Jackie Brown (1997)
Jackie Brown was the last of the Quentin Tarantino movies that I had not seen, until now. Here is a film with a number of big name actors in their prime and an established director who had semi-recently directed Reservoir Dogs (1992) and Pulp Fiction (1994). So why did I wait 16 years to watch this movie? The answer is that I was only 11 years old when it was in theatres and it is rated R. I was thinking about watching it about 11 years ago, but I had only heard bad things from die hard Tarantino fans, so I decided against it. I figured I would get around to it eventually, but I sure didn’t think it would take me this long.
The film is about an arms dealer (Samuel L. Jackson) who is at risk of being investigated by the police, so he decides to clean up shop and dispose of some of the employees of his illegal organization. One of his employees named Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) is not so easy to get rid of.
From the very start of the film, it feels like Samuel L. Jackson is playing basically the same character that he played in Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. He is loud, he talks a lot, and he uses the F and N words way more than he or anybody else probably should. He gets away with it though because he is Samuel L. Jackson and somehow that makes it okay.
To this point in time, Tarantino’s films had been known for their heavy language, violence, and lots of dialogue. Jackie Brown carries on this tradition, except has far more scenes of people sitting or standing around talking. If the main characters are not sitting around an apartment chatting and smoking pot, then they are sitting around a bar or an office drinking, smoking cigarettes, and talking up a storm. There is an obscene amount of talking and far less doing, anything.
This is a 2 hour and 34 minute long crime drama. Honestly, it feels like Tarantino’s ego may have gotten the better of him while making this movie and he decided it was a masterpiece and therefore didn’t cut anything. Maybe he had gotten so much praise from his first two films that he let it go to his head. The film was probably an hour longer than it needed to be. Some scenes were so painstakingly slow that I got bored and a little sleepy.
De Niro seemed somewhat miscast. His character was so dumbed-down that it did not seem like he fit the part.
It was entertaining to see all of these big stars while they were still in their prime. However, Jackie Brown is a bloated thriller without very many thrills. This is Quentin Tarantino’s worst film. I’m glad that I finally watched it because now I know what all of the fuss is about. If you have not seen this movie, you’re not missing much.
I rate this movie a 4 on a scale of 1-10.
Buy, rent, or run? Run.
It’s amazing how many films have scenes where people are in a movie theatre watching a movie. You are watching a movie about someone watching a movie. I don’t mind, but it’s a funny thought.
Sad fact: Tony Scott and 3 big names from this film (Dennis Hopper, James Gandolfini, and Chris Penn) all passed away within the last 7 years. Hopper was the only one that wasn’t taken before his time.
What a strange coincidence that Mr. Orange from Reservoir Dogs (1992) was born a day after his co-star Mr. White (Harvey Keitel). Well, 22 years and one day to be exact. Another coincidence is that both actors are probably most popular for the same 2 movies, Reservoir Dogs (1992) and Pulp Fiction (1994). They both played their own part in helping to make Quentin Tarantino famous and in return he helped to boost their careers.
Even though Roth never really reached superstar status, he has still had a pretty successful career. Besides the 2 films that I mentioned, my other favorite Tim Roth films are
The Legend of 1900 (1998),
Deceiver (1997), and
What is your favorite Tim Roth movie?
Note: Random movie connection: Chris Penn played Nice Guy Eddie in Reservoir Dogs and he was also in Deceiver with Tim Roth. It’s interesting to me how often actors work together in multiple different movies or work with the same directors on different films.
Happy Birthday to Harvey Keitel! The actor who is probably most famously known for playing Mr. White in Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs (1992) turns 74 today. Mr. White has got to be my favorite Keitel character, although he has had a number of other very solid roles. My other favorite Harvey Keitel Characters are:
Winston ‘The Wolf’ Wolfe in Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction (1994)
Ray Donlan in Cop Land (1997)
Dad in Little Nicky (2000)
Roy Egan in City of Industry (1997)
Jack Crawford in Red Dragon (2002)
Hal in Thelma & Louise (1991)
I could not stand Keitel as The Lieutenant in Bad Lieutenant (1992). At the time that I watched that movie, it was so bad that I turned it off and didn’t finish it. I never went back and gave it another chance. It was so awful that I don’t think I will ever feel the need to revisit it.
Which of Harvey Keitel’s characters do you like the best and which do you like the worst?
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Inglourious Basterds is a World War II film of epic proportions. I think the title of the movie is enough to turn some people off from wanting to see it. That is unfortunate because those people don’t know what they are missing. The film is absolutely incredible. At the time that I saw it, I did not think that Quentin Tarantino was capable of making such a perfect movie. He writes, directs, and has an uncredited part in the film.
“Once upon a time in Nazi-occupied France…”
A group of Jewish American soldiers known as The Basterds, along with a famous German actress and, a Jewish girl seeking revenge, all find themselves in a plot to try to kill high ranking Nazi leaders.
Inglourious Basterds is one of my favorite films of all time. It is definitely in my top 5 and maybe even in my top 3. I wish I had seen it in the theatre. I was a little bit skeptical of the movie when it first came out, and therefore I ended up waiting to watch it on DVD. Big mistake! If they brought it back to the theatre tomorrow, I would see it in a heartbeat.
The film has everything. Love, hate, blood, guts, war, beautiful landscapes, spies, traitors, loss, tragedy, revenge, hope, tension, an excellent story, a huge cast of amazing characters, a great director, a perfect script, and just enough humor to bring everything together.
