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#95 - Pulp Fiction

Quentin Tarantino's 1994 blockbuster probably needs no introduction for the demographic that will probably be reading this. But for those of you who have been living under a cinematic rock, Pulp Fiction stars John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman and Bruce Willis in a number of out-of-order vignettes that twist together to form a bizarre, hyper-violent and -satirical film.

Samantha probably won't like this. But I have to say that this is probably my favorite of the six films we've watched so far. She has several problems with the film, which I completely understand and respect. But I think the pros far outweigh the cons.

The film is fantastically violent. I don't enjoy violent films either. Samantha says the violence is unnecessary and meaningless. I don't think so. Tarantino is making a movie about violence -- it has to be. If the movie was also lacking the satire and intelligence with which the violence is presented (something that the scores of imitators of this movie are missing), it would be a problem. Thankfully, it's not. The movie never takes itself seriously enough for the violence to truly be disturbing to me. If Jackson's character mowed down those characters at the beginning of the film and didn't soliliquize and crack wise about anything and everything before and after, and didn't have his moment of redemption at the end, it would disturb me. But in context -- I can understand why it's there. I'm not a man given to profanity either, but it fits somehow.

I love the way this movie unfolds. It just kills me. Something about Tarantino's sense of humor and irony does it for me. Travolta cursing a blue streak about a five dollar milkshake. Harvey Keitel showing up in the 'burbs at 8:30 am in a tuxedo. The situations these characters are in and the way they continue to act given the extreme violence, depravity and lawlessness that surrounds them is so non-sequitur and fascinating. The movie dissects the genre it's in.

Add the cinematographic detail (long takes, gorgeous shots with framing and perspective) and the fantastic acting (especially by Jackson and Maria de Medeiros, playing Willis' girlfriend) and you have what is understandably one of the most influential films of the 1990's.

Will you enjoy this film? If you see the violence and language the same way Tarantino does, then yes. I can. I'm not sure what kind of person that makes me though.

(See this post if you're confused why I'm reviewing movies.)

EDIT - I'm rethinking this... stay tuned...

Comments (6)

Ok, so I have about a million arguments as to why I loathe this movie, but I think I can boil it down to a primary one.

Basically, Tarantino (who is just a poor excuse for a human being in the first place) takes that which makes humanity good (namely, art) and uses it to glorify that which makes humanity bad. (Violence, and the assumption that we have the right to power of life and death over others.)
Sure, it's interestingly done at points. Aesthetically pleasing, if you must. But the subject matter to me is inherantly vile. Further, it's not dealt with tastefully. Death? That happens to us all, so it maybe helps to find some humor in it. But there is NO humor in taking someone else's life, and the flippancy and wisecracking that you laud is a disgusting way of looking at the worst side of man.

*shrug* My two cents. I console myself with the fact that there are many more movies to come and I have no doubt that you will find at least a few that you find more worthy than this one.

..."The movie dissects the genre it's in." Gah, metafilm. Just another reason to hate it. ;)


Discussion point: If Tarantino is indeed just satirizing violence and not glorifying it, why is excessive violence a hallmark of every single film he has his hands in?

Discussion Corollary: If pants are just satirizing our lack of spidery sword-legs, the seeds in cucumbers don't grow well in moist soil.


Ha! And here I was expecting perhaps a serious response from you.


I won't go into the whole shebang, but I think of it like this:

The violence in Pulp Fiction and Reservior Dogs is more absurdist than satirical. The idea of someone's head getting blown off in the back of a car because of a bump in the road is far too ridiculous to be taken seriously, but how the characters deal with the absurd situation leads to some genuine insight. The fact of the matter is that some of the most interesting (though not necessarily the worst) aspects of humanity are brought to the forefront in violent situations. When life or death is on the line, the stakes are higher, and that lends every situation more gravity. It isn't about the violence. It's a tool.

I'll even use my real name for this one.


Decent point. It just makes me so ill that I tend to take it seriously.

And in response to "my" previous post: Beur?


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