Jackie Brown (Blu-ray)
Say one thing for Quentin Tarantino, say he’s a great filmmaker. Not many Writer/Directors maintain high quality work for the duration of their careers. Tarantino is one of the very few who, in my humble opinion, deserve recognition for this feat. Starting in 1992 with the debut of RESERVOIR DOGS at the Sundance Film Festival, he has consistently released high quality productions. One of the finest wordsmiths in Hollywood, his ability to craft characters by giving them each a unique voice is one of the trademarks of his films, as is assembling an incredible cast of actors (hot young talent and incredible veteran actors you might not remember).
JACKIE BROWN is no exception. While not my favorite Tarantino film (that honor is reserved for either PULP FICTION or spread evenly across the KILL BILL Duology), there are few films that establish an environment and ambience as well as this movie. The opening sequence (one long camera shot) follows Jackie (Pam Grier, most recently of LARRY CROWNE) through an airline terminal as she heads to her job. She’s a flight attendant with a record, no longer able to work on large airlines; she’s stuck on the Cabo Air flight crew. For extra money she has started smuggling to and from Mexico for an arms dealer, Ordell (Samuel L. Jackson of PULP FICTION, the in-production THE AVENGERS). On her return flight she’s picked up by Michael Keaton’s ATF agent, Ray Nicolette, who’s been building a case against Ordell. Nicolette threatens to put Jackie in prison if she doesn’t cooperate with their investigation.
This is where JACKIE BROWN gets going. To get Jackie out of county jail, Ordell posts bond with Robert Forster’s Max Cherry, a bail-bondsman who recognizes Jackie’s feelings of stagnation with her life in himself, and takes an instant liking to our unlikely hero. As Jackie tries to work out how she can get away from this mess, she formulates an extremely intricate (but possibly brilliant?) plan. The plan becomes more and more complex when things don’t work out as planned, most importantly (and visibly) because of Ordell’s acquaintances Melanie (Bridget Fonda) and Louis (Robert De Niro). Melanie is a pot-head with whom Ordell lives from time-to-time. Louis is a friend who came up with Ordell and who has just been released from prison.
As with most Tarantino films, the set up and mandatory exposition for an ensemble of this size is handled with ease. There are a few sections near the beginning of the film that slow down the pace, but by 45 minutes or so the plot takes off and starts to pay dividends on that early investment. This is what is so much fun about Tarantino films – you get to listen to great dialogue and see interesting people in difficult situations – and soon you’re right in there with them experiencing everything as it happens.
JACKIE BROWN is a movie improved with age and with some separation from PULP FICTION. The movies are spiritually linked, but where PULP had lots of action BROWN is a movie more based on the intimate moments between the action. When this movie came out, people knew Tarantino from his two prior films only, RESERVOIR DOGS and PULP FICTION. Now, knowing how versatile he is, this movie doesn’t feel as out of place as it did when originally released in 1997.
JACKIE BROWN hasn’t missed a step in the conversion to Blu-ray. Another Tarantino staple is the inclusion of an incredible soundtrack that helps to immerse the audience – and the music he selected for JACKIE BROWN is perfect. The movie feels timeless. If you haven’t seen it, or if you saw it and didn’t like it back in the day, you owe it to yourself to pick it up and watch it again as soon as possible. I think you’ll be surprised.
Video: (1080p, 1.85:1 Widescreen) The video looks incredible, with the colors being more vibrant than I even remember from the theaters. This is the transfer and clarity for which most films aim.
Audio: (English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio) The soundtrack is phenomenal, both the music and the dialogue are mixed perfectly so you never miss a beat. This could very easily become a Blu-ray I use to show off the sound quality that they bring.
How It Went Down: A Documentary (38:55) A standard definition featurette about the making of the movie, from inception to adaptation, casting and shooting, to Tarantino’s working style and ability. One of his crew talks about Tarantino as a cinematic Rain Man – he loves film and he really knows film. My favorite gem is Tarantino on casting – he doesn’t set out to revive careers, he casts the right people in the right roles. Here-here, Quentin. Here-here.
Breaking Down Jackie Brown (43:49) A sort of round-table discussion with critics talking about how the film hit them when it came out, and what they feel about it now. Features high definition footage from the film and is a really interesting discussion. The group is relaxed but they cover a lot of ground.
A Look Back at Jackie Brown – Interview with Quentin (54:42) Almost an hour of Quentin being interviewed about the movie, writing, casting, and why he does some of the things that he does in his movies. Quentin is incredibly passionate about cinema, and his passion takes what could easily become an over-indulgent feature and turns keeps your attention. I especially enjoyed his discussion of JACKIE BROWN as his RIO BRAVO, “it’s a hangout movie. The first time you see it your stuck in the plot…” but after that any time you watch you’re waiting for the people to hang out and talk. As a critic who didn’t like it nearly as much the first time, let me say I completely agree.
Chicks with Guns Video (04:52) The entire video created for the film, featuring women in bikini’s talking about guns. The video was created as the film Ordell uses to sell guns. Seen in clips in the film, I actually felt just a tiny bit dirty watching the entire thing at once.
Deleted and Alternate Scenes (15:29) A few scenes that were cut from the film, with an introduction by Tarantino to give some set up. Nothing I wish had been included, but these are actually fun to watch (unlike many scenes included on Blu-ray releases).
Siskel & Ebert “At the Movies” – JACKIE BROWN Review (04:46) I miss these two and the way that they worked together. It’s a fun bit of nostalgia included here.
Jackie Brown on MTV – A promotional contest video (01:03) that’s pretty funny, and a collection of interviews with Quentin, Bridget Fonda, and Pam Grier on MTV Live (14:22).
A fun bit of included material, as you dig through the tremendous special features, are the following:
– Theatrical Trailers for older Robert Forster movies;
– Theatrical Trailers for Pam Grier films;
– Pam Grier Radio Spots from her early films;
– Marketing Gallery featuring all of the theatrical teasers and trailers, the TV spots, and posters from the film;
– Still Galleries featuring a multitude of production stills, behind-the-scenes stills, location scouting, production design and memorabilia from the movie;
– Enhanced Trivia Track, featuring fun facts and trivia about all kinds of topics;
– Soundtrack Chapters, which allows you to select a scene based on the featured music from that scene.