REVIEW: JACKIE BROWN

CAST

Pam Grier (Mars Attacks)
Samuel L. Jackson (Iron Man)
Robert Forster (Dragon Wars)
Bridget Fonda (Easy Rider)
Michael Keaton (Birdman)
Robert De Niro (Joy)
Chris Tucker (Rush Hour)
Michael Bowen (Django Unchained)
Lisa Hay Hamilton (Drunks)
Tom Lister Jr. (The Dark Knight)
Hattie Winston (The Electric Company)
Sid Haig (Hatchet 3)
Aimee Graham (100 Girls)
T’Keyah Crystal Keymáh (Cosby)
Denise Crosby (Star Trek: TNG)
Quentin Tarantino (From Dusk Till Dawn)

Jackie Brown is a flight attendant for a small Mexican airline. To make ends meet, she smuggles money from Mexico into the United States for Ordell Robbie, a black-market gun runner living in the Los Angeles metropolitan area under the ATF’s close watch, forcing him to use couriers. Ordell learns that another of his couriers, Beaumont Livingston, has been arrested. Assuming that Livingston will become an informant in order to avoid jail time, Ordell arranges for bail with bondsman Max Cherry, then coaxes Livingston into a car trunk and murders him.

Acting on information Beaumont had already shared, ATF agent Ray Nicolette and LAPD detective Mark Dargus intercept Jackie as she returns to the United States with Ordell’s cash and some cocaine that Brown was unaware was stashed in her bag. Initially refusing to cut a deal, she is sent to jail which alerts Ordell that she might also be a threat to inform. Having received payment from Ordell, Max picks up Jackie from the jail and begins to develop an attraction to her. Ordell arrives at Jackie’s house intending to murder her but she surprises him by pulling a gun surreptitiously taken from Max’s glove compartment. Jackie negotiates a deal with Ordell to pretend to help the authorities while smuggling in $550,000 of Ordell’s money, enough to allow him to retire.

To carry out this plan, Ordell is counting on Melanie Ralston, an unambitious, stoned surfer girl with whom he lives, and Louis Gara, a friend and former cellmate. Unaware of Jackie and Ordell’s plan to smuggle in $550,000, Nicolette and Dargus devise a sting to catch Ordell during a transfer of $50,000. Unbeknownst to all, Jackie plans to double-cross everyone and keep $500,000 for herself. She recruits Max to assist with her plan and offers him a cut.

In the Del Amo Mall on the day of the transfer, Jackie enters a dressing room to try on a new suit. She has told Ordell that she will swap bags there with Melanie, supposedly passing off the $550,000 under the nose of Nicolette, who has been told that the exchange is to take place in the food court. Instead, the bag she gives Melanie contains only $50,000 and the rest is left behind in the dressing room for Max to pick up. Jackie then feigns despair as she calls Nicolette and Dargus out from hiding, claiming Melanie took all the money and ran.

In the parking lot, Melanie mocks Louis until he loses his temper and shoots her. Louis confesses this to Ordell. Ordell is livid when he discovers that most of the money is gone, and he realizes that Jackie is to blame. When Louis mentions that during the hand-off he saw Max Cherry in the store’s dress department and thought nothing of it, Ordell kills him and leaves with the bag. Ordell turns his anger toward Max, who informs him that Jackie is frightened for her life and is waiting in Max’s office to hand over the money. A menacing Ordell holds Max at gunpoint as they enter the darkened office. Jackie suddenly yells that Ordell has a gun, and Nicolette jumps from a hiding place and shoots him dead.

Having had her charges dropped for cooperating with the ATF, and now in possession of the money as well as Ordell’s car, Jackie decides to leave the country and travel to Madrid, Spain. She invites Max to go along with her, but he declines. Jackie shares a meaningful moment with Max, kisses him goodbye, and leaves as Max takes a phone call. Moments later, Max cuts the call short and seems to contemplate his decision to stay behind as Jackie drives away.Tarantino has a flair for raw energy in all of his films, and “Jackie Brown” is no exception. The movie is bursting at its edges, packed with wild antics and the occasional fierce brutality. The movie was criticized by Tarantino’s die-hard fans for being too different from his other films. However, the mistake of many directors is to repeat the same formulas over and over again. One must at least give Tarantino credit for trying new things in each of his films. An excellent film.

