The second half of Tarantino’s 2 part revenge epic, about a samurai Bride exacting brutal retribution against her former assassin family, treads decidedly similar ground to its predecessor but also manages to develop and improve on it in nearly every way.
Jackie Brown, the painfully stylish, third film from Quentin Tarantino follows the story of a failed flight hostess, a forlorn bail bondsman, a charismatic and fowl mouthed arms dealer along with a variety of other more forgettable characters in pursuit of half a million dollars.
Jackie Brown breaks the usual QT mould by doing a number of things differently to it’s two predecessors. It is an adaption of the novel “Rum Punch” by Elmore Leonard as apposed to being the normal 100% biological, brain baby of the director himself and it has a structured storyline as apposed to the usual sporadic collection of intersecting episodes associated with Tarantino’s movies. It also feels over stuffed, like a compulsive eater consuming not only the complimentary diner mint but also the tray and the waiter carrying it, doesn’t make a huge amount of sense – similar to my last metaphor, and most noticeably of all, as the ending credits roll up, doesn’t nearly approach the frenetic quality of his previous two movies.
Tarantino evidently isn’t quite used to making conventional cinema. Watching him attempt to create an inherently normal film from source material that wasn’t born, kicking and screaming, from his own hyperactive “brain womb” is like watching Bambi trying to surf. And when he trys to incorporate character development and the complex, central narrative into the mix it’s similar to seeing a quadriplegic try to juggle. It’s an admirable sight but he doesn’t quite manage to succeed to the extent he and the audience would of liked.
Each of the characters feels as if they could have carried an entire film on there own and even in the lengthy running time of 2 and a half hours almost none get nearly enough screen time.
The shear amount of misused talent is staggering, I know Jackie Brown was primarily a comeback vehicle for Pam Grier, but you’d have thought Tarantino would have found a little more screen time for De Niro and Micheal Keaton and would have invested a fraction more of his time making them more developed than simple 2 dimensional ciphers. They really only seem to be there to fill out the steadily increasing list of amusing crime movie cliches.
Robert De Niro doesn’t seem to have an ounce of heart in the performance, looking uncannily like an alcoholic, post sleigh crash Santa, speaking in mono syllables and really only showing a flicker of emotion about 30 seconds before his onscreen demise. Micheal Keaton does his best with what little he’s given but permanently has the look of an over enthusiastic Labrador with bladder problems.
Bridget Fonda who’s fantastic as the oopa loopa coloured beach bunny bitch is also massively under used.
QT has opted instead for focusing all his twitchy attentions on the three central protagonists and does this well incorporating a degree of character development, some of his classic dialogue and trademark direction style into their scenes.
And don’t get me wrong there were many aspects of it that I enjoyed. Samuel L Jackson played his smoother than a aggressively exfoliated baby’s arse, character word perfectly and I’m still shell shocked to discover that he didn’t even get an Oscar nom for it.
The scene inwhich Ordeal walks his recently bailed out, associate to his car is one of the most memorable and classically Tarantino moments of the entire film.
And the tentative and brilliantly realised relationship between Robert Foster’s crushingly lonely bail bondsman and Pam Griers fiesty flight attendant is wonderful to watch, and both actors are equally brilliant.
The FUN-KAY, what have I become?!, 70’s soundtrack is absolutely great and I found myself re-watching the opening credits, a homage to the graduate, repeatedly purely to experience QT’s fantastic direction but also for the painfully catchy song “Across 110th street”.
Per usual in a Tarantino film it’s an entertaining experience yet sadly the entire movie comes across as a rather hollow missed opportunity, with the potential to be so much more.
I’m sorry to break the glorious string of 8’s but I feel it’s my duty
6 out of 10 stars
Written September 2010
QT’s glorious second directorial outing is unashamedly similar to his ultra violent debut in a variety of ways.
Another nice touch is the interconnecting story lines between each of the protagonists, with many of the characters stumbling into each others stories and either having little or huge effect on the various chapters.
Each of the “colourful” and well rounded characters are stereotypical caricatures, from the rapist, gimp keeping hillbilly to the menacing king pin, Marseillus, spouting lines like, “If Butch goes to Indo-China I wanna n###er hiding in a bowl of rice ready to pop a cap in his ass.” But it’s also this abandonment of realism which makes every chapter and character so fun to watch.
The two foremost, show stealing protagonists, Vincent and Jules are played gloriously by John Travolta and Samuel Jackson, each acting as the central performance in every one of the films most iconic and memorable scenes.
Quentin Tarantino’s controversial, critically acclaimed debut goes one step further than to simply breath new life into the arthritic old man that was the 90’s heist movie genre, it slips him a viagra and slaps him on the ass.
The movie opens with “the dog’s” sitting around a cramped table in a grimy coffee shop. QT introduces the film and the less than lovable characters with summa his classic organic feeling dialogue and stylistic direction, a single shot circling the table, we’ve all come to know and love. There’s probably some political subtext or popculture references hidden amongst the dialogue as the “adorable” group of pyschopaths discuss waitress salaries and the true naught-ey message in Madge’s “Like a Virgin” but I don’t really care, all I know is that the first 9 minutes made up one of the most hilarious, coarse, eye opening(in Madonna’s case) and enjoyable movie openings I have ever seen and set the tone for the remainder of the film.