Sunday, July 4, 2010

Jackie Brown (1997)

During Oscar Watch '10, one of the films I ended up watching was Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds. Well, watching it sent my brother on a Tarantino kick and within a few weeks I had seen every single one of his movies, and I have to say that Jackie Brown may be my favorite.

Pam Grier stars as the titular character, a middle aged stewardess with a second rate airline that flies exclusively to Mexico, which makes her an ideal money runner for Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson), an arms dealer. When Jackie is caught by the police, she is given an opportunity to sell Ordell out to avoid jail but instead Jackie decides to play both sides in a bid to avoid prison and to make off with Ordell's $500,000 stored in Mexico. Also involved are Ordell's old partner-in-crime Louis (Robert DeNiro) who is fresh out of prison and generally disconnected with the world and his pot smoking "girlfriend" Melanie (Bridget Fonda), and lonely bail bondsman Max Cherry (Robert Forster).

The film's cast of character is so strong that every single character could have easily been the focus of their own movie, with the level of acting so strong that it's hard to pick one as a stand-out. If anything, this is Pam Grier's movie. She has to take a character and make her strong, sexy, vulnerable, intelligent and cunning and she does it perfectly, creating one of the screen's most clever characters ever. Samuel L. Jackson is great as well, creating a criminal that can be frightening, charming, and endearing in a single scene.

The reason Jackie Brown is so great can be generalized to all of Tarantino's films. He's the master at casting his movies and he can blend comedy and drama better than anyone. It's rare for a film to feature such an in-depth plot and still be able to make you laugh more than most comedies. And the best part is that it never feels false, it never feels as if he is going for a laugh, instead it's humor the derives itself from the characters and their own unique quirks and personalities.

At 2 1/2 hours, this film is way too short, and an entire hour could have been added and I would be happy. One of my all-time favorites.

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