Jackie Brown ★★★★★

Included in the list:
The Director Series I: Cinema of Quentin Tarantino

From the complicated universe of Pulp Fiction, Quentin Tarantino goes in a straightforward motion in his third film Jackie Brown, a supremely well-told crime thriller that leaves you on the edge of your seat. Adapted from Elmore Leonard’s novel Rum Punch (one of the only unoriginal works of Mr. Tarantino), the film tells the story of desperate individuals hustling to survive in a dog-eat-dog world. Every character in Jackie Brown has a fight to conquer and the struggle is real hard. This is the first Tarantino movie that I fell in love right away. Jackie Brown is far from Mr. Tarantino’s usual, stylistic cool of concept-based films. Here, the film is straightforward, grittier, denser, have complex and grounded characterizations—in short, it’s magnetically soulful.

In Jackie Brown, it’s the battle of the smartest. You want to live? You better think fast. The writing is not as evocative as Pulp Fiction, or tense as Reservoir Dogs, Jackie Brown relies on streetwise sensibilities rooted in reality. As the story evolves, it keeps getting better and better and it’s really interesting seeing Mr. Tarantino flesh his writing capabilities in a manner where you don’t need excessive style to express your story. It’s a very smart screenplay that deserved its right as an homage to the blaxploitation cinema of 70’s.

Talk about the casting again, wow. Pam Grier is a serious knock-out. She enters the film twenty minutes after, but boy, she’s tough and compelling to watch. Grier’s characterization is fearlessly competent and moving as Jackie. This is a woman who has become tired of the establishment. And she will do everything she can to conquer success. Samuel L. Jackson is fire, once again. That hood criminal character of his is chilling and nonetheless riveting. Robert Forster has a charming character which is one of the reasons why I immediately fell in love in this film. His instant romantic attraction with Grier’s Jackie is one of the film’s delights. I love how it never looked cheap on screen or never succumbed into clichés which is refreshing. The supporting turns are low-key, but very indelible. Robert De Niro might look like he’s underused but he’s one compelling character. It’s just that we used to seeing him talk a lot. Ditto Bridget Fonda and the amazing Michael Keaton.

Overall, Jackie Brown might look like an oddball Tarantino movie, but when you look deeper you’ll see that somehow Mr. Tarantino had matured in a way. Looking back, I wished Mr. Tarantino has made more films like this. Simple, but well-told. Even if it’s long, there are no moments of self-indulgence. Every second is earned. Oh, and by the way—the OST is lit. #across110thstreet

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