Half a million dollars will always be missed.
A review by Mike Shea Movie Rating: ( * * * * · ) DVD Rating: ( * * * * · )
There are times in the lives of some people where they look back at a particular feat, a particular moment, and know that it was the best work they ever did. Filled with pride at first, they may find a great depression in knowing they will never be able to do it again. Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel, a work never again recreated. Jackson Pollack looked back at the revolution in abstract expressionism he had created and wrapped his tree around a car in despair. How did Quentin Tarantino feel after the initial rush of praise he received after Pulp Fiction wore off? How would it feel to sit down, write, and direct Jackie Brown knowing it can’t come close to the single best work of a lifetime? Bad enough to not direct a movie since, it would appear.
Jackie Brown is a remarkable and entertaining movie. At any other time and directed by anyone other than Tarantino, it would have been recognized as an excellent urban gangster tale. But a movie by Tarantino only three years after Pulp Fiction isn’t going to get a fair review from anyone, and it didn’t.
Five years after its release, we may be able to judge Jackie Brown a bit more fairly. Halfway into the film, Jackie Brown discusses the slow death of growing old with Max Cherry. It is a warm and comfortable conversation that feeds the motivation for the rest of the movie. It has been years since I sat down and watched this movie end to end. I found a plethora of new paths to follow, new bits of character to chew on. The depth of character, quite good the first time, got richer with this most recent viewing. The subtleties between Melanie and Louis (my favorite example of DeNiro’s amazing range as an actor) as he joins a plot for sex and rejects it later when it becomes clear who’s smarter than who – clearly not him.
Jackie Brown was a poster child during the DIVX wars of ’97. It was a film raped by Miramax into release only on the bastard child of Richard Sharp and Circuit City. You couldn’t watch Jackie Brown on DVD. You couldn’t really own it. Five years later it finally hits our shelves. DIVX is a forgotten dark time – forgotten by everyone but me it appears. This special edition cut includes a 2.35 to 1 16x9 enhanced transfer, DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks, and some entertaining making-of features and cast interviews. You will be spending a buck or two for an extra full frame disc, something akin to finding out you paid for your own urinal cake on the bill of a fancy restaurant. Miramax just doesn’t seem to ever want to stop ripping you off for something completely useless and dangerous to the film industry.
When taken with its own merits, Jackie Brown is an excellent crime drama with some great characters, excellent dialog and razor sharp direction. Only when compared to Pulp Fiction can it be categorized as mediocre. Although Tarantino will look over his life and remember Pulp Fiction as his true masterpiece, Jackie Brown should not be forgotten.