Pulp Fiction (1994)
User ReviewsAdd a Review
It's no wonder that fans spend so much time debating what was in the suitcase, reading far more into the story than Tarantino probably intended. The film is so intricately structured, with so many astonishing details, many of which you won't pick up on the first viewing, that it seems to cry out for some deeper explanation. But there is no deeper explanation. "Pulp Fiction," is, as the title indicates, purely an exercise in technique and style, albeit a brilliant and layered one. Containing numerous references to other films, it is like a great work of abstract art, or "art about art." It has all the characteristics we associate with great movies: fine writing, first-rate acting, unforgettable characters, and one of the most well-constructed narratives I've ever seen in a film. But to what end? The self-contained story does not seem to have bearing on anything but itself.
The movie becomes a bit easier to understand once you realize that it's essentially a black comedy dressed up as a crime drama. Each of the three main story threads begins with a situation that could easily form the subplot of any standard gangster movie. But something always goes wrong, some small unexpected accident that causes the whole situation to come tumbling down, leading the increasingly desperate characters to absurd measures. Tarantino's originality stems from his ability to focus on small details and follow them where they lead, even if they move the story away from conventional plot developments.
Perhaps no screenplay has ever found a better use for digressions. Indeed, the whole film seems to consist of digressions. No character ever says anything in a simple, straightforward manner. Jules could have simply told Yolanda, "Be cool and no one's going to get hurt," which is just the type of line you'd find in a generic, run-of-the-mill action flick. Instead, he goes off on a tangent about what Fonzie is like. Tarantino savors every word of his characters, finding a potential wisecrack in every statement and infusing the dialogue with clever pop culture references. But the lines aren't just witty; they are full of intelligent observations about human behavior. Think of Mia's statement to Vincent, "That's when you know you've found somebody special: when you can just shut the f--- up for a minute and comfortably enjoy the silence."
What is the movie's purpose exactly? I'm not sure, but it does deal a lot with the theme of power. Marsellus is the sort of character who looms over the entire film while being invisible most of the time. The whole point of the big date sequence, which happens to be my favorite section of the film, is the power that Marsellus has over his men without even being present. This power is what gets Vincent to act in ways you would not ordinarily expect from a dumb, stoned gangster faced with an attractive woman whose husband has gone away. The power theme also helps explain one of the more controversial aspects of the film, its liberal use of the N-word. In this film, the word isn't just used as an epithet to describe blacks: Jules, for instance, at one point applies the term to Vincent. It has more to do with power than with race. The powerful characters utter the word to express their dominance over weaker characters. Most of these gangsters are not racist in practice. Indeed, they are intermingled racially, and have achieved a level of equality that surpasses the habits of many law-abiding citizens in our society. They resort to racial epithets because it's a patter that establishes their separateness from the non-criminal world.
There's a nice moral progression to the stories. We presume that Vincent hesitates to sleep with Mia out of fear rather than loyalty. Later, Butch's act of heroism could be motivated by honor, but we're never sure. The film ends, however, with Jules making a clear moral choice. Thus, the movie seems to be exploring whether violent outlaws can act other than for self-preservation.
Still, it's hard to find much of a larger meaning tying together these eccentric set of stories. None of the stories are really "about" anything. They certainly are not about hit-men pontificating about burgers. Nor is the film really a satire or a farce, although it contains elements of both. At times, it feels like a tale that didn't need to be told, but for whatever reason this movie tells it and does a better job than most films of its kind, or of any other kind.
I know you are probably thinking, "Andy, you watch a lot of movies, why did you like this one so much?" and I really don't have a straightforward answer to that question. Perhaps it is the repetitive nature of the films that I am currently watching that had me running towards the arms of this SpongeBob movie, or maybe because comedies are not quite the caliber of humor as they once were (resorting to restroom humor and sex instead of actual "funny" comedy), or maybe it was because it told a story that I could relate to, but whatever the case may be this film ranks among the best. I have seen this movie about 20+ times already and cannot wait to see it again. It is one of those films where I catch something new each time, I still laugh at most of the scenes (the bar scene is my personal favorite), and I get that aura of excitement every time I place the DVD in the player. This film is like my unquenchable drug of choice.
