This is the only genuine, landmark film I’ve ever seen cold, meaning that IÂ went into the theater with no significant expectations. I was at theÂ perfect age to enjoy the film – a senior in high school I think – and IÂ went in on the first or second day of its release knowing only that itÂ got good reviews and that two characters did the twist. I was blownÂ away like I never have been before or since and dragged a friend backÂ to see it the next day. I probably saw it two more times in the theaterÂ and quoted it like a sheep for months after words.
Now I’m old and I don’t like the movie as much as I used to. Part of that isn’t really the movie’s fault. Pulp FictionÂ is like Korn insofar as the original suffers because of hordes ofÂ unbearable imitations. When you listen to Korn now, you can’t help butÂ hear a little bit of Kid Rock, Limp Biskit and Disturbed. In otherÂ words, all of the hacks do the shit more or less invented by KornÂ (following Pantera and Faith No More) so much, that it now soundsÂ hackneyed and fake even when the originals do it. Watching Pulp FictionÂ again, a lot of that stylized dialog that once seemed so fresh nearlyÂ made me wince, like Vince’s little spiel about how you “do notÂ mess with another man’s vehicle.” My near winces were not because QT’sÂ writing is hackneyed, but because about one in five films to have comeÂ out after Pulp Fiction shamelessly rip it off.
For example, Pulp FictionÂ is loaded with those mundane little discussions that seemed freshÂ because of the novelty of putting mundane conversations in a film, orÂ at least in this kind of a film. Now that these conversations are inÂ every film, many of the originals seem just plain mundane.
So, I guess my favorite film of the nineties for the moment is no longer Pulp Fiction but, probably Leaving Las Vegas. Freeway may be ahead of Pulp Fiction, too. But that does not mean that Pulp FictionÂ is not a great film. Here are a handful of reasons, aside from theÂ obvious – originality, superior writing, acting, directing, etc. – why Pulp Fiction stands apart from it’s imitators, and most other films.
- My favorite moment in this film. Jules is going on about divineÂ intervention and how his lucky break a few minutes ago couldn’t haveÂ been mere coincidence. Vince’s gun goes off for no reason and blow’sÂ Marvin’s head off. Brilliant! At one point during the extras, SamÂ Jackson argues that the film is about second chances and redemption. Â This may be true, but the world of the film is still ruled by chanceÂ and luck. Those second chances come or don’t come by chance.
- The combination to the briefcase is 666. [Ed Note: We love Satan]Â The film is wantonly sexist and nobody seem to notice or care.
- Nearly every woman in the film is a childish dim-wit, especiallyÂ Butch’s bitch. Even Mia, who is semi-smart reminds me of the part in As Good as it GetsÂ where the secretary asks Jack Nicholson how he is able to write womenÂ so well and he says “First I think of a man. Then, I take away reasonÂ and accountability.”
- The film is pretty groundbreaking in how it handles race. IÂ think every character in the film is subject to a racial slur at someÂ point, but at the same time, it takes the proper approach to the slurs. Â Â Instead of giving them tremendous weight, the slurs are treated asÂ virtually meaningless. Calling someone “nigger” is like calling himÂ “stretch” or “tubby,” because the blacks in the film aren’t vulnerableÂ little victims and because only gay rapist white trash are seriouslyÂ bigoted. Naturally, this angered people who trade on racism andÂ victimhood. [Ed Note: He’s talking about Spike Lee]
- That whole gay rapist white trash thing is ingenious. It’s oneÂ of only a few instances of an event in a film that is both totallyÂ unexpected and seamless. Sure, something similar happens in DeliveranceÂ but if you had never seen the film and someone stopped it just beforeÂ Butch and Marsellus stumble into the pawn shop, it would take you atÂ least five years to guess what was going to happen next. And the gayÂ rapist white trash sequence actually makes the plot better, rather thanÂ being an odd turn that only serves as an odd turn. This scene isÂ another example of how bits of chance and coincidence change and redirect the story.
- While the events in the film are dictated by coincidence andÂ chance, the film is written carefully and things have a way of loopingÂ back on each other. The jig-saw plot has obvious, big pieces, but alsoÂ smaller ones that are easy to miss, like how Vince insults Butch theÂ first time they meet and the next time they meet Butch is pointing aÂ submachine gun at him.
This is the big whoop-dee-doo special edition. There’s someÂ semi-interesting stuff, like a bunch of old interviews. There is noÂ commentary and no excuse. I simply don’t believe that Tarantino wouldÂ turn down any opportunity to shoot off his mouth. The best thing is anÂ episode of Siskel & Ebert in which they talk about Pulp Fiction and Tarantino’s influence. Both men are excited because Pulp FictionÂ breaks all of the formulas of screenwriting that have dulled AmericanÂ cinema. Ebert expresses his hope that the commercial success of Pulp FictionÂ will usher in a new era of non-formulaic screenwriting. Oh well, it wasÂ just a hope. But at least the Tarantino rip off is a new formula, and IÂ suppose increasing the number of formulas that hacks can choose from isÂ something. Also, this is one of the few times where Siskel outshinesÂ Ebert.
The deleted scenes are OK. There’s also this thing where Michael MooreÂ sits with Tarantino and Samuel Jackson at the Independent SpiritÂ Awards, which is arguably worth watching one time.
- Film Overall: 10
- Direction: 9.5
- Acting: 9
- Story: 10
- DVD Extras: 7
- Re-watchability: 8
Special Ruthless Ratings:
- Number of conversations you had in high school trying to convince your Mormon friend to see the movie: 4
- Number of times you concluded with, “well, hopefully they’ll force you to watch it in college.”: 2
- Number of times the movie was paused to do something else: 1
- Your current high score in pinball is a super-human: 187, 855, 750
- Number of beers needed to fully enjoy the movie: 3
- Number of years since Tarantino’s made a freaking movie: 5