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REVIEW: THE FIFTH ELEMENT

CAST

Bruce Willis (Sin City)
Gary Oldman (Batman Begins)
Ian Holm (The Hobbit)
Milla Jovovich (Resident Evil)
Chris Tucker (Rush Hour)
Luke Perry (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Brion James (BLade Runner)
Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister (Jackie Brown)
Lee Evans (There’s Something About Mary)
John Neville (Odyssey 5)

In 1914, aliens known as Mondoshawans arrive at an ancient Egyptian temple to collect, for safekeeping, the only weapon capable of defeating a great evil that appears every 5,000 years. The weapon consists of four stones, representing the four classical elements, and a sarcophagus containing a fifth element in the form of a human, which combines the power of the other four elements into a divine light capable of defeating the evil. The Mondoshawans promise their human contact, a priest from a secret order, that they will come back with the element stones in time to stop the great evil when it returns.

In 2263, the great evil appears in deep space in the form of a giant ball of black fire, and destroys an attacking Earth spaceship. The Mondoshawans’ current contact on Earth, priest Vito Cornelius (Ian Holm), informs the President of the Federated Territories (Tom Lister Jr.) of the history of the great evil and the weapon that can stop it. As the Mondoshawans return to Earth they are ambushed by Mangalores, a race hired by the industrialist Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg (Gary Oldman), who has been instructed by the great evil to acquire the stones.

The Mondoshawans’ spacecraft is destroyed, though the stones are not on board; the only item recovered is a hand of The Fifth Element. Scientists take it to a New York City laboratory and use it to reconstruct a humanoid woman who takes the name Leeloo (Milla Jovovich). Terrified of the unfamiliar surroundings, she escapes confinement and jumps off a ledge, crashing into the flying taxicab of Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis), a former major in the special forces.

Dallas delivers Leeloo to Cornelius and his apprentice, David (Charlie Creed-Miles), whereupon Cornelius learns that the Mondoshawans entrusted the four element stones to the alien Diva Plavalaguna (Maïwenn Le Besco), an opera singer. Zorg kills many of the Mangalores because of their failure to obtain the stones, but their compatriots determine to seize the artifacts for themselves. Upon learning from the Mondoshawans that the stones are in Plavalaguna’s possession, General Munro (Brion James), Dallas’ former superior, recommissions Dallas and orders him to travel undercover to meet Plavalaguna on a luxury intergalactic cruise; Dallas takes Leeloo with him. Meanwhile, Cornelius instructs David to prepare the ancient temple designed to house the stones, then stows away on the space plane transporting Dallas to the cruise liner.

Plavalaguna is killed when the Mangalores attack the ship, but Dallas succeeds in retrieving the stones. During his struggle with the Mangalores he kills their leader. After shooting and seriously wounding Leeloo, Zorg finds a carrying case which he presumes contains the stones, and takes it back to his spacecraft, leaving behind a time bomb that forces the liner’s occupants to evacuate. Discovering the case to be empty, Zorg returns to the ship and deactivates his bomb, but a dying Mangalore sets off his own device, destroying the ship and killing Zorg. Dallas, Cornelius, Leeloo, and talk-show host Ruby Rhod (Chris Tucker) escape with the stones aboard Zorg’s spacecraft.

The four join up with David at the weapon chamber in the Egyptian temple as the great evil approaches. They activate the stones, but having witnessed and studied so much violence, Leeloo has become disenchanted with humanity and refuses to cooperate. Dallas confesses his love for Leeloo and kisses her. In response, Leeloo combines the power of the stones and releases the divine light; the great evil, now dormant, becomes another moon in Earth orbit.Luc Besson has created a visually stunning piece of work. The cinematography is vibrant and colourful and the costumes (designed by Jean Paul Gaultier) have to be seen to be believed; the special effects are of the quality you would expect and add to the whole experience. This is a fast paced movie that grabs you and doesn’t let go from start to finish.

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

CAST

Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games)
Bradley Cooper (The Hangover)
Robert De Niro (Joy)
Jacki Weaver (The Voices)
Chris Tucker (Rush Hour)
Anupam Kher (Bend It Like Beckham)
Jon Ortiz (Fast & Furious)
Shea Whigham (Agent Carter)
Julia Stiles (O)
Dash Mihok (Gotham)