SpongeBob is one of those heroes that I can, and I think most in the retail/working sector of the world, relate to. He works hard, he wants promotion, and continues to live his life as his heart allows like a kid. Isn't that what we all desire? I know that is a crucial element to my life to ensure that I stay true to those and myself around me. Also, it has always been a dream of mine to have a seaweed mustache, and this film promotes the use of this green apparatus. I don't want to sound repetitive, but I cannot wait to add this film to my DVD collection. It provided, and still provides, at least an hour and a half of pure, uncut, humor that will leave some great songs in your mind and this new found respect in your heart. Who hasn't walked into your office one day just singing, "I'm ready, promotion. I'm ready, promotion". Or better yet, ended the day singing, "I'm ready, depression. I'm ready, depression." HA, this has me nearly falling out of my seat as I type this now.
The heart, humor, and childlike feeling for this hero will have children falling over to see this film (though where I work most children are not huge fans of this film they say that television program is better), and if it is watched by an embarrassed adult, you will be surprised on how much you could probably relate to this film. We are all "goofy goobers" inside, and sometimes it takes a film such as this to pull it out of us. We all wish that we could break out into song whenever possible or even spend an evening at a bar enjoying round after round of ice cream treats.
Overall, I loved this movie. Well, actually, I more than loved it, I thought it was one of the best films that I have seen this year. So many times we watch movies that get too caught up in themselves. They are too serious or too violent or too goofy for what they set out to be, and it was an honest delight to finally find something that was just what it was. SpongeBob is my new hero and I have already found myself watching the television programs whenever possible. You have a new fan SpongeBob I hope that you will always remain the "goofy goober" that I fell in love with!!
I don't know of any other movie that really nails the pulp genre this good.
One of the reasons for why this movie is so good is because of Quentin's use of nonlinear storylines in this film. It's so unique how Quentin put events in different order and it was so fun to watch, He did it in a way that you wouldn't be confused as well, you would be surprised and then you would find out the true order of the film when you continue to watch it.
The cast and the acting, oh my goodness it's amazing. This is another reason for why the movie is so good. Quentin Tarantino revitalized John Trovolta's career by placing him in the role of Vincent Vega, one of the mobsters in the film, and he does not let us down. He plays the role so perfect that it became the best acting performace of his life. We all know Samuel L. Jackson now, super famous and great actor, but before Pulp Fiction no one knew him. Quentin Tarantino not only revitalized John Travolta's career with Pulp Fiction but he gave Samuel L.Jackson a chance and introduced us to an amazing actor and it was legendary. Jules Winnfield, the other mobster in the movie, who Samuel L. Jackson plays, is nothing short of a spectacular character who is funny and a bad-ass at the same time and Sam plays him perfectly. The cast only gets better with Quentin bringing Tim Roth back, who was a major character in Quentin's first film Resovoir Dogs and giving Bruce Willis, who was achieving a ton of success from the hit "Die Hard", a major role. Bruce Willis plays the boxer Butch who is facing decline in the ring because of age. Like Samuel and John, Bruce plays Butch so good that I can't picture another actor playing him. Bruce is strong and bald as well and was more than capable of having that type of boxer swagger and meaness to him while acting and that is what made him the best choice to play the boxer Butch. Like Samuel L. Jackson, Quentin made another person famous, this time an actress, the great Uma Thurman, who plays The Bride in Quentin's movie series called "Kill Bill". In Pulp Fiction Uma plays the sexy Mia Wallace, who is the wife of Marsellus Wallace, the Mob leader. Uma plays her really well and put her name with some of the best in the movie industry.
In the end, this film's story, screenplay, directing and cast are so amazing that it made it into a classic. It's hands down one of the best crime movies of all time, as well, with it's violence, humor as well and Tarantino's key to directing... the art of the unexpected. Watch this movie, it doesn't know how to dissapoint.