Jackie Brown ★★★★★

My favorite film that Paul Thomas Anderson never made... Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown has been my favorite movie of his as far back as I can remember (I stumbled on to it as a seven year old whose favorite actor was Chris Tucker and never looked back), but it wasn't until I learned who Quentin Tarantino was (and what he had done) that I started to wonder why it was my favorite. I had never thought about it before, but people started questioning why I loved Jackie Brown so much, and that got me thinking about it myself. It took me a while (mainly because I didn't really care to question it) but eventually I figured it out:

Jackie Brown is Quentin Tarantino's most human film. Or so that's what anyone who champions the film will tell you... but there's a reason for that. The characters are fuller and saddled with problems of a more human nature. Problems that not only help you relate but also sympathize with the cast of criminals and cops that make Jackie Brown go. But it's not just their personalities that make them sympathetic, it's their situations. Everyone in this film seems to be stuck between a rock and a hard place. And that combination of real people and real problems, in a real place, created one hell of a real film.

Another reason to love 'JB' is the craft. It's one of the best made movies I've ever seen, from the writing to the acting to the camera work and soundtrack; it's a master-class in film-making... It's not a master-class the same way Kill Bill is, in fact it's almost nothing like anything else in Tarantino's oeuvre, but it's a master-class all the same. Straying away from all the movie references and stylish set-pieces, Quentin opts for flowing character arc's and a wonderful caper in the middle of it all. And the result is a smooth, smart and ultimately sensational film from a man who seems to knock them out one after another.

The actual language of the film is drastically different here than anything else QT's done too, literally and cinematically. The writing (adapted from Elmore Leonard's 'Rum Punch' and seemingly inspired by Peter Yates' 'The Friends of Eddie Coyle') is 50% Quentin and 50% Leonard, and while that seems to upset QT fan-boys for some reason, I couldn't be happier with the results. Instead of cool and slightly kooky crime happenings, we get real people dealing with real problems... Once again, a rarity in a QT film. And the cinematic language is brand new. Instead of the stylized and gritty but still slick style of shooting QT fans were used to, this movie is smoother and sleeker, while also adding a lot to the film's sympathetic feel. It's composition rivals that of any film I've seen.

And it wouldn't be a QT film without a colorful cast of characters. While Pam Grier's wonderfully worn out airline stewardess and Robert Forster's sweet and silent bail bondsmen may seem a little drab compared to the usual fast talking casts of Quentin's movies, they're far from it. In fact, I think they provide the most solid core characters found anywhere in Quentin's oeuvre. Neither of them steals the show though, that honor goes to Sam Jackson. Who finds the center of attention in yet another QT flick. It may be called 'Jackie Brown' but it could've just as easily been 'Ordell Robbie' and that would've been just fine, considering the fact that the most colorful villain, in the cinematic universe, moves the story along just as much as the protagonist Jackie does. It's not moving the story along that makes him great though. That's thanks to the fact that he gets to show a wider range of emotions, and relatable human feelings, than any cinematic villain before Ordell, or after. His friend, Louis Gara, Is pretty great as well, despite what the casual movie watcher might have you think, De Niro submits a masterful performance as a man rediscovering the world outside of prison. He's perfect, and his performance would make the great(s) Jim Gandolfini and Bob Hoskins swoon. And I haven't mentioned Bridget Fonda, Michael Keaton, Michael Bowen or Chris Tucker, all of whom submit their own pitch perfect performances.

'Jackie Brown' is all that, and it's all edited together with such a wonderfully human (there's that word again) touch, that it seems more natural as a follow up to Paul Thomas Anderson's debut picture 'Sydney' than it does as a follow up to Quentin's 'Pulp Fiction' (also Paul Thomas Anderson's sophomore effort 'Boogie Nights' seems like a more natural fit between 'Pulp Fiction' and 'Kill Bill'...(did these two secretly direct each other’s films in 1997? They were friends)). Quentin Tarantino's follow-up to 'Pulp Fiction' and a criminally underrated caper film, Jackie Brown is, in this fan's mind, the best of many QT masterpieces.

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