It's been five years since I've seen "Jackie Brown" and I'm glad that I left it sit for those five years. When I first saw the film, I was disapointed; while I wasn't expecting another "Pulp Fiction", the film's pacing felt off, the rhythm wasn't there and I didn't find any of the characters involving in the way that they were in any of the director's previous films.
Watching it again, the film clicked; it flowed better and I appreciated some of the performances that I wasn't as impressed with before. Samuel L. Jackson stars as Ordell Robbie, a guns runner who, as the film opens, is watching a video starring "Chicks Who Like Guns" and delightfully describing the contents to sidekick Louis Gara (Robert De Niro).
Meanwhile, Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) is a flight attendant running cash for Ordell. When Jackie's busted by Federal Agent Ray Nicolet (Michael Keaton), she decides to go along, but try and turn all sides against each other, while she escapes with quite the haul. Joining up with bail bondsman Max Cherry (Robert Forster), Jackie makes an attempt to snag Ordell's incoming $500,000 with neither side getting away from trouble.
"Jackie Brown" is Tarantino's adaptation of Elmore Leonard's novel "Rum Punch". I've read some of Leonard's novels - not all and not this one - and have terrific respect for the novelist, who comes up with wildly entertaining characters and remarkable dialogue. However, in the transition between novel and screen, Tarantino seems to be missing something. The film does not manage the kind of energy that any of the director's prior work has offered. While the intent seems to be to let the characters develop, there are a few too many scenes that do not progress the story well enough and, as a result, the pace is rather stop-and-start. Editing out around 25 minutes of the 155 could have helped tighten the film.
The performances are excellent throughout. As to be expected, Samuel L. Jackson offers the most entertaining performance; he's the only one that really knows how to make the Tarantino/Leonard dialogue crackle. Pam Grier and Robert Forster also offer fine performances, with their sort of unspoken romance nicely played. DeNiro is okay, Michael Keaton is decent in a small role and Bridget Fonda doesn't do much, but she looks great doing it.
Overall, while "Jackie Brown" played better for me the second time around, I still think there are some problems with it. The performances are excellent, but the movie could have been more entertaining had it gotten to the point with a little more speed.
VIDEO: "Jackie Brown" is presented by Miramax in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The picture quality is a little better than "Pulp Fiction", but there are still some concerns scattered throughout. Sharpness and detail are usually excellent; while there are a few soft images here and there, most of the film appears crisp and detailed.
Edge enhancement is not a problem here, as it was on "Pulp". However, the print used on "Jackie Brown" didn't seem entirely clean, which was a little disapointing. While certainly not in terrible condition, there were several scenes where specks/marks on the print used were visible. Colors remained bright, rich and warm, with no smearing or other faults. A really nice transfer, but not flawless.
SOUND: As with "Pulp Fiction", "Jackie Brown" is presented here in both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1. Also, as with "Pulp Fiction", the surrounds are really only used for the music. Still, the speakers pump out the classic tunes well and add to the tone and feel of the movie wonderfully. Audio quality is fine, as the music remained crisp and clear, as did dialogue. Last, but not least, as with "Pulp Fiction", I thought the DTS track brought an extra measure of clarity and kick to the music.
MENUS: "Jackie Brown"'s animated menus put small clips from the film to use, mixing them together to create an energetic opening.
Intro: On the first DVD, Quentin Tarantino offers a short introduction to the DVD, explaining what's taken so long to get the DVD out.
Siskel and Ebert Review: As with the "Pulp Fiction"'s DVD supplement where the two critics discussed Tarantino's work, this clip from the TV show has the two critics chatting about "Jackie Brown".
How It Went Down: This is a lengthy promotional piece, offering about 45-minutes worth of interviews and basic behind-the-scenes footage from the movie. Many of those involved - Pam Grier, the production designer, Tarantino, producer Bender, Samuel L. Jackson and many others discuss their roles in the project, their characters and the story. There's some decent insights into Taratino's work from Tarantino, but the information in this documentary is a little too few-and-far-between.
Jackie Brown on MTV: This section offers an MTV promo for the movie, as well as an "MTV Live" special where Carson Daly interviews an animated Tarantino, Pam Grier and Bridget Fonda, who seems more out-of-it than her character in the movie.
A Look Back at "Jackie Brown": This is a 54-minute interview with Tarantino, who goes into impressive depth about the entire process of "Jackie Brown", from the casting to the production to the reaction. Aside from insightful discussions of how the cast worked and his opinions on filmmaking, there are also some other interesting tidbits throughout, such as early on, where Tarantino states that he wrote much of "Crimson Tide" (which was a surprise, as I'd heard that the director only wrote a little of the film). While 54-minutes of all-Tarantino may start to get a little much, there are some really cool bits of information and insights throughout that are worthwhile viewing.
Deleted Scenes: Tarantino provides an amusing and energetic introduction for 6 deleted scenes, which are a mixture of deleted, alternate and extended takes.
Trailers/TV Spots: 3 trailers for the film, along with 8 TV spots.
Still Gallery: A massive still gallery, broken up into sections: "Jackie Brown" posters; production stills; behind-the-scenes stills; location scouting; production design and logos; memorabilia; posters from Pam Grier movies; posters from Robert Forster movies; soundtrack covers from Pam Grier movies.
Also: The full "Chicks Who Like Guns" infomercial, reviews and articles, filmographies, trailers for Robert Forster movies, trailers for Pam Grier movies, Pam Grier radio spots and a subtitle "fact track" for the picture.
DVD-ROM: Script viewer, enhanced playback track feature, interactive game and more.
Final Thoughts: While I'm not a "Jackie Brown" fan, there are certainly a lot of people out there who are, and they should definitely enjoy this 2-DVD set. Recommended.
The Film ***