Volume 91, Issue 56

Thursday, January 8, 1998

El nino


Tarantino's latest triumphs without twists

©Gazette File Photo
"NO SOUP FOR YOU!!" Robert De Niro, seen here as the Soup Nazi, gives Bridget Fonda a stern warning in Tarantino's grand new film, Jackie Brown.

By Dan Yurman

Gazette Staff

When word got out that Quentin Tarantino was putting out a new film, everyone and their mother was expecting another Pulp Fiction. Jackie Brown is not Pulp Fiction. It's not set up like Pulp Fiction, doesn't have characters as interesting as those in Pulp Fiction and certainly isn't as shocking as Pulp Fiction. What it is, however, is proof that Tarantino is growing and evolving as a filmmaker, trying new ideas and asserting himself as a true auteur in Hollywood.

Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) is a flight attendant for a fleabag Mexican airline, with a job on the side running money out of Mexico for Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson), a petty arms dealer. When the feds catch on to the scam, they persuade Brown to betray Robbie and turn him in. But Brown decides to betray everyone – and in true Tarantino style, all the characters wind up interacting together in a most unusual way to create a quite an interesting and enjoyable climax.

This film is driven by two distinct Tarantino-esque elements: fabulous characters and character developmen, and unconventional, yet intriguing, cinematography.

The movie is jam packed with diverse characters and each are fully exposed to the audience. There is a beach bum (Bridget Fonda) whose ambition in life is to "sit on the couch and get high," an ex-con (Robert De Niro) whose only wish is to live the rest of his life in peace and quiet and a bail bondsman (Robert Forster) whose personality is the last thing anyone would expect from a man in his profession – honest, hard-working and good-natured. The movie dedicates a fair amount of time to each character, allowing the audience to know everything about them, so that by the end of the film, the audience feels like they're watching old friends on screen.

Jackie Brown's character development is aided mostly by the cinematography, visually isolating the character the audience is "supposed" to be focusing on at a given moment. The camera then follows, at extreme close-up range, every action the character does – whether it is lighting a cigarette, drinking a beer or eyeing another person. This style of cinematography provides the audience with a comprehensive visual biography that extends throughout the film. It's a thought-provoking and effective way to driving the story to its conclusion.

With Jackie Brown, Tarantino has capitalized on the elements which worked in his previous films, but sacrificed a better, more eventful story and mile-a-minute dialogue for a two and a half hour character study that works well. Jackie Brown is a must-see for a Tarantino fan – and a movie worth seeing for anyone who appreciates innovation in film.

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