My countdown to Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight continues with a dissection of Jackie Brown. Jackie Brown could very well be Tarantino’s most underrated film. Hell, its Top Critics score on Rotten Tomatoes is currently 61%, the lowest of any Tarantino film. Which means that many major critics didn’t really dig the film when it was released, but I think you’d have a hard time finding one who didn’t like the film today. Be sure to check out my previous posts on Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, and come back next Friday for my take on Kill Bill: Vol. 1.
Jackie Brown, Quentin Tarantino’s first and only film shot in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, as opposed to his preferred 2.35:1.
The Foxy Brown title font.
The way Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson) says the word “here” during his gun speech: “Now dis heah.”
Melanie (Bridget Fonda) suggestively readjusting her back after sitting down sideways in the chair.
Max Cherry’s (Robert Forster) rushed and dismissive “…sit down” to Ordell.
“I bet it was your idea to take that picture too, wasn’t it?”
I used to work with a guy who had a bail bonds business on the side. He said that Forster’s performance in this movie is exactly what most middle aged bail bondsmen are like. Tired, flippant, a little edgy, but guys who know their shit. Basically, he said Forster owned this role.
Ordell giving Louis (Robert De Niro) very specific instructions about how to open Ordell’s car, and what Louis is, and is not, allowed to do once in the car.
And then showing Louis following those instructions, if for no other reason than why not?
I literally used to live two blocks up from Hollywood and Western. So weird, totally forgot this was where Beaumont (Chris Tucker) lives.
Love that much of Ordell’s interaction with Beaumont takes place in a series of stealth oners (long takes that don’t draw attention to being long takes)...
Ordell and Beaumont’s first conversation: 2 minute 35 seconds.
Ordell and Beamount walking: 49 seconds.
Ordell and Beamount talking at the car: 1 minute 44 seconds.
The glorious crane shot revealing Beaumont’s murder in the distance: 1 minute 32 seconds.
Ordell explaining to Louis why he killed Beaumont: 1 minute 57 seconds.
Ordell increasing the volume on his car stereo, thereby turning The Brothers Johnson’s “Strawberry Letter 23” from a diegetic sound (a sound present in the movie itself, such as dialogue or a song from speakers), to a non-diegetic sound (a sound added later in post-production, such as narration or music on the soundtrack).
This scene is 27 minutes into the film, which means we haven’t seen the main character of the film for more than 24 minutes. How many movies can get away with that?
Ray Nicolette’s (Michael Keaton) subtle introduction. “Can I uhh, uhh, help out here?”
Ray delivering the line, “Looks like about $50,000 from here,” while never looking away from Jackie (Pam Grier).
“Jackie, I hope you don’t mind if I call you Jackie. Those guys down in customs, they’re a bunch of fuckin’ pricks. Excuse me, but they are. I don’t know, there’s just something about that job that makes those people really hard to get along with.” My favorite bit of dialogue in the film.
Ray’s casual mood as he gets coffee in his partner’s office. I adore Keaton in this film. His work has never gotten enough credit.
Grier’s longtime co-star, Sid Haig, playing the judge who sentences Jackie.
“Uhh, uhh, uhh… I didn’t hear you wash your hands.”
Jackie asking Max for his ID. It’s her subtle way of saying, “So, did Ordell send you here to kill me?”
The blood red lighting in this bar.
One of the best uses of split-screen ever conceived. You have no idea what its purpose is, until you do. What a revelation.
“Shut. Yo. Raggedy. Ass. Up. And sit THE FUCK down!”
The double take Jackie does when “Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)” by The Delfonics begins playing…
…and Max’s infatuation with Jackie upon seeing this.
The cross-dissolve of Jackie sitting at her breakfast table to Ray power strutting down the hallway.
Mark Dargus (Michael Bowen) casually granting Jackie permission to smoke in his office, when he was such a dick about it before.
Ray Nicolette and his shorts.
I’m fascinated by a director’s choice of transitions. For example, I’m not sure why Tarantino cross-dissolves the picture of Melanie when she was 14, to her making a shake in the kitchen, but I absolutely love it.
Whenever I watch Jackie Brown, I can’t help but crave a screwdriver. Screwdrivers are to Jackie Brown what White Russians are to The Big Lebowski.
The insanely detailed voicemail Max leaves Jackie. She’s got him.
Jackson’s face when he says, “Hey, she ain’t gone be no ‘rock ho’.”
Ordell trying to hide when he spots Max at the Del Amo Mall.
Sincere question: did Jackie and Max secretly plan to meet at the Del Amo Mall after Jackie’s meeting with Ordell? Or is it pure coincidence?
Mark, Jackie and Ray arguing about how to best describe the shopping bag.
Max justifying the plan to himself out loud in a parking lot.
Louis spacing out while he’s on the phone.
Melanie watching Dirty Mary Crazy Larry, starring Bridget Fonda’s father, Peter.
Louis’ “on the job” disposition: slicked-back hair, anxious, angry.
Jackie staring at herself in the dressing room mirror. Grier says everything without saying anything. One of many reasons she should’ve been nominated for an Oscar for this performance.
There is no end to the pleasure I get from Grier’s delivery of, “I put a cherry on top, boo-yahhhhh.”
Stealth oner: Jackie hurriedly walking through the store and into the mall in a thrilling take lasting 1 minute and 26 seconds.
The brief shot of Max as Louis and Melanie walk in the store.
Louis threatening to knock Melanie “the fuck out.”
The getaway car stalling out as Louis leaves the job.
My favorite scene of the film. Ordell’s silent contemplation, the slow push-in, and then it clicks, “...it’s Jackie Brown.”
Aside from Grier, Keaton gives my favorite performance in the film, and this is by far my favorite scene of his. I love Ray’s sarcastic frustration here. It’s the only time we see Ray disheveled in the film. And the way Keaton…adjusts himself is absolutely hilarious.
Jackson’s call-back to Pulp Fiction with the line, “This is some repugnant shit.”
Ordell and Winston’s (Tommy “Tiny” Lister, Jr.) brief phone interaction.
“My ass may be dumb, but I ain’t no dumbass.”
The Michael Keaton Hero Shot.
Ray Nicolette and his sandals.
Max stopping his phone call so that he can properly watch his lady drive away.
Don’t know whose closing shot is better, Max harshly out of focus...
...or Jackie driving into the sunset, singing along to Bobby Womack.
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