After eight months of treatment for bipolar disorder, Pat Solitano is released from a mental health facility in Baltimore, and returns to Lansdowne, Pennsylvania into the care of his father Patrizio and mother Dolores. Pat soon learns that his estranged wife, Nikki, has moved away, and that his father is out of work and resorting to illegal bookmaking to earn money with the hopes of opening a restaurant. Pat is determined to get his life back on track and reconcile with Nikki, who obtained a restraining order against him after a violent episode sent him away.
While talking to his court-mandated therapist Dr. Cliff Patel (Kher), Pat explains why he was hospitalized: Coming home early from his high school teaching job after getting into an argument with the school’s principal, he had found his wife in the shower with the history teacher from his school while his wedding song is playing, and nearly beat the man to death. Pat recognizes that hearing the song, My Cherie Amour, can trigger a violent episode, and that sometimes when he is distressed, he hears the song though it is not playing. Despite this, Pat doesn’t believe that he needs medication to manage his condition. He tells Cliff that he has a new outlook on life. This is a reference to the name of the film, as he attempts to see the good, or “silver linings”, in all that he experiences. As part of this outlook, and his transformation to become a more worthy husband, he has lost weight and is attempting to read the books that his wife Nikki teaches to children at her school.
At dinner with his friend Ronnie and his wife Veronica, Pat meets Veronica’s sister Tiffany, a young widow who lost her job and is suffering from depression. Her dark past and blunt way of speaking make others uncomfortable, but she and Pat develop an odd friendship through their shared neuroses. They get together to eat at a diner and after an argument in the street which Tiffany escalates claiming Pat’s assaulting her, she then comes to his defense when the police show up and he becomes distressed, hearing his wedding song. Tiffany eventually offers to deliver a letter to Nikki if, in return, he will be her partner in an upcoming dance competition. He reluctantly agrees and the two begin a rigorous practice regimen over the following weeks. Pat believes the competition will be a good way to show Nikki that he has changed and become a better person.
Things go well for Pat until his father asks him to attend a Philadelphia Eagles game as a “good-luck charm”, partly because he has bet virtually all of his money on the outcome. Pat asks Tiffany for time off from practice to attend the game, which she begrudgingly allows. Tiffany also gives Pat a typed reply from Nikki, in which she cautiously hints there may be a chance for a reconciliation between them. While at the game with his friends, Pat does well and is having fun at a tailgate, until some racist fans harass the Indian fans there, including Dr. Patel. Pat gets involved in a fight after seeing his brother get punched, and he is hauled away by the police. The Eagles lose the game and Patrizio is furious. Tiffany shows up at their house and berates Patrizio, pointing out that the way she is “reading the signs,” Philadelphia teams do better when she and Pat are together, as they won every game they played when Tiffany and Pat were spending time together. Patrizio, now convinced that his son being with Tiffany is actually good luck, makes a parlay with his gambling friend that if the Eagles win their game against the Dallas Cowboys, and if Tiffany and Pat average a score of 5 out of 10 in their dance competition, he will win back double the money he lost on the first bet. Pat is reluctant to participate in the dance contest under those conditions, goes outside to consult Nikki’s letter, and notices that it also refers to “reading the signs,” realizing that Tiffany wrote the letter. With the Solatanos’ finances in danger, Tiffany and Pat’s mother persuade Pat to dance in the competition by telling him that Nikki will be there.
Tiffany, Pat, and their friends and family arrive at the competition on the night of the football game. Tiffany despairs when she finds that Nikki actually is in the audience, so Tiffany goes to the hotel bar and starts drinking with a stranger. Moments before their dance, Pat finds her and practically drags her onto the dance floor. They begin their routine as the Eagles defeat the Cowboys.
At the conclusion of their set, cute but obviously unprofessional, Tiffany and Pat score exactly 5 points. Amid cheers from friends and family and confused looks from the crowd, Pat approaches Nikki and speaks quietly into her ear. Tiffany sees this and runs from the hotel. Pat leaves Nikki behind after a short conversation, intent on finding Tiffany. Pat’s father informs him that Tiffany left and tells him that he loves her right now and that it will be a sin if he does not reach out to this moment that life has given him. Pat tells his father that he loves him, and runs after Tiffany. He hands Tiffany a letter that he wrote to her, in which he admits that he knows she forged Nikki’s letter. He confesses his love for her and that he loved her from the moment he met her, and apologizes that it took him so long to come to terms with this. They share a kiss, become a couple, and Patrizio opens a restaurant with the money he has won. The final moments in the movie between Pat and Tiffany show that both of them are no longer wearing their wedding rings.
The film out by a mile from a lot of films out the sae year this was. The film also portrays mental illness in an exceptional way, as both of the leading figures are mentally disturbed following bereavement and marital break up.