicting the cast gave every indication that it was to be a heist film or a film of con artists in the tradition of THE STING or the like. Based on Elmore Leonard's original novel "Rum Punch", it's everything I presumed it was and more. This was the first glimpse I was getting into Tarrantino's deep appreciation of films of the 1970s, particularly the blaxploitation and grindhouse portion of the decade. No wonder the films stars veteran '70's actress Pam Grier in the title role.
Unlike PULP FICTION, this story follows more of the traditional linear format in the telling of events. Starting out simply enough, Jackie Brown (Grier) is a flight attendant for a small, shitty Mexican airline, the latest step down for her career. To make ends meet, she smuggles money from Mexico into the United States for Ordell Robbie (played by Samuel L. Jackson), a black-market drug dealer and gun runner, and now she's about to steal from him. What makes her a particularly interesting woman is that she's willing to commit major theft against a criminal like Ordell not just for the money (though half a million dollars is nothing to sneeze at!), but because she's willing to accept the fact that she's getting older and that the money will alleviate her greatest fear in life, which is having to start all over again in life (I know just how she feels!).
Somehow, though, half a million dollars doesn't sound like a whole hell of a lot, even in the year 1997. Yet this money, which seems to be floating around town and passed around through many "go between" people around Los Angeles (particularly a very large shopping mall) has everyone involved from Jackie, to Ordell, to bail bondsman Max Cherry (played by veteran actor Robert Forster), to Orodell's sidekick Louis (played by Robert DeNiro), to Ordell's stoned girlfriend (played by Bridget Fonda) to the LAPD drug detectives on the case. It seems everybody's somehow in on the great big bag of money and it's simply a question of who's actually going to get away with it in the end. You want it to be, you presume it's going to be, you hope to fucking hell it's going to be Jackie Brown (it's HER movie, right?). Anyway it goes down, though, like THE STING, you have a lot of fun watching the deception and the deviation of all involved. You'll have a big smile on your face when the heroine gets the cash and drives away into the Los Angeles sunset with a big smile on HER face, too. And she'll be singing the words to "Across 110th Street" by Bobby Womack, one of the best damn songs of the 1970s!
It would have been damn near impossible to top PULP FICTION after the shitstorm it created back in the day, and frankly, it would've been completely unrealistic to expect as much from the next feature. JACKIE BROWN is pure fun and it's pure Quentin Tarantino all the way, just like we expect it to be!
Favorite line or dialogue:
Ordell Robbie: "Here we go, AK-47! The very best there is! When you absolutely, positively got to kill every motherfucker in the room, accept no substitutes!"