Despite Quentin Tarantino's reputation as a kind of career defibrillator, nobody ever mentions the inverse trick he pulled with Robert De Niro in Jackie Brown: recognizing a descending catatonia and casting the star as a bemused, clogged and unthinking hoodlum who explodes in useless fury at Bridget Fonda in the parking lot of Del Amo mall. Louis Gara is De Niro's last really brave performance, ranking with Jake LaMotta and Noodles Aaronson as men at the mercy of impulse—except that Louis is trailed by the pot-clouded fear that his gifts are squandered. "What the fuck happened to you, man?" Samuel L. Jackson asks, pausing from shooting him. "Your ass used to be beautiful." R. Academy.

  • Best paired with: Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale.
  • Also showing: Red River (Laurelhurst), Stripes (Cinema 21, 1 pm Saturday, May 21).