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Jackie Brown: Collector's Edition

After the out-of-nowhere success of Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs (1992) and his blazing, ground-breaking follow-up Pulp Fiction (1994), fans' expectations were high — and many critics were poised to slap him back down for his hubris. Perhaps that's why QT waited nearly four years before making Jackie Brown (1997); the pressure must have been enormous. Based on the novel Rum Punch by crime-fiction master Elmore Leonard, the film concerns Jackie Brown (Pam Grier), a 44-year-old flight attendant for a crappy Mexican airline who gets popped by the cops for smuggling money for a gun dealer named Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson). An ATF agent named Ray Nicolet (Michael Keaton) wants to use Jackie to get to Ordell. Attempting to extricate herself from the clutches of both the Feds and the gun-runner — and pocket as much of the cash as she can for herself — Jackie enlists the help of Max Cherry (Robert Forster), a world-weary, almost-divorced, fifty-something bail bondsman. Like in pretty much all of Leonard's novels, the plot's not nearly that straightforward. However, Jackie and Max's plan is complicated by two of Ordell's associates who'd also like to get their hands on the money: a dim-witted ex-con named Louis (Robert De Niro), and Ordell's surf-bunny girlfriend, Melanie (Bridget Fonda). Along the way, people get killed, schemes backfire, and the relationships between the characters twist in entirely unexpected ways. A mix of potboiler B-movies and '70s blaxploitation films, Tarantino combines the two genres with a deft hand, using subtle cinematic references and great '70s music like Bobby Womack's "Across 110th Street" and the Delfonics' "Didn't I Blow Your Mind This Time." More leisurely paced and less violent film than either Reservoir Dogs or Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown is a movie that improves with age — the performances are top-notch, the setting, clothes, music, and other details are timeless, and the writing dazzles. However, at two hours, 31 minutes it's far too long and starts to wear out its welcome before QT finally ties all the pieces together. But despite that, there's some moments of sheer genius in the film. Miramax's "Collector's Edition" two-disc DVD set of Jackie Brown offers a trunkful of extras, including an optional trivia track, a "making-of" featurette ("Jackie Brown: How It Went Down"); "Jackie Brown on MTV" promo materials; a "look back" interview with Tarantino; eight alternate and deleted scenes; the "Chicks Who Love Guns" video; an insanely extensive still gallery featuring posters, photos, full-length print reviews, and more; trailers for films starring Pam Grier and Robert Forster; plus theatrical trailers, eight TV spots, some radio spots done by Pam Grier, a five-minute Siskel & Ebert at the Movies snippet (two thumbs up!), and DVD ROM features. Dual-DVD digipak with paperboard slipcase.
—Dawn Taylor

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