Inglourious Basterds is probably Brad Pitt’s best movie. It is definitely his best character, but it is a toss-up between this movie and Fight Club (1999), although in recent years he has chosen his roles very wisely.
Quentin Tarantino managed to not only get a perfect cast, but somehow he got the best possible performances out of most of them. It is amazing how incredibly awesome everyone in the movie is. This is Tarantino’s best movie. He may come close, but I don’t think that he will ever top this film.
Christoph Waltz broke into American movies with his part in this film. Up until Inglourious Basterds, he was basically just a well-known foreign actor, mostly in Germany. His performance in the movie was nothing less than perfect and nobody could have done a better job. He did receive the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor which he wholeheartedly deserved. As I mentioned in my Django Unchained (2012) review, he received the same award in back-to-back Tarantino directed films. Those are both 2 characters that have really stuck in my mind. He got the role of a lifetime twice.
Like Waltz, Melanie Laurent came out of nowhere and was just astonishing. I can’t think of an actress off the top of my head that in recent years has done a better job than she did in this film. The only actress that could maybe come close is Diane Kruger also for her role in this film.
Eli Roth gave the best performance of his acting career.
The not very well-known Daniel Bruhl made his mark in this film and let his presence be known.
Til Schweiger has been acting for a while, but his breakout performance was definitely in this film. Any reference to him will be a reference to this movie.
This was Mike Myers best movie since Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002).
Michael Fassbender was an up-and-comer before he made this movie and now he is a household name.
Samuel L. Jackson plays the part of the narrator and you also hear the voice of Harvey Keitel.
The movie also includes Gedeon Burkhard, B.J. Novak, Omar Doom, August Diehl, Denis Menochet, Sylvester Groth, Martin Wuttke, Julie Dreyfus, Richard Sammel, Alexander Fehling, Rod Taylor, Samm Levine, Christian Berkel, and Lea Seydoux.
If you have not seen Inglourious Basterds then after you finish reading this review, stop what you are doing, drop everything and go out and buy it immediately. It is that good. I am not kidding. Go now!
I rate this movie a 10 on a scale of 1-10.
Buy, rent, or run? BUY!
Django Unchained (2012)
Django Unchained was a bloody masterpiece in film making. Quentin Tarantino did a fantastic job writing and directing the film. He even gave himself a fun cameo appearance in the film as he often likes to do in his movies. He has a tendency to choose the perfect actor for each role in his films. Somehow Tarantino seems to have the power to obtain the best possible performances out of each and every actor in all of the movies that he makes and Django Unchained was no exception.
As with most of Tarantino’s films, Django Unchained was a carefully executed and well scripted exercise in goriness and vulgarity. I think that this excitement and intensity that is shown in previews often will actually turn a person off from seeing the film. They may think that the film looks too violent or too R-rated.
These days there are so many straight-up violent movies filled with so much unnecessary blood, torture, cussing, and pure evil such as Hostel (2005) and its sequels, or Saw (2004) and its almost yearly sequels. It seems like the main intention of those films is to see how far they can push the envelope in gruesomeness. They always have to one-up the previous film of its kind.
When Quentin Tarantino first started making movies it seemed like they were almost strictly for shock value i.e. Reservoir Dogs (1992) or Pulp Fiction (1994). Don’t get me wrong, both of those films were solid movies in their own right, but they lacked meaning and story. They did however, have great characters portrayed by superb actors spouting very colorful dialogue.
In recent years Tarantino has perfected his craft. He has successfully penned films with true meaning and spectacular stories. His best example of this is Inglourious Basterds (2009) and I believe Django Unchained to be his second best film. Although his films continue to be extreme, they are no longer strictly for shock value. They are very edgy, but they will entertain you if you give them a chance.
Christoph Waltz delivers an unquestionable Oscar worthy performance in Django Unchained. The funny thing about that is that I thought his performance in Inglourious Basterds was also without a doubt, valuable enough to receive an Oscar. Waltz did in fact; win back to back Best Supporting Actor Oscars for both Tarantino films. At the rate that he is going, I would not be surprised if Christoph Waltz wins another Oscar in a Tarantino movie in the future.
In Django Unchained Waltz stole the show. Jamie Foxx did a wonderful job as Django, but his performance was overshadowed by Waltz. Leonardo DiCaprio would have won a Best Supporting Oscar for his role in the film if Christoph Waltz wasn’t in it. If Dicaprio had given the same supporting performance in a different movie in any other year besides 2009 or 2012 he would have won the Oscar. Arguably the only performance better than that of Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained was that of Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds.
There were so many excellent actors in this film, that if I tried to list them all, I would certainly miss a few. A few more certainly worth mentioning were Samuel L. Jackson, Don Johnson and James Remar. James Remar (probably most known as Dexter’s adopted father in the television series Dexter.) actually played two different characters in the movie, but nobody seemed to notice. I caught it right away though and I thought that it was a little weird.
Django Unchained is a new-age Spaghetti Western of epic proportions with heart and soul, splattered with lots of blood and violence throughout. It definitely deserves an R-rating, but it also definitely deserves a watch. I have wanted to see the movie for a long time and I almost went to it about a dozen times in the last couple of months. I’m glad that I finally saw the film.
I rate this movie a 10 on a scale of 1-10.
Buy, rent, or run? Buy.