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Tarantino Dazzles With ‘Jackie’

Fri., Dec. 26, 1997

There’s nothing wrong with “Jackie Brown” that a big pair of scissors wouldn’t cure.

Quentin Tarantino’s caper comedy is visually arresting, but it’s at least half an hour too long. Luckily, that bloated feeling can’t obscure the movie’s strengths, which include enjoyably deadpan dialogue and fine performances by Robert De Niro, Robert Forster and Samuel L. Jackson (wearing a braided beard that is like a perpetual motion machine).

You don’t need to see Tarantino’s name in the credits to recognize his razzle-dazzling style. “Jackie Brown” has the fractured chronology of “Pulp Fiction,” the ‘70s soul tunes of “Reservoir Dogs” and the major star killed unexpectedly from “Pulp.” There’s also a scene that makes sharp, efficient use of split-screen to move the story. Based on Elmore Leonard’s “Rum Punch,” it mixes a wily flight attendant (Pam Grier, in the title role) with a bunch of lowlifes fighting over a pile of dough.

The aimless chatter in “Jackie Brown” isn’t as bracing as it was in “Pulp Fiction,” but Tarantino’s yakyak-bang-bang formula still surprises and entertains. If anything, “Jackie Brown” finds Tarantino more willing than ever to stop the action to observe goofy behavior.

Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t. De Niro, for instance, is incidental to the plot, but his character - a foggy goon who spends most of the movie wasted - is great fun. But Bridget Fonda as a stoned beach bunny whose bikinis are almost as small as her moral code is just the same joke told twice.

Because “Jackie Brown” is so long, you begin to sense that the pay-off isn’t going to be worth the protracted set-up. You also begin to wonder if Tarantino likes any music recorded since the Bicentennial, if he has any other tricks in his bag and if he has anybody in his life who can tell him when to quit.

xxxx “Jackie Brown” Location: East Sprague, Lyons, Showboat cinemas Credits: Directed by Quentin Tarantino, starring Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro Running time: 2:40 Rating: